US Fish & Wildlife Service



Date of this Version



The International Red River Board, Report for the Fall 2006 Program.


U.S. government work


The International Joint Commission and International Red River Board contacted the AEC Co-Chairs and requested that a program be developed to monitor parasites and pathogens in Devils Lake. The objective of this program was to be a further analysis of the potential for transfer of species that might exist in Devils Lake but not in the Sheyenne River, Red River or Lake Winnipeg. Previous studies conducted on Devils Lake (Hudson and Peters, 2005, Williamson et al. 2005, Arroyo 2005) focused on fish parasites and pathogens, phytoplankton, zooplankton, aquatic macrophytes, and terrestrial plants. The IJC requested a proposal that would continue the work on Devils Lake in 2006. The IJC also asked that the proposal include an analysis of multiple species of concern in addition to fish parasites and pathogens and tributaries be included in the program. The AEC Co-Chairs were charged with developing a proposal and budget for the proposed work. The IJC further requested that sampling begin in the spring of 2006. As a first step in the development of a proposal the AEC Co-Chairs contacted fish health experts in the U.S. and Canada for technical assistance. As a result of early consultations with these experts the AEC Co-Chairs made the following recommendations to the IJC regarding development of the proposal:

1. Work for 2006 should focus on fish parasites and pathogens and be an extension of the previous 2005 work.

2. Samples should also be collected from the Sheyenne River, Red River and Lake Winnipeg as well as Devils Lake.

3. The monitoring program should be conducted twice each year and be carried out in 2006, 2007, and 2008.

4. A risk assessment should be conducted using data collected from previous studies and incorporating the 2006 data.

5. A long term program should be developed that includes tributaries and other species of concern.

6. Funding be provided by each country to the respective agencies conducting the sampling and analysis in each country. The U.S. would fund the work in Devils Lake,

Sheyenne River and Red River and Canada would fund the work in Lake Winnipeg. During the spring and early summer of 2006, the AEC Co-Chairs worked closely with fish health experts to develop a proposal and budget for a three year sampling program. This program would focus on fish parasites and pathogens and include a risk assessment as recommended. The proposal was submitted to the IRRB and IJC at the summer meeting in Winnipeg in July 2006. The first milestone in implementing the proposal was convening a meeting of the fish health experts from both countries. The objective of this meeting was to discuss specific field and laboratory methods for collection, preservation, identification and analysis of fish parasites and pathogens. While there were differences identified in specific methods the outcome of the meeting was agreement that both countries methods were comparable and compatible and the work could proceed. There was also agreement that regular coordination between scientists from both counties would be critical to a successful and scientifically defensible monitoring program. It is emphasized that the 2006 sampling was the first year of an anticipated 3 year program. Future sampling will be designed to capture different conditions in the watershed. The reader is cautioned to not draw any conclusions about the state of the watershed until all of the anticipated future results have been compiled and analyzed. It is the intent of the International Red River Board to develop a final report after the completion of the third year.