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E-M:/ Lake Superior Committee: News Release


For Immediate Release	
April 18, 1997
Contact: Marc Gaden
313-662-3209 ext. 14


Increasing Sea Lamprey Control Needs 
Could Endanger Major Restoration Successes in Lake Superior

ANN ARBOR, MI — Lake trout restoration in large areas of Lake Superior is
now a reality, though gains could be threatened if adequate sea lamprey
control is not maintained.  Members of the Lake Superior Committee issued
this caution during their recent annual meeting in Ann Arbor, Michigan,
where fishery managers from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario, the
Chippewa-Ottawa Treaty Fishery Management Authority, and the Great Lakes
Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission gathered to focus attention on the
state of the Lake Superior fishery.  The committee expressed excitement
about the success of lake trout rehabilitation in Lake Superior, noting
that sea lamprey control is largely responsible.  However, a proposal to
control sea lampreys in the St. Marys River, though supported by the Lake
Superior Committee, may jeopardize major fishery rehabilitation gains by
causing a redirection of scarce resources from existing sea lamprey control
program areas to the St. Marys River.

	Overfishing and lamprey predation in the middle part of this century drove
lake trout—an important native predator in the Great Lakes—to near
extinction.  In 1996, after years of careful rehabilitation efforts by
state, provincial, tribal, and federal agencies, the Lake Superior
Committee proclaimed a major victory for the fishery: lake trout are again
self-sustaining in large areas of Lake Superior.  With the return of
self-sustaining lake trout populations, Lake Superior fishery management
authorities agreed to stop stocking U.S. federally-reared lake trout in
areas of the lake extending from the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin eastward
to Grand Marias, Michigan.  (Stocking continues in other areas of Lake
Superior because natural reproduction has not yet taken hold at a level
that would likely allow self-sustainability.)   Fishery managers credit the
success of lake trout restoration in Lake Superior to coordinated stocking
programs, harvest limits, water quality improvements, and a 90% reduction
in sea lamprey populations.

	Rehabilitation of the Lake Huron and northern Lake Michigan fisheries,
however, has not been as successful as in Lake Superior.  Sea lampreys
remain a serious problem in Lake Huron and northern Lake Michigan due to
high levels of lamprey production in the St. Marys River—the connecting
channel between Lakes Superior and Huron.  During its meeting, the Lake
Superior Committee agreed with the Lake Huron Committee that sea lamprey
control on the St. Marys River is a top priority, not only for the benefit
of Lakes Huron and Michigan, but also because it will help reduce the
migration of sea lampreys into Lake Superior.

Cost-effective sea lamprey control on the St. Marys, once thought to be
impossible, may now be within reach because of a special program developed
by biologists and research scientists working under the direction of the
Great Lakes Fishery Commission.  The program proposes to combine the
granular Bayer lampricide with trapping and the
Sterile-Male-Release-Technique to achieve an 85% reduction in Lake Huron
and northern Lake Michigan sea lampreys.   

The Lake Superior Committee concurred with the proposed program and offered
to redirect some sterile male lampreys now used as a control method in Lake
Superior to the St. Marys River effort.   The committee expects that only
excess sterile males will be redirected to the St. Marys River, that
arrangements with tribal governments will be honored, and that studies to
demonstrate the effectiveness of the Sterile-Male-Release-Technique in Lake
Superior will be continued.

"The Lake Superior Committee is very pleased to see that the Great Lakes
Fishery Commission is committed to sea lamprey control on the St. Marys
River," commented Committee Chairman Bill Horns of the Wisconsin Department
of Natural Resources.  "In Lake Superior, we know first hand how quickly
sea lampreys can destroy a fishery.  Based on the success of lake trout
rehabilitation in Lake Superior, we also know that sea lamprey control is a
vital prerequisite to fishery rehabilitation.  We hope that a St. Marys
River control program will help Lake Huron and Lake Michigan experience
real advances in fishery rehabilitation, and will help stem the migration
of sea lampreys upstream into Lake Superior."

The St. Marys River control program is expected to cost an additional $1
million per year, starting in 1998, though overall funding for Great Lakes
sea lamprey control is expected to remain constant in 1998.  Committee
members voiced concern that without new dollars there could be a
redirection of sea lamprey control funds from other lakes—including Lake
Superior—to the St. Marys River.  Said Bob Thomson of the Ontario Ministry
of Natural Resources, "We must view Lake Superior lake trout restoration as
an investment in today's fishery and in the fishery that future generations
will enjoy.  To protect that investment, it is imperative that we not allow
sea lampreys to re-gain the upper hand in Lake Superior.  I hope that the
governments of the United States and Canada will find the resources
necessary to control sea lampreys in the St. Marys River.  It would be a
shame if success in the St. Marys River came at the expense of the other
Great Lakes."

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Marc Gaden
Great Lakes Fishery Commission
2100 Commonwealth Blvd. Ste. 209
Ann Arbor, MI  48103
313-662-3209 ext. 14

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