This year’s fishing opener comes with a reminder to always follow Minnesota’s laws to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Along with taking care to follow social distancing guidelines while fishing and boating, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said it’s also important to take a few minutes for invasive species prevention every time a boat comes out of the water.

Lt. Col. Greg Salo, DNR Enforcement Division assistant director, said that’s true every time, whether or not an enforcement officer or watercraft inspector is present.

“All anglers and boaters in Minnesota are required to take three simple steps: clean, drain, dispose,” Salo said. “It’s not only the best way to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, but it’s also the law in Minnesota.”

People must clean aquatic plants and debris from watercraft, drain lake or river water and keep drain plugs out during transport, and dispose of unwanted bait in the trash, not in the water.

In addition to these required steps, the DNR also recommends that anglers:

• Spray boat and trailer with high-pressure water;

• Rinse boat and trailer with very hot water (120 degrees for two minutes; or 140 degrees for 10 seconds); or

• Dry boat and equipment for at least five days.

More information is available at mndnr.gov/AIS.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Executive Order 20-38 allows people to be outdoors, engaging in activities such as walking, running, fishing and hunting. We urge outdoor enthusiasts to:

• Stay close to home.

• Not congregate when outdoors.

• Follow social distancing guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health.

• Remain home if they are ill or exhibiting any symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

Social distancing guidelines while boating include:

• Only boat with people in your immediate household.

• Do not invite guests or anyone outside your household onto your boat.

• Do not go boating if someone in your group is feeling sick or may have been exposed to someone who is sick.

• When launching your boat, keep a safe distance of at least six feet from others.

Most state-managed public accesses are open, though the availability of amenities, such as docks, are contingent upon seasonal maintenance.

More information, including a video with social distancing tips while boating, is available on the DNR COVID-19 Response webpage.

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