The control of parasitic sea lamprey in Lake Champlain has been a necessary component of its fishery restoration and recovery goals for 30 years. While adopting the approach of the larger and established sea lamprey control program of the Laurentian Great Lakes, local differences emerged that shifted management focus and effort as the program evolved. Increased investment in lamprey assessment and monitoring revealed under-estimations of population density and distribution in the basin, where insufficient control efforts went unnoticed. As control efforts improved in response to a better understanding of the population, the effects of lamprey on the fishery lessened. A long-term evaluation of fishery responses when lamprey control was started, interrupted, delayed, and enhanced provided evidence of a recurring relationship between the level of control effort applied and the measured suppression of the parasitic sea lamprey population. Changes in levels of control efforts over time showed repeatedly that measurable suppression of the parasitic population required effective control of 80% of the known larval population. Understanding the importance of assessment and monitoring and the relationship between control effort and population suppression has led to recognition that a comprehensive, not incremental, approach is needed to achieve effective control of sea lamprey in Lake Champlain.
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