Barrier will help reduce the sea lamprey population

Project Summary: A barrier installed in northern Indiana’s Trail Creek will reduce the number of sea lamprey in Lake Michigan, where the blood-sucking invaders prey on fish.

Project name: Trail Creek sea lamprey barrier.

Location: Michigan City, Ind.

Description: The sea lamprey is an eel-like, parasitic fish that snuck into the Great Lakes between 1825 and 1930 through manmade canals. The invaders wiped out much of the lake trout population in the Great Lakes by the late 1940s. Since 1954, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission has been controlling sea lamprey populations with chemicals, barriers and the release of sterile male lampreys. Those efforts have reduced the sea lamprey population by 90 percent in most areas of the lakes, but the battle to keep the monstrous invaders in check will continue indefinitely. The barrier in Trail Creek, a tributary of Lake Michigan, will reduce the sea lamprey population by blocking access to spawning habitat. Desirable fish species will be able to leap over or bypass the sea lamprey barrier.

This sea lamprey barrier on Trail Creek will prevent the invader from spawning in the creek. Other fish will be able to bypass the barrier.  (Great Lakes Fishery Commission photo)

Approximate cost of project: $1.6 million, which was provided by the federal Water Resources Development Act.

Resource challenges addressed: Invasive species and threats to Great Lakes fish populations. The blood sucking sea lamprey is the biggest threat to the $7 billion Great Lakes fishery. A single lamprey consumes of to 40 pounds of fish during its time in the lakes.

The barrier on Trail Creek will keep thousands of sea lamprey (above) from killing Lake Michigan fish. Each lamprey consumes up to 40 pounds of fish during its time in the lake. Lamprey attach to fish and suck their blood and other bodily fluids. (Great Lakes Fishery Commission photo)

Key partners (public and private): Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Types of jobs created: Civil engineers, ecologists, heavy equipment operators and general laborers.

Results and accomplishments: The barrier will prevent tens of thousands of sea lamprey — each of which consumes up to 40 pounds of fish — from spawning in Trail Creek and feeding in Lake Michigan. The barrier also eliminates the need for chemical treatments of Trail Creek, which will free up financial resources that fishery managers can use to fight sea lamprey elsewhere in other Great Lakes tributaries.

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Originally Published: April 26, 2012

One Response to Barrier will help reduce the sea lamprey population

  1. Greenfish says:

    The last 2 years of fishing Trail Creek has been the worst ever. I sit and watch all the trout and salmon come to this point in the river and only a few of the fish are able to clear this dam. If you sit and watch most of the fish bash there bodies into the steel. The only thing this is a barrier to is the fish and sportsmen not catching fish.

    I noticed over on the Paw Paw River in Michigan the state has remove fish barriers like dams.

    I want to thank the DNR for messing up one of the last good fisheries going in this state while trying to convince everyone what great things they are doing. All the public land upstream from this barrier is a waste. The sad thing is people like me that once went to the area 6 plus times a year to enjoy the area with there families will no longer go. In the past the DNR has messed up all the camping areas so that a family can no longer budget camp outings. Put spring stream trout stockings from great streams into lakes, they waste so much money on stocking the St. Joe with very little returning fish to Indiana and now this. What “great” ideas this department has The DNR is very full of its self. I just wonder what great things they will mess next time

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