Great Lakes Task Force Calls on Canada to Address Great Lakes Fishery Commission Operations

Jun 06, 2023
Great Lakes

WASHINGTON D.C. – Representatives David Joyce (R-OH), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Bill Huizenga (R-MI), and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Great Lakes Task Force in the U.S. House of Representatives, along with Representatives Lisa McClain (R-MI), Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), and Mike Gallagher (R-WI), today led a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging Canada to address the breakdown within the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, and find a long-term solution to resume normal operations, while also respecting Canada’s sovereignty. 

“As members of the bipartisan Great Lakes Task Force, we were pleased to hear about the attention given to the Great Lakes during President Biden’s recent visit to Ottawa,” the lawmakers wrote. “However, we are concerned by the breakdown in the functioning of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (or Commission), which is responsible for coordinating cross-border fishery management and controlling invasive sea lamprey in the Great Lakes. It is our understanding, that this breakdown can be traced to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), the federal institution responsible for Canada’s custodial obligations to the Commission.”

“Unfortunately, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission’s collaborative process has broken down. Both the U.S. and Canadian sections agree on what the problems are and are calling for change. To date, the Commission has not convened for more than a year, and regular programming for the Commission has not been set since November 2020,” the lawmakers continued. “This situation is beyond troubling and, frankly, unacceptable. While DFO has recently agreed to finally provide the necessary funding for 2023, we are concerned that this development, although positive, is not indicative of the permanent change that is necessary to safeguard the Commission’s operations in the long-term; DFO acted only after it was subject to significant and sustained pressure from Members of Parliament.”

“As an ally and a neighbor who jointly share the binational responsibility to protect these treasured waters, we respectfully bring this matter to your personal attention and hope you will address these concerns without delay,” the lawmakers concluded. “The Great Lakes Fishery Commission, more than 50 members of the Canadian Parliament, and many others have asked Minister Joly to assume fiduciary responsibilities for the Commission, which would match the fiduciary arrangement in the United States. That, to us, makes perfect sense and would certainly get this Commission back on track but we also want to be respectful of Canada’s sovereignty. We collectively urge you to do everything in your power to find a long-term solution and resume normal operations of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission as soon as possible.”

The letter is signed by 25 members of the House. 

The Great Lakes Task Force wrote a letter to President Biden in March urging him to highlight the importance of Canadian investments in the Great Lakes during his trip to Canada, and were later encouraged by PM Trudeau’s announcement that Canada will invest CAD $420 million over the next decade to protect and restore the Great Lakes.

View the full text of the letter here.

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