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Lake Champlain Fisheries Meeting Summary for January 2004

Janurary 27, 2004

1. Review of sturgeon and walleye work. (MacKenzie, Lyttle)

  • Chet MacKenzie provided a summary of the Department's Lake Champlain sturgeon work, and plans for future work
  • Madeleine Lyttle provided a summary of her work on walleye and sturgeon spawning habitat assessment on the Missisquoi River above and below the dam at Swanton.
  • Chet MacKenzie provided a summary of Vermont's Lake Champlain walleye work.
  • Following the presentations by Madeleine and Chet, there was discussion regarding the importance of maintaining good communication among ourselves and the need to share field schedules and activities

2. Fish Culture and landlocked salmon stocking issues. (Kelsey)

  • Kevin Kelsey summarized some basic Atlantic salmon biology, emphasizing that for a salmon to successfully become a smolt, it should reach a minimum size of 5.5" by mid-November. Unless this size is obtained by mid-November, attempts to push growth later on will be unsuccessful in producing viable smolts. Therefore, assessment of numbers of smolts for our stocking records should be based on November length measurements, and not necessarily on numbers at Spring stocking.
  • Tom Wiggins suggested that if Pittsford National Fish Hatchery has trouble attaining this minimum size by mid-November, perhaps they could concentrate on raising another species for Lake Champlain (lake trout for example), allowing Vermont hatcheries to concentrate on landlocked salmon.
  • Henry Bouchard indicated Pittsford National Fishery Hatchery staff will review their water supply issues, and see if they can consistently attain the mid-November minimum size.

3. Proposed agenda items for the Policy Committee meeting. (Committee)

  • Various items were discussed as potential for Policy Committee meeting agenda items. Two item types were identified: 1) those requiring a response or input from the Policy Committee, and 2) those presented for informational purposes only.
  • Bill Schoch will circulate a list of agenda items for comment.

4. Data collection and reporting responsibilities. (Committee)

  • Discussion centered around responsibilities for data analyses such as wounding summaries for the annual reports. Nick Staats proposed that there be a formal written SOP regarding who collects what data and who analyzes it. Others thought that the informal arrangement in current use is sufficient, and that better communication is preferable to a written SOP.
  • Dave Nettles questioned whether his near-shore electrofishing should include collecting lake trout for wounding analysis, which in some cases limits the number of salmon he can collect. Nick indicated that his crew can collect sufficient lake trout numbers, and that Dave can concentrate his efforts on collecting landlocked salmon.

5. Sea lamprey wounding classification. (Committee)

  • Members discussed the pros and cons of switching to the wounding classification in use by Great Lakes agencies (based on the King classification system). The King classification system uses additional categories of lamprey marks that we currently lump. Separating the marks would make us consistent with other agencies in the Great Lakes and Finger Lakes, but would still permit lumping as we have done in the past. However, some members felt the additional criteria would be more difficult to teach seasonal employees. They also felt the additional wounding criteria would provide no benefit to Lake Champlain sea lamprey management, and that variability would be high with the additional categories to record. Lance Durfey will contact Mark Ebener for potential benefits of switching to the King system.

6. Lake St Catherine alewives. (Committee)

  • Shawn Good indicated the Lake St. Catherine Lake Association has obtained a permit for a SONAR treatment of the Lake. However, the Association must raise a substantial amount of money to pay for the treatment, and it is not clear when and if they will be successful in raising the required amount. The group discussed the desirability of conducting a reclamation after the milfoil was reduced by any SONAR treatment. However, Shawn and Chet informed the group that permitting would still be very problematic, because Vermont law states that pesticide treatments must have minimal non-target impacts - a difficult argument to make for a chemical reclamation with rotenone. Members discussed the potential benefit of conducting a bioassay with alewife to determine their sensitivity to rotenone. Eric indicated a bioassay may bring the issue a further step forward, but that many more steps would be required. There was also discussion regarding the potential benefit of another agency taking the lead in the permitting process. Chet suggested spring sources in Lake St. Catherine could provide refuge for alewives during a reclamation, regardless of any SONAR treatment, and that this problem would have to be investigated before a reclamation could be planned. Many committee members felt that the potential impacts of alewives to the Lake Champlain ecosystem were great enough to warrant revisiting the chemical treatment alternative, and that additional information gathering should proceed.

7. Other

  • Bill Schoch solicited input on priorities for the newly allocated USACOE barrier dam funds. There was general agreement that lamprey-proofing the Great Chazy Barrier dam should receive first priority.
  • Members should send their information for inclusion in the 2003 Annual Report to Lance Durfey as it becomes available.

8. Upcoming meetings:

  • The Lake Champlain Policy Committee meeting will be held February 18, 2004 at the Rutland Holiday Inn starting @ 9:00 am.
  • The annual smelt working group and newly established adaptive stocking program working group will meet on March 22 and 23, 2004.
  • The annual Lower Great Lakes meeting will be March 30, 2004 through April 1, 2004 at the Holiday Inn, Grand Island Resort, Grand Island, NY.
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