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Key Great Lakes commissions to sign formal agreement

Sea lamprey control program agents count and measure dead larvae after treating the Manistee River. (Photo: T. Lawrence/Great Lakes Fishery Commission)
Sea lamprey control program agents count and measure dead sea lamprey larvae after treating the Manistee River with lampricide. The Great Lakes Fishery Commission has been a leader on researching and controlling sea lamprey in the Great Lakes. A new agreement between three key commissions will formalize research relationships and encourage collaboration and information-sharing. (Photo: T. Lawrence/Great Lakes Fishery Commission)
Several organizations are responsible for managing, studying and governing the Great Lakes.

Three key commissions will sign an agreement to encourage collaboration on research and information-sharing.

While the commissions have collaborated for years, this agreement marks a more formal commitment to work together.

The Great Lakes cross multiple state lines and international borders, which means there are several organizations responsible for managing them.

But in recent years, collaboration between them has really started to accelerate.

This week, the Great Lakes Commission, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the International Joint Commission expect to sign a memorandum of understanding in Washington, D.C.

“This is sort of a natural outcome and combination of the strength of our relationship as it’s grown over the years,” said Erika Jensen, executive director of the Great Lakes Commission.

Those signatures will come in advance of Great Lakes Day, says Jensen, which is an annual event focused on bringing Great Lakes issues to the attention of lawmakers in Congress.

“I think our increasing coordination is an example and a recognition of the … interdisciplinary nature of how we want to manage our water resources,” Jensen said. “While there are specific aspects to fishery management, water levels [and] water quality, they also have a relationship and influence on one another.”

Jensen says the new agreement will help them coordinate on things like research vessels and information-sharing, especially as climate change research in the Great Lakes ramps up.

Ellie Katz joined IPR in June 2023. She reports on science, conservation and the environment.