Fish and Aquatic Conservation
photo of quagga mussels on a boat propeller
Those tiny mussels called Quaggas cause major problems in lakes and rivers, including those in national parks, and they're spreading across the country. Photo credit: Public Domain


You can help protect our waters

An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

Preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species starts with you. By taking a few simple steps you can protect our aquatic resources and ensure that these harmful species do not spread into new areas.

The two most important things you can do to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species are:

  1. Clean your watercraft and outdoor recreation gear after each use.
  2. Never release unwanted pets or aquarium contents into the wild.

We all have a role to play in protecting our aquatic wildlife and habitats.

Whether you want to learn more about picking an aquarium pet, are looking for educational resources for you classroom, or want to know how to avoid spreading invasive species when you are fishing or boating, we all have a role to play in protecting our aquatic wildlife and habitats.

Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!

Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! is a national campaign that empowers recreational water users, gardeners, and educators to help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species.

The CleanDrainDry Initiative

Aquatic invasive species can cling to boats, trailers, and gear. To make sure these plants and animals cannot be transported to new waters, follow the CleanDrainDry procedure each time you leave a recreational area:

CLEAN off visible aquatic plants, animals, and mud from all equipment before leaving water.

DRAIN motor, bilge, livewell, and other water containing devices before leaving water access.

DRY everything for at least five days OR wipe with a towel before reuse.

And for anglers:

DISPOSE of unwanted bait, worms, and fish parts in the trash. When keeping live bait, drain bait containers and replace with spring or dechlorinated tap water. Never dump live fish or other organisms from one body of water into another.

For information pertaining to specific recreational activities, and to take the Wildlife Forever CleanDrainDry pledge!

Habitattitude

Habitattitude offers guidelines for selecting the right aquarium fish, amphibian or reptile for your lifestyle. Choosing the right pet for your situation and providing a healthy and secure enclosure minimizes the chance that your pet will escape and become an invasive species. To learn more or find options if you can no longer care for your pet, please visit Habitattitude.

Volunteer.gov

Get involved in a community project to remove invasive plants from a local, state, or national park, or a wildlife refuge. One great way to do this is through the National Wildlife Refuge System and the National Fish Hatchery System.

PlayCleanGo

Invasive species have many ways of spreading, including through everyday outdoor activities. The PlayCleanGo initiative helps you learn how to protect our valuable natural resources while you enjoy the great outdoors. PlayCleanGo – Spread the word, not the problem!

Report Suspicious Species

Have you seen anything unusual? If you think you have found a new invasive organism, contact your state fish and game agency to see if they are aware of the species.

You should also report the species using the USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Sighting Report Form. Upon submission, the information you provide is sent to USGS staff experts for verification. If you are looking to receive alerts about new sightings of specific aquatic invasive species or receive alerts for a taxonomic group or for one or more states please register for the USGS NAS Alert System.