Shared from the 4/23/2018 Sandusky Register eEdition


Pesticides aim to kill sea lampreys


Provided photo/M. Gaden, Great Lakes Fisheries Commission

A sea lamprey is attached to a salmon caught in northern Lake Huron.


Provided photo/T. Lawrence, Great Lakes Fisheries Commission

What the mouth of a sea lamprey looks like.


As pests go, the sea lamprey is pretty gross. They are eel-like creatures that prey on fish, attaching themselves with round, sucker-like mouths.

Sea lampreys are considered an invasive species and a threat to sports fishing in Lake Erie. People from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be at the Huron River in Erie and Huron counties next month, using pesticide, to attack sea lamprey larvae, the agency announced.

For about three days, probably sometime between May 1 and May 10, Fish and Wildlife employees will apply lampricides, pesticides specific to sea lampreys. The lampricides will kill sea lamprey larvae burrowed in the bottom of the river.

The U.S. EPA said lampricides do not pose an “unreasonable risk” to people, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Great Lakes Fishery Commission, working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, has carried out a campaign against the sea lamprey in the Great Lakes since 1958. They have been able to reduce the sea lamprey population by about 90 percent.

According to the Great Lakes Fishing Commission, sea lampreys prey on most big Great Lakes fish, including lake trout, brown trout, lake sturgeon, lake whitefish, ciscoes, burbot, walleye, catfish, and Pacific salmonids including Chinook and coho salmon and rainbow trout.

When the sea lampreys were unchecked, they heavily damaged Great Lakes fisheries. About 200 Great Lakes tributaries and larval “hot spots” are treated each year with lampricide, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission said. Infested tributaries are treated every three to five years.

Sea lampreys are native to the Atlantic Ocean but spread into the Great Lakes.

Reach reporter Tom Jackson at jackson@ and follow him on Twitter @jacksontom.

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