Biosecurity for boat and kayak users Download this page in pdf format

Avoiding the spread of non-native species on the clothes and equipment of boat, canoe and kayak users.

All boat, canoe and kayak users should follow the Check, Clean, Dry biosecurity procedures to help prevent the spread of problem non-native species. This guidance sets out simple instructions that can help prevent the accidental transfer of non-native species.

This guidance should be adopted by all users of water craft, which are generically referred to as 'boats' within this guidance.


  • While most boat users are vigilant about the risk of spreading non-native species and diseases, there is a real risk that those that aren't could accidentally spread these organisms, harming the environment and potentially damaging the reputation of the sport.
  • Non-native species could be spread in any water or material. Boat users should take care to avoid moving these between water bodies.


  • Boat users should make themselves aware of some of the priority non-native species.
  • Adequate signage or guidance should be in place, making all boat users aware of the risk, and providing advice on how to prevent spread.
  • Ideally, all cleaning and inspection operations should be supervised by a volunteer or member of staff.
  • Ideally, access and egress for boat users should be limited, preferably to a single point. Boat users should log in and out, confirming that they have cleaned and inspected their equipment.
  • Biofouling must be thoroughly removed from all hulls and other submerged surfaces before transfer to another site.
  • Any site may have invasive non-native species and diseases that can be spread by contaminated clothes and equipment, so good biosecurity is always important. Remember: everyone, every time, everywhere.
  • If you are visiting a site where an invasive non-native species is known to be present, you must ensure you don't spread it. Failure to do so risks prosecution under the Wildlife & Countryside Act, 1981.
  • The risk can be reduced by reducing the contact time in which equipment is exposed to the water. This is particularly important for items such as trailers, which have cavities that may retain water and be hard to inspect. If possible, trailers and launching trolleys should be provided at the site and used in preference to personal equipment.
  • Any water that collects in bilges or inside kayaks and canoes must be completely emptied before leaving the site.
  • Water-cooled engines must be washed through with tap water to ensure the system does not harbour non-native species.

Check, Clean, Dry disinfection procedure

  • If facilities allow, equipment can be hosed down or pressure-washed to remove debris. The washings should not allowed to enter any watercourse or drainage system.
  • Clothing and equipment should be thoroughly dried. Wetsuits and boots should be hung-up to dry. Equipment should be dry for 48 hours before it is used elsewhere.
  • Particular attention must be paid to areas that retain water, remain damp or are hard to inspect. Trampolines also require careful cleaning and inspection. All biofouling must be completely removed and disposed of without contaminating watercourses.

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