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Plans For Lamprey Barrier In UP Move Forward

Michigan will take ownership of a dam on the Manistique River in the Upper Peninsula. That will allow the federal government to build a new barrier there to keep sea lampreys from breeding in the river. Managers of the fishery expect that will bring the lamprey problem under control in Lake Michigan.

The Manistique is one of the largest watersheds in the Great Lakes. Fisheries biologists were caught off guard about a decade ago when it was discovered sea lamprey were passing the old Manistique Papers dam near the river mouth and spawning upstream. The problem has continued to worsen with the aging dam. That was one reason the lamprey population in Lake Michigan surged around 2007 and today the eel-like fish are still more numerous than lake managers would like. Lampreys keep the native lake trout from recovering and also attach to white fish and salmon.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is ready to build a new barrier on the Manistique River and Michigan’s willingness to own the dam could allow that to happen by 2014. Michigan takes on no liability because the federal government through an agreement with Canada is responsible for managing the sea lamprey, one of the first invasiv species to arrive in the Great Lakes.