The Great Lakes are threatened by invasive species, pollution, and emerging commercial aquaculture proposals, creating a need for state and federal policies that protect the Great Lakes and sustained public funding for Great Lakes restoration efforts. Adding to the challenge, political shifts at state and federal levels have made it more difficult to uphold environmental regulations and maintain public funding for environmental restoration.
To address these challenges, a powerful constituency of recreational anglers needs to be mobilized. Recreational fishing in the Great Lakes is a major economic contributor to local economies, and fishing is an important part of the lives of the 1.6 million anglers who fish in the Great Lakes region and millions more who visit and enjoy the Great Lakes states. By educating and engaging Trout Unlimited members and other anglers, strength will be added to current Great Lakes advocacy efforts and advance our shared goals of protecting and restoring the Great Lakes.
The main objectives for the region include: preventing the approval of harmful commercial aquaculture proposals in the Great Lakes, ensuring funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) which continues to receive at least $300 million in annual appropriations, protecting the Great Lakes from invasive Asian carp, maintaining important public access programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund and cultivate stronger, more diverse, and engaged TU chapters.
In order to affect decision-making processes—whether legislative or regulatory—it will be important to build a strong base of support and activate supporters at key points in the process. TU is working to educate chapters on Great Lakes aquaculture proposals and GLRI funding through chapter meetings, email distribution, social media and conference calls. TU will also coordinate and communicate with other angling groups, conservation organizations, and stakeholders to stay abreast of all Great Lakes issues. Other potential allies such as recreation-dependent businesses in port cities and towns will be important partners in these discussions. These allies and other nonprofit partners will be called on to engage at important points such as commenting during regulatory processes, contacting legislators, and submitting op-eds and letters to the editor.
In 2016, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and his administration released a report which recommended against allowing net-pens in the Great Lakes. The synthesized report can be found here.
The establishment of a Great Lakes Organizer within TU has marked the first step towards providing a single point of contact for issues that affect the Great Lakes Basin. This position will also empower local chapters and state councils to coalesce around important and impactful legislation.
In the last two Presidential Budgets, the Trump Administration has proposed to eliminate the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. TU, along with other partners, successfully worked with the Great Lakes Delegation in Congress to fully fund the GLRI at $300 million/year.Species