By Great Lakes Fishery Commission
Last month during the 52nd annual meeting of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, the Canadian and U.S. committees of advisors presented the commission with a rare binational resolution urging the passage of aquatic invasive species legislation and calling for an immediate moratorium on ocean-vessel access to the Great Lakes until adequate ballast water regulations are implemented. The committee-representing recreational and commercial fishing, aboriginal communities, the public-at-large, and academia-expressed deep concern over the continued influx of aquatic invasive species into the Great Lakes and disappointment over the Canadian and U.S. Governments’ inaction to remedy this serious problem.
“The Great Lakes have now been invaded by at least 183 non-native species, many of which cause major harm to the interests of the people I represent,” said Canadian committee chair Dr. Terry Quinney of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. “The problem is, once a species becomes established, control, let alone eradication, is virtually impossible. These invaders-like zebra mussels and round gobies-reproduce, spread, and cause irreversible damage and severe economic loss.”
“Despite all we know about the harm from invasive species, governmental action to stop these invasions has been woefully inadequate,” said U.S. committee vice-chair Mike Ryan of the Northwest Indiana Steelheaders. “Each new invader has the potential to destroy the fishery that is so valuable to the people of the United States and Canada. By neglecting to take appropriate action, the governments are essentially placing a “welcome mat” at the doorstep of the Great Lakes inviting new invaders, and it is stakeholders like us and the next generation that are paying the price.”
“The resolution reflects widespread agreement across two countries that the situation needs to change, and it needs to change now. Our resolution simply says that ballast water-the primary way in which these invaders enter the Great Lakes-must be managed, and until it is, ocean vessels are not welcome in our waters,” said Dr. Quinney. “Since transportation alternatives exist, it is our responsibility to use them to protect our valuable fishery.”
“The resolution presented to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and its Commissioners reflects binational agreement, and advisors encourage the commission to convey our will to government in the strongest possible terms,” said U.S. committee chair Ed Sander of Rochester New York.
For more informtaion contact:
Dr. Terry Quinney, Chair, Canadian Committee of Advisors: 705-748-6324
Mr. Ed Sander, Chair, U.S. Commission Committee of Advisors 585-544-1830
Mr. Michael Ryan, Vice-Chair, U.S. Commission Committee of Advisors 219-926-7938