The State of North America’s Inland Seas

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment & Climate Change Canada recently released a joint report providing an overview of the status and trends of the Great Lakes ecosystem shared by both countries.

The State of the Great Lakes report provides a summary of the health of the lakes. The assessment is made based on indicators such as drinking water, fish consumption and beach closures. More than 180 government and non-government Great Lakes scientists and other experts worked to assemble available data and prepare the report.

Overall, the report assesses the Great Lakes water quality as “fair and unchanging.” It acknowledges that while progress to restore and protect the Great Lakes has occurred, particularly in the reduction of toxic chemicals, serious challenges remain including invasive species and excess nutrients that contribute to widespread toxic and nuisance summer algae blooms.

“The Great Lakes is home to one of the world’s greatest bodies of fresh water and while progress on water quality is happening, there is still work to be done,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This report shows that invasive species and excess nutrients continue to undermine ecosystem health. These status reports directly inform state and federal policies toward the Great Lakes.”

Canadian Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, the Honorable Jonathan Wilkinson, concurred: “The Great Lakes are an important part of both the Canadian and US economies and the ongoing protection and maintenance of this valuable freshwater resource is a great reminder of what we can accomplish by working together. Canada looks forward to continued collaboration with our American neighbors to safeguard the Great Lakes for generations to come,” he emphasized.

Not currently appropriate for inclusion in the SOGL report is the battle being waged by the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association, the Michigan Boating Industries Association and many environmental groups over the proposed industrialization of the Great Lakes by initially permitting construction of wind turbines in Lake Erie.

If constructed, these would be the first wind turbines in fresh water and the developers are looking to eventually build up to 1,600 more in the lake.

“While not opposed to renewable energy,” emphasizes Nicki Polan, MBIA executive director, “the many still unknowns, coupled with already identified negative environmental, economic and aesthetic considerations, clearly signal building turbines in any of our Great Lakes is a bad idea.”

Meanwhile, on the plus side the EPA and the other federal agencies are using Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds to strategically target other threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem identified in SOGL report.

Since the last report in 2017, about $900 million of GLRI funds have been used to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Actions over the last year include the release of the Great Lakes Action Plan 3 and the establishment of the first ever Trash Free Waters grants program for the Great Lakes. And last month, the EPA announced over $9 million for badly needed projects to reduce excess nutrients flowing into the Great Lakes, $6.4 million to enhance Great Lakes fisheries; and an additional $20 million to address other persistent challenges in the Great Lakes.

Appropriately called America’s “inland seas,” literally millions of boating and fishing families ply these waters every summer. The direct impact on hundreds of dealers, marina operators and boat manufacturers in the eight states that make up the Great Lakes region goes without saying.

The five Great Lakes contain more than 20 percent of the world’s fresh water. They supply more than 50 million people with drinking water and the region accounts for nearly one-third of all U.S. recreational boating activity.

New Sandusky Show cancelled

A new in-water show planned for Lake Erie will have to wait until 2021 for its premiere.

The Lake Erie Marine Trades Association had planned to unveil a new in-water boat show for four days, August 27-30, at the Battery Park Marina in downtown Sandusky, Ohio. But the group has opted to postpone the event given the ongoing covid-19 pandemic. The new show was to replace the long-running event held at nearby Cedar Point for the last 46 years.

“In recent years, healthy increases in the boat show’s attendance coupled with the record popularity of Cedar Point has simply overtaxed the access and parking available,” explained LEMTA president Michelle Burke. “However, with the long history of success for this show in that area, our goal was to keep it in the Sandusky community, and the move to Battery Park Marina will be an exciting, easy to reach, new location. Sadly, it just won’t happen this year.”

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