Sea lamprey treatments start this week
SENECA LAKE--A program to combat the parasitic sea lamprey began Monday, June 4 on Seneca Lake tributaries in Chemung, Schuyler and Yates Counties, coordinated through the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
By effectively controlling sea lampreys, the DEC can reduce mortality rates for fish targeted by the sea lamprey, especially lake trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, and landlocked salmon. In addition, fewer sea lampreys mean fewer unsightly scars and wounds on sportfish.
Typically, immature sea lamprey live in streams for three to four years before they become parasitic, descending into the lake to prey on other fish, like trout and salmon. Through the sea lamprey control program, the DEC will apply a lampricide, called TFM (3-trifluoromethyl-4-nitrophenol) 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 used extensively for sea lamprey control in the Great Lakes for decades and 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.
After an environmental impact statement and public hearing that were conducted prior to initiation of the sea lamprey control program, the DEC concluded the sea lamprey control program "offers an effective and immediate measure for protecting the native lake trout populations in Seneca Lake." The DEC further concluded the project will not have any significant impacts to the environment or non-target organisms exposed to the lampricide. Some minor fish and aquatic invertebrate mortality is expected and may be visible.
The stream treatments do not pose any significant hazard to human health. However, as a precautionary measure, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) has advised no stream water consumption, fishing, swimming, livestock watering or irrigation in the treatment zone during and immediately after applications. Appropriate signs will be posted along the treated streams. Since 1982, Catharine Creek and Keuka Outlet have been treated 10 and six times, respectively, without significant environmental or human health problems or impacts.
The DEC will treat waters inhabited by juvenile sea lampreys in Catharine Creek and tributaries from the Chemung/Schuyler County line to Montour Falls and Keuka Outlet from Cascade Mills downstream. Lampricide applications are scheduled to start June 5 in Catharine Creek and June 7 in Keuka Outlet; however, weather conditions may warrant postponement to later in the week or the following week.