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Lake Champlain Fisheries Meeting Summary for March 2002

March 19, 2002

1. 5-year budget for sea lamprey control.

  • The budget will be revised based on an anticipated $500,000 annual federal appropriation (i.e. a possible appropriation facilitated by Senator Leahy). The cost of chemical, equipment and contractual services will be shifted to the annual appropriation. Supplies and materials are more easily handled through the individual agencies' purchasing processes.
  • If the actual cost of Bayluscide runs 66% (or less) of the projected maximum, then the $500,000 annual appropriation would make the control program financially solvent.
  • A one page summary budget will be finalized and forwarded to the Management Committee. The detailed work sheets will be available, but do not need to be finalized or forwarded to the Management Committee.

2. Scheduling of field work. Winooski dye study:

  • Staff should be present mid-day on May 14 for training.
  • The NY application trailer will be needed
  • Two New Yorkers and two Vermonters will conduct the actual application.
  • Each state will provide a boat, with staff, for 24 hour sampling. Each boat should be equipped with GPS, a flourometer, and radios.
Toxicity testing:
  • Vermont will take the lead on collecting test organisms. Ammocoetes from Putnam Creek and in lengths of 90 to 100 mm. are preferred.
  • A NYSDEC staff person should be present for mussel collections conducted by Ichthyological Associates in NY. Gary Neuderfer will try to arrange for that person.
  • Testing is expected to begin the week of July 22 and continue into August. Therefore, the first two weeks in July would be appropriate timing to collect the ammocoetes.

LaPlatte dye study: The application and monitoring will be done by Vermont staff with assistance from Gary Neuderfer and Bob Bauer. Anticipated lampricide application dates:

  • Little Ausable = September 11
  • Salmon R. = September 13
  • Ausable R. = September 16
  • Putnam Cr. = September 18
  • Lewis Cr. = September 25

3. Training additional staff for lamprey control: The Committee recognized the need to develop more "depth" in terms of training more staff in the various treatment activities. Each state will assist in the treatments conducted by the other state. Also, Wayne Bouffard and Madeleine Lyttle will be involved. Angie Incerpi stated that additional Vermont staff, including Chet MacKenzie, Tim Appleton, Shawn Good, and hatchery staff, should become involved and trained in various aspects.

4. Pike River:

  • Dave Tilton has talked with appropriate officials in Canada and sent a letter with background information. The letter also requests materials for applying for the necessary permits.
  • The treatment is tentatively scheduled for 2004. The group discussed the possibility of moving that up to 2003. The general consensus was that a treatment in late 2003 may be feasible, but a treatment early in the year is probably unrealistic. Gary Neuderfer noted that dense beds of vegetation develop in the Pike River as the summer progresses, so an early treatment may be necessary.
  • Action item (Craig Martin): Set up a meeting with Pierre Bilodeau, and whoever else from the Canadian agencies that Pierre recommends be present, to initiate a discussion of treatment strategy. The FSEIS outlines our preferred approach. Feedback from the meeting and/or from permit applications will guide further steps, including determining whether a dye study is appropriate.

5. Salmon strain evaluation:

  • A summary from the work group meeting was distributed, and background information on inlet and outlet spawners was discussed. Vermont's evaluation of the Sebago and Magog strains indicated that the two strains returned equally well to anglers, but the Sebago strain returned to the hatchery in much greater numbers than the Magog strain.
  • Sebago strain eggs are in short supply, but sufficient numbers were collected for the proposed strain study.
  • The strain study is expected to begin with the yearlings stocked during spring of 2003. About 15,000 each of the Sebago, Magog, and Adirondack strain salmon will be stocked in the Boquet River. Similar stockings are expected to continue for a total of three years.
  • Single clips (LV, RV, and Ad) will be reserved for this study. Vermont will use double clips where necessary to identify other lots of salmon.

6. Assessment of ammocoete abundances:

  • Wayne was asked to prepare brief written summaries of the previous surveys he has conducted.
  • Priorities for assessment in 2002 include the tributaries proposed for treatment in 2003 as well as the Missisquoi River, the LaPlatte River and Beaver Brook.
  • Electrofishing on the delta of Mill Brook in Port Henry is also recommended.

7. Stocking: In recent years the number of salmonids stocked exceeded the targets set during the eight year control program. This was considered appropriate given the apparent recent increase in sea lamprey abundances.

  • The committee agreed that this year's stockings could exceed the targets for short lived species (brown trout, steelhead and salmon). However, the longer lived lake trout should be stocked in numbers not to exceed the targets.
  • The group discussed whether the stocking targets are intended to be strict maximums, or whether some exceedance is acceptable (this referred to instances when we intend to adhere to the targets - e.g.: lake trout this season). The committee agreed that limited exceedance is acceptable. Exceedance on the scale of a few thousand fish was discussed as being reasonable.
  • The committee agreed that for purposes related to the stocking targets, stocked salmonids would be counted based on year-of-stocking. That is, salmon fry or fingerlings are counted in the year that they are stocked. We will not "transfer" them to a latter year, based on estimates of when they may emigrate to the lake.
  • Each state should develop a table of anticipated stockings about one year in advance of the actual stocking. The tables should include expected: species; numbers; sizes; and fin clips. The intent is to better coordinate fin clips and compliance with the stocking targets. Action item (Bill Schoch and Brian Chipman): prepare summaries of anticipated stockings for 2003. This should be available for review at the next Technical Committee meeting.

8. Annual report:

  • The committee needs to begin preparing brief annual reports summarizing the Lake Champlain related, fisheries management activities undertaken by the various committee members.
  • The report should include summaries of: treatments; ammocoete assessments; salmonid stocking; trapping/barrier activity; toxicity testing; wounding rate analyses; nest counts; assessment of alternatives; research activities; smelt surveys and other significant events. The annual summary may reference more detailed reports on any of these topics, or it may be the primary repository for information not written up in other reports.
  • Activities will be summarized by calender year, and the report should be completed by March of the subsequent year.
  • The first report will be for calender year, 2002.
  • The format of the data should be consistent with that in the FSEIS and/or the Eight-year evaluation, to facilitate comparisons with earlier data (e.g.: size groups; wounds per 100 fish; etc.).
  • Items to be included in the report can be sent to Bill Schoch and Brian Chipman throughout the year, as they become available. Nevertheless the sender should keep a copy as insurance against the unlikely possibility that Brian and I may be unable to retrieve the materials at the end of the year.
  • Action item (Bill Schoch): Develop a draft outline of the annual report. The outline should help prompt staff to provide appropriate summaries.

9. Standard operating procedures (SOP) for sea lamprey control: Staff will review the Great Lakes Fishery Commission operating procedures. Gary Neuderfer will take the lead on the technical and instrument procedures.

10. Control alternatives: The USFWS has grant money to be spent on sea lamprey control alternatives.

  • A meeting summary from the Alternatives work group was passed out.
  • The EPA will apparently require that pheromones be registered, as per pesticides, prior their use in streams. Thus, field applications of pheromones are unlikely to occur soon.
  • Possible modeling of sea lamprey population dynamics by the University of Michigan was discussed. Concern was expressed that many such modeling exercises only determine where more research is needed; they do not reliably simulate real world conditions. Craig Martin will obtain more information on the state of the art for applying such models to sea lamprey.
  • Trapping of spawning phase sea lamprey on additional small streams garnered general support. Mullen, Mill and Beaver Brooks in the Port Henry area are possible candidates.

11. Law suit: Both states are interveners. The plaintiffs must submit their motions by April 15.

12. Sturgeon update: Gill netting during spawning has been conducted for four years. Catches included 8 sturgeon in the Lamoille and 10 in the Winooski. All were males which, due to differences in behavior between the sexes, does not necessarily indicate an absence of females. The spawning run occurs during the first two weeks in May. In addition to the above gill net catches, one young-of-the-year sturgeon was collected by seine in the Winooski, and one dead sturgeon was found in Otter Creek.

13. Walleye update:

  • Research is ongoing on how best to collect juveniles. Age 0+ walleye have been collected in estuarine river sections during fall.
  • OTC marks can (are being?) used to mark hatchery fry; pit tags are also being tried. Vermont is stocking about 6 million fry annually and roughly 50,000 to 70,000 fingerlings.
  • Data on lamprey attack rates is being collected for walleye from the Poultney River spawning run.

14. Toxicity test needs: Brian Chipman passed out a table summarizing Vermont toxicity testing needs by species and river.

15. Next meeting: The next Technical Committee meeting will be on July 31, 2002.

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