by Sarah Squires
From: John Kosidowski
I have been reading with interest about Minnesota Statute 86B.13 requiring ALL people using a boat trailer to pass a training course regarding invasive species and proof of passing that course being issued a decal that must be displayed on the boat trailer. Supposedly the course is still under development and there will be another as yet undefined cost for the privilege of having a boat in the state of Minnesota. You can be assured that the next legislature will come up with a cost and probably some monetary fine for failure to comply. The statute as currently written does not include any penalty beyond a warning, but does require retraining every three years. It will be a real surprise to any out-of-state visitor coming to enjoy our waters to find out that they are in violation of the law because they do not have the required decal and also that they have violated the law punishable by a fine for moving a boat that still has the drain plug installed. So much for Minnesota nice.
Maybe this training course will clarify what a fisherman is supposed to do with unused, though not necessarily unwanted, minnows at the end of a fishing day. The regulations now require that they be dumped on the ground or placed in the trash. If there is a trash can near a launch site, it undoubtedly is labeled “No fish garbage.” If I dump them on the ground or in the parking lot I will be fined for littering, and I cannot transport them home for use on another day because my minnow bucket is “contaminated” by the waters I have been fishing in. And no, I am not going to eat them myself, unless someone has a good recipe for “minnow on a stick.”
The owners of boats registered in Minnesota now pay a $5 Exotic Species Surcharge every three years. I would guess that some of these monies are used to pay for the “Weed and Zebe Watchers” employed by the DNR during the summer to inspect our boats at randomly selected boat launches. During this past summer I have been at a launch site at a small lake near Winona and on a couple occasions have encountered one, and sometimes two, of the “Weed and Zebe Watchers” spending an entire day at the launch site where there was only one other boater and myself on the lake all day. At least they did not have one of those spendy pressure washer stations I have seen at other launch sites. I have seen them set up, but have yet to see one actually used.
I realize the damage that invasive species can do to a waterway, but would suggest the mailing of an information brochure to all registered boat owners in lieu of the required training course. There is supposed to be an online option to take the course so will see if that goes as well as the MNsure sign-up the last two years. If there is a cost to take the course online it looks like a great opportunity for a hacker to obtain credit card numbers and correlation to drivers licenses that contain the date of birth.