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Aquatic Invasive Species Laws and Regulations

Summary of Aquatic Invasive Species Spread Prevention Regulations

The Watershed Management Division manages aquatic invasives species threats and spread prevention efforts through the Vermont Aquatic Nuisance Control Program. The goal of the Vermont Aquatic Nuisance Control Program (10 V.S.A. § 1453) is as follows: 
  1. To prevent the infestation and proliferation of invasive species in the State that result in negative environmental impacts, including habitat loss and a reduction in native biodiversity along with adverse social and economic impacts and impacts to the public health and safety;

  2. To initiate quickly a response to contain and control a new aquatic species introduction before it can spread critical to reduce future management costs and protect the integrity of Vermont's ecosystems;

  3. To detect infestations of new aquatic species early and act upon them swiftly to minimize economic, social, and ecological impacts as well as to increase the probability of a successful eradication effort.  

    Many species are included in the Program; however, the priority species at this time are listed here.

Transport of Aquatic Plant and Animal Species (10  V.S.A. § 1454)

A boat's outboard mootor with Eurasian watermilfoil attached

A person shall not transport an aquatic plant, aquatic plant part, or aquatic nuisance species to or from any Vermont water. No restrictions apply to proper harvesting or control activities undertaken for the purposes of eliminating or controlling the growth or propagation of aquatic nuisance species; water quality monitoring shall not be restricted by this section of legislation. It is required that persons shall inspect any vessel, vessel trailer, motor vehicle and other equipment upon entering and departing a waterbody – persons will also be required to remove any aquatic plants, plant parts and aquatic nuisance species found on vessels or equipment. Agency of Natural Resources can permit the transport of aquatic plants, plant parts, or aquatic nuisance species for scientific, educational or other purposes deemed necessary.

Persons are required to have their vessel and equipment inspected and decontaminated at an authorized inspection station if one is available and these procedures are deemed necessary by an authorized staff member at said inspection station. Persons are required to drain their watercraft, trailer, and other equipment of any water. Drain plugs, bailers, valves and other water control devices are required to be opened or taken out while a vessel is being transported to or from a waterbody. This provision of §1454 is not inclusive of baitboxes (when authorized) or of vehicles and trailers designed for water hauling. Any violation of the aquatic nuisance species transport law, including the section pertaining drainage of vessels and equipment, may result in a fine of up to $1000.

Aquatic Nuisance Control Permit  Boat dock surrounded by water chestnut

Pursuant to 10 V.S.A. § 1455, an Aquatic Nuisance Control Permit is required to control nuisance aquatic plants, insects, or other aquatic life (including lamprey) in waters of the State. Some types of aquatic nuisance control activities are exempt from Aquatic Nuisance Control permitting, such as removing an aquatic invasive species by hand only. Depending on the location of the aquatic nuisance control activity, a project may also be under the jurisdiction of the Wetlands Program.

Emergency Response General Permit

The Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources has emergency permitting authority aimed at initiating a rapid response to a new invasive species invasion. An emergency rapid response general permit for both chemical and non-chemical methods with coverage is available to the commissioners of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and the Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife.

Ban of Felt-soled Boots and Waders (Repealed as of July 1, 2016)

In May 2010, the Vermont legislature enacted, and the Governor signed into law, a ban on the use of felt-soled boots and waders in Vermont waters, effective April 1, 2011. Due to changes in the science behind Didymo, the species  most responsible for the implementation of the ban, it has since been repealed.

Use of Public Water Rules, Section 4.1

The Vermont Use of Public Water Rules Section 4.1 authorizes the Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources to identify areas of public waters as temporarily closed to all persons, vessels or both in order to prevent, control or contain the spread of aquatic nuisance infestations.

Other Regulations

Pest Survey, Detection, and Management

(Vermont Statutes Annotated Title 6, Chapter 84, § 1030-1040) 
The Vermont Department of Agriculture, through the Commissioner, has regulatory authority over plant pests pursuant to Title 6, Chapter 84, Pest Survey, Detection & Management. Within this statute the commissioner may conduct surveys, establish quarantines and eradicate plant pests. 

A plant pest is defined as any living stage of: insects, mites, nematodes, slugs, snails, protozoa or any other invertebrate animals; bacteria, fungi, mycoplasma or other parasitic plants, weeds or reproductive parts thereof; viruses or any organisms similar to or allied with any of the foregoing; and any genetically modified organisms or biological control agents that may directly or indirectly injure or cause disease or damage to any beneficial organisms, plants, parts of plants, or plant products.

Noxious Weed Quarantine #3

In general, this rule prohibits the sale, movement, distribution, and in some cases, possession or cultivation of certain species of plants that have been recognized as invasive in Vermont or adjacent States. The impacts of these plant species on native ecosystems outweigh their value as ornamental plants in the nursery and landscaping trades to the extent that the Agency of Agriculture has banned their sale in an effort to prevent their introduction into as yet uninfested areas, or slow their further spread across the state through commerce.

Click here for more information from the Vermont Department of Agriculture, Food and Markets

Minnow Nets, Traps, Transporting, and Baitfish Use

(Vermont Statutes Annotated Title 10, Chapter 2, § 122) 

According to Vermont baitfish laws, anglers may harvest wild baitfish for personal use provided they follow the Vermont Baitfish Regulations effective as of January 1, 2020 that establishes east and west baitfish zones within which baitfish can be used, a list of black-list waters that have high fish diease or invasive species risk, new baitfish harvest and holding rules, and a listing of approved commercial baitshops. 

Control of Fish, Game; Powers of Commissioner

(Vermont Statutes Annotated Title 10, Chapter 103, § 4138
The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, through the Commissioner, "may take, permit, or cause to be taken at any time from any waters, and in any manner, fish which hinder or prevent the propagation of game or food fish and may take, permit, or cause to be taken at any time wild animals which are doing damage. Such removal or taking and the possession and disposition of such fish or wild animals shall be under such regulations as the Commissioner may prescribe. The Commissioner may take necessary measures to control, in public waters, aquatic vegetation, insects, or aquatic life, for the purpose of improving such waters as a habitat.”

Placing Fish in Waters

(Vermont Statutes Annotated Title 10, Chapter 111, § 4605
The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, through the Commissioner, has the authority to regulate the introduction of all live fish or the live spawn thereof, into any of the inland or outlying waters of the state. The Department also may dispose of unlawfully imported fish as it may judge best, and the state may collect damages from the violator for all expenses incurred. In this regard, no person is to bring into the state to introduce into any of the public waters any live fish or eggs unless a permit is first obtained from the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Importation, Stocking Wild Animals 

(Vermont Statutes Annotated Title 10, Chapter 113, § 4709)

The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, through the Commissioner, has the authority to regulate the introduction of any live wild bird or animal of any kind. The Department may dispose of unlawfully imported wildlife as it may judge best, and the state may collect damages from the violator for all expenses incurred.