Currently, zebra mussel infestations have been documented in lakes Belton, Bridgeport, Lavon, Lewisville, Ray Roberts, Texoma and Waco. To combat the spread of this destructive pest, a new statewide rule requires draining of water from boats and onboard receptacles when leaving or approaching public fresh waters. The control and/or spread of zebra mussels in Texas is under the jurisdiction of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. They have taken numerous steps to prevent zebra mussel infestations. The folks at AMWA encourage all boaters on Lake Athens to abide by these rules to assist TPWD in their efforts to block the spread of this invasive species in Texas.
Rules to Prevent Spread of Zebra Mussels
Updated July 1, 2014: In the state’s ongoing effort to combat the spread of invasive zebra mussels, new rules require that all boats operating on public fresh water anywhere in Texas be drained after use.
Persons leaving or approaching public fresh water are required to drain all water from their vessels and on-board receptacles (includes live wells, bilges, motors and any other receptacles or water-intake systems coming into contact with public waters). This rule applies at all sites where boats can be launched and includes all types and sizes of boats whether powered or not, personal watercraft, sailboats, kayaks/canoes, or any other vessel used to travel on public waters.
- Live fish, including personally caught live bait, cannot be transported from the water body where the fish were caught in or aboard a vessel in water from the water body where the fish were caught. Personally caught live bait can be used in the water body where it was caught.
- Transport and use of commercially purchased live bait in water while fishing from a vessel is allowed, provided persons in possession of the bait have a receipt that identifies the source of the bait. Any live bait purchased from a location on or adjacent to a public water body that is transported in water from that water body can only be used as bait on that same water body.
- A vessel leaving a public freshwater body may be transported on a public roadway without water being drained, provided the vessel is transported via the most direct route to another access point located on the same water body during that same day.
- Persons participating in a fishing tournament confined to one water body are allowed to transport live fish in water from that single water body to an identified off-site weigh-in location, provided all water is drained and properly disposed of before leaving that location. Participants must possess documentation provided by tournament organizers that identify them as participants in a tournament.
- Marine sanitary systems are not covered by these regulations.
Following these procedures does not exempt persons from complying with prohibitions against transporting exotic aquatic species that are visible to the unaided eye, such as adult zebra mussels, which may be attached to boats or trailers.
Click here to learn more about Texas Parks & Wildlife's invasive species programs.