Sterile Male Release Technique
Research on the use of the sterile male release technique in sea lamprey control began in 1971. The technique has been in use in Lake Superior and the St. Marys River since 1991. Male sea lampreys are captured during their spawning migrations in six tributaries of Lakes Michigan and Huron and transported to the sterilization facility at the Lake Huron Biological Station. At the facility, lampreys are sterilized with the chemosterilant bisazir, decontaminated, and released into select tributaries (streams where a substantial number of sea lamprey larvae routinely survive lampricide treatments) of Lake Superior and the St. Marys River. Laboratory and field studies have shown that treated male lampreys are sterile and sexually competitive, and the number of larvae that hatch in streams is reduced with the technique.
The Commission is committed to reductions in TFM use through the implementation of alternative control strategies, including the use of barriers to sea lamprey migration. In 1993, U.S. and Canadian barrier coordinators were appointed and charged with the task of developing a Great Lakes basin-wide sea lamprey barrier strategy and implementation plan. Two hundred and forty-two Great Lakes tributaries which have been treated with lampricide were examined for suitability of sea lamprey barriers. An analytical hierarchy model employing 12 factors was devised to rank projects. A draft ranking was carried out using technical and socio-cultural factors for 171 projects on 164 streams. The plan is currently being updated with new biological and economic data.