Stabenow: Fishing, Great Lakes Are Important to Promote Michigan Tourism, Expand Job Opportunities
Cormorant populations must be controlled to protect sports fishing and tourism
Michigan's Great Lakes are the cornerstone of the state's second largest industry - tourism - and must be protected along with small businesses that account for thousands of jobs across the state, said U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow.
Stabenow was in town today and joined U.S. Department of Agriculture officials, local business owners and a representative of the Michigan United Conservation Club to talk about a key problem affecting sports fishing businesses in northern Michigan, the overpopulation of doubled-crested cormorants. Growing numbers of the predatory bird have devastated populations of brown trout and other fish species, even threatening the Great Lakes longest-running fishing tournament, Alpena's annual Brown Trout Festival.
"Cormorants are killing our fish, but we won't let them kill our fishing industry," said Stabenow. "Since 2002 I have secured $635,000 for cormorant control projects in Michigan. This money is critical to local fishing-related businesses and to the millions of anglers who fish our waters, including the participants in the much-loved annual Alpena Brown Trout Festival."
Stabenow, who this year was named Legislator of the Year by the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force for her efforts to advance Great Lakes issues in Congress, detailed the importance of the tourism industry in Michigan and its reliance on the Great Lakes. She also highlighted her work with Senator Carl Levin to secure funding for the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
"Tourism is a $16 billion industry that provides jobs for our Michigan families," said Stabenow. "Our 3,288 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, our beautiful lighthouses, and unique destinations like the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, make Michigan a unique travel destination, and our sporting and tourism industries critical to our economy. I'm proud that last year, Senator Levin and I succeeding in getting $1 million for the Thunder Bay visitor center. This year we are fighting to secure an additional $1 million to complete the work."
Stabenow, whose efforts to ban drilling for oil and gas in and under the Great Lakes was a landmark in lakes protection, has also authored the Michigan Lighthouse and Maritime Heritage Act, which would protect and promote another Great Lakes asset - its more than 120 lighthouses.
"My Great Lakes Lighthouse Bill would link together all elements of Michigan's Great Lakes heritage - its history, lighthouses, shipwrecks, and the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary," Stabenow said. "In this way, both Michigan residents and visitors can gain a wonderful insight into the role and importance of the Great Lakes in the settling and development of Michigan and the Great Lakes region."
Stabenow is also working gain passage of the Great Lakes Environmental Restoration Act, which would authorize $6 billion in grants over 10 years to states, municipalities and others for Great Lakes clean-up.