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EVALUATING THE RISKS AND POTENTIAL OF GENETIC TECHNOLOGIES FOR MANAGING THE IMPACTS OF SEA LAMPREY IN THE GREAT LAKES
1Michael L. Jones, 2Ronald Thresher, and 4D. Andrew R. Drake
1Quantitative Fisheries Center, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, 480 Wilson Road, Room 13, Michigan State University, East Lansing MI 48824
2 SF Tech, 50 Bramble Street, Ridgeway, Tasmania, 7054, Australia
3Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Burlington, ON, Canada L7S 1A1
Sea Lamprey are controlled to desirable levels in the Great Lakes through use of two costly and at times controversial methods: barriers and lampricides. For more than two decades the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) has sought alternative tactics to complement and potentially replace these two methods, but without success to date. In recent years methods involving genetic manipulations of pest species or their hosts/prey have risen to prominence as highly effective alternatives to existing pest control methods. This project sought to examine the potential feasibility, and stakeholder support for, genetic bio-control of Great Lakes Sea Lamprey populations. Through literature review, consultation with experts, simulation modeling, and a risk-assessment workshop, we identified a set of six possible control options, four directly targeting Sea Lamprey and two targeting them via their food sources, which we judged to have moderate to high feasibility. Experts assessed the risks of most options to be extremely low or low, with the exception of a gene drive tactic with was assessed to have high risk for non-target Sea Lamprey populations. Stakeholders (fishery resource users, managers, and biologists familiar with Great Lakes fisheries) indicated broad support for both R&D on several of the six options, and for implementation if R&D revealed safe and effective options. We concluded that the GLFC should formally consider initiating a program to develop genetic bio-control options and provided several recommendations to inform this decision.