Health of Lake Champlain Fisheries
Governor of Vermont, Agency of Natural Resources Secretary, and Vermont Commissioners of the Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Health and Department of Fish and Wildlife
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We consider sea lamprey control measures necessary to balance the needs of all aquatic species found in the Lake Champlain basin with the human community that depends on them. The hypothetical needs of any one species should not be balanced on the demonstrable "back" of another. We believe, therefore, that sea lamprey populations in Lake Champlain are socially and economically unacceptable. Furthermore, their numbers within native ecosystem of the Lake Champlain basin are scientifically unjustifiable.
Based on past and present research regarding the safety and efficacy of lampricide treatments, and based on proven sea lamprey control successes previously achieved by historical chemical applications, we encourage resumption of continued, timely applications of lampricide in all waters where sea lamprey ammocetes are known to be present, including, and especially, the infested Winooski River and Missisquoi River.
While vocal detractors of sea lamprey control inflate lampricides alleged effects on non-target aquatic species, repeated and objective tests show current application levels an insignificant threat to ecological integrity. Alternatively, sea lamprey depredation is causing severe suffering to, and declines in populations and distribution of, [of] other aquatic organisms. This cannot be allowed to continue as it is in the best interest of neither endangered lake sturgeon, nor prized game fish such as lake trout, to delay or reduce Lake Champlain sea lamprey control implementation.
Therefore, lampricide treatments must go forward in the Winooski River, Missisquoi River and elsewhere in the Lake Champlain basin, in the best interest of the people of the State of Vermont, the people of the State of New York, and all others who enjoy and depend on a healthy Lake Champlain. These treatments are necessary to restore a much-needed balance in the Lake Champlain ecosystem, and must continue on an effective, systematic basis until more efficient or effective methods of control have been perfected and can be implemented.
As Senator Leahy has said, "The harm done by sea lamprey on the Lake Champlain fishery is substantial and poses real threats to recreational fishing, to the overall health of our fish population, and to our regions tourism economy." According to the Opportunities for Action Plan produced by the Lake Champlain Basin Program, anglers annually spend $205 million fishing Lake Champlain, patronizing 98 fishing-related businesses within ten miles of the lake.
We strongly encourage the State of Vermont, Agency of Natural Resources Secretary George Crombie and Department of Health Commissioner Sharon Moffat, Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Laura Pelosi and Department of Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Wayne Laroche to move forward in controlling this destructive invasive parasite. We strongly support continued, safe usage of lampricide while other effective means are explored, and strongly support an environmental philosophy inclusive, not exclusive, of human interest and values.
Populations of various nuisance species reaching epidemic levels are routinely controlled using pesticides and herbicides to reduce economic losses to agricultural production, to protect human health, to protect habitat, to aid in restoration of endangered species, and even to bring greater comfort to humans. To consider the sea lamprey epidemic currently extant in the Lake Champlain basin as merely a nuisance is a gross under-representation of biological truth.
Please approve the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife's lampricide application permits for the Winooski and Missisquoi Rivers expeditiously.