(Feb. 9) FENTON, Mich. Trout Unlimited applauds Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee, D-Flint, for introducing legislation that will protect the Great Lakes and designated Wild and Scenic rivers from the harmful impact of commercial aquaculture operations.
The Ban Aquaculture in the Great Lakes Act (HR 961) would prohibit the rearing of aquatic species in controlled environments, such as net-pen aquaculture operations, within the Great Lakes in an effort to protect water quality and wildlife habitat. The Preserving Fishing on Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (HR 962) would prohibit aquaculture operations from discharging pollutants into designated Wild and Scenic rivers.
Flanked by anglers and conservationists, Kildee announced the bills today at Red Fox Outfitters in Fenton, Mich.
Taylor Ridderbusch, TU Great Lakes organizer, attended the announcement.
Aquaculture, especially net-pen aquaculture like proposed in Michigan, presents numerous environmental concerns, Ridderbusch said. Net-penning can lead to fish escapement, food and waste settling on the lake bottom, incubation of disease, and can introduce drugs, antibiotics and hormones into the ecosystem.
The Great Lakes supply more than 35 million people with drinking water every day. The system also is home to an abundance of wildlife that drives a significant and crucial part of the Great Lakes Basin economy, which hosts a $7 billion fishery and a $16 billion tourism industry annually.
The bills introduction was prompted by previous efforts in the Michigan State Legislature to allow such operations.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyders administration has published a report not recommending the pursuit of commercial net-pen aquaculture in the public waters of the Great Lakes.
The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (1968) created a system of rivers that are free flowing and hold an aspect of cultural and recreational value to the United States. Currently, the national system protects 12,734 miles of 208 rivers in 40 states.
Wild and Scenic Rivers are some of the few remaining untouched water resources that we have throughout the U.S., said Bryan Burroughs, Ph.D., executive director of Michigan Trout Unlimited. It only makes sense that we would take all precautions to keep these wild areas pristine and unpolluted.
The bills, as well as a fact sheet and informational graphic, are attached.
Ridderbusch and Burroughs are available for interviews to further discuss Trout Unlimiteds concerns about the risks of commercial aquaculture in the Great Lakes region.