Last week, U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) introduced two bills focused on the restoration, management and conservation of the Great Lakes’ fisheries, a top priority for the industry with nearly 70 percent of boat outings involving an element of fishing. NMMA fully supported the Senators efforts to ensure a long and prosperous future for one of the nation’s greatest treasures.
“The Great Lakes and recreational boating industry need improved infrastructure and access, and modernized systems and services in place that will strengthen public lands and waterways, contributing to lasting outdoor recreation experiences for visitors. We applaud the introduction of these bills, which lead the way in providing a proactive solution,” said Nicole Vasilaros, National Marine Manufacturers Association’s vice president of federal and legal affairs. “The recreational boating industry in the Great Lakes states has a total economic impact of $36.4 billion annually, supporting more than 7,100 businesses, most of which are small to medium-sized. Creating a 21st century infrastructure system in the Great Lakes is the first step in ensuring the region’s long term vitality and maximizing its potential economic impact on the local communities and U.S.”
The Great Lakes Aquatic Connectivity and Infrastructure Program Act (S. 1332) will improve Great Lakes fisheries and encourage habitat restoration by repairing and replacing aging dams, culverts, and roads. There are thousands of these structures across the Great Lakes Basin that currently inhibit the movement of fish populations. Great Lakes states and tribal governments will be able to recommend grant projects to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to either expand fish access to waterways or prevent the spread of invasive species.
The Great Lakes Mass Marking Program Act (S. 1331) will make scientific technology available to track and monitor the health of fisheries in the Great Lakes. They will be used to make decisions to support and rehabilitate sport fish populations in the basin. This program was initiated in the Great Lakes on a limited scale in 2010, and will be fully established in statute under this legislation.
Please find the full press release here.