Chicago–When the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its list of advisory board members “to support implementation of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)” on March 13, it contained a glaring omission: BOATERS.
In a letter to the acting EPA administrator, F. Ned Dikmen, Ph.D., president of the Great Lakes Boating Federation (GLBF), the organization that is the voice of the more than 4.2 million registered boaters who use the Great Lakes, said that issuing such a list without boaters “does a real disservice to the millions of people who boat and fish on the Great Lakes.”
Although EPA’s advisory board members contained representatives from universities, research institutions, municipalities, Native American tribes, and even a foundation, the omission of an individual who represents the need and desires of one of the biggest, if not the biggest, users of the Great Lakes–recreational boaters and sportsfishermen–was “appalling.” Dikmen said this is just another example of government not showing any respect to this major segment of the population.
In his letter, Dikmen pointed out that implementation of the GLRI is a very important and essential undertaking on the part of the federal government. At the same time, such an effort can only be considered “hollow” and without merit if it does not consider and include the needs of recreational boaters. Dikmen said the government cannot continue to ignore the needs and desires of boaters and anglers, in any efforts to restore the Great Lakes ecosystem.
Noting that GLRI’s Action Plan calls for pollution prevention and cleanup, as well as the eradication of invasive species, it’s hard to imagine how such an effort can be successful without the cooperation of recreational boaters and sportsfishermen. Numerous articles have pointed out that boaters play significant roles in keeping waters clean by using pumpouts instead of dumping waste into the waters and by taking special care in stopping gas and oil drops from entering the waters. In addition, the eradication of aquatic invasive species cannot just be done by chemicals. It requires the support and cooperation of major users, such as boaters and anglers.
Dikmen said there is only one way for EPA to “correct this significant problem–it must add a recreational boater and/or sportsfishermen to this advisory board.” As it stands now, the advisory board is missing a major stakeholder in its efforts to restore the Great Lakes and keep them a sustainable ecosystem for the foreseeable future. EPA must appoint an individual who knows and can present the needs and desires of recreational boaters and sportsfishermen, said Dikmen.
For a copy of Dikmen’s letter, please visit the Website:
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources announced a new five-year commercial fishing agreement with Saugeen Ojibway Nation on Monday which permits native commercial fishermen to set their nets in Colpoys Bay and Owen Sound Bay year-round.