Seneca Lake Sea Lamprey Control

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Treatments Will Enhance Lake Trout and Salmon Populations and Sizes

A program to combat the parasitic sea lamprey has been scheduled to begin again the first week of June on Seneca Lake tributaries in Chemung, Schuyler and Yates Counties, Paul D’Amato, Regional Director of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced today.

By effectively controlling sea lampreys, DEC can reduce mortality rates for fish targeted by sea lamprey, especially lake trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, and landlocked salmon-some of the more popular fish on Seneca Lake. In addition, fewer sea lampreys mean fewer unsightly scars and wounds on sportfish. Seneca Lake tributaries have been treated for sea lampreys since 1982.

Typically, immature sea lamprey live in streams for three to four years before they become parasitic and descend into the lake to prey on other fish, like trout and salmon. Through the sea lamprey control program, a lampricide, called TFM (3-trifluoromethyl-4-nitrophenol) will be applied to the streams in a continuous, metered manner over a period of approximately 12 hours to kill the immature, larval form of the sea lamprey. TFM is a selective pesticide developed in the 1950s and used extensively since that time for sea lamprey control in the Great Lakes. TFM has been used in Seneca Lake tributaries since 1982. The dosage levels of TFM that are lethal to larval sea lampreys can be harmlessly processed by most other aquatic organisms.

DEC will treat waters inhabited by juvenile sea lampreys in Catharine Creek from Millport to Montour Falls. Additionally, treatment will occur in the lower reaches of Keuka Outlet downstream of Cascade Mills, in Yates County. Lampricide applications are scheduled to start June 3, however, weather conditions may warrant postponement to later in the week or the following week.

The stream treatments do not pose any significant hazard to human health. However, as a precautionary measure, the NYS Department of Health has advised no stream water consumption, fishing, swimming, livestock watering or irrigation in the treatment zone during and immediately following applications. Appropriate signs will be posted along the treated streams. Since 1982, Catharine Creek and Keuka Outlet have been treated seven and five times respectively, without any significant environmental or human health problems or impacts.

Following an environmental impact statement and public hearing, DEC concluded that the sea lamprey control 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.