Council of Lake Committees

Detroit Metro Airport

Marriott Romulus, Michigan

8 November 1995


Attendees - Lake Committee members: Vice-Chairman Ron Desjardine (OMNR), Bill Horns (WDNR), Chairman Doug Jester (MDNR), Bob Lange (NYDEC), Rob MacGregor (OMNR), Ken Paxton (ODNR), John Schrouder (MDNR), Jack Skrypek (MnDNR), Phil Smith (OMNR), Bob Thomson (OMNR), John Trimberger (MDNR), Tom Trudeau (IDOC), Bernie Ylkanen (MDNR). Absent: COTFMA, GLIFWC, IDNR, PFBC.

Other: Dale Burkett (USFWS), Dieter Busch (USFWS), Tom Busiahn (USFWS, Ruffe Control Committee), Margaret Dochoda (GLFC), Mike Donahue (GLC, Ruffe Control Committee), Gary Edwards (USFWS, Nonindigenous Task Force), Marc Gaden (GLFC), John Hnath (MDNR, GLFHC), Lee Kernen (WDNR), Sue Marcquenski (WDNR, GLFHC), John Schachte (NYDEC, GLFHC), Jim Selgeby (NBS, Ruffe Control Committee), Dan Thomas (GLSFC, Ruffe Control Committee), Jay Troxell (USFWS, Nonindigenous Task Force), Dave Walsh (NBS).

1. Management of whirling disease

John Schachte (NYDEC) reviewed the progress of the Great Lakes Fish Health Committee and Lake Ontario Committee in deciding how to manage whirling disease in the lower lakes. In January 1995, the Great Lakes Fish Health Committee and Lake Ontario Committee gave New York interim guidance pending reconsideration of the Fish Disease Model Program.

This summer a working group of the Great Lakes Fish Health Control Committee submitted a proposed revision to Model Program language for Committee members' comment. The proposed changes included: (1) use of lot rather than hatchery certification for whirling disease; (2) 2% rather than 5% sampling levels; (3) universal lot inspection; and (4) permission to stock asymptomatic fish in enzootic areas -- the latter is the point of most disagreement. In response two agencies opined that no modification is warranted in the Model Program' guidance on whirling disease. New York is requesting a one year extension of the January 1995 interim guidance, plus ample time for discussion of Model Program provisions on whirling disease at the GLFHC's February 1996 meeting.

The following points were raised in ensuing discussion. Happily New York's fall surveys have not detected whirling disease in any hatchery lot. One option for New York may be to not stock the Great Lakes from hatcheries with whirling disease in the water supply, e.g. Caledonia SFH. Under the Model Program there is no obligation to inspect fish in the water supply for whirling disease, and thus clean lots could be stocked out of hatcheries with infected water supplies. However, the GLFHC unanimously opposed a 1980s Pennsylvania proposal to stock the Great Lakes with species resistant to whirling disease raised in a contaminated water supply. New York testing show that one stream may have reverted to negative status, thereby raising hopes that whirling disease may not always be able to establish itself once introduced. Private aquaculture was the likely source of the infected Lake Erie steelhead reported by Pennsylvania.

In summary, the GLFHC will proceed with February deliberations on Model Program guidance for whirling disease. The CLC expected that the GLFHC would advise the LOC, which makes stocking decisions.

2. Management of ruffe

The Council of Lake Committees met to reconsider its April 1994 resolution in which it endorsed an experimental approach to chemical control for containment of ruffe to western Lake Superior. The CLC withdrew this resolution as a consequence of ruffe's sudden appearance in Lake Huron. In doing so the CLC stated its appreciation for the efforts of the USFWS and the Ruffe Control Committee, NBS and the States of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan, and the lake shipping association.

The CLC founded their agreement for future action on the following three objectives: (1) prevent invasions of new species in the Great Lakes; (2) contain ruffe to the Great Lakes (i.e. prevent spread to inland and adjoining waters; and (3) continue efforts to slow spread of ruffe in the Great Lakes. Slowing the spread of ruffe in the Great Lakes will delay any impacts on fisheries, allow more time for healthy, resistant fish communities to emerge in the face of recent stresses, and allow collection of pre-invasion information as a backdrop for determining the impact of ruffe on Great Lakes fish communities.

The following are the six objectives of the Ruffe Control Committee's Program with CLC agreement on future direction.

1. Range reduction. Eliminate reproducing populations on the periphery of the range using chemical piscicides. CLC: Drop range reduction objective, and chemical control as a basin strategy. (Local jurisdictions retain the option to employ chemical control for their own local purposes.) CLC: Substitute "Contain ruffe to Great Lakes, i.e. prevent spread to inland and adjoining waters." Mechanisms for containment to Great Lakes proper might include bait / possession / harvest management, barriers, and ballast management. CLC: Add a specific objective to develop model bait / harvest / possession language for consideration by jurisdictions as they develop their programs.

2. Ballast water management. Prevent the transport of ruffe out of western Lake Superior in the ballast water of ships. CLC: Revise this objective to include other infested areas. The CLC appreciated the assistance of the lake vessels in slowing the spread of ruffe through ballast management of existing focal areas.

3. Population investigation. Continue and expand investigations of ruffe populations and affected fish communities to provide information necessary to plan and evaluate control activities. CLC: Substitute "to evaluate impact on fish communities" for "to plan and evaluate control activities". The CLC noted that ruffe-impact information available to date from the Great Lakes was confounded by the absence of pre-invasion data, and by the stocking of predators coincident with the buildup of the ruffe population. The CLC will discuss at another time whether existing assessment would address these information needs or whether new initiatives were required.

4. Surveillance. Conduct surveillance sampling in likely locations to find newly established populations of ruffe, and designate a single office to compile collections of ruffe. CLC: Continue. As stated in #3, the CLC was interested in "effects on fish communities", and has yet to discuss whether existing assessment is sufficient.

5. Predator evaluation. Evaluate the ongoing predator enhancement program in Duluth Harbor and quantify the predation on ruffe. CLC: Add "Recommend fish management practices that will improve resilience of fish communities against invasion or dominance by ruffe."

6. Education. Educate the public so that ruffe will not be transported, and so they will be killed and reported if caught by anglers. CLC: Change last phrase to "and so they will be recognized, killed and reported if caught by fish harvesters."

The CLC requested that CLC Chair Jester and Ruffe Control Committee Chair Busiahn draft a GLFC press release ASAP ("tomorrow") for CLC review and general release.

Gary Edwards (USFWS) requested input on how to proceed in future when local and regional interests conflict. Several CLC members stated that only swift action in the regional interest had any chance of success. However, state authority and sensitivity made it unlikely that feds would be delegated such authority. Review of the Joint Strategic Plan for Management of Great Lakes Fisheries provided an opportunity to develop acceptable procedures. Certainly, the only option available early on was rotenone treatment of the entire St. Louis estuary, which the CLC rejected in a special meeting in 1989. All agreed that preventing new invaders should be our first priority. 3. Legislative update

CLC members reviewed changes in their agencies, all but one reporting lumping (or splitting) resource and environmental responsibilities, and cutbacks in manpower and/or funding.

Federally, while there had been a tendency to target the Great Lakes area for especially large cuts, that trend has turned, at least in the U.S. Often it seemed that the Great Lakes were targeted in-agency rather than through the political process. Responsibilities were proposed for transfer from one agency to another, usually losing resources in the process (NBS -> USGS, DFO -> Env Can, NOAA -> ?). The NOAA Lab has apparently survived, but its parent Dept. of Commerce may not. USFWS lake trout hatcheries were not proposed for closure. USFWS regions were re-organizing and down-sizing. The NBS Great Lakes Science Center will lose $385,000 and several positions -- losing it the EPA's mass balance study and some exotics capability -- but trend analysis efforts would continue. Pressure to dismantle the EPA has decreased.

The U.S. House of Representatives proposed level funding ($8.3 million) of the GLFC through State Department, neglecting to include the $450,000 appropriated through NOAA. The Senate included both the $8.3 million and $450,000, and thus the two appropriations bills would have to be reconciled in Conference Committee. A decision had not been made on Canadian funding, although a cut had been discussed.

4. Great Lakes research

Since Ontario's Minister for Natural Resources is the new Chair of the Committee of the Whole, Bob Lange (NYDEC), on behalf of the CLC, will contact Bob Beecher (OMNR) after 16 November to discuss his ideas for proceeding with the NY-proposed ComW meeting on Great Lakes research. The objective is to develop long term strategies for meeting the Great Lakes information needs by identifying same to agencies and to the political process.

Mike Donahue (GLC) thought it important to emphasize the inter-relatedness of research, and identified several parallel opportunities to do so: the November initiative by the Northeast Midwest Institute and Canadian Consulate, the December Congressional breakfast, and an IJC effort by the Council of Great Lakes Research Managers.

5. Other business

Dale Burkett urged CLC participation in a USFWS national hatchery review. However, New York's rep recommended, this being a U.S. matter, that states comment individually. He noted that deficiencies in the comment process (no consultation with southern states) had resulted in an objection to proposed hatchery closure, and that the Great Lakes needed to avoid being pitted against other areas of the country.

Burkett reported that closure of the astroturf project left a one million egg surplus, some of which were seeded on Yankee Reef. He cautioned that perception could lead to hatchery closures or budget cuts, and asked that projects not be canceled except for biological reasons, and that any disputes be referred to Fish Chiefs or the CLC for resolution. However, Michigan's Lake Huron rep reported that project approval had been conditional upon a commitment and a plan for assessment, plus side-scan sonar assessment of sites -- and these were not forthcoming.

Burkett reported that the Keweenaw isolation facility was stocked with potential lake trout broodstock and that a second facility was being pursued. Burkett will send John Trimberger (MDNR) a list of the stocks in the facility, as requested. [Michigan had a written position that humpers not be developed as broodstock. Trimberger had heard that humpers were being held in the facility.]

Burkett reported that the Great Lakes Fishery Commission's Agent had successfully completed treatment of Bad River sea lamprey larvae.

According to Burkett, the U.S. Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act will come up for reauthorization after Thanksgiving.

Mike Donahue reported that the revised Nonindigenous Act reflected the preferences expressed by the Great Lakes Panel. The GLC Chair Patrick Ralston (IDNR) had written recently to protest repeal of the Nonindigenous Act. Copies of the letter had been sent to each state.


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