Lamprey Technical Workgroup Issues ‘Best Management Guidelines For Native Lampreys During In-Water Work’

Pacific lamprey are an ecologically important, anadromous fish species, native to the Pacific Northwest, and culturally important to Native American Tribes.  An ancient species, lampreys have been on earth since the time before dinosaurs.

To aid in the conservation of this ecologically important fish, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that the Lamprey Technical Workgroup has completed the Best Management Guidelines for Native Lampreys During In-water Work, a resource to inform and assist persons conducting in-water work about how to protect lamprey species.

The goals of these guidelines are to help minimize impacts to native lampreys during in-water work and improve instream habitat restoration projects to benefit native lampreys.  In-water work includes dewatering, habitat restoration, culvert installation, and dredging, which are often implemented with little to no protections for lampreys. 

The guidelines are intended to help entities incorporate lampreys into their in-water work plans, and the design and implementation of instream habitat restoration, regardless of the target fish species.  Additional guidance is mentioned throughout this document for native freshwater mussels to increase awareness and conservation efforts of these species in the restoration community, and help support a multi-species approach to restoration.

The document covers the following topics:

•Biology & Habitat Use

•14 Species in the Northwest

•Planning for In-water Work

•Pre-Project Planning

•Location and Timing

•Incorporating Lampreys into Restoration

•Dewatering & Salvage

•Handling & Transport

Much of the document focus is on the protection of larval lampreys, a non-parasitic life stage for all lamprey species.  Larval lampreys live burrowed in fine sediment deposits in rivers for 8 years or more, and thus go largely unnoticed; multiple age classes and species can be found in high densities in fine silty deposits.

When conducting in-water work that dewaters an area or disturbs sediments, taking actions to protect or salvage lampreys is beneficial to their conservation.

The document appendices include other available resources, including distribution, regional plans, passage information and educational resources; disinfecting protocols to reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species; and case studies, which describe on-the-ground work that has been done and lessons learned.  The guidelines are a “living document” and will be updated.

The Lamprey Technical Workgroup is a technical advisory committee composed of multiple entities: state and federal agencies, Native American tribes, NGOs, and others in the States of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California.

The Workgroup is part of the Pacific Lamprey Conservation Initiative, a voluntary collaboration of groups committed to working with our partners to implement actions for the conservation of lampreys. For more information see

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