Watercraft inspection consists of visually inspecting all areas of boating and recreational equipment (i.e., boat, trailer, motor, livewell, anchor, swim fins, scuba gear, etc.) that come in contact with or hold water; removing all visible plants, animals, and mud; and draining water from all compartments and containers. These practices reduce the risk of movement of all organisms–particularly aquatic invasive species–from one body of water to another. For more information about watercraft inspection, see the Watercraft Inspection Handbook.
People have been working to control aquatic invasive species in New York State for decades. In 2003, the state government took a leadership effort to identify and coordinate local and regional efforts. The Watercraft Inspection Steward Program’s are a statewide effort that has stewards stationed at boat launches across the state, including Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes, the Thousand Islands, the Adirondacks, Lake Champlain, Lake George, Saratoga Lake, the Hudson River and on Long Island. Boat inspection programs, which began as grassroots efforts in the Adirondacks in the early 2000s, were recognized and supported with increased government funding around this time. Stewards participate in many education and outreach events and invasive species removal projects, and, during the boating season, inspect and remove invasive species from watercraft.