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Climate change predicted to impact lamprey control

We’ve noticed Great Lakes basin residents often observe that the negative impacts from climate change happen to people who live elsewhere, out west, for example, the Gulf coast states or, more recently and dramatically, Australia.

Yes, we endure the occasional odd snowstorm, lake gale or spring deluge that might be associated with climate change, but the real problems associated with a warming globe can largely be found elsewhere.

But now a new study in the Journal of Great Lakes Research may change that general thinking.

According to researchers at the respected Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, climate change will start warming the Great Lakes ever so slightly, but enough to make it harder to kill the sea lamprey, the longtime scourge of Great Lakes game fish and among the first of the so-called invasive species.

Apparently warmer waters increase the larval sea lamprey’s tolerance to TFM, a chemical widely-used to kill lampreys during their larval stage.

That’s very bad news for anyone connected to lamprey control, people who recreate with fishing poles or folks who make their livings from such activities.

If the water warms, more of the powerful chemical will have to be used and used more often, significantly driving up the cost of the effort.

The annual value of the Great Lakes fishery is $7 billion, so much is at stake.

The question continues to be studied by entities in both Canada and the U.S., as well it should, given its importance. We plan to watch this issue closely and recommend readers do the same.