For Immediate Release

Contact: Marc Gaden

June 24, 1997

313-662-3209 ext. 14

Commission Applauds Governor Englerís Proposal

For Enhanced Sea Lamprey Control

Additional Funds Will Assure that Sea Lamprey Control on the St. Marys River

Will Not Jeopardize Control in the Other Great Lakes

ANN ARBORóThe Great Lakes Fishery Commission today applauded Michigan Governor John Engler for including sea lamprey control funds in his 1998 budget and hailed the proposal as a major step forward in the battle to combat one of the Great Lakesí most noxious pests. In particular, controlling the large population of sea lampreys produced in the St. Marys Rive remains one of the biggest challenges in the Great Lakes. The river produces more sea lampreys than all of the other Great Lakes combined, which thwart the recovery of the Lake Huron and Lake Michigan fish communities. However, thanks to an aggressive multi-agency effort to understand sea lampreys in the St. Marys River, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission is now poised to implement a cost-effective sea lamprey control program there. The commissionís main concern has been that without additional funds, sea lamprey control in the St. Marys River would come at the expense of sea lamprey control in the other Great Lakes. The Governorís budgetóif adopted by the Legislatureówill allow the Great Lakes Fishery Commission to move forward with a significant portion of its sea lamprey control plan in the St. Marys River without having to redirect funds from other areas of the program.

"I commend Governor Engler and DNR Director Cool for seeking additional sea lamprey control funds and for building partnerships that will allow us to attack the sea lamprey problem in a unified manner," said Dr. Charles Krueger, Chairman of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. "By proposing these funds, Michigan is going that extra mile in the effort to improve the fishery for ourselves and for future generations."

Krueger added: "The St. Marys River remains one of our biggest challenges mainly because its large size and tremendous flow volume hinder sea lamprey control. The sea lampreys migrate into Lake Huron and Lake Michigan and prey on fish there in large numbers. We are observing lamprey wounding rates similar to those seen forty years agoóbefore sea lamprey control began in the Great Lakesówhen the fishery was in a state of collapse. Because of the St. Marys River problem, agencies no longer stock fish in some areas of Lake Huron and they are unable to move forward in their efforts to restore fish communities and the fisheries they support. The Governorís proposal for more sea lamprey control funds will allow us to make great strides in addressing the St. Marys River problem without jeopardizing sea lamprey control in the other Great Lakes."

"Although sea lamprey control is a U.S. and Canadian federal responsibility, Governor Englerís proposed budget supplements this federal contribution and strengthens critical fishery management partnerships," Krueger continued. "The Great Lakes Fishery Commission, in its long-term Strategic Vision, pledged to build and support partnerships in the Great Lakes region so that dollars for fishery management could be leveraged and would support the work of many agencies. By putting this money forward, Michigan is taking the lead in building what I hope will be a multi-state, provincial, and international partnership for the future."

"I, too, commend Governor Engler and his administration for the commitment to sea lamprey control," said former Saginaw Mayor Paul Wendler, an Advisor to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, and a member of Michiganís Sea Lamprey Funding Task Force. "We have long argued that sea lamprey control is vital to the $2-4 billion fishery we in the Great Lakes region enjoy. We have the know-how to suppress lampreys to only ten percent of their historical highs. The hard part has always been getting the governments to provide adequate funding for the control effort. This budget proposal is friendly to the fishery, it benefits all who fish in the Great Lakes, and it brings us closer to achieving acceptable sea lamprey control in all of the Great Lakes. I hope the Michigan Legislature will be as enthused about this budget request as we in the Great Lakes fishing community are."

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