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Detroit News: Bill seeks dedicated aid for Ann Arbor lakes center

Washington — Michigan Democratic Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow joined with Ohio’s Rob Portman, a Republican, to introduce a bipartisan bill this week authorizing research and monitoring in support of binational fisheries within the Great Lakes basin.

The Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization Act would authorize the U.S. Geological Survey to support the $7 billion Great Lakes sport and commercial fishery industry. It seeks to close a gap in funding authorization between the Great Lakes Science Center, based in Ann Arbor, and those science centers focused on saltwater coasts across the country, according to a bill summary.

The Great Lakes Science Center is currently funded through the U.S. Geological Survey budget with no dedicated funding stream. The legislation would authorize $17.5 million a year in funding for the center for fiscal years 2018 through 2027.

Peters, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard, said the bill would create a steady funding stream and give the center the legislative authority to conduct cutting-edge research that will protect native fish populations and target invasive species.

“The Great Lakes ecosystem is a natural treasure and a vibrant economic driver,” he said.

Stabenow, co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, said: “From water quality issues to invasive species, there are so many challenges facing our lakes and fisheries, which is why funding for cutting-edge research is so important.”

The Great Lakes Science Center operates five large fishery research vessels and is the only agency that conducts lake-wide fisheries science assessments on each of the five Great Lakes.