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Plug removal rule in effect for boaters

by Flip Putthoff | February 16, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.

Anglers, hunters and other boaters who use the state's waterways are being reminded of a new regulation that took effect Jan. 1 requiring all boat drain plugs to be removed before and during trailering of vessels to and from access facilities on lakes, rivers and streams.

This includes plugs for live wells, ballast tanks and the like.

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission rules list exceptions to the regulation. Fishing tournament officials may submit a request to the Game and Fish fisheries division for written permission to allow for the transport of fish to an off-site weigh station. All tournament participants must be given a copy of the permit. Also, transportation of baitfish is allowed in compliance with the Game and Fish code of regulations.

A similar boat plug regulation was already in place in 21 other states to help stop the spread of aquatic nuisance species. The new Game and Fish rule was part of an extensive list of regulations recommended by the fisheries division and approved by the Game and Fish panel of commissioners to take effect beginning Jan. 1.

Aquatic nuisance species such as silver carp, giant salvinia, zebra mussels and others continue to spread across waterways in Arkansas. The boat plug removal regulation is one of many actions Game and Fish has undertaken recently.

Along with unplugging when trailering a boat, operators need to clean, drain and dry their boats after visiting a lake, river or stream to stop the spread of invasive species to another waterbody.

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