Quigley Leads Bipartisan Letter Urging Hearing on the Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization Act
CHICAGO – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) led a bipartisan group of members in sending a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Natural Resources asking for a hearing on H.R. 1580, the Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization (GLFRA) Act. The GLFRA Act is a bipartisan bill that would authorize the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to conduct critical monitoring, scientific assessments, and research in support of fisheries between the United States and Canada that lie within the Great Lakes Basin. Click here to read the full letter or see excerpts below.
“The Great Lakes hold 18% of the world’s fresh water supply and cover over 9,000 miles of shoreline,” wrote the Representatives. “Over 35 million people depend on the Great Lakes for drinking water, recreation, fish and wildlife related activities, industrial water supply and commercial navigation. The Lakes support more than 1.5 million jobs and generate $62 billion in wages; more than 50,000 jobs alone are sustained directly by the Great Lakes fishery.”
“We believe that by allowing the USGS to use the best available tools, equipment, vessels, and other scientific instrumentation to support fishery management through increased funding, the GLFRA will ensure that a balanced and productive Great Lakes ecosystem is maintained,” the letter continues. “We hope that the Natural Resources Committee will conduct a hearing on this important legislation in short order. All of the undersigned cosponsors of H.R. 1580 would be happy to work with you or the committee to facilitate a hearing with experts from the USGS and the Great Lakes Fishery Science Center and we look forward to your reply.”
The letter was signed by Reps. Quigley (IL-05), Upton (MI-06), Levin (MI-09), Joyce (OH-14), Kildee (MI-05), Schakowsky (IL-09), Higgins (NY-26), Nolan (MN-08), Dingell (MI-12), and Kaptur (OH-09).
The GLFRA Act allows the USGS Fishery Science Center to:
- Meet the needs of fisheries managers to monitor and assess the health of the Great Lakes Fishery
- Conduct science and research including fish habitat investigations
- Handle invasive species response
- Study deepwater ecosystem and biological and food web components vital to maintaining the productivity of the Great Lakes
- Use existing, new, and experimental biological assessment tools, equipment, vessels, and other scientific instrumentation and laboratory capabilities to support fishery management decision
The Representatives argued that the current authorization is vague and confusing and results in piecemeal funding for the USGS Great Lakes Science Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and that this bill would provide the Science Center with a dedicated funding stream and clear authorization for its vital work on behalf of the multi-billion-dollar Great Lakes fishery.
As a member of the House Great Lakes Task Force and Vice Chair of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, Rep. Quigley has been a stalwart protector of the Great Lakes and the environment at large. Reps. Quigley and Upton reintroduced the Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization Act in March 2017. Since assuming his role as the only Illinois member of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Quigley has pushed for increased funding for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds and worked to secure over $300 million in funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) in FY16. In 2016, he visited the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Research Vessel Sturgeon at Navy Pier for a discussion on the value of the Great Lakes fishery, the changing ecology of the Great Lakes, the threat of invasive, non-native species to the Great Lakes’ ecosystem, the inter-jurisdictional management structure, and the role of the USGS.