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Lake Champlain Fisheries Meeting Summary for December 2004

December 15, 2004

1. Alewives.

  • There was discussion regarding whether the full Technical Committee would support reclamation of Lake St. Catherine in order to prevent the introduction of non-native alewives into Lake Champlain. The reclamation would potentially be conducted following two years of preliminary data gathering. Data collection would include site-specific details needed to prepare for reclamation of Lake St. Catherine, as well as sampling to determine whether alewife may have already become established in Lake Champlain or other inland lakes in the Champlain drainage. Permitting for a potential reclamation would also simultaneously be explored. USFWS and VTDFW discussed their sampling plans to check for alewife presence in Lake Champlain during the '05 field season.
  • A draft white paper on the issue will be written by the USFWS and distributed for review by the Technical Committee; the issue will then be forwarded to the Policy Committee for their review and guidance.

2. Budgeting.

  • Priorities for the new congressional appropriations were discussed the group. There was general agreement that we should tentatively obligate monies necessary for lampricide purchases through '07, and establish a list of potential items that could be funded with any remaining balance. A more refined list of lampricide purchase requirements will be made, and a list of other potential add-ons will be established and circulated via e-mail for comment. The group will then prioritize the potential add-ons at the next committee meeting.

3. Strategic Plan.

  • The group discussed how best to develop a comprehensive Strategic Plan for fisheries management in Lake Champlain. There was general agreement that a habitat guild approach made sense, and Craig Martin will develop a draft outline using this approach and send it around for comment and input.
  • The adoption of an outline to guide the Strategic Plan will meet a charge placed upon the Technical Committee by the Policy Committee at their last meeting.

4. Morpion Stream Report.

  • The draft Morpion Stream report was discussed. The report considered two barrier dam designs for Morpion Stream. A seasonal variable crest dam using stop-logs was the preferred alternative. The Technical Committee will review the draft report, with any comments due to Brad Young by December 24th. The final report will be incorporated into a permit application to be submitted to the appropriate Quebec agencies.

5. Missisquoi River.

  • The potential of adding the Missisquoi River to the sea lamprey control program was discussed. USFWS sampling has revealed significant numbers of sea lamprey in the Missisquoi. The Missisquoi was addressed in the FSEIS, but it has never received a dye study. The necessity for, and potential of conducting a dye study will be investigated. Wayne and/or Brian will contact Pierre Bilodeau to identify who in Quebec would need to be contacted for approval of a dye study.
  • VTDFW will also investigate potential repair to the Swanton dam's boards and whether there is a larger problem that may be compromising the ability of the dam to keep lamprey out.

6. Updates.

  • Salmon Strain Evaluation: Two years of sampling have been completed. Initial indications are that the Sebago strain are performing the best, but there have been few adult returns, with the vast majority of the sampled fish being one lake year old. The group recommended the study continue at least one additional year if possible. If Pittsford National Fish Hatchery is unable to continue raising the study fish, the group may consider the feasibility of moving the rearing of the strain evaluation fish to the Ed Weed Fish Culture Facility.
  • Alternatives Work Group: Official chartering of the FACA group is still pending and is expected sometime in spring 2005. Alternative control studies have progressed despite the lack of an active work group. Updates were given on current studies including micro-elemental analyses, transformer tagging, sea lamprey egg viability in and out of nests, radio tagging of adult sea lamprey in the Poultney River, and Malletts Creek trapping using pheromones.

7. Pittsford Hatchery Status.

  • USFWS personnel report that the termination of fish production at Pittsford National Fish Hatchery seems imminent for budgetary reasons. Should that happen, the White River hatchery would raise landlocked salmon for the Lake Champlain program.
  • There was discussion and concern expressed by the group that the Pittsford closure might have negative consequences for the Champlain program in terms of fish size and quality, and on the integrity of the ongoing salmon strain evaluation study. There was general agreement the issue should be forwarded to the Policy Committee for their consideration.

8. Future meetings:

  • There was discussion regarding whether to schedule species-specific or subcommittee meetings in the near future. There was general agreement to simply combine several project updates during the course of the next Technical Committee meeting. Updates would include smelt monitoring, the Champlain Canal barrier study, sea lamprey trapping and possibly American eel management. Other objectives for the next meeting would also include prioritizing items to be funded by the congressional appropriation and establishing an agenda for the upcoming Policy Committee meeting.
  • February 8th and June 22nd were chosen for the next two Technical Committee meetings.

9. Annual Reports.

  • Comments or any additional material for the 1st draft of the 2003 Annual Report should be forwarded to Lance Durfey by January 15th.
  • Material for inclusion in the 2004 Annual Report should be forwarded to Lance by February 15th.
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