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Lake Champlain Fisheries Meeting Summary for October 2005

October 6, 2005

1. GLFC account - use of funds for seasonal staff.

  • There was discussion regarding whether it was appropriate to use the GLFC account to pay for seasonal positions associated with lamprey control. Brad Young explained the USFWS need for help with sea lamprey trapping and ammocoete assessment work. There was also discussion regarding whether NY and VT could potentially use the funds for hiring seasonal staff to assist with landowner survey mailings, notifications, and water deliveries. Consensus was to utilize the funds for the proposed seasonal USFWS positions to assist with sea lamprey trapping and ammocoete assessment work. Funding for the positions will be revisited if the budget becomes problematic. GLFC account funding for NY and VT seasonal positions was tabled for now.

2. Cormorants.

  • Currently cormorant control in Lake Champlain is being conducted because of habitat impacts. Cormorant control has not been pursued because of proven or even perceived fishery impacts. There was discussion regarding whether we have sufficient data to summarize what the fishery impacts are, if any. Donna Parrish thought that we should be careful not to sensationalize potential fishery impacts, as the available data do not support such a conclusion. There was also discussion regarding cormorant's effect on fish behavior and its impact on angler catch rates. There was consensus that cormorants do alter fish behavior, and that fish tend to vacate an area and/or become demersal in an area with cormorants. This in turn would directly impact angler success. It was decided that public education regarding the issue should be pursued to disseminate what information we do have. Mark Malchoff will prepare a draft fact sheet summarizing available information and distribute the draft to representatives of the USFWS, NYSDEC and VTDFW for a coordinated response from each agency.

3. USFWS as permittee for Lake Champlain sea lamprey control permits.

  • The group discussed the potential benefits of having the USFWS be the applicant for needed sea lamprey control permits. Before committing to become the applicant the USFWS needs an estimate of the time commitment and the exact duties that may be required. Dave Tilton and Eric Palmer will discuss whether USFWS should become applicant on the Lewis Creek permit and what exactly needs to be done. There are two separate issues to be resolved: 1) The USFWS is technically exempt from being required to obtain state permits and would have to agree to abide by any permit issued to it, perhaps in a memo of understanding or other similar document; and 2) the VTDFW and USFWS would have to reach agreement between their two agencies regarding specifics.

4. Status of Sea Lamprey Control Summit.

  • Dave Tilton summarized the activities of the Lake Champlain Sea Lamprey Control Summit Workgroup. The Policy Committee had identified a need for public outreach regarding the sea lamprey control program and a summit was proposed as a way of accomplishing that mission. Workgroup members are Dave Tilton and Kathi Bangert (USFWS), Brian Chipman and John Hall (VTDFW), and Dave Winchell (NYSDEC). The objectives of the proposed Lake Champlain Sea Lamprey Summit are to communicate the Lake Champlain Fish and Wildlife Management Cooperative's professionalism and success, solicit ideas to develop more permanent funding sources, and generate political and public support. The long-term goal is to develop a relatively stable source of funding. Outreach would include preparation of a website, presentations of program developments at professional meeting such as AFS and Northeastern Fish and Wildlife Association annual meetings, and the summit. Target date for the summit is sometime in spring, 2007. The summit will meet our commitment to hold our first public information and input session. These briefing and input sessions are to be held at five-year intervals. A vital component of the outreach is development and dissemination of a five-year plan. Dave Nettles agreed to author a five-year plan (about one paragraph per stream) based on the treatment schedule in the FSEIS.

5. Press Release about pheromone research.

  • A University of Minnesota researcher has requested that the Cooperative issue a press release regarding his team's recent success in identifying a pheromone that guides adult sea lampreys to spawning streams and that might one day be used to help control their populations. General consensus was that it would be inappropriate for the Cooperative to issue the press release partly because it was sensationalistic and partly because the researcher may derive an economic benefit from his findings.

6. Alewives.

  • Wayne Bouffard and Brad Young summarized their trapping and QAS results from 2005. In most streams, numbers of adults trapped decreased from 2004. Due to trapping, there appear to be no more sea lamprey in Indian Brook. QAS results indicate all streams slated for treatment in 2006 do have lamprey populations worth treating. Lewis Creek only needs treating from Ferrisburg Falls downstream. The Salmon, Little Ausable and Ausable Rivers and Putnam Creek also need treatments. No lampreys were found above the traditional barriers on the Salmon and Little Ausable. Sea lampreys were found in significant numbers in the old stream channel near the north mouth of the Ausable River. Some transformers were sampled on some NY tributaries. Statolith aging will help determine whether these were animals missed by the last treatments or whether there may be transformation occurring at three years instead of the usual four. Growth rate data suggest that treatments in October may miss significant numbers of transformers, however October treatments usually provide better flows and reduced pH cycles.
  • Madeleine Lyttle and Bernie Pientka gave an update of alewife collections in Lake Champlain. Bernie is maintaining a map showing alewife collection locations. Contact Bernie if you collect any alewives or would like an up-to-date map. General consensus was that alewife are established in Lake Champlain, and that any reclamation of Lake St. Catherine is no longer worth investigating. Madeleine sought input from the group regarding whether the USFWS should continue with its commitment to conduct spring electrofishing in an effort to document alewife presence in Lake Champlain. General consensus was that the sampling is no longer needed as alewife presence has been adequately documented.

7. Lake trout stocking.

  • Allegheny National Fish Hatchery, which raises lake trout for the Great Lakes program, was forced to destroy its entire production because of IPN. As a result, in 2006 NY may divert up to 10,000 Finger Lakes strain lake trout destined for Lake Champlain to Lake Ontario instead. Vermont appears to have surplus lake trout and may be able to make up a shortfall of up to 7,000 lake trout. However if it appears there may be a lake trout shortage in years beyond 2006, Eric Palmer would like to know so that his staff can plan ahead.

8. 2004 sea lamprey trapping and QAS results.

  • Wayne Bouffard and Brad Young summarized their trapping and QAS results from 2004. In most streams, numbers of adults trapped decreased from 2003. Due to trapping, there appear to be no more sea lamprey in Indian Brook. QAS results indicate all streams slated for treatment in 2004 do have lamprey populations worth treating. Lewis Creek only needs treating from Ferrisburg Falls downstream. The Salmon, Little Ausable and Ausable Rivers and Putnam Creek also need treatments. No lampreys were found above the traditional barriers on the Salmon and Little Ausable. Sea lampreys were found in significant numbers in the old stream channel near the north mouth of the Ausable River. Some transformers were sampled on some NY tributaries. Statolith aging will help determine whether these were animals missed by the last treatments or whether there may be transformation occurring at three years instead of the usual four. Growth rate data suggest that treatments in October may miss significant numbers of transformers, however October treatments usually provide better flows and reduced pH cycles.
  • There are significant numbers of sea lamprey in the Lamoille River in Vermont. The Lamoille was not identified in the FSEIS as a candidate stream. An EA will be pursued, as will possible dye study needs.

9. LCBP Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) representation.

  • Because Craig Martin was on the TAC but has now left, there was discussion of whether NY should send a representative to the TAC. However, it was decided that since Bernie Pientka is also on the TAC, he could relay developments that may need Cooperative input. Chet noted that budget concept pages can be sent in any time now. It was suggested that a dye study might be an appropriate proposal for funding through the Basin Program since it would be for implementation of an Aquatic Nuisance Species control project, a high priority for Basin Program funding.

10. 2003 and 2004 Annual Reports.

  • Eric reported that review of the 2003 annual report by the Management Committee has not been completed.
  • Not all information has been sent to Lance for inclusion in the 2004 annual report. Lance will e-mail an incomplete version to remind those who have not sent their material.

11. Poultney River.

  • Eric stated that in case the Poultney needs to be treated in 2007 or 2008, we should not loose sight of the preparations that need to be taken. NY has already started its SEQR process addressing a potential Poultney River treatment. The permitting process may also need to be initiated in 2006 in both states.
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