Frequently asked questions

Quagga mussel issues and enforcement

  • Why are quagga mussels an issue?

    • They impact fisheries by removing large amounts of beneficial plankton from the water, making this important food source unavailable to other aquatic organisms. This impacts the entire food chain all the way up to top fish predators like bass.
    • They pollute shorelines and ruin beaches by covering them with their sharp shells. The shells eventually decompose, releasing a foul odor.
    • They damage boats and equipment by using their byssal threads to attach to these areas. Quagga mussels are famous for clogging engine intakes on boat motors, causing a great deal of damage and sometimes even ruining motors.
    • They clog water delivery pipes, resulting in millions of dollars in extra maintenance costs that eventually are passed on to taxpayers.

    See the Utah State University Quagga Mussel (Dreissena bugensis) and Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) Fact Sheet for more information about these aquatic invaders.

  • What is the fine for transporting a boat that has mussels attached?

    Knowingly transporting a watercraft with mussels attached could result in a Class A Misdemeanor charge. That charge may include fines up to several thousand dollars in addition to restitution for the decontamination of the watercraft. You could also face seizure and quarantine of your boat.

  • What is the DWR doing to stop the spread of quagga mussels?

    The DWR, together with its partners at federal, state, and local levels, works diligently to protect Utah’s waters from invasive quagga and zebra mussels. This work involves the development of rapid response plans that would guide management decisions and actions upon the initial detection of invasive mussels in a Utah waterbody.

    Utah AIS Program enrollment fees go toward educational efforts, hiring trained AIS technicians and staff statewide, AIS research, prevention measures — including on-site decontamination stations and dip tanks at some popular waterbodies in Utah — and other programs to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species.

    Learn more about statewide DWR efforts to prevent the spread of AIS:

Boating interstate waters

  • What if I launch outside of Utah on an interstate water like Bear Lake, Flaming Gorge Reservoir or Lake Powell?

    If your boat is used within Utah at any point — including on an interstate water — you must comply with the education and fee requirements.

  • I already paid an AIS fee for another state’s aquatic invasive species program. Why do I need to take this course and enroll in Utah’s, too?

    Just like a hunting or fishing license, this enrollment process only applies to the state where you are recreating.

Utah’s AIS Program enrollment, payment and decal

  • Do I have to take the educational course and enroll my vessel every year?

    Yes, the course completion certificate and Utah AIS Program vessel enrollment are valid for the calendar year.

  • I used to be able to pay the state AIS fee when I registered my boat with the Utah Division of Motor Vehicles. Why do I have to go through the DWR now?

    Rule changes approved by the Utah legislature in 2023 (SB112 Aquatic Invasive Species Amendments) made the educational mussel-aware boater education course mandatory for all boaters, and motorized vessel enrollment in the Utah AIS Program is now required for both residents and non-resident boaters. Moving both of these requirements to one platform through the DWR has streamlined the course completion, fee payment and enrollment process.

    Previously, the Mussel-aware Boater education course was only required for non-resident boaters, and Utah residents paid the AIS fee when they registered their boat through the DMV. This is no longer the case as of July 1, 2023.

    All fees paid through the AIS vessel enrollment program go to fight the spread of aquatic invasive mussels in the state.

  • When will I receive my AIS decal and where do I place it on my vessel?

    Your current-year AIS decal will be mailed to the address you provide at the time of AIS vessel enrollment and payment, and you will receive it within 10 business days. The following instructions for decal placement will be included:

    Aquatic Invasive Species validation decal must appear on the port side of the boat; provide a 6-inch space from other decals

  • I completed my AIS vessel enrollment, but haven’t received my AIS decal in the mail yet. Can I launch my boat in Utah?

    Yes, if you display your printout of proof of the mussel-aware boater course completion and the proof of payment of the AIS vessel enrollment fee for this year.

  • Will I be able to enroll my boat and pay the fees for multiple vessels?

    Yes. However, a separate Utah AIS Program vessel enrollment program fee ($20 for Utah residents and $25 for non-resident boaters) is required for each vessel. Each vessel must display a current-year AIS vessel enrollment decal, which will be mailed to you with instructions for placement.

  • What if there are multiple owners of a boat? Who is responsible for paying the fee?

    The person who was responsible for registering the boat with the Utah DMV is also responsible for paying the AIS vessel enrollment program fee associated with that boat’s use in Utah.

  • What if I paid the fee and received the AIS decal, but want to let someone use my boat without me?

    A current-year Utah AIS decal — or a copy of the AIS vessel enrollment certificate — should remain with the boat at all times to show proof of meeting the enrollment and payment requirements. In addition, any user of the boat also needs to place a copy of this AIS vessel enrollment certificate on the dash of the launch vehicle.

    All boaters (even if they are not the owner of the vessel) must complete the mussel-aware boater education course.

  • What is the QR code on my certificate for?

    The QR code on your vessel enrollment completion certificate has your boat type and bow number embedded in it. Rather than our watercraft inspection staff having to ask you this information and enter it manually into our data collection system every time you launch, with the QR code they have the ability to quickly scan the code on your certificate to collect this information and get you on the water faster.