Tag Archives: Great Lakes Fishery Commission

The In-Crowd

Sandusky, Ohio

Law Enforcement Committee Annual Meeting

The Law Enforcement Committee holds its own Annual Meeting in the fall – getting lost yet? Kevin Ramsey (Law Enforcement Specialist) invited me to attend this meeting. He also asked that I prepare a brief presentation to serve as an introduction and explanation of my research interests. I approached the development of this presentation in a thoughtful way because I was initially concerned about how the Law Enforcement Committee members would perceive me. To them, I am an outsider. I do not have the same educational background, training, and real-life experiences as these committee members. I was worried that the committee members would be distrustful of me as a researcher and, thus, fail to fully include me in their discussions.

I was anxious to introduce myself. However, I was surprised to find out that the committee members were interested in my research interests and were curious about how I planned to interact with them during the next year. I answered a few basic questions and the meeting continued normally. I talked more with the Law Enforcement Committee members later that evening at our reception.

The Law Enforcement Committee’s Annual Meeting was exciting. I heard a series of presentations detailing illegal fishing activities and explaining how these activities were monitored and eventually controlled. From what I gathered, major enforcement issues in the Great Lakes Basin currently involve the transportation and introduction of aquatic invasive species. Aquatic invasive species or AIS are species that are not native to the aquatic environment, and whose introduction either causes or is likely to cause detrimental effects on the economy, environment, and human health. Common AIS in the Great Lakes Basin include Asian carp, sea lamprey, zebra mussels, and Eurasian Watermilfoil. The Law Enforcement Committee is particularly concerned about AIS coming into the Great Lakes via baitfish collection, sales, and dumping.

I left the Law Enforcement Committee’s Annual Meeting feeling encouraged and motivated to continue working with them in the future.

LESSON #7: Representation from and collaboration among all sectors – federal, state, provincial, tribal, etc. – is essential for effective information-sharing and the development of new and improved management tools and strategies.

View Molly’s presentation to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission Law Enforcement Committee here.

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Progress at the Palmer House

Chicago, Illinois

Annual Meeting

Each summer, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) holds its Annual Meeting. The Annual Meeting is probably the highlight of the GLFC meeting schedule because it showcases the successes and progress the GLFC has made over the past year. Thus, the Annual Meeting is full of back-to-back presentations detailing a variety of topics, mainly completed projects, interesting and relevant research project results, and innovative ideas and concepts for future research projects.

There is usually an Executive Meeting and Luncheon at each Annual Meeting. The Executive Meeting is normally open to Commissioners and Secretariat members only, though I was able to attend (because of my Fenske Fellow status, I have received admittance into many of these private meetings!). During this meeting, the Secretariat members give brief presentations on the status of each of the programs they manage to the Commissioners. For example, Dr. Marc Gaden (Communications Director and Legislative Liaison) gave a presentation on outreach and education events sponsored by the GLFC in the past year. Dr. John Dettmers (Director of Fisheries Management) gave a presentation on the status of the GLFC Fishery Research Program.

The Palmer House Hilton Chicago is breathtaking! While I was there, I used my time at the Annual Meeting to meet individually with Bob Lambe (GLFC) and Dr. Bill Taylor (MSU) to discuss my experiences with the GLFC thus far. I expressed to them that my involvement in meetings such as this one has helped me gain a better understanding of the structure and function of the Commission. One of the highlights of this trip was a special reception at the Shedd Aquarium in downtown Chicago, Illinois. I had a wonderful evening eating good food and watching the dolphins swim.

Palmer House Hilton

Beautiful view of the ceiling in the Palmer House Hilton lobby. Photo credit: Molly J. Good

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The dolphin pool at the Shedd Aquarium at night. Photo credit: Molly J. Good

My status as Fenske Fellow does not officially begin until September of this year. Therefore, I have been grateful for the opportunities to learn about the GLFC through observation and active participation in these meetings. I am looking forward to developing the relationships I have made with the GLFC Secretariat, U.S. and Canadian Commissioners, and the Law Enforcement Committee.

LESSON #5: It is important to ask questions, because that is how you learn. It also helps in making new connections.

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Law and Order and Fish

Windsor, Ontario

Lake Committee Meetings: Round 1

From Tuesday, March 25 through Thursday, March 26, I attended the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) Lake Committee Meetings in Windsor, Ontario. The Lake Committee Meetings primarily serve as a forum for fishery management agencies to come together and assess the state of fish communities, discuss Great Lakes issues, and plan for future management activities. Many of these meetings are open to the public.

Law Enforcement Committee Mid-Annual Meeting

The GLFC Law Enforcement Committee holds their mid-annual meeting during the Lake Committee Meetings. The Law Enforcement Committee helps facilitate coordinated fishery management through A Joint Strategic Plan for Management of Great Lakes Fisheries. The committee is charged with protecting, enhancing, and promoting the safe use of natural resources in the Great Lakes Basin. Mark Robbins (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources) is the current chair of the Law Enforcement Committee. The committee is uniquely composed of representatives from each natural resource agency with enforcement power in the Great Lakes Basin, including the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, and others.

As a disclaimer, private, undisclosed information is frequently discussed during the Law Enforcement Committee Meeting. Therefore, it is impossible for me to share all of my observations and reflections from this meeting with you. I can share that I was most interested in a presentation regarding a new concept for standardizing collected data and information across all natural resource agencies in the basin. Apparently, each natural resource agency has their own, individual methodology for collecting, organizing, and storing their enforcement data. As a result, it can be difficult for natural resource agencies and enforcement officers to locate helpful data from other agency data and information systems. A more standardized system, used by all natural resource agencies, would likely be easier to navigate and work with across multiple jurisdictions.

LESSON #4: The GLFC Law Enforcement Committee Meetings are critical because they bring together enforcement officers from all natural resource agencies in the Great Lakes Basin.

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Fenske “Firsts”

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Nerves

If you had asked me, Molly J. Good, how I was feeling on Monday, March 3, 2014 I would have said, “underprepared and very – actually, no – extremely nervous.” Monday, March 3, 2014 was the day before my first encounter with the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) and set of GLFC meetings.

On Tuesday morning, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I sheepishly walked into a meeting room and observed an arrangement of long tables and many people, each situated appropriately behind individual name cards. Fortunately, two familiar faces stood out to me. I recognized Dr. Bill Taylor, my graduate advisor at Michigan State University, and my Fenske Fellowship “mentor,” Bob Lambe, Executive Secretary of the GLFC. It was then that my initial nerves transformed into a sense of curiosity and excitement about this new experience. I was eager to learn…

The GLFC

The GLFC was first established by the Convention on Great Lakes Fisheries between the U.S. and Canada (more on that in “Retreat to Reflect”) in 1955. It is composed of eight Commissioners – four from the U.S. and four from Canada – and there is one U.S. Alternate Commissioner, a position filled by Dr. Bill Taylor (Table 1). The President appoints U.S. Commissioners for six-year terms. The Privy Council appoints the Canadian Commissioners, who serve at the Council’s pleasure.

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The Commission’s main responsibilities include the development and conduction of research in the Great Lakes Basin, the maximum sustained productivity of fish stocks, and the implementation of research programs to eradicate or minimize sea lamprey.

The GLFC Secretariat

The GLFC runs on the power of a Secretariat staff located at the main GLFC office in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Secretariat is relatively small, composed of approximately twenty-five individuals that serve as the interface between the GLFC and those with whom the GLFC frequently interacts.

Thus far, I have been appreciative of my interactions with many Secretariat members, including Bob Lambe (Executive Secretary), Dr. John Dettmers (Director of Fisheries Management), Dr. Marc Gaden (Communications Director and Legislative Liaison), Dr. Chris Goddard (Policy Advisor), Ted Lawrence (Communications and Policy Associate), Dr. Andrew Muir (Science Director), Kevin Ramsey (Law Enforcement Specialist), Dr. Mike Siefkes (Sea Lamprey Control Program Manager), Jill Wingfield (Communications Program Manager), and Nick Ebinger, Leah Gerweck, Julie Hinderer, and Jess Ives (Program Associates).

Board of Technical Experts Meeting: Pre-Proposals, Round 1

…So, from Tuesday, March 4 – Wednesday, March 5, 2014 I joined the Board of Technical Experts (BOTE, for short) for their winter meeting. BOTE is a group of individuals that, broadly, advise the GLFC about scientific and technical matters relevant to the Convention on Great Lakes Fisheries. This group of individuals is led by a chair, Dr. Bill Taylor, and divided into a Core Group and Members-at-Large. The core group is composed of five or more members and the members-at-large, which are term-appointed, include individuals who lead key research themes.

BOTE has a critical role to play in the solicitation, review, and approval/disapproval of fishery research proposals submitted to the GLFC Fishery Research Program. In March of every year, members of BOTE convene to hear oral presentations of fishery research program pre-proposals and, through consensus, make decisions about which fishery research pre-proposals should be advanced as full proposals in the future.

The BOTE meeting was long and intense.

The majority of the first day was set aside for pre-proposal presentations. Each presenter – whether it was a student, fisheries biologist, academic, fisheries manager, etc. – had 20 minutes to pitch their research plan to BOTE in hopes of securing funding for their proposed project. Some of this meeting’s pre-proposal research topics ranged from measuring policy success and quantifying quagga mussel populations to developing smartphone apps and analyzing warming effects on yellow perch recruitment. By the end of the first day, I had a better idea of the breadth and scope of fisheries research occurring throughout the Great Lakes Basin.

The second day of the BOTE meeting was reserved for discussion among BOTE members only. BOTE members discussed their comments and shared feedback on the pre-proposals that were heard on the day prior. These comments and feedback were collected in the meeting minutes, and they will be provided to the presenter to encourage them to modify or improve their pre-proposals for a future submission. I was particularly engaged in the discussion component of the meeting because BOTE members were not afraid to share their true feelings and opinions; there was a lot of conversation. After this period of discussion, the BOTE core group assembled to make a final selection of those pre-proposals they wished to see advance as full proposals. The final selection of pre-proposals was much more quantitative than I had originally imagined; the core group used an index (i.e., the Ciborowski Index), created by one of the current BOTE core group members, to mathematically rank each pre-proposal based on the collected comments and feedback. Cool, huh? Once the pre-proposals had been ranked as moving forward, the core group organized a peer review process for each full proposal; three BOTE members were assigned as leaders or readers to provide more feedback for each full proposal.

Sea Lamprey Research Board Meeting: Pre-Proposals, Round 1

From Thursday, March 6 (my birthday!) to Friday, March 7, 2014 I joined the Sea Lamprey Research Board (SLRB, for short) for their winter meeting. SLRB is similar to BOTE, and is a group of individuals that, broadly, advise the GLFC scientific and technical matters relevant to the GLFC Sea Lamprey Research Program. This group is also led by a chair, Dr. Steve Cooke (Carleton University), and divided into a Core Group and Members-at-Large. The SLRB core group is composed of eight or more members and the members-at-large, which are also term-appointed, include individuals who are directors of sea lamprey research units and lead key research themes.

The SLRB and BOTE meeting formats are the same. Therefore, the majority of the first day was set aside for more pre-proposal presentations. This meeting’s pre-proposal research topics ranged from sea lamprey pheromone structure and evaluation of downstream passage designs to sea lamprey genome information and effects of lampricides on target and non-target species.

As in the BOTE meeting, the second day of the SLRB meeting was reserved for discussion among SLRB members. The SLRB core group assembled to make a final selection of those pre-proposals they wished to see advance as full proposals. The core group used the Ciborowski Index to rank each pre-proposal based on the collected comments and feedback. The core group also assigned SLRB members (i.e., leaders and readers) to each full proposal for the peer review process.

LESSON #1: The GLFC is a complex organization, with many people, parts, and functions.

LESSON #2: In my opinion, the process outlined for investigators (i.e., students, fisheries biologists, academics, fisheries managers, etc.) who wish to seek funding from the GLFC for their research projects is clear and transparent.

LESSON #3: In my opinion, BOTE and SLRB put a tremendous amount of time and thoughtfulness into providing constructive feedback on each pre-proposal, and their final, ranked decisions are fair.

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