SOURCE: Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters

Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters

June 13, 2016 13:45 ET

OFAH Pleased With Canadian Investment in Sea Lamprey Control Program

Government of Canada Pledges $8-Million Over Two Years Into Fighting Invasive Sea Lamprey in Great Lakes Basin

PETERBOROUGH, ON--(Marketwired - June 13, 2016) - The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters has long called on the Government of Canada to provide enhanced funding to support the Great Lakes Fishery Commission's Sea Lamprey Control Program.

With that in mind, the OFAH is pleased to see the federal government has pledged an additional $8-million in funding for the ongoing commitment to protect the Great Lakes and its $7-billion fisheries industry.

"We appreciate the Government of Canada's recognition of the importance of our Great Lakes fisheries and their commitment to protecting the fish that support them," said Matt DeMille, OFAH's manager of fish and wildlife services. "This short-term investment will help the Sea Lamprey Control Program provide long-term benefits for the Great Lakes."

The funding will be distributed over a two year period and is aimed at improving the physical barriers that prevent Sea Lamprey from accessing suitable spawning and nursery habitats in the upstream reaches of several Great Lakes tributaries.

The OFAH is hopeful that this investment is a signal of more federal funding support to come for failing infrastructure in the Great Lake's tributaries that provide critical Sea Lamprey control functions -- such as the Black Sturgeon River's Camp 43 dam.

This fresh funding is a welcome development and the OFAH looks forward to working with the government to find a permanent way to increase annual funding contributions to the program -- which has reduced Sea Lamprey populations by 90 percent in most areas of the Great Lakes -- in order to ensure the necessary ongoing support and continued success of the program.

"Maintaining and improving this program requires further investment as control costs continue to increase," added DeMille. "Sea Lamprey are an extremely harmful invasive species that pose a risk to the health and future of the Great Lakes, so we need to ensure we do everything we can to protect our natural resources."

With over 100,000 members, subscribers and supporters, and 735 member clubs, the OFAH is the province's largest nonprofit, fish and wildlife conservation-based organization and the VOICE of anglers and hunters. For more information, visit us online at www.ofah.org, follow us on Twitter @ofah and find us on Facebook.

Sea Lamprey facts:

• First introduced in the 1800s, Sea Lamprey are responsible for the near complete loss of the Great Lakes fishery by the mid-20th Century

• The Sea Lamprey Control Program has eliminated 90 percent of the population within the Great Lakes. However, the remaining Sea Lamprey continue to affect native fish species

• The Sea Lamprey uses its sucker mouth, sharp teeth and rasping tongue to attach itself to the body of a fish and suck the fish's blood. Fish that survive the attack are left with a large open wound that can become infected and often leads to death

• During its parasitic phase, one Sea Lamprey can destroy an average of 18 kilograms of fish. Approximately six of every seven fish that experience a Sea Lamprey attack die. Attacks have resulted in reduced stocks of Lake Trout, salmon, whitefish, cisco and Burbot

• The Canadian/U.S. Convention on Great Lakes Fisheries established the Great Lakes Fishery Commission in 1955. The Commission coordinates fisheries research, controls the invasive Sea Lamprey, and facilitates cooperative fishery management among the state, provincial, tribal, and federal management agencies

• OFAH, in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, have been addressing the threats posed by invasive species in Ontario since 1992 through the Invading Species Awareness Program (www.invadingspecies.com)

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