Advisors To The Great Lakes Fishery Commission Pass Resolutions Addressing Cormorant
Management, Canada's Fisheries Act, And Funding for The U.S. National Sea Grant
Toronto, Ontario, May 22, 2018 - The U.S. and Canadian Advisors to the Great Lakes
Fishery Commission recently came together to discuss a number of issues pertaining
to the Great Lakes fishery during the Commissions 63rd annual meeting in Toronto,
Ontario. The Committee of Advisors is comprised of citizens who represent varied
interests, including recreational and commercial fishing, academia, local and tribal
governments, and the public-at-large. The Committee of Advisors meets regularly
to consider issues, share information, and provide input to governments about the
management of the shared Great Lakes fishery. Often, the committee is able to act
as a whole, reflecting the concerns and opinions of advisors from both countries.
This year, the committee passed three binational resolutions pertaining to issues
affecting the entire basin, described below.
- A Resolution in Support of Double-Crested Cormorant Management - Over the
past three decades, populations of double-crested cormorants (cormorants) have increased
extensively and, in some areas are having a significant negative impact on fisheries.
An adult cormorant consumes approximately one pound (0.45 kg) of fish—including
alewife, yellow perch and smallmouth bass—per day. Cormorants are protected by the
Migratory Bird Treaty Act in the United States and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Act in Ontario. Due to these legal protections, there are few tools available to
manage growing populations, despite their negative impacts on fisheries, which result
in significant economic loss; loss of jobs; property damage; and enormous ecological,
social and cultural impacts. In May 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)
Public Resource Depredation Order of 2003, which allowed 24 states—including all
states in the Great Lakes basin—to undertake cormorant control was rescinded, contingent
upon the completion of an environmental assessment by the USFWS. Despite strong
public support, this assessment has not yet been completed. The Canadian and U.S.
Committee of Advisors resolution strongly urges the Commission to take a role in
advocating and lending long-term support for policies and measurements for cormorant
management, where populations have been shown to negatively impact the fishery and
the ecosystem. The Advisors' resolution also calls upon the Commission to lead an
effort among the USFWS, the Mississippi Flyway Council, the Canadian Wildlife Service,
Parks Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, the Council
of Lake Committees, and other relevant agencies and organizations to work together
to develop an overarching, long-term plan for Great Lakes-wide cormorant control.
The resolution also states the Advisors' support for H.R. 4429, introduced by Representative
Jack Bergman of Michigan, which directs the Secretary of the Interior to reissue
a rule relating to extension of the expiration dates for Double-Crested Cormorant
Depredation Orders. Finally, the resolution calls upon the Ontario government to
list cormorants under Section 5(2)(a) of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act,
which includes species that are common in Ontario. The joint resolution is available
- A Resolution Regarding Implementation of the Canada Fisheries Act - On February
6, 2018, the Government of Canada introduced Bill 68, proposing changes to the Canada
Fisheries Act, which are currently under public review. The changes include broadening
species protected by the act to include all fish species and includes reinstatement
of prevention of "harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat"
consistent with the foci on biodiversity and the ecosystem approach that guides
management of the Great Lakes. Additional proposed changes include:
The Canadian and U.S. Committee of Advisors unanimously passed a resolution providing
support for the proposed changes to the Fisheries Act, and calling on the Great
Lakes Fishery Commission to work with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Ontario Ministry
of Natural Resources and Forestry to develop strategies to rehabilitate fish stocks,
control AIS, prioritize fish habitat restoration acts, and coordinate recovery actions
for species at risk. The resolution also urged the Commission to advocate for the
dedication of Great Lakes-specific funds for implementation of the revised Fisheries
Act in the Great Lakes basin. Advisors requested that these funds be coordinated
with additional dedicated funds—such as those generated through habitat compensation
agreements and the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem
Health—to form a Canadian Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to be used to fulfill
the new requirements of the Fisheries Act and strategically address the backlog
of fishery impairments throughout the basin. The resolution is available at: http://www.glfc.org/pubs/pdfs/resol2018_2.pdf.
- requirement that fish stock rebuilding must be considered for stock management decisions,
with prioritization of restoration, not simply protection, when assessing future
- improved control and eradication of aquatic invasive species (AIS); and
- improvements to monitoring and enforcement.
- A Resolution in Support of Funding for the National Sea Grant College Program
- Approximately 95% of the Sea Grant's funds are used by state programs to provide
business, industry, agencies, policymakers and the people with the science they
need to sustain coasts, waters, and communities. The U.S. fiscal 2018 budget eliminated
funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Sea Grant
Program; Congress restored Sea Grants funding to the 2017 level of $85 million.
Federal funding to the National Sea Grant College Program is leveraged with matching
funds provided by states, universities, and other sources by at least one additional
dollar in nonfederal resources for every federal dollar provided. The Canadian and
U.S. Committee of Advisors passed a resolution urging the Commission and all affiliated
agencies to support funding the Sea Grant program at $85 million in fiscal year
2019 and undertake necessary efforts to prevent reductions to Sea Grant's budget.
The Commission is also requested to communicate the Advisors' resolution to Congress.
The resolution calls on the federal government to maintain Sea Grant and take necessary
action to ensure it has the funding and tools necessary to continue to support states
and communities around the United States' salt- and freshwater coasts. A copy is
available at: http://www.glfc.org/pubs/pdfs/resol2018_3.pdf.
Dr. Tom Whillans of Trent University, chair of the Canadian Committee of Advisors,
said, "The binational support for these three resolutions, which address a variety
of issues impacting the ability to effectively manage the Great Lakes fishery, is
indicative of the diversity of interests and scope of knowledge possessed by the
advisors that serve on our committee. The issues discussed during the advisors'
annual meeting span science, policy, and education. The Committee of Advisors is
comprised of dedicated and driven individuals who are deeply committed to strengthening
cooperation, enhancing science, and driving policies which needed to protect and
rehabilitate the Great Lakes and its world-class fishery."
"All who serve on the Committee of Advisors are unified by one great cause: the
health and sustainability of the Great Lakes fishery for future generations," said
Captain Denny Grinold, chair of the U.S. Committee of Advisors. "The Great Lakes
have faced many challenges and it is only through cooperation among those who know
the fishery, the science, the politics, and the region that we can face these challenges
head on. The Great Lakes, and the $7 billion fishery they support, require us to
be objective, utilize science to inform policy, and work together."
Jim McKane, Chair of the Commission, stated: "The Great Lakes Fishery Commission
appreciates the hard work and dedication of its Advisors. The Commission is receptive
to the recommendations provided in the resolutions and will take appropriate action."
The Committee of Advisors consists of both U.S. and Canadian representatives, from
First Nation, commercial, recreational, academic, agency, and public fishery interests
in the Great Lakes Basin. Advisors provide advice to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission;
U.S. advisors are nominated by the State Governors, and appointed by the commission.
Canadian advisors are nominated by the Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and
appointed by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.