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Lake Champlain Fisheries Meeting Summary for January 2002

January 15, 2002

1. Smelt monitoring.

  • Nick Staats presented a summary of the smelt monitoring program on Lake Champlain.
  • The Technical Committee agreed to form a smelt monitoring sub-committee. The smelt monitoring sub-committee has a meeting on February 12, 2002.

2. Toxicity testing. A substantial number of bioassays need to be conducted in 2002.

  • Brian Chipman will take the lead on coordinating collections of test organisms, and will circulate an updated list of toxicity testing needs to the Technical Committee.
  • Fragile papershells and quillback are top priorities. Zebra mussels have apparently depleted populations of fragile papershells.
  • Mudpuppies are apparently available from the Great Lakes and Connecticut River now. Other sources for mudpuppies were discussed.

3. Little Ausable sea lamprey barrier.

  • Funding has been available for the proposed barrier, but without significant progress the funding may soon be withdrawn. NY staff expect to proceed with the barrier despite environmental concerns raised previously. A design was completed, but may need modification. Madeleine Lyttle offered USFWS assistance if mitigation is needed for potential riparian damage.
  • Doug Stang will investigate the time frame for the potential withdrawal of funding.

4. Plume studies.

  • The Winooski River is scheduled for May 12, with May 19 as a backup date. The study duration is expected to be about 5 - 6 days. Continuous (24 hour) monitoring is required from each of two boats (one VT boat and one NY boat). The LaPlatte River is scheduled for June 6, with June 10 as a backup date. The LaPlatte monitoring will be conducted with Vermont staff only.
  • The Pike and Missisquoi Rivers may or may not need plume studies. We need to check with Gary Neuderfer to determine whether those studies are needed.

3. Deepwater electrofishing. Some staff have expressed doubts about the effectiveness of deepwater electrofishing as a means of assessing ammocoete abundances. Discussion noted that the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) has confidence in deepwater electrofishing technique. Also, Bayluscide surveys are probably not a viable option for Lake Champlain. The committee agreed to schedule a conference call with appropriate GLFC staff to discuss deepwater electrofishing. (Note: that conference call occurred on February 6. Details of the deepwater electrofishing procedures were discussed. GLFC staff confirmed that the procedures are effective albeit time consuming. Their evaluations concluded that this technique is the best option available for assessing ammocoete abundances in deep water.)

4. Distribution of the summaries from the Fisheries Technical Committee meetings.

  • The L.C. Walleye Association has asked to receive the summaries from this committee's meetings and other organizations probably have a similar interest.
  • The meeting summaries will be posted on NYSDEC's web site, and Vermont can add a link to their site to enhance public access to the summaries. When the USFWS site is back on line, we'll consider posting it there.

5. Ecological indicators. Chet MacKenzie provided background on the Lake Champlain Basin Program's study to develop ecological indicators for Lake Champlain. The list of indicators may eventually influence the availability of funding for monitoring. Chet will coordinate responses from members of this committee to the Basin Program.

6. Champlain Canal invasive species prevention project. Ellen Marsden indicated that the project will look at potential vectors for nonnative species to enter Lake Champlain, and at alternatives to close those vectors.

7. Draft 5-year budget for sea lamprey control. Dave Nettles passed out the draft 5-year budget for the three agencies.

  • Expectations are that the three agencies will need to find new funding sources to cover the projected expenses. The tables estimated costs of conducting treatments; it was determined that they should be expanded to include additional related, costs such as permitting and bioassays.
  • Summary tables were requested.
  • Committee members were supposed to have any corrections and comments back to Dave by February 15. Finalized versions are scheduled to be ready for the Management Committee by February 28.
  • Discussion related to long-term planning pointed out the need for additional agency staff to become trained in the various lamprey control tasks. Presently there is only limited back-up if key staff become unavailable for a treatment.

8. Purchasing TFM for treatments scheduled in 2002. Note: As of March 11 the purchasing/bidding procedures discussed at the Technical Committee meeting were revised. Now expectations are that the TFM needed for 2002 will be purchased directly from the Great Lakes Fishery Commission using the Federal appropriation (i.e. "the Leahy funds").

9. Technical assistance from the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. GLFC assistance is desirable when we begin treatments utilizing the TFM/Niclosamide combination. Expectations are that 2003 will be the first year for such treatments on Champlain.

10. Alternative treatments with emphasis on the Poultney River.

  • Craig Martin will take the lead in forming a working group to discuss alternatives to treatments using TFM or the TFM/Niclosamide combination. Alternatives will be considered for the location where they have the greatest potential to be effective, but the group recognizes the level of interest in applying alternatives on the Poultney River.
  • Participation will be open to whatever groups and individuals wish to attend.
  • The working group will report to the Technical Committee, and will not apply for grants without the approval of this committee. However, we recognize individual parties may choose to apply for grants independent of the working group.

11. Update on the sea lamprey transformer tagging project. Ellen Marsden provided

background on the project. The investigators are presently seeking ideas on how to maximize recoveries of adult lampreys.

12. Abstract indicating sea lamprey may be native to Lake Ontario. Mark Malchoff briefly summarized what he knew about the study. Ellen Marsden characterized the genetic data from the study as indicating sea lamprey may have been native to Lake Ontario, but she considered the results to be far from compelling.

13. Status of Federal Aid. Both NY and VT have progressed on the procedural process obtaining approval to spend federal aid on sea lamprey control. Neither state has "surplus" federal aid to cover the necessary expenses; the money would need to be taken from existing projects.

14. Status of law suit against lamprey control. Technical responses to the allegations will need to be filed by about March 1. The two states must decide whether to intervene, or to file amicus curiae. The lawyers are discussing both options.

15. Pike River treatments.

  • The USFWS will take the lead in formally contacting Quebec/Canada about beginning the permitting process to treat the Pike River. A working group from this committee will be convened when necessary.
  • Politically, it may be preferable to contact the Quebec government prior to involving the Canadian Federal government.

16. The next meeting is scheduled for March 19, 2002. Possible agenda items include:

  • Scheduling field work.
  • Discussion of stocking rates.
  • Sturgeon and walleye updates.
  • Review of the 5-year budget.
  • An update from the salmon strain evaluation working group.
  • Update from the alternatives working group.
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