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Fish granted protection near new sea lamprey barrier

Fishing in the area near the new sea lamprey barrier that was completed earlier this year on Trail Creek in Michigan City has been prohibited by the DNR by emergency rule.

The purpose is to protect migrating trout and salmon.

The rule, which took effect today, prohibits the taking or possession of fish within 100 feet upstream of the barrier and from the barrier downstream to the Pottawatomie Country Club Golf Course property line, which is located adjacent to Springland Avenue in Michigan City.

The rule was needed because as migrating fish approach the barrier, a concentrated number of them develops. Some fish jump over the barrier, and others are directed into a trap. This makes the fish particularly vulnerable to illegal snagging and other means of poaching.

So far this season, DNR biologists have trapped and transferred 2,000 trout and salmon over the barrier. Countless others have jumped the barrier on their own.

The barrier was installed to block upstream migrations of the parasitic sea lamprey as the species returns to Trail Creek to spawn. Each adult lamprey can kill about 40 pounds of fish in Lake Michigan during its lifetime. Before the barrier was installed, repeated chemical treatments were needed to control the lampreys. The barrier eliminated the need for such treatments.

Construction of the barrier was a cooperative project involving the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the DNR.

The emergency rule can remain in effect for up to one year. In the meantime, the DNR will seek to include the closed area in a permanent rule change.