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Ask a conservation officer: Live well plugs, even when dry, must be removed on the road

Q: I am using my live well as dry storage for extra life jackets, cushions and other stuff; does the plug need to be pulled?

A: Many newer watercraft come with several storage lockers, but it has become more common for anglers to plug their live wells to use as a storage compartment as well. Although the intent may be to keep water out of these compartments, changes made to invasive species transport laws in recent years do require these spaces to be opened for transport both to and from the water. Minnesota Statute 84D.10 Subdivision 4, Paragraph B states that, “Drain plugs, bailers, valves, or other devices used to control the draining of water from ballast tanks, bilges, and live wells must be removed or opened while transporting water-related equipment.”

With a little practice, anglers can learn to quickly re-plug these openings when they insert their bilge plug before launching their craft and continue to use them as dry storage while on the water. These changes in law and practice in recent years have made it so all of us have to change our boating procedures a little bit, but with close attention to these practices, we can work to slow the spread of aquatic invasive species.

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Matthew S. Miller is a Minnesota Conservation Officer with the Lake Superior Marine Unit