Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Lamprey Summit Focuses Efforts to Build Pacific Lamprey Populations
Pacific Region, June 21, 2012
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Tribal members signing in as they enter the World Forestry Center in Portland, Oregon for Lamprey Summit III.
Tribal members signing in as they enter the World Forestry Center in Portland, Oregon for Lamprey Summit III. - Photo Credit: Derek Neuts, USFWS
Attendees at Lamprey Summit III.
Attendees at Lamprey Summit III. - Photo Credit: Derek Neuts, USFWS

On June 20 and 21, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Pacific Region and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission co-sponsored a lamprey summit at the World Forestry Center in Portland, Oregon.  This was the third such meeting to enhance and coordinate Pacific lamprey conservation efforts in the Northwest, along with providing an opportunity for regional Native American tribes to reinforce the long-standing cultural importance of this 450 million year-old fish.

A number of tribes, federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders signed a monumental Pacific Lamprey Conservation Agreement outlining cooperative funding objectives and measurable conservation goals to promote restoration of Pacific lamprey populations in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California and Idaho. Some of the local supporters of this Agreement, in addition to the Service, are the Bureau of Reclamation, Bonneville Power Administration, Portland General Electric, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the City of Portland.  Those who did not sign the conservation agreement instead signed letters of support, providing firm commitments for lamprey conservation.

Tribes in the Pacific Northwest sent out a call to action at the first Lamprey Summit in 2004 to protect the Pacific lamprey’s dwindling numbers in the Columbia River Basin from further decline.  From 2003 to 2004, lamprey counts at the Bonneville Dam dropped by approximately 55,000, down from nearly 117,027.  In 2010, roughly 23,000 lamprey were counted at the same structure, with only nine lamprey counted at the Wells Dam, which peaked at 1,408 in 2003.  The recently signed Agreement states measurable objectives to restore and maintain sustainable populations of Pacific Lamprey as well as outline known threats to this species.

The Pacific lamprey is an ancient anadromous fish native to the Pacific Northwest. It is eel-like in appearance and feeds on a variety of other fish, including rockfish and Pollock, while acting as a predator buffer for salmon. Pacific lamprey serve an important role in the food-web (as prey at all life stages, and as a source of marine-derived nutrients that fuel relatively sterile tributary ecosystems) of many rivers in the Pacific Northwest. They provide benefits to a broad array of aquatic species. Pacific lamprey have historically been a source of food for and used for medicinal purposes by Northwest tribes, as well as having deep cultural and spiritual roots for many generations.

Contact Info: Amanda Fortin, (503) 872-2852, Amanda_Fortin@fws.gov
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