Great Lakes Fishery Commission:

Actions Needed to Support an Expanded Program

NSIAD-92-108: Published: Mar 9, 1992. Publicly Released: Mar 9, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Great Lakes Fishery Commission's sea lamprey control programs, focusing on the Commission's: (1) consideration of the potential harmful effects of its sea lamprey control actions; (2) progress in adopting nonchemical sea lamprey control methods; and (3) use of increased funding for research for alternative control methods.

GAO found that the Commission: (1) endorses an ecosystem management approach that considers the potential impact of its control methods and seeks input from fishery experts regarding its activities; (2) has set a goal of reducing its use of lampricides to 50 percent of 1991 levels by 2000; (3) for fiscal year (FY) 1992, requested a $1.9-million increase over its FY 1991 budget, but some Canadian fishery officials believe that the Commission has not adequately justified its request for lampricide stream treatments; (4) is developing a formal protocol for gathering and analyzing data on sea lamprey populations to address such concerns; (5) has allocated few resources to developing alternative control methods, citing limited research funding levels, lack of time, and the success of its chemical control program; (6) has employed barrier dams and the release of sterilized male sea lamprey as alternative control methods; (7) included in its FY 1992 budget request $1.5 million for those two alternative control techniques and $2.5 million for alternative control research, but neither the U.S. nor Canadian governments fully met the budget request; (8) has not developed a detailed strategic plan for its alternative control research; (9) uses informal monitoring procedures to manage its small research program, but those would be inadequate for a larger research program; and (10) has not begun to plan for the tests and studies necessary to reregister the lampricides, and has made only limited attempts to locate additional suppliers and ensure the long-term availability of the chemicals.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: State and the Commission agreed with the recommendation. However, funding constraints have forced a drastic reduction in the research program. As a result, the Commission does not view implementation of the recommendation as a high priority.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State, working in conjunction with appropriate officials from the government of Canada, should ensure that the Great Lakes Fishery Commission develops a comprehensive strategy for its alternative control research that describes, to the extent practicable, the projected research cost, the amount of research already available, the practicality, possible environmental consequences, and general research completion time frames for each proposed sea lamprey control method or area of research.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Commission hired a research administrative officer to monitor research activities. However, the officer was reassigned to work on reregistering lampricide chemicals. Cuts in the research program have made research monitoring less of a priority.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State, working in conjunction with appropriate officials from the government of Canada, should ensure that the Great Lakes Fishery Commission improves monitoring of research activities by appointing a full-time research administrative officer to establish a system to track project milestone and report dates and develop oversight procedures for an expanded research program.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Commission has developed a lampricide chemical reregistration plan and an annual budget through 1996 of $4.9 million.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State, working in conjunction with appropriate officials from the government of Canada, should ensure that the Great Lakes Fishery Commission develops a plan and system for reregistering the lampricide chemicals that includes an estimated budget by year.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

 

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