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Lake Champlain Fisheries Meeting Summary for August 2006

August 9, 2006

Attendees: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation: Bill Schoch (chair); United States Fish and Wildlife Service: Brad Young, Dave Tilton, Dave Nettles, Nick Staats, Madeleine Lyttle, Wayne Bouffard; Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife: Chet MacKenzie, Brian Chipman, Bernie Pientka; Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit: Donna Parrish; University of Vermont: Ellen Marsden; Lake Champlain Sea Grant: Mark Malchoff

1. Sea Lamprey Stream Trapping/Assessment Summary

• Wayne Bouffard reports that sea lamprey trapping results were similar in 2006 as in 2005 with exceptions being increases from 37 to 48 sea lamprey captured in Trout Brook and 33 to 69 sea lamprey captured in Stonebridge Brook. It was a difficult adult trapping season with numerous high water events causing washouts and screen barrier breaches.

• Quantitative Assessment Surveys, none of which have been completed due to high water, are progressing. Of note are the Poultney River that contains high numbers of silver lamprey and Beaver Brook that has more sea lamprey than found in previous QAS surveys. Surveys are also progressing on the Boquet, Poultney, Hubbardton and LaPlatte rivers.

2. Delta Sea Lamprey Survey Updates

• Dave Nettles reports that surveys are progressing and no lamprey were found on the Little Ausable and Salmon River Deltas or on Beaver Brook Delta. However, the Ausable River Delta has an infestation exceeding that of the former survey of 4-years ago. The South Channel of the Ausable River has an abundant larval sea lamprey population. No lamprey were detected in the backwater area of the Ausable marsh. The Committee agreed that a post TFM treatment survey should be conducted to assess the effectiveness of the upcoming TFM treatment on the Ausable River. If the sea lamprey population persists in the South Channel after the TFM treatment the Technical Committee will consider the possibility of a bayluscide treatment in conjunction with the delta treatment scheduled in 2007.

3. Morpion Barrier Update

• Bradley Young has been investigating payment scenarios for the Quebec construction activities associated with building the Morpion Stream sea lamprey barrier. Phased payments may be awarded in advance of each segment of work to be done. The legality of such a payment scheme is being explored by Martha Ansty. The likelihood of that barrier being constructed this year becomes less each day and it now appears that 2007 construction is a probability.

4. TFM Pesticide Labeling

• Brad continued with an explanation of a required label change due to some Vermont Department of Agriculture and Department of Health concerns over some label language. A new label will be affixed to TFM used in Vermont. During investigation we discovered that all TFM more than 3 years old must receive a new label and staff will comply with label changes as TFM is removed for use from pesticide storage. There was a question regarding vehicle placard expiration for transporting lampricides. Are new placards required? Since there is a new batch of TFM in hand and a new label is being affixed to older TFM, has NY registration of those labels occurred with the process. Great Lakes pesticide staff normally register directly with NY. Brad will check on the status.

5. Sea Lamprey Control Operation Plan Development

• Brad introduced the idea of developing an operational plan for the Cooperative to make sure our sea lamprey goals are reached. The plan would define effective treatment strategies ahead of time to provide a unified Committee approach to sea lamprey control (handout with flow diagram). Some discussion followed indicating there may be some differing priorities that could make this process contentious, especially if it centers around acceptable lampricide treatment concentrations. The group focused on the need for post-treatment data to show the relative effectiveness at lower MLCs to provide the guidance for developing effective treatment strategies.

6. Non-target Toxicity Testing

• Brian Chipman passed out a schedule for the various toxicity testing needs to guide Vermont TFM treatments and proposed TFM/bayluscide combination treatments (cly. papershell, sand darter, channel darter). Cylindrical papershell mussel collections are planned in the Grasse River Basin of NY to provide testing specimens.

7. 2006 Sea Lamprey Treatments

• The sea lamprey control schedule circulated to some staff should be circulated to all staff for review. A spring treatment scenario was discussed for the Ausable River to address the South Channel treatment difficulty. A fall treatment with flow deflectors into the south channel remains the plan. There was some discussion regarding NY pesticide certification requirements for analysis staff. Dave Nettles received John Bennet's interpretation during a certification requirements question and John indicated that analysis staff needn't be certified in NY. Certification is required for "applicators" only. Dave will follow up with John Bennet for documentation to that fact.

8. Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia

• Bill Schoch indicates that NYSDEC is looking into emergency regulations prohibiting the transport or holding of live fish in VHS waters of NY. The potential affects to hatchery production and transport of products is promoting stocking changes. No Salmon River, NY fish will be used other than in Lake Ontario. The 20,000 Chambers Creek strain Steelhead reared at Salmon River Hatchery will thus be cut from NY's stocking program. Brian Chipman provided a handout prepared by Tom Wiggins laying the plan and recommendations for lake-wide fish production changes in response to the cessation of Salmon River steelhead. Committee members agreed that in 2007, the steelhead shortfall will be substituted with surplus White River Hatchery salmon (about 25,000 currently available). For 2008 stocking and beyond, the convention will be to make up any steelhead shortfalls with salmon whenever available, or brown trout if salmon are not available. Vermont is developing a Chambers Creek steelhead brood line, which is expected to provide enough eggs to support both states' Lake Champlain needs in 2008 (for stocking in 2009).

9. Announcements

• Ellen Marsden canvassed the Tech Committee for potential September 28th field activities that the attendees of the Sea Lamprey Research Board might attend. The Board will be meeting in Burlington then. No activities were identified.

• Mark Malchoff assures that the alewife workshop summary will be available soon.

10. Further discussion

• Post-treatment surveys will be conducted on the Ausable River, Lewis Creek and Putnam Creek. The South Channel of the Ausable River will also receive a post treatment survey using deepwater gear.

• Discussion shifted to renewing support to the investigation of engineering designs for the prevention of canal introductions of fish to Lake Champlain especially in view of the VHS outbreak. Ellen will talk with Dave Tilton regarding some draft appropriations in the works that might fill that need.

The Technical Committee expressed its uniform desire to minimize to the degree possible all canal vectors for fish exotics and disease introductions through renewed investigations of preventative measures that could be employed to keep undesirable fish and pathogens from entering Lake Champlain through the associated canal systems. This potential for harm has been highlighted by the presence of VHS in connecting waters.

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