Washington State

House of Representatives

Office of Program Research



Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee

ESSB 6040

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

Brief Description: Concerning invasive species.

Sponsors: Senate Committee on Natural Resources & Parks (originally sponsored by Senators Honeyford, Hargrove, Pearson, Ranker, Parlette and Sheldon; by request of Department of Fish and Wildlife).

Brief Summary of Engrossed Substitute Bill

  • Reorganizes, amends, and expands on statutes providing for the prevention and integrated management of aquatic invasive species.

  • Establishes a new schema for classifying invasive species.

  • Provides a suite of management tools for sites designated for emergency conditions, quarantines, temporary rapid responses, and longer-term infested site management.

  • Establishes a framework of inspections, check stations, and decontamination for portable aquatic conveyances potentially harboring invasive species.

  • Expands invasive species inspections to target a broad spectrum of aquatic conveyances, rather than primarily targeting watercraft.

  • Phases in a partial redirection of the water craft excise tax from the general fund into accounts for aquatic invasive species prevention and enforcement.

Hearing Date: 2/20/14

Staff: Jacob Lipson (786-7196).


The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has a broad mission to protect fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, and administers several laws that manage and restrict aquatic invasive species. To enforce various fish and wildlife laws, fish and wildlife officers are deployed in the field alongside federal, state, and local law enforcement officials who serve as ex officio WDFW officers.

In 2006 the Legislature established the Invasive Species Council (Council) to provide policy level direction, planning, and coordination regarding the prevention and control of invasive species issues in Washington. The statutory goals of the Council include serving as a forum for identifying and understanding invasive species, facilitating joint planning and cooperation among relevant entities, educating the public, and providing policy advice to the Legislature. Council membership consists of representatives from state and federal agencies, local governments, and other members invited by the Council.

Classification and Regulation of Aquatic Invasive Species.

In accordance with a WDFW recommendation, the Fish and Wildlife Commission (Commission) has the authority to designate two categories of aquatic invasive animal species: prohibited species with high invasion risk levels; and regulated species with moderate but manageable invasion risk, as well as beneficial use.

Unless authorized by the WDFW, it is generally illegal to possess, transport, propagate, buy, sell, or release a prohibited or regulated aquatic animal species. The release of regulated aquatic animal species is also illegal. In general these offenses are punishable as gross misdemeanors. Civil infractions may be issued for entering the state with uncertified watercraft, transporting aquatic plants, or other violations of aquatic invasive species prevention requirements.

Invasive Species Proliferation Prevention Measures.

When the Commission identifies a prohibited aquatic animal species infestation, the WDFW must develop a rapid response plan to address potential actions such as eradication, containment, enforcement, and public education. The WDFW and other agencies may post signs at an infestation site to identify the infestation and notify the public of the hazards and penalties for possessing and transporting these species.

Anyone that has used a commercial or recreational watercraft in certain states or countries must, upon entering Washington, possess documentation that the watercraft is free of invasive species. This applies when the watercraft has been used in an area designated as an aquatic invasive species state or country by rule of the WDFW.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officers may stop and inspect watercraft suspected to be transporting aquatic invasive species. The WDFW may also require anyone transporting a watercraft to stop at a check station. Check stations must be plainly marked and operated by at least one WDFW officer.

A person with a watercraft used in an aquatic invasive species state or country, or that is contaminated with invasive species, must bear the expense for any necessary impoundment, transportation, or decontamination. A person who stops at a check station and complies with WDFW directives is exempt from aquatic invasive species-related criminal penalties and forfeiture.

Watercraft Excise Tax.

Many types of vessels are subject to a watercraft excise tax which is applied at the time of vessel registration. Commercial vessels, government-owned vessels, nonprofit-owned vessels, vessels smaller than 16 feet, and certain other vessels are exempt from the watercraft excise tax. The amount of the watercraft excise tax is 0.5 percent of the fair market value of the vessel, or $5, whichever is greater.

Summary of Bill:

The Role of WDFW in Invasive Species Management.

The WDFW is designated as the lead state agency for managing invasive animal species, with the exception of certain species managed by the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Department of Health. The WDFW is authorized to:

Other species classification systems used by the WDFW are not replaced, but invasive species management must be streamlined under the newly integrated Invasive Species Management Program.

Classification of Invasive Species.

The WDFW, in coordination with the Council, may designate three levels of prohibited invasive species based on the risks, management actions, and resources required to manage the invasive species. Prohibited species are divided into three categories:

In addition, the WDFW may classify and list by rule three types of regulated species:

Type B and type C regulated species are not required to be listed by rule. Non-native aquatic animal species are automatically managed as type B or type C regulated species unless they are listed by rule as prohibited levels 1, 2, and 3, or a regulated type A species.

The WDFW and Council must adopt rules prior to classifying any species as prohibited levels 1, 2, and 3, or regulated type A. Prior to the adoption of classification rules by the WDFW, certain species are initially designated for management under prohibited levels 1, 2, and 3, and regulated type A.

In general, the designation of both prohibited and regulated species may be specified by species or larger taxonomic groups, and align with regional and national classification schemes. Designations must be either statewide or for a specific region or water body. The classification of species may be accompanied by defined acceptable possession and introduction conditions.

Restrictions on Regulated and Prohibited Species.

Regulated and prohibited species are subject to the following restrictions:

If necessary, the WDFW is authorized to quarantine a water body, property, or region to protect environmental, economic, or human health interests from a level 1 or 2 prohibited invasive species. Movement of water and certain transportable property from quarantined places may be limited or conditioned by the WDFW.

The WDFW may also ask the Governor to declare an emergency to prevent the spread of a level 1 or 2 prohibited species that seriously endangers or threatens the environment, economy, human health, or the state's well-being. Upon approval from the Governor, the WDFW may implement measures to prevent, contain, control, or eradicate the invasive species. Surface and aerial pesticide application may be used after an evaluation of all other alternative emergency management actions. The WDFW must evaluate the effects of any emergency actions and report to the Governor no less than every 10 days.

Rapid Response Actions and Infested Site Management.

Where a level 1 prohibited species is detected, the WDFW may implement rapid response actions, including declaring a quarantine or taking other actions to control or eradicate the species. For rapid response actions exceeding seven days, the WDFW may implement an incident command system.

Where a level 2 species is detected, the WDFW may manage the property or water body as an infested site, and may declare a quarantine or take other actions to control or eradicate the species. Consultation between the WDFW and government, tribal, and private site owners is required during infested site management. Notice and updates of WDFW rapid response or infested site management actions must also be communicated to property or water body owners. When placing signs at an infested site, the WDFW must consult with property owners.

Rapid response actions cease when the species is eradicated, contained, reclassified for the water body, or designated for management as an infested site. Infested site management ceases when the species is eradicated, contained, or reclassified for the water body.

The WDFW may enter into cooperative partnerships for rapid response actions and infested site management actions. Rapid response and infested site management actions must both be implemented to contain, control, and eradicate level 1 and 2 species, while minimizing adverse economic and environmental impacts and protecting human health.

The WDFW is designated as the lead agency for rapid response and infested site management. Where federal, tribal, or other sovereign entities have jurisdiction, the WDFW must consult with analogous government entities to implement coordinated management actions. The WDFW may also assist in actions outside their normal jurisdictional boundaries in order to prevent the spread of invasive species into state waters.

Aquatic Conveyances Restrictions: Inspections, Check Station, and Decontamination.

Aquatic conveyances are defined as transportable personal property that have the potential to move aquatic invasive species, such as float planes, watercraft, construction equipment, personal fishing and hunting gear, and materials used for aquatic habitat mitigation or restoration.

People in possession of an aquatic conveyance must have a certificate of inspection prior to entering Washington by air, road, or water. This certificate must be presented upon request to a WDFW officer or ex officio fish and wildlife officer. Certificates of inspection are valid until the next use in a water body.

The WDFW must adopt rules pertaining to:

Aquatic conveyances must be cleaned and drained after use in a water body or property. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officers or ex officio officers may require persons transporting aquatic conveyances to clean and drain the conveyance on-location or at a nearby site. Clean and drain requirements may be enforced immediately for watercraft and seaplanes. However, the WDFW must adopt rules before implementing clean and drain requirements applicable to other aquatic conveyances.

The WDFW may establish mandatory check stations staffed by a WDFW officer, ex officio officer, or a WDFW-appointed representative. Check stations may be used to inspect aquatic conveyances for invasive species and compliance with clean and drain requirements. Watercraft must stop at mandatory check stations, and the WDFW may adopt rules establishing requirements for other aquatic conveyances at check stations. Persons stopping at inspection stations must clean and drain their equipment if ordered, or follow decontamination orders if an invasive species is found.

The WDFW may operate decontamination stations statewide for voluntary and mandatory use. Decontamination stations may be separate from inspection stations. Inspection and decontamination stations must be separate from commercial vehicle weigh stations. The WDFW must adopt inspection and decontamination standards that align with regional, national, and international standards, where practical and appropriate.

Representatives of the WDFW may operate inspection and decontamination stations. Volunteers, law enforcement agencies, and independent businesses may also serve as WDFW representatives, subject to rules adopted by the WDFW. Within two years, the WDFW must recommend a fee schedule to the Legislature to compensate the services of WDFW representatives.


The WDFW is granted authority to enter a property or water body in order to conduct aquatic invasive species enforcement or management actions including inspections, collections of samples, and taking action to contain, control, or eradicate invasive species. Prior to entering a property, the WDFW must make a reasonable outreach effort to contact the property owner, but may apply to the court for a search warrant if denied access. Where it finds reasonable cause, a court may issue warrants for the WDFW to conduct aquatic invasive species management actions on a property or water body.

People aggrieved or adversely affected by decontamination orders, infested site management actions, or rapid response management actions may request an administrative hearing asserting the invalidity of the action.

Upon discovery of an aquatic invasive species carried in an aquatic conveyance, WDFW officers or ex officio officers may issue a decontamination order for on-site decontamination, prohibit a launch, require transport to a decontamination facility, or seize the conveyance if there is a high risk of aquatic invasive species introduction. Persons possessing the aquatic conveyance carrying the invasive species bear the costs of seizure, transportation, and decontamination. Unless the aquatic conveyance is forfeited, it must be returned after the conclusion of decontamination and the receipt of a certificate of inspection.

Courts may issue search and arrest warrants where there is probable cause of a criminal violation.

The list of civil infractions for invasive species violations is now expanded to include:

The list of gross misdemeanors for invasive species violations is now expanded to include:

A class C felony is also established for persons who traffic or introduce a level 1 or 2 prohibited species onto a property or water body, or who twice violate laws with gross misdemeanor penalties within a five year period. With certain exceptions, violators of criminal laws are subject to felony or misdemeanor criminal penalties, as well as all costs of capturing, killing, or controlling invasive species and its progeny.

Other Provisions.

The WDFW is granted rule-making authority, in addition to specific provisions which require the WDFW to adopt rules. Numerous definitions are newly created or amended from use in existing invasive species statutes so as to be applicable to the new scope of aquatic invasive

species prevention and management programs.

The invasive species management activities of the chapter do not apply to non-native invasive species introduced from ballast water or private aquaculture operations. Management of invasive species from those activities is maintained under existing programs.

The aquatic invasive species prevention account is amended, and specified to accept certain WDFW fees levied on vessels. Separately, funds in the aquatic species enforcement account may be appropriated to develop the WDFW's enforcement program.

Both the aquatic invasive species prevention and enforcement accounts receive an increasing percentage of water craft excise tax revenue, phased in over the next few years. In fiscal year 2015, 4 percent of the water craft excise tax is directed to the two invasive species accounts; in fiscal year 2016 the percentage into the invasive species accounts rises to 7 percent; in fiscal year 2017 and beyond, 10 percent of the water craft excise tax is directed to the two aquatic invasive species accounts. Of the revenues directed into aquatic invasive species accounts, 60 percent is dedicated to the aquatic invasive species prevention account, and 40 percent is dedicated to the enforcement account. A competitive grant program is established to provide up to $250,000 per year to local governments, state agencies, academic institutions, and nonprofit groups to manage level 1 or 2 prohibited species, develop cooperative agreements, or conduct research with on the ground implications for aquatic invasive species efforts.

Appropriation: A sum of $50,000 is appropriated to the Department of Fish and Wildlife for a contract with the Pacific Northwest Economic Region nonprofit organization for invasive species regional coordination activities.

Fiscal Note: Not requested.

Effective Date: The bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed.