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Parliamentary Committee Recommends Increased Canadian Commitment to Sea Lamprey Control

For Immediate Release

November 12, 1998
Contact:  Marc Gaden
734-662-3209 x. 14

Parliamentary Committee Recommends 
Increased Canadian Commitment to Sea Lamprey Control

Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans Recognizes Sea Lamprey Control as
One of the Government's Most Cost-effective Programs

ANN ARBOR - A tank of thrashing sea lampreys in the Parliament's rotunda
provided an appropriate backdrop as the Canadian Parliament's Standing
Committee on Fisheries and Oceans officially recommended an increased
commitment by the Canadian government for sea lamprey control in the Great
Lakes.  The recommendation, in the form of a report presented recently after
field hearings this past summer in the Great Lakes region, called for at
least CDN $8 million annually from the government of Canada to the Great
Lakes Fishery Commission for sea lamprey control, a substantial funding
increase from current levels. Members of the Great Lakes Fishery
Commission-the international organization charged by treaty to implement sea
lamprey control and to undertake fisheries research-immediately commended
the standing committee for recognizing the role of sea lamprey control in
protecting the $4 billion Great Lakes fishery.  Pending approval by Canada,
the standing committee's recommendation will allow the commission to address
serious fishery management challenges in the Great Lakes and to make
significant advances in the long-term protection of the fishery.

	In summer, 1998, at the invitation of Member of Parliament Paul
Steckle (Lib. Huron-Bruce), Parliament's Standing Committee on Fisheries and
Oceans visited the Great Lakes region to study issues concerning the Great
Lakes fishery and to gather information from users about ways in which
problems should be addressed.  Representatives from stakeholder groups and
management agencies testified before the committee.

	"Implementing this recommendation would be a significant step in the
protection of the Great Lakes fisheries," said commission Chairman Dr.
Burton Ayles.  "I commend Paul Steckle for his leadership and for bringing
the standing committee to the Great Lakes region so that its members could
learn more from stakeholders about our valuable freshwater resources."

	During the field hearings the standing committee heard from several
witnesses who reminded the committee that sea lampreys continually threaten
the valuable Great Lakes fishery.  Native to the Atlantic ocean, lampreys
quickly devastated the Great Lakes fishery when they entered the Great Lakes
through shipping canals in the 1920s.  By attaching to fish, lampreys
literally suck the life out of prey before moving on to devour more fish.
In its lifetime, a sea lamprey will destroy up to 40 pounds (18 kg) of fish.
Fortunately, a sea lamprey control program carried out by the Great Lakes
Fishery Commission, the Department Fisheries and Oceans, and the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service keeps sea lampreys to only 10% of their historical
abundance.  Lack of funding for sea lamprey control and fisheries research
has been a chronic impediment to maintaining and improving upon this

	To combat the sea lamprey problem, the committee recommended a
funding level of at least CDN $8 million from Canada to the Great Lakes
Fishery Commission for sea lamprey control.  (Currently, Canada contributes
CDN $6 million; the United States contributes US $8.4 million.)  In making
its recommendation, the committee noted that "the sea lamprey control
program is one of the most cost-effective programs supported by the federal
government and helps to maintain fisheries worth in the billions of
Coinciding with the release of the report, and at the invitation of the
standing committee, a display containing live sea lampreys was set up in the
rotunda of the Parliament building to help illustrate the sea lamprey's
impact on the Great Lakes fishery.  Fisheries and Oceans Minister David
Anderson, more than 40 members of Parliament, and hundreds of others visited
the display.  

	"Governments in both countries have now recognized the need to
enhance the commitment to the Great Lakes fishery," said commission
Vice-Chairman Bernie Hansen.  "Recently, at the request of Michigan's
Senator Spencer Abraham (R-MI), the United States Senate recommended
additional funding for sea lamprey control.  The recommendations from the
U.S. Senate and now from the Canadian Standing Committee on Fisheries and
Oceans should be very encouraging to all those interested in a healthy
fishery.  Our next step is to ensure that both Canada and the United States
continue this momentum and provide the funds necessary for the commission to
control the sea lamprey. With the recommended funding, we would expect to
achieve significant gains in sea lamprey control, for the benefit of the $4
billion Great Lakes fishery."