Canadian Sea Lamprey Barrier Helps States

Published 05/15 2014 06:46PM

Updated 05/15 2014 07:03PM

NOTRE-DAME-DE-STANBRIDGE, Quebec - For decades Fish and Wildlife officials have battled eel-like, suction cup mouthed sea lamprey that attack fish in Lake Champlain.

"We're doing pretty well in New York and Vermont. We've already seen decreases in both states,” says Bradley Young of US Fish and Wildlife.

Now, the fight heads to Quebec.

"We're on target. We're on the right trajectory, we just need to close the loop and get this final one done here,” he added.

This first of its kind barrier on the Morpion Creek, which feeds into Lake Champlain, stops sea lamprey from swimming upstream to reproduce. Most other fish can pass through the metal blockade. Those that can't, and get caught, are released by wildlife specialists three times per week. That’s a relief to some Canadians living nearby.

"We were really interested to see how it works," nearby resident Micheline Normandin says.

Locals are also happy the new method is environmentally friendly.

"We're very excited that this is going on and they're not using any pesticides or anything," she added.

This new barrier costs some one point five million dollars to construct. It might sound like a lot, but consider the fact that Lake Champlain's overall economic impact is something like two hundred million dollars. Officials say it’s hard to account for how much sea lampreys might take out of that, but estimates run as high as twenty to forty million dollars.

Fishermen like Robert Galbraith know that first hand. He says tourists don't want to catch injured fish.

"Those large salmon with people posing and something with three lamprey eels dripping off of them, attached to them, it wouldn't be so attractive.”

He says he's proud Canadians and Americans can come together to keep the lake healthy, and profitable.

The barrier will only be in place during spawning season, which runs from April to June. So far its caught 25 sea lamprey.

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