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Peters, Stabenow Bipartisan Bill to Establish Great Lakes Fisheries Program Authorization Included in Government Funding Bill

Measure Will Provide Funding for Great Lakes Conservation Programs, Research Efforts and Help Support Effective Fishery Management Decisions

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (MI) and Debbie Stabenow (MI) today announced that the final government funding bill will include their bipartisan legislation to authorize Great Lakes fishery funding and help support effective fishery management decisions. The Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization (GLFRA) Act, which they led with Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), will enable the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to continue to conduct research to help support the over the $7 billion Great Lakes sport and commercial fishery industries. It also will authorize the Great Lakes Science Center – which helps sustain Great Lakes fisheries and reduce threats such as invasive species and harmful algal blooms. Despite holding one-fifth of the world’s fresh water supply, the Great Lakes science program does not receive the same level of funding authorization as science centers on the country’s saltwater coasts, and this legislation will help decrease the resource gap between the Great Lakes Science Center and other fishery research centers across the nation.

“The Great Lakes are not just a precious natural resource – they are critical to Michigan’s long-term economic prosperity,” said Senator Peters, member of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force. “Our bipartisan effort will help provide top researchers the resources they need to keep the Great Lakes ecosystem vibrant for generations to come. I’m pleased our bill has been included as part the final government funding bill, and I’ll be working to get this passed and signed into law.”

“Great Lakes and waterways provide good paying jobs, boost our economy, and are a part of our way of life in Michigan,” said Senator Stabenow, Co-Chair of the Great Lakes Task Force. “This bipartisan bill will invest in research on fish populations and invasive species, which is critical to protecting these important natural resources for future generations.”

“The Great Lakes are an invaluable resource to Ohio, critically important to both our environment and our economy,” said Senator Portman, co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force. “By authorizing the USGS’s Great Lakes Science Center for the first time, we are prioritizing the research on fish populations and invasive species used by the Great Lakes states as well as Canada to support the health and growth of our $7 billion fishing industry. The inclusion of this bill in the final FY 2020 bipartisan funding agreement will ensure we have the resources to help protect the Great Lakes for generations to come.”

“This is a huge win for the 1.5 million people in jobs that are supported by the Great Lakes and the tens of millions of Americans who depend on them for drinking water,” said Senator Duckworth. “This provision will make important strides in ensuring critical research needed to protect the Great Lakes can continue.”

“I commend Senators Peters, Portman, Stabenow and Duckworth for all they do to advance Great Lakes science and management,” said Robert Lambe, executive secretary of the Canada-U.S Great Lakes Fishery Commission. “The inclusion of the Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization Act in the government funding bill brings Great Lakes fishery science into the 21st century. The bill enjoys widespread support because it promises to significantly improve our understanding of the Great Lakes and its $7 billion fishery. The Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Fishery Commission strongly supports this effort because science must be the foundation for the important management decisions we and our state and tribal partners make every day.”

The USGS Great Lakes Science Center is currently funded through the USGS’s base appropriation with no sole source of funding of its own. The organization has required authorizing legislation and a dependable funding stream to conduct and modernize fishery research throughout the five Great Lakes to support effective fishery management decisions. This bill authorizes $15 million each year from Fiscal Years 2020-2024 and gives the USGS Director greater authority to devote money to the Great Lakes.

Located in Ann Arbor, the Great Lakes Science Center maintains staff and field stations in five of the eight Great Lakes States, including Michigan, Ohio, New York, Indiana and Wisconsin. It owns and 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. Their research has included advancing a suite of projects to support restoration efforts of native prey fish populations throughout the Great Lakes basin; leading world-class research on the most notable invasive species in the history of the Great Lakes: the parasitic sea lamprey; and helping to implement one of the largest freshwater telemetry fish-movement-tracking networks in the world.