The international sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) control program successfully laid the foundation for rehabilitation of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) in Lake Superior and was well coordinated among management agencies during 1957-1999. The lampricide TFM was the primary control tool, with recurring treatments in 52 larval-producing streams. Barriers and sterile-male-release, as alternative control technologies, were significant elements of the program. Barriers blocked spawning sea lampreys from substantial areas of habitat for sea lamprey larvae during 1966-1999, and the sterile-male-release technique was used to reduce larval production during 1991-1996. Sea lamprey control resulted in the suppression of sea lamprey populations in Lake Superior, as evidenced by the linear decline in spawner abundance during 1962-1999. However, sea lamprey abundance was not as low as the targets specified in the fish community objectives. Most of the parasitic sea lampreys in Lake Superior probably originated from survivors of lampricide treatments. Self-sustaining populations of lake trout were restored in most of the lake by 1996, although many were killed annually by sea lampreys. Economic injury levels for damage to fish populations by sea lampreys are being developed and will be used to distribute sea lamprey control resources among the Great Lakes.
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Sea lamprey abundance and management in Lake Superior 1957-1999