In a unique example of the international cooperation that is at the heart of resource management in the Lake Champlain Basin, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the town of Notre-Dame-de-Stanbridge in Québec have worked together to construct a barrier to prevent sea lamprey from moving upstream to spawn on the Morpion Creek, a tributary to the Pike River. The barrier, located adjacent to the municipal office, officially opened on May 15. The town and the USFWS share ownership of the barrier, which physically traps lamprey as they migrate. Non-target species caught in the trap are removed and allowed to pass upstream without harm. The barrier is an alternative to chemical lampricide treatments that are used in other parts of the Basin. USFWS staff currently operate the barrier, while town officials have taken an active role in site maintenance and engaging the public.
The barrier, the most recent accomplishment in a 20-year effort to reduce sea lamprey populations in the Lake Champlain Basin, will address one of the largest remaining uncontrolled populations in the watershed. Lamprey are a parasitic species that attach themselves to fish, wounding and weakening their hosts. As a result of this ongoing effort, sea lamprey wounding on lake trout and salmon has dropped to the lowest rates since monitoring began in 1985.
US Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont supported the funding from the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) for the construction of the barrier. “This Quebec project is an example of the innovative solutions and partnerships that we need to protect the Lake that shares its shores with two states and Canada,” said Leahy.
Learn more about sea lamprey in our online 2012 State of the Lake Report.