The governors, premiers and senior staff from state and provincial governments from around the Great Lakes passed a series of resolutions today that will strengthen the management of the world’s largest freshwater ecosystem.
In passing resolutions related to a number of trade and water-related issues, especially stopping the further spread of aquatic invasive species, the regional leaders made a solid commitment towards working together to prevent the introduction of new aquatic invasive species. They further agreed to facilitate coordinated detection and response actions while minimizing the harmful effects of aquatic invasive species already in the region and to prevent their spread to inland waters, according to leaders from The Nature Conservancy.
“This summit marks an important milestone in the restoration of the Great Lakes. A new generation of governors and premiers has committed themselves to solving pressing problems together,” said Helen Taylor, The Nature Conservancy’s state director for Michigan.
“The governors and premiers clearly recognize the significant economic and ecological threat posed by aquatic invasive species to the Great Lakes,” said David Hamilton, The Nature Conservancy’s senior policy director for aquatic invasive species. “The region is only as strong as its weakest link, and the governors and premiers are to be commended for committing to working together to strengthen and coordinate our response across the basin.”
The regional leaders also heard from Mark R. Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy, who spoke about the connection between a healthy, functioning ecosystem and the region’s economy. His new book, Nature’s Fortune, describes the benefits from investing in nature.
“People, businesses and companies require healthy, functioning natural systems to thrive,” Tercek said. “The Great Lakes region is a perfect example of the value of nature. From major manufacturing and shipping, to tourism and a high quality of life, nature provides huge and very valuable benefits. As a result, there's no question that protecting nature is one of the smartest investments we can make.”
A 2012 report by Anderson Economic Group commissioned by The Nature Conservancy revealed that state and federal governments are currently forced to spend millions of dollars as they attempt to control the impacts and prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. The industries most affected by aquatic invasive species include sport and commercial fishing, water treatment, power generation and tourism. Together, these industries employ more than 125,000 workers in the Great Lakes region. The report details the many ways that aquatic invasive species impose economic costs in the Great Lakes region and it puts into context the scale of the impact on several industries directly affected by aquatic invasive species. For example, the cost of controlling zebra mussels at one water treatment facility is approximately $353,000 annually.
“Aquatic invasive species cost the Great Lakes region hundreds of millions of dollars every year in management and control efforts alone,” Tercek said. “The ecosystem is unstable because of the impact of aquatic invasive species, but solutions can only come from within the region in developing coordinated policies that will detect and prevent their further spread and control and management of existing species.”
The Nature Conservancy is eager to support regional governmental leaders as they proceed ahead to address issues around aquatic invasive species and implement local solutions, Taylor said. Furthermore, the Conservancy’s team of expert scientists is working with partners from around the region to test new methods of detection and control.The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working to protect the most ecologically important lands and waters around the world for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its 1 million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 120 million acres worldwide. The Nature Conservancy is working to make the Great Lakes watershed among the most effectively managed ecosystems on Earth.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.