Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Deadly Fish Disease Invades Lake Erie

The following is terrible news for Lake Erie.....

With the potential to cause great damage to the fragile ecosystem of Lake Erie, researchers have found a deadly virus, viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS), that can decimate our Walleye, Perch & Steelhead populations to name a few.

Already experiencing dwindling numbers in Lake Erie fish populations, this disease is just one of the many foreign species that invade our waterways. Here is a link from the Great Lakes Panel on Exotics and Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council on the negative effect of invasive foreign species in Lake Erie.

D'Arcy Egan of the Plain Dealer recently commented that Walleye need a banner hatch this year to keep the population from sliding from rehabilitation mode to crisis mode. Perch limits were decreased from 40 down to 30 for a daily bag limit.

The VHS disease is also known to infect Rainbow Trout/Steelhead or fish of the Salmonid genus. This is very troubling!!! Every spring & fall, the tributaries of Lake Erie from the Vermillion River east to Conneaut Creek are packed with migrating Steelhead. The Steelhead fishing in this area is known as one of the Top 10 locations in the United States.

From the PD --

Fairport Harbor - As a 47-foot research vessel trawled a couple of miles off shore, Kevin Kayle and other state wildlife officers stood at a work table in the open cabin, tossing live fish into bins, pausing occasionally to examine a bloody, bloated yellow or white perch.

At another station, a graduate student used a meter to test the lake's acidity to see what role, if any, water quality plays in the spread of viral hemorrhagic septicemia, or VHS, a virus that is deadly to fish but harmless to humans who eat infected fish.

The purpose of Tuesday's off-shore research was to learn more about the virus, which is spreading through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway, fatally attacking yellow perch, walleye and 35 other species of fish. A similar project was under way in Sandusky.

"We have concerns of it getting into inland lakes," said Kayle, fisheries biologist supervisor with the state's wildlife division, standing on the deck as the boat motored out of the harbor. "Also we have concerns if it got into hatcheries."

On the same day, in Indianapolis, the Great Lakes Commission passed a resolution urging Congress to restrict the discharge of ballast water by oceangoing vessels in the Great Lakes. Ballast discharges are considered the primary source of invasive species like zebra mussels and the VHS disease.

The virus showed up in Lake Erie last spring, killing thousands of perch and freshwater drum, or sheepshead, and fouling beaches. More....

Let's hope Congress listens!

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Don't be scared!