Seneca Lake Sea Lamprey Control

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A program to combat parasitic sea lamprey will begin the week of June 9th on Seneca Lake tributaries in Chemung, Schuyler and Yates counties, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

Efforts to control sea lampreys can reduce mortality rates for game fish that sea lamprey target, especially lake trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, and landlocked salmon, which are among the more popular fish for Seneca Lake anglers. Reducing the number of sea lampreys will also lead to fewer unsightly scars and wounds on sportfish.

Typically, immature sea lampreys live in streams for three to four years before they become parasitic, descending into the lake to prey on other fish, like trout and salmon. Under the sea lamprey control program, a lampricide called TFM (3-trifluoromethyl-4-nitrophenol) will be applied to the streams in a continuous manner over a period of approximately 12 hours to kill the immature, larval form of sea lamprey.

TFM is a selective pesticide developed in the 1950s that has been used extensively to control sea lamprey in the Great Lakes. This lampricide has been applied to Seneca Lake tributaries since 1982. Dosage levels of TFM that are lethal to larval sea lampreys can be harmlessly processed by most other aquatic organisms.

Following an environmental impact statement (EIS) and public hearing prior to the start of the sea lamprey control program, DEC concluded that the program offers an effective and immediate measure for protecting the native lake trout populations in Seneca Lake.

DEC further concluded that the project will not have any significant impacts to the environment or non target organisms exposed to the lampricide; however, some minor fish and aquatic invertebrate mortality may occur.

The stream treatments do not pose any human health threats, but a precautionary measure, the State Health Department has advised people not to consume stream water from the treated tributaries and avoid fishing, swimming, livestock watering or irrigation in the treatment zone during and immediately following applications. Precautionary signs will be posted along the treated streams.

On June 9th, weather permitting, DEC will begin to treat waters inhabited by juvenile sea lampreys in Catharine Creek and tributaries from the Chemung/Schuyler County line to Montour Falls. If weather conditions are not suitable, treatment may be postponed till later in the week or the following week.

source: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation