[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

Lake Huron Committee: News Release

Great Lakes Fishery Commission

Lake Huron Committee

For Immediate Release	
April 8, 1997

Contact:  Marc Gaden
313-662-3209 ext. 14

Lake Huron Committee Endorses Plan to Control St. Marys River Sea Lampreys

Plan calls for combination of lampricide treatments, trapping and
sterile-male-release;  Lamprey reduction of at least 85% projected for Lake

ANN ARBOR, Ml – The burgeoning problem of sea lampreys produced in the St.
Marys River could bring the Lake Huron fishery to the brink of collapse
unless a control program is implemented.  Fishery managers from Michigan,
Ontario, and the tribes issued this warning during a recent meeting of the
Lake Huron Committee in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Fortunately, the committee
noted, successful management of this last remaining uncontrolled population
of Great Lakes sea lampreys is in reach.  To combat the problem, the
committee endorsed an option developed by sea lamprey control biologists
that will combine lampricide treatments, trapping, and the
sterile-male-release-technique.  Pending  approval by the Great Lakes
Fishery Commission, this control strategy should reduce sea lamprey
populations in Lake Huron and northern Lake Michigan by at least 85%.  
Such a reduction in sea lampreys will allow for the resumption of lake
trout stocking in Lake Huron and for the implementation of other fishery
rehabilitation efforts.  The committee recognized, however, that the St.
Marys River control plan might not be implemented without additional funds
or program trade-offs.

	The St. Marys River—which connects Lake Superior and Lake Huron—produces
more sea lampreys than all of the other Great Lakes combined.  The lampreys
migrate into Lake Huron and northern Lake Michigan where they prey on fish
and severely reduce opportunities for tribal, recreational, and commercial
fishing.  Lampreys are nearly as abundant in Lake Huron today as they were
in the 1950s, before sea lamprey control began, and when lake trout and
whitefish were decimated.  The situation is so severe that Ontario,
Michigan, and the tribes stopped some stocking programs in 1994 and
postponed their efforts to restore and enhance fish populations in northern
Lake Huron.

	Cost-effective sea lamprey control on the St. Marys River was once thought
to be impossible because of the size of the river and because of the
widespread distribution of sea lamprey larvae.  But now, thanks to a strong
research and assessment effort by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission's sea
lamprey control agents, an effective control program is within reach.  The
recent application of state-of-the-art assessment and modeling technologies
have mapped the locations and densities of larval sea lampreys in the St.
Marys River and predicted their vulnerability to control.  These efforts,
and the development of a new bottom formulation of the lampricide granular
Bayer, have provided the tools to accurately target concentrations of
larval sea lampreys and to effect a significant level of control at the
least possible cost.  Combined with trapping and the release of sterilized
male sea lampreys, delivery of a cost-effective, environmentally safe
program of integrated pest management on the St. Marys River is now

	"We cannot continue to allow sea lampreys to have free reign in Lake
Huron," commented Lake Huron Committee Chairman Tom Gorenflo of the
Chippewa-Ottawa Treaty Fishery Management Authority.  "If we do, we are
giving up on Lake Huron and accepting the fact that restoration of its
fishery will not be possible.  After years of careful assessment and
innovative development of control techniques, we are ready to address the
problem.  The committee's recommendation to continue lake trout stocking
and rehabilitation efforts—pending St. Marys River sea lamprey
control—means that we can once again be optimistic about the future of Lake

	Despite the ability to implement a St. Marys River control program, tight
budgets might stall the effort.  Said Lake Huron Committee member John
Schrouder of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources: "We certainly
recognize that a St. Marys River control strategy poses a serious dilemma
for the Great Lakes Fishery Commission.  On the one hand, sea lamprey
control in all areas of  the Great Lakes must continue if we are to protect
the gains we have made and improve the fishery for the future.  At the same
time, it is vital to the health of Lake Huron and northern Lake Michigan
that sea lampreys from the St. Marys River be controlled.  At the current
level of funding, the commission will be hard-pressed to implement an
effective control effort on the St. Marys River without taking resources
away from other program areas.  However, we cannot continue to allow the
destruction of the Lake Huron and northern Lake Michigan fisheries nor
allow the loss of remnant native fish stocks."

	It is estimated that the proposed St. Marys River control program—relying
on the application of granular Bayer, on trapping and on the
sterile-male-release-technique—will cost an additional $1 million per year.
 Under the Convention on Great Lakes Fisheries, the governments of the
United States and Canada together contribute about $12 million a year to
the Great Lakes Fishery Commission for sea lamprey control, research, and
other activities.

# # #