For Immediate Release
October 7, 1996
Contact: Marc Gaden
313-662-3209 ext. 14
The U.S. Congress approved, and the President signed, a spending bill last week that provides $8.3 million for the Great Lakes Fishery Commission in fiscal year 1997. This U.S. appropriation, coupled with Canada's decision to contribute $5.1 million (Canadian) to the program, means that both governments will provide the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and its sea lamprey control program with the same level of funding in fiscal 1997 as they did in fiscal 1996.
"The action taken by the U.S. government is very important to the protection and the improvement of the Great Lakes fishery," commented Charles Krueger, the commission's U.S. Section Chair. "The funding provided by the governments means the commission should be able to carry out a base lamprey treatment program next year and continue to invest in alternative, non-lampricide control measures."
Krueger added: "For a period of time, it appeared that funding for the vital sea lamprey control program might have been cut and unnecessarily shifted to more than one U.S. federal department. Thanks to a strong effort by members of the House and Senate Great Lakes Task Force, the Great Lakes congressional delegation was able to secure level funding for the program from one federal department--the State Department. I commend members of the U.S. House and Senate for their commitment to the health of the fishery, for their diligence in securing the funding that makes it possible for the commission to control sea lampreys in the Great Lakes, and for their willingness to maintain a funding mechanism that is effective and efficient."
Commission chair Gail Beggs added: "Controlling the exotic sea lamprey is vital to the overall health and strength of the Great Lakes fishery. Sea lampreys are enormously destructive and if they are left uncontrolled--even for a short amount of time--they will destroy the fishery. The continued commitment to the program from the governments of the United States and Canada allows the commission to implement control techniques that reduce sea lamprey populations by about 90% in most areas of the Great Lakes."
The Great Lakes Fishery Commission was established by treaty between the United States and Canada in 1956 to coordinate fishery research between the two nations and to develop and implement a joint sea lamprey control program on the Great Lakes. Each government appoints four commissioners (the United States, also, has one alternate) and has agreed to a funding mechanism where the United States pays 69% of the lamprey control program and Canada pays 31%. This funding ratio is roughly coincidental with the area of the Great Lakes in each country's boundaries and the value of historical fish harvest prior to the sea lamprey invasion.