Aquatic Nuisance Species in New Hampshire
Some species of aquatic wildlife and plants have become unwanted invaders in New Hampshire's waters. On this page, learn more about aquatic nuisance species, the laws & rules around possession and use of aquatic species, and what you can do to help stop the invasion!
Click to go to a topic:
- Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!
- Tips for boaters and anglers
- Media resources
- Definitions (to help understand laws and rules)
- N.H. Laws and Fish and Game Rules:
- Special information for aquarium enthusiasts
- Invasive Didymo alert
- Who's helping?
- For more information...
Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!
Aquatic Nuisance Species are hitching rides to new waters. These invaders spread quickly, wreak havoc on native plants and animals, degrade the quality of aquatic resources and make waters unusable for boating, fishing, and swimming.
Aquatic nuisance species includes both plants and animals such as zebra mussels, exotic milfoil and fish, which can easily be transported to new waters by boats, motors, trailers, fishing equipment, livewells, bait buckets, diving gear, and other aquatic recreational equipment.
The quality of New Hampshire's waters are extremely valuable both as a natural and economic resource. In addition to providing essential aquatic habitat, New Hampshire's waters annually provide ~14.7 million visitor days for boating, fishing, and swimming, which are popular family-oriented recreational activities that generate more than $1 billion to the state's economy.
Preventing the spread of aquatic nuisance species is the most environmentally sound and cost-effective method for battling aquatic hitchhikers since once they become established, aquatic nuisance species can be impossible to contain and control.
New Hampshire has laws and regulations that prohibit the import and possession of these alien invaders. Additionally, the release of any amphibian, reptile, or fish is illegal without first obtaining special permits issued by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.
Compliance with the importation, possession, and release laws is critically important because it represents the most effective strategy for preventing the destruction caused by aquatic nuisance species. Please remember, unwanted plants and animals should never be disposed of in New Hampshire's waters because the potential harm caused by this action can devastate aquatic habitat essential to native plants and animals.
Take Action! Protect New Hampshire's Waters and Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!
Learn more at www.protectyourwaters.net
Tips for Anglers and Boaters
To prevent the transport of aquatic nuisance species, please clean all recreational equipment. Whenever you leave a body of water:
- Remove any visible mud, plants, fish or animals.
- Drain water from equipment (engine water intake systems, bilge, live wells, bait buckets).
- Clean and dry anything that comes into contact with water (boats, trailers, equipment, etc.)
- Never release plants, fish or animals into a body of water unless they came out of that body of water.
By preventing the spread of aquatic nuisance species you will maintain the high quality of New Hampshire's waters and you will continue to have a place to enjoy your water-based recreational activities (boating, fishing, and swimming), which are popular family-oriented recreational activities that generate more than $1 billion to the state's economy.
Preventing the spread of aquatic nuisance species is also the most environmentally sound and cost effective method for battling these alien invaders since once they become established, aquatic nuisance species can be impossible to contain and control.
News release 6/04 -- Boaters: You Can Help STOP AQUATIC HITCHHIKERS!
"Aquatic species" includes, but are not limited to, all fish, crustaceans, mollusks, invertebrates and aquatic plants that usually inhabit fresh water. (RSA 211:62-e)
"Exotic species" means wildlife that are non-indigenous species (not naturally occurring or naturalized in New Hampshire). (Fis 801.08)
"Import" means bringing or causing wildlife to be transported into the state by any means. (Fis 801.11)
"Prohibited" means that the wildlife species or activity such as collection, importation, transportation, possession, sale, transfer of release of that wildlife is not allowed. (Fis 801.19)
"Wildlife" refers to all species of mammals, birds, fish, mollusks, crustaceans, amphibians, invertebrates, reptiles or their progeny or eggs which, whether raised in captivity or not, are normally found in a wild state. (RSA 207:1, XXXV)
No person shall import, possess, sell, exhibit, or release any live marine species or wildlife, or the eggs or progeny thereof, without first obtaining a permit from the NH Fish and Game Department's Executive Director.
No person shall be issued a permit to import (Fis 803.03 & Fis 803.04(b)) or possess (Fis 804.03) the following designated prohibited wildlife:
Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha, D. bugensis)
Spiny waterflea (Bythotrephes cederstroemi)
Fishhook waterflea (Cercopagis pengoi)
All non-indigenous crayfish
Asiatic clam (Corbicula fluminea)
Walking catfish (Clarias batrachus)
White amur/grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella)
Black carp (Mylopharyngodaon piceus)
European rudd (Scardinius erythophthalmus)
Round goby (Neogobius melanostomus)
Tubenose goby (Proterhinus marmoratus)
Ruffe (Gymnocephalus cernuus)
Snakeheads (Family: Channidae)
[NOTE: Fis 803.03, 803.04(b), and 804.03 effective as of June 5, 2007]
No person shall be issued a permit to release the following designated prohibited wildlife:
|Amphibians||All indigenous imported into the state|
|Reptiles||All indigenous imported into the state|
|Fish||All species listed as prohibited for importation and release|
|All non-indigenous species|
|Any species not naturalized in New Hampshire|
|Invertebrates||All indigenous imported into the state|
Special information for aquarium enthusiasts
Do you keep an aquarium in your home, school or office? Do you have an artificial pond or other outdoor water feature? You can help stop the spread of damaging aquatic plants and animals! To learn more, click here to download "Don't leave them stranded"* (PDF, 180 KB)
Agencies and organizations that are actively involved in education and regulatory actions regarding aquatic nuisance species (ANS) in New Hampshire are described here.
NH Fish and Game Department
The Fish and Game Department regulates fishing and importation and release of animals (vertebrates and invertebrates) in the state, including possession, transport, and use of aquatic nuisance species by anglers, bait dealers, and aquaculture producers.
NH Department of Environmental Services, Exotic Species Program
New Hampshire's Exotic Aquatic Plant Species Program, authorized by RSA 487, focuses on submerged exotic aquatic plants. Funding for the program is through a state fee affixed to boat registrations.
Department of Safety, Marine Patrol Bureau
The Marine Patrol is responsible for enforcement of boating laws. They occasionally become involved in inspections for illegal plant transport on boats and trailers.
New Hampshire Lakes Association (NHLA)
The NHLA is a statewide, nonprofit, member-supported organization dedicated to protecting New Hampshire's lakes, which are integral to the quality of life and economic health of the State. The NHLA serves as a source of information about lakes and lake issues through our educational materials and programs, and through our work with state legislators. They advocate on issues of water quality, boater education and boating safety, invasive species prevention, appropriate public access and a balance of lake uses.
For additional information on aquatic invasive species visit:
Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force: www.anstaskforce.gov
Sea Grant National Aquatic Nuisance Species Clearinghouse: www.cce.cornell.edu/seagrant/ans/anspages/anshome.htm
Invasive Species Information: www.invasivespecies.gov
Zebra Mussels Fact Sheet (PDF - N.H. Department of Environmental Services)