Healthy Great Lakes Advisory Committee and Fish Health
The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) recently launched a new Healthy Great Lakes program to engage a broad network of individuals and organizations in shaping, implementing, and making use of laws and policies that protect and restore the waters of the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Basin. Lawrence Gunther, President of Blue Fish Canada, was invited to be part of the organizing committee.
The goals of the 18-month initiative include:
- elimination or reduction of toxic pollutants;
- encouraging green infrastructure adoption;
- improving water conservation and efficiency;
- protecting and restoring water quantity by responding to water diversion proposals;
- ensuring government action is distributed equitably across Ontario’s Great Lakes Basin watersheds, both geographically and in addressing needs of disadvantaged communities;
- engaging with First Nation and Métis communities in discussions of opportunities for action; and
- engaged Great Lakes citizenry that makes use of available legal tools and holds government to account for the public trust.
On May 17 the organizing committee held the “People’s Great Lake Summit” involving over 40 stakeholders representing water activists, first Nations people and fishers. The Objective of the Summit was to:
- Connect – an opportunity for individuals to meet together in person and identify potential collaborations
- Share – an opportunity to share ideas, priorities, and plans
During the May 17 Summit, Lawrence Gunther led on proposing and anchoring discussions on fish health.
Discussion items included increasing research/awareness of research on the impact of blue-green algae, plastics, sewage, invasive species, funding cuts, etc. on fish, anglers, water users and residents. More specifically: awareness of impact of blue green algae on angler safety and fish health; traditional angler fishing rights and aquatic protection zones – balance interests; fish consumption guideline research and transparency – can we trust the research; online database/Great Lakes Portal; and, online database – collaborative between multiple groups.
A second gathering is now being planned for fall of 2017. Blue Fish Canada has been identified to lead on the topic of fish health at the next summit and beyond. Consultations are now underway to ensure issues are represented thoroughly and accurately.
For more about the initiative please visit www.cela.ca/peoples-great-lakes-summit