Joyce, Huizenga, colleagues seek Trudeau’s support for Great Lakes Fishery Commission

U.S. Reps. Dave Joyce (R-OH) and Bill Huizenga (R-MI) joined a bipartisan contingent of lawmakers to voice concerns with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the breakdown in the functioning of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, which is responsible for coordinating cross-border fishery management and controlling invasive sea lamprey in the Great Lakes. 

“It is our understanding that this breakdown can be traced to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), the federal institution responsible for Canada’s custodial obligations to the commission,” wrote the members in a June 6 letter sent to Trudeau. “To date, the commission has not convened for more than a year, and regular programming for the commission has not been set since November 2020. This situation is beyond troubling and, frankly, unacceptable.”

Among the 23 other lawmakers who joined Rep. Joyce and Rep. Huizenga in signing the letter were their fellow co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Great Lakes Task Force, U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), as well as U.S. Reps. Bryan Steil (R-WI), Mike Kelly (R-PA), John Moolenaar (R-MI), and Pete Stauber (R-MN).

In their letter they pointed out that while the DFO recently agreed to provide the necessary funding for 2023, the lawmakers remain concerned that this development, although positive, is not indicative of the permanent change that is necessary to safeguard the commission’s long-term operations.

“DFO acted only after it was subject to significant and sustained pressure from members of Parliament,” wrote Reps. Joyce, Huizenga, and their colleagues. “The Great Lakes Fishery Commission, more than 50 members of the Canadian Parliament, and many others have asked Minister Joly to assume fiduciary responsibilities for the commission, which would match the fiduciary arrangement in the United States.”

The members agree that such action “makes perfect sense” and would get the commission back on track. But they also wrote that they want to be respectful of Canada’s sovereignty. 

“We collectively urge you to do everything in your power to find a long-term solution and resume normal operations of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission as soon as possible,” they wrote. “As an ally and a neighbor who jointly share the binational responsibility to protect these treasured waters, we respectfully bring this matter to your personal attention and hope you will address these concerns without delay.”