Lamprey barrier will help protect Lake Michigan fishery

The government has upped its game in the eternal effort to reduce the number of sea lamprey in the Great Lakes.

State and federal agencies recently completed construction of a $1.6 million sea lamprey barrier in Trail Creek, a Lake Michigan tributary in northern Indiana. The barrier will prevent sea lamprey from spawning in the creek, which will reduce the number of these monstrous, blood-sucking invaders in Lake Michigan.

The barrier and other efforts to control sea lamprey are paramount to efforts to maintain a healthy Great Lakes fishery. Each sea lamprey can consume up to 40 pounds of fish during its time in the lakes.

Sea lamprey are the biggest threat to the Great Lakes Fishery. (Great Lakes Fishery Commission photo)

Sea lamprey nearly eliminated the lake trout and whitefish fisheries in all the Great Lakes in the first half of the 20th century. The formation of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission in 1954 launched a full-scale war on sea lamprey.

That effort has reduced the sea lamprey population by 90 percent in most ares of the lakes. But because there is no way yet to eliminate sea lamprey from the Great Lakes, efforts to keep their numbers in check will continue for the foreseeable future.

The Great Lakes Fishery Commission spends about $20 million annually to control sea lamprey populations. That’s a small price to pay when you consider that the sea lamprey, if left unchecked, could wipe out a Great Lakes fishery valued at $7 billion.

Go here to read more about the sea lamprey barrier in Trail Creek.


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