Seneca Lake sea lamprey control to begin
SENECA LAKE—A program to combat the parasitic sea lamprey is scheduled to begin the second week of June on Seneca Lake tributaries in Schuyler County, announced Paul D’Amato, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Regional Director.
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.
Typically, immature sea lampreys 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, 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.
Following an environmental impact statement and public hearing conducted prior to initiation of the sea lamprey control program, DEC concluded the sea lamprey control program offers an effective and immediate measure for protecting the lake trout populations in Seneca Lake. DEC further concluded the project will not have any significant impacts to the environment or nontarget organisms exposed to the lampricide. Some minor fish and aquatic invertebrate mortality is expected and may be visible.
The stream treatments do not pose a significant hazard to human health. However, as a precaution, 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 eight and six times, respectively, without significant environmental or human health problems or impacts.
DEC staff will treat waters inhabited by juvenile sea lampreys in Catharine Creek and tributaries from the Chemung/Schuyler County line to Montour Falls. Although lampricide applications are scheduled to start the second week of June, weather conditions may warrant postponement into the following week.