Lake Champlain has been recently troubled by the parasitic sea lamprey. These creatures prey on fish in the lake weakening and killing them. A method of sea lamprey control has been devised to attempt to curtail the numbers being effected.
In recent years these lamprey have disturbed the fish populations to a much larger degree than previously observed.
“This reduced number of fish has given a harsh blow to the fishing industry in the Lake Champlain region. With less and less fish for anglers to catch, fewer fishing tourists are visiting our lake.” (Lake Champlain Lamprey Problem)
Tributaries Receive Treatment This Fall
Environmental and wildlife agencies in New York and Vermont have combined to combat this problem in the shared waters of Lake Champlain, and have developed plans for sea lamprey control.
A “long-term control program began in 2002 following the evaluation of an eight-year experimental program” in which chemical lampricides are used to treat tributaries where sea lampreys are born and live for the first four years of their lives (Lake Champlain Basin Program). These chemicals will kill the juvenile lampreys (called ammocoetes) before they mature and migrate to the lake to feed.
This fall New York will again treat its Lake Champlain tributaries to continue the effort in the ongoing sea lamprey control program.
“Environmental workers hope to complete scheduled treatments in several rivers and deltas. The effort is set to begin with the Saranac River delta on Sept. 10.
The Lake Champlain Fish and Wildlife Management Cooperative, which includes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, treats the Saranac delta once every four years.” (Lake Champlain treated for sea lampreys)
Vermont will also be treating its tributaries that flow into Lake Champlain this fall (Vermont Today).
Questioning Lamprey Control Methods
Whenever chemicals are used one should always question the possible side effects and other factors of its use that may cause harm.
“Fisheries managers have concluded that the lampricides have little or no known permanent effect on populations of non-target species” (NYDEC). The chemicals kill sea lampreys and cause no other damaging effects.
Some people still dislike chemically treating our waters. There are some other non-chemical options available, but the chemical lampricides seem most effective.
What’s your opinion on sea lamprey control? Or the species in general?