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New Boat Designs Could Stop Aquatic Invasive Species

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- There is a radical new approach to help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species.

While it is not the magic bullet, it will make it easier for boat owners to comply with the law.

The idea is to eliminate nooks and crannies on boats where the nasty critters and weeds can hide.

Boat builders have long designed watercraft largely for style and function. But the growing crisis over AIS destroying our lakes is about to change that.

For as long as invasive plants and animals have infested Minnesota lakes, controlling the spread has been put on the boat's owner. Soon, boat designers will be doing their part.

Boat Hull
(credit: CBS)

Tonka Bay Marina's Gabe Jabbour pulled together a panel representing all parts of the marine industry. The panel suggests that boat builders can help by redesigning hulls and engines.

"This is one of many, many, many things that need to be done," Jabbour said. "All of this area is full of water. There's no way you could ever get into it."

The idea is to make boats drain easier, and eliminate hidden crevices and spots where weeds and zebra mussels hide.

"To design boats that are easily identifiable to where AIS can accumulate, and you can remedy it by being proactive and make such things … sealed," Jabbour said.

Other changes could include self-draining hulls and closed-loop cooling systems. Keeping AIS from being transported, lake to lake, will help slow the spread.

"It's a problem that is continuing, there are other AIS on the horizon, so it's not just zebra mussels," said Telly Mamayek of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District. "There are other things that we're looking for and keeping our eye out for."

They are minor changes, but they should bring profound benefits.

"They really have moved the needle drastically forward," Jabbour said.

He said a lot of the credit goes to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Minnesota Fish and Wildlife for convincing the industry of the impact the changes will have.

Incidentally, the new standards should start showing up in boat designs in the 2020 models.

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