Canadian Section Chair Joseph Comuzzi said, "Our two countries have made major investments to restore and maintain Great Lakes water quality over the decades. We need to take stock of the results as we set goals for the coming decades. Although the results are mixed, they show that there has been progress and there is a clear need to update the Agreement to better address emerging threats." U.S. Section Chair Lana Pollack said, "The Great Lakes are at the heart of our economy and quality of life. We need good up-to-date-science based information to assess how well Canada and the United States are protecting these waters. This draft report is an important step toward understanding the larger picture."
The draft report indicates that levels of many older chemicals have decreased in herring gulls, fish and sediments, especially from 1987-2000. However, results differ for some newer chemicals, such as PBDE (flame retardants) levels in fish increased considerably from 1987 to 2000. In addition, 34 non-native aquatic species were introduced into the Great Lakes, but none have become established since 2006. The burrowing mayfly and lake sturgeon have started to return, but lake trout populations have not changed measurably. Diporeia, a small shrimp-like crustacean that is a key part of the aquatic food web has almost disappeared.
The draft report uses seven measures of biological integrity, six measures of chemical integrity, and one measure of physical integrity, to assess changes in the Great Lakes basin ecosystem. It draws on the best indicators of ecosystem trends available from government agencies and the academic research community. The Commission plans to publish a report in 2012 based on comments received and subsequent research.
Access an announcement with commenting instructions and link to the complete 173-page report (click here).