Target: Michigan Governor Rick Snyder
Goal: Don’t allow fish farming to pollute the Great Lakes.
The Great Lakes are currently being eyed as a new possible sight for dirty fish farming. The Great Lakes are some of the most important freshwater ecosystems in the world, supporting a multitude of wildlife species and the residents of the states surrounding them. However, profit-hungry industry supporters are pushing for Michigan to open the lakes up to net-pen aquaculture, which is a controversial and environmentally damaging form of fish farming.
Despite neighboring Canada’s choice to use Lake Huron for aquaculture, no U.S. state has followed suit due to the fact that fish farming operations in Lake Huron have led to oxygen starvation and algal blooms. Net-pen fish farming is a practice that contains farmed fish in a large net within a natural body of water. This method is often extremely detrimental to the surrounding waters because tons of waste from the farmed fish flows directly into the water. Lakes are more susceptible to this pollution than oceans, due to their smaller size and lack of tides. Fish are also known to escape from net-pens, causing them to mingle with wild fish populations, spread disease, and possibly out-compete local fish populations.
The Great Lakes is the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth, containing a whopping 21 percent of all surface freshwater on the planet. These spectacular “inland seas” support a robust fishing industry worth more than $4 billion a year. Michigan, as well as the entire Great Lakes Basin, relies heavily on the lakes and their watersheds for drinking water, careers, recreation, and tourism. To jeopardize the health of these lakes is to jeopardize entire ecosystems and the very livelihoods of millions of people simply for short-term economic gain. Sign the petition below to encourage Governor Snyder to support legislation that has been introduced to ban fish farming in the Great Lakes.
Dear Governor Snyder,
Proposals are cropping up to place fish farms in the Great Lakes. I know I am not alone in believing this would be a bad move for Michigan and the entire Great Lakes Basin. Michigan has kept its waters free of fish farming for a reason. It’s harmful. The waters surrounding Canada’s fish farming operations in the North Channel of Lake Huron have been wrought with waste contamination, oxygen starvation, and algal blooms. These are commonplace repercussions of net-pen fish farming, a dangerous and unsustainable form of aquaculture.
The Great Lakes already support a more then $4 billion fishing industry, not to mention a multitude of tourism and recreation opportunities. Introducing net-pen aquaculture into the environment will only jeopardize the ecosystems that support these industries. The type of fish farming that is proposed actually creates high concentrations of waste that leaks directly into the surrounding water, changing the nutrient content drastically. Net-pen systems may also allow farm fish to escape, mixing with wild populations and competing for food, spreading disease, or even becoming invasive.
The Great Lakes are some of the largest and most important freshwater bodies in the world. Michigan needs to work to protect these vital water resources, not jeopardize them. Millions of people rely on the Great Lakes for their livelihoods, as do countless wildlife and plant species. Luckily, legislation has been introduced in the Senate that would ban aquaculture from the Great Lakes and attached waters. I urge you to join bipartisan support for this bill, and take a stand against fish farming.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Simo Rasanen