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Great Lakes commissions sign 'historic' agreement

Front row, left to right: Marc Gaden, the executive secretary of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission
Great Lakes Commission
Front row, left to right: Marc Gaden, the executive secretary of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission; Heather Stirratt, director of the International Joint Commission; Erika Jensen, director of the Great Lakes Commission sign a "historic" memorandum of understanding.

Representatives from eight Great Lakes states and two Canadian provinces met this week to discuss management issues in the region.

During the gathering, the International Joint Commission, Great Lakes Fishery Commission and Great Lakes Commission signed a "historic" agreement to ensure collaboration on Great Lakes issues.

This coalition of organizations in both the U.S. and Canada that specialize in different areas — like shipping, invasive species and water resources — are now banding together to get their policy priorities on the same page.

Erika Jensen, the director of the Great Lakes Commission, said these groups have always worked together in some capacity.

"We over the last several years have increased that coordination, and it's led us to a point where there are specific issues we want to commit ourselves to working together a little bit more formally," she said.

10 organizations also signed off on a list of policy recommendations that include a $450 million appropriation from Congress, improvements to Great Lakes ports and infrastructure and farm bill programs to address harmful algal blooms, among others.

Jensen said these federal priorities don't change much year-to-year, but they can be influenced by legislation and environmental changes.

"We're seeing increased variability in numerous areas including ice cover, so our priorities emphasize continued funding and support for those climate change modeling and forecasting programs," she said.

See the full list of joint priorities below:

Teresa Homsi is an environmental reporter and Report for America Corps Member based in northern Michigan for WCMU. She covers rural environmental issues, focused on contamination, conservation, and climate change.
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