Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) visited Parliament Hill on May 30 to communicate the importance of the Great Lakes to federal politicians during a Great Lakes Day gathering.
OFAH Program Manager Chris Robinson said the event, one of the first since the pandemic began, drew an estimated 487 attendees, consisting primarily of Members of Parliament and their staff. Seven OFAH staff were on hand to make presentations and meet MPs in individual meetings.
“We wanted to drive home the message of how important the Great Lakes are; to remind them of the social, economic, and environmental importance to all of Canada,” he said.
Access, environment, and invasive species
Robinson said staff talked about access, environmental issues, and invasive species.
“The idea was to keep these issues on their radar at a time when a lot of other issues are at the forefront. We showcased our Invading Species Awareness Program, Community Hatcheries Program, and Lake Ontario Salmon Restoration Program.”
The Great Lakes Day gathering involved several partners including the Great Lakes Fisheries Committee, the Ontario Commercial Fisheries Association, Pollution Probe, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, and the International Joint committee.
The broad messages presented were:
- improve US-Canadian dialogue and collaboration in Great Lakes-St. Lawrence governance and stewardship
- enhance coordination and governance of domestic freshwater management to better address the impacts of climate change and other stressors
- increase Canadian funding to complement investments made into Great Lakes restoration by the US
- strengthen vital water and shoreline infrastructure across the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin
- put forward adequate protections for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River basins from invasive species
- take active measures to reduce pollution and improve water quality across the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River basin
- lay the foundation for a prosperous Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River basin blue economy
“The Great Lakes are important to Ontario’s people and anglers and hunters for many reasons. We are hoping to encourage more federal and provincial investment. It pays off in so many ways,” Robinson said.
Amongst the 35 community hatcheries affiliated with the OFAH, 21 are connected to Great Lakes fisheries.