New Boat Designs Could Help in Fight Against Invasive Species

Updated: 05/06/2014 9:22 AM
Created: 05/05/2014 5:52 PM
By: Kate Renner

A new party was added to the fight against invasive species - boat manufacturers.

An Aquatic Nuisance Species task force is meeting in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. They could ask boat manufacturers to change the way boats are designed; those new designs could be a new way to keep out invasive lake species.

Lori Melbostad of Premier Marine, a Pontoon manufacturer in Wyoming, Minnesota, says the key to fighting invasive species is in the welding of their boats; each and every hole needs to be plugged up.

At the base of each of Premier Marine's pontoons is a tight seal. "Tiny, tiny little zebra mussels can get inside the smallest hole, so in ours they can't get into that," Melbostad said. She says it's because Permier Marine is one of the only pontoon manufacturers they weld all around and cap at the end of the keel strip and strakes underneath the pontoon's flotation tubes.

"This is a bit of a trade secret we're choosing to share now because we feel it's something that needs to be addressed across the industry," Melbostad said.

Melbostad's dad, and owner of Premier Marine, was in Washington, D.C., this week testifying at the American Boating Congress about improved standards he thinks the boat manufacturing industry needs to adopt.

"I think we all have a sharing in this responsibility of moving forward," Melbostad said. "It's tough to tell someone how to design their product."

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife division are throwing their support behind redesigning boats, too, knowing the invasive creatures hide in bilges, live wells, even parts of the engine.

"We can minimize the risk of the boating pathway if we manage the design and construction of boats," said Michael Hoff, Aquatic Invasive Species Program Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Division.

Premier is already doing that, and Melbostad thinks it'll take time for competitors to catch up to protect Minnesota's prized lakes.

Whether it's a fishing boat, pontoon or speed boat, each model would have to change, and that can be a couple hundred dollars a boat. However, for many lake lovers, that's okay if it helps stop the spread of invasive species.

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