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E-M:/ U.S. Federal budget contains additional funds for sea lamrpey control (news release)

Enviro-Mich message from mgaden <mgaden@glfc.org>

Great Lakes Fishery Commission

For Immediate Release
December 2, 1999
Contact:  Marc Gaden
734-662-3209 x. 14

Great Lakes Fishery Commission Hails U.S. Increase 
For Great Lakes Sea Lamprey Control

	The Great Lakes Fishery Commission today hailed the just-completed
U.S. Federal budget as a victory for the health of the Great Lakes fishery
and the millions of people who rely on it for food, recreation, and
aesthetic beauty.  The budget, which was negotiated by Congress and the
Administration and signed this week by President Clinton, includes an
additional $1 million for Great Lakes sea lamprey control, largely to
address the sea lamprey problem on the St. Marys River.  The federal
increase, coupled with funds provided by the State of Michigan, will allow
the Commission to reign-in the last remaining out-of-control population of
sea lampreys in the Great Lakes:  those produced in the St. Marys River.

	Sea lampreys invaded the Great Lakes in the early part of the 20th
Century through shipping canals.  Their impact on the valuable fishery was
immediate and devastating:  fish harvest declined dramatically and the
thriving fish communities, based on native, self-sustaining fish stocks,
were thrown seriously off balance.  In 1955, the governments of Canada and
the United States created the Great Lakes Fishery Commission to control sea
lampreys.  Since then, the commission has been able to suppress lamprey
populations in most areas by 90%, paving the way for successful stocking,
rehabilitation of native fisheries, and the resurgence of sport and
commercial fishing.

	Despite the commission's success, there is a major trouble-spot in
the Great Lakes:  the St. Marys River, which currently produces more sea
lampreys than all of the other Great Lakes combined.  These lampreys migrate
downstream and feed on large numbers of fish in Lake Huron and northern Lake
Michigan.  Sea lampreys currently kill far more fish in Lake Huron and
northern Lake Michigan than are harvested.

	"Sea lampreys are a significant menace to the people who fish the
Great Lakes commercially, tribally, and recreationally," said Commissioner
Joe Day.   "Lampreys are also a major threat to a healthy fish community.
It is vital we do everything possible to manage and control the populations
of these exotic pests."

	"The additional funds provided by the U.S. Federal government will
mean a significant boost in sea lamprey control," said Commission
Vice-Chairman Bernie Hansen.  "These funds will allow for the treatment of
the St. Marys River without having to sacrifice sea lamprey control in other
areas of the Great Lakes.  These funds also allow us to maintain our
obligation to state, federal, tribal, and provincial cooperators to support
their fishery management activities.   The action of Congress and the
Administration will mean a stronger and healthier Great Lakes fishery.  Sea
lamprey control contributes significantly to the $4 billion in economic
return the fishery provides annually to the region."

	Hansen continued:  "The Commission is grateful for the support from
Members of Congress throughout the Great Lakes basin, particularly for the
personal involvement Senator Spencer Abraham (MI) and Congressman Jim Barcia
(MI), and from members of the Great Lakes Task Force, co-chaired by Senators
Carl Levin (MI), Mike DeWine (OH) and Congressmen John Dingell (MI), Vernon
Ehlers (MI), Steve LaTourette (OH), and Jim Oberstar (MN)." 

	Hansen concluded:  "We also appreciate the support from stakeholder
groups such as the Michigan Steelhead and Salmon Fishermen's Association,
the Michigan Boating Industries Association, the Lake Erie Marine Trades
Association, the National Marine Manufacturers Association, and the Michigan
Sea Lamprey Funding Task Force, who joined many others in support of the
additional funds."



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