Lake Michigan Shore

New Boating Laws for Michigan

Before you hit the water in Michigan, there’s something you need to do (aside from reviewing your boat insurance coverage): Brush up on the new changes in Michigan’s Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA).

The newly-amended sections of NREPA are intended to prevent invasive and non-native aquatic species from spreading.

Our boat insurance specialists have been reading up on the new NREPA regulations, which came into effect on March 21st of this year.

Rouge River Rockford, Michigan – Photo by Eric Lubbers

Here’s what you need to know:

While boaters always have had to remove all aquatic plants from boats (motorized or non-motorized), trailers and other conveyances before launching, the amendments now require that you do it before transporting your boat or yacht over land.

Under the new amendments to Sec. 41325 of NREPA (Act 451 of 1994), boaters have to be vigilant about pulling plugs, draining water and removing aquatic plants or matter before getting on the road.

To comply with the new regulations, boaters should:

  • Drain live wells, bilges and ballast tanks (leave the plugs out)
  • Check that there aren’t any aquatic organisms (critters or plants) stowing away anywhere
  • Clean boats, trailers, equipment, and gear (kayaks, lifejackets, paddles, etc.)
  • Dry your boat or yacht and equipment thoroughly

Here’s what anglers need to know:

The NREPA amendments have changed on how fishermen can collect, use or release baitfish and how they can release the fish they catch. They have codified Order 245 of the state’s Department of Natural Resources.

If you are fishing in Michigan:

  • You can only release the baitfish you catch in the water where you caught it  (inland lake/stream/or Great Lake) or in a connecting body of water that it could reach on its own.
  • Similarly, you can only release the fish you catch in the water where it was caught or in a connecting body of water that it could reach on its own.
  • You must dispose of any unwanted bait in the trash and not the water.

The new regulations should help to prevent non-native invasive species from spreading from one body of water to another.

In recent years, aquatic biologists have seen many invasive species populate Michigan lakes and rivers. These include plants, such as the Eurasian watermilfoil, or creatures such as zebra mussels or the small (but damaging) New Zealand mudsnail.

Additionally, moving fish or water from one water source to another can spread fish diseases and parasites.

Failing to observe the new regulations could result in a fine of up to $100.

Feel more confident boating or fishing in Michigan? Remember to contact the friendly boat insurance professionals at Global Marine Insurance to ensure your coverage meets your needs this season.

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