PALESTINE — With Independence Day celebrations on the horizon, the Texas Parks & Wildlife reminds boaters of a new law that takes effect on Tuesday requiring them to drain all water from their boat and on-board receptacles before leaving or approaching a body of fresh water anywhere in Texas.
The new TPWD regulation is designed to help combat the further spread of zebra mussels and other invasive species. It applies to all types and sizes of boats whether powered or not — personal watercraft, sailboats, kayaks/canoes, or any other vessel used on public waters.
The regulation requires the draining of livewells, bilges, motors, and any other receptacles or water-intake systems coming into contact with public waters.
More than just draining of boats, the new law also regulates the transport or transfer of those boats, as well as live bait and fish from one body of water to another, as follows:
• Live fish, including personally caught live bait, cannot be transported from the water body where the fish were caught in or aboard a vessel in water from the water body where the fish were caught. Personally caught live bait can be used in the water body where it was caught.
• Anglers are allowed to transport and use commercially purchased live bait if they have a receipt that identifies the source of the bait. Any live bait purchased from a location on or adjacent to a public water body that is transported in water from that water body can only be used as bait on that same water body.
• Anglers participating in a fishing tournament confined to one water body may transport live fish in water from that single water body to an identified off-site weigh-in location, but all water must be drained and properly disposed of before leaving that location.