Integrated Management Of Sea Lamprey Vision Statement

The Commission will provide an integrated sea lamprey management program that supports the Fish Community Objectives for each of the Great Lakes and that is ecologically and economically sound and socially acceptable.

Milestones for Sea Lamprey Management

  1. Establish target levels of sea lamprey abundance by 1994 that maximize net benefits of sea lamprey and fisheries management.
  2. Suppress sea lamprey populations to target levels through an optimal program of control, assessment, and research. This program will be characterized by:

Rationale for the Sea Lamprey Vision Statement

Healthy aquatic ecosystems with sustainable benefits for society can be achieved through strategic planning and implementation of necessary management activities. Fish Community Objectives, developed by fishery agencies as part of the Joint Strategic Plan for Management of Great Lakes fisheries, define characteristics desired from successful fish management efforts. The sea lamprey management program is a key fishery management activity that must be complementary to and coordinated with other fish management activities if achievement of community objectives is to be realized.

In 1982, the Commission adopted a policy statement that embraced the application of integrated pest management concepts within the sea lamprey control program. Development of the sea lamprey vision statement and milestones reaffirms this policy and identifies specific implementation steps. Target levels of sea lamprey abundance will be established that maximize net benefits of sea lamprey and fishery management. Benefits include the economic, social, and ecological value of fish saved from sea lamprey predation. Costs include expenditures for control and environmental costs such as mortality of nontarget organisms and habitat degradation associated with construction of lamprey-spawning barriers in streams. Effective assessment and expanded research will be required to determine costs and benefits.

The Commission shares with the public the concern for the introduction of chemicals into the environment. The Commission's sea lamprey program uses the periodic application of lampricides into Great Lakes tributaries as the primary tactic for control of sea lamprey populations. Extensive tests on environmental safety of lampricides indicate no long-tern, detrimental effects to the ecosystem. Lampricides can temporarily suppress populations of some sensitive invertebrate and vertebrate species in streams, but in turn have made possible the recovery of native species in the Great Lakes and the success of the fish-stocking programs. Nonetheless, public apprehension out pesticides is a compelling reason to seek alternatives to lampricides. Therefore, the key focus in the sea lamprey program over the next decade will be the research, development, and application of new methods of sea lamprey control that do not depend on lampricides. In-stream barriers to spawning lamprey and the release of sterile male lamprey are two examples of supplemental control technologies (neither method could completely replace lampricides) that the Commission is currently developing. A target level of lampricide use for the year 2000 has been set at 50% of current use (defined as average annual use over a complete stream-treatment cycle). This target is optimistic, but is necessary to convey the seriousness of the Commission's commitment to a reduced dependency on lampricides.

Current control methods are either ineffective or costly in some types of habitats that harbor larval lamprey. Examples include estuarine areas adjacent to tributary mouths and connecting channels between the Great Lakes (large rivers such as the St. Clair River). Control methods for some estuarine areas of Lake Superior require annual treatments of tributary streams to kill sea lamprey larvae before they can migrate downstream to estuaries where treatment is difficult. In comparison to routine treatments, typically conducted every four years on average, annual treatments for estuarine control are costly. Altemative methods of control are needed for these areas to reduce cost and improve effectiveness. Connecting channels between the Great Lakes, such as the St. Marys River between Lake Superior and Lake Huron, can contribute large numbers of sea lamprey and pose special difficulties for control due to their large size. Application of these new methodologies will be based on integrated pest management concepts and on optimization procedures used in setting sea lamprey suppression targets for existing methodologies.

The Commission's vision statement for sea lamprey management is one of full implementation of integrated pest management concepts over the next decade. The close relationship between sea lamprey management efforts and fishery management activities will require cooperation and coordination among all partners concerned with Great Lakes fishery anagement. Forums for planning and implementing these interactions will include Lake Committees and their Lake Technical Committees. Close coordination between Canadian and United States sea lamprey control gents is essential to the delivery of a cost-effective sea lamprey management program. The efforts of the two agents must be fully coordinated to the maximum extent possible. During the 1980s, the sea lamprey program did not expand as needed because Canada and the United States operated in a climate of fiscal restraint. Anticipating continued restraint, the Commission will seek an expanded relationship with the groups and individuals it serves. This relationship will improve prospects for program support and for collaborative, cost-effective measures.

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