The International Joint Commission recently found in a survey that 24 percent of people don’t understand the challenges facing the Great Lakes. (Read a story about the survey here.)
“Twenty-four percent is a large number,” said Raj Bejankiwar, a scientist with the IJC in Windsor, Ontario, who works on Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes. “… That’s not a good sign … more people should know about what are the exact issues and threats that the Great Lakes are facing.”
He goes on to say that residents who have more knowledge about the lakes will be the ones most likely to drive policy and put pressure on politicians to make changes.
Well, we are doing our part to bridge this knowledge gap at Wisconsin Sea Grant.
Anne Moser, senior special librarian for the Wisconsin Water Library, asked some of our Sea Grant staff members recently what the biggest challenges are facing the Great Lakes today. We are featuring their answers in a series of blog posts. This is the second post in the series. (Read the first here.)
One of the people she asked is Titus Seilheimer, our fisheries specialist. Titus joined Wisconsin Sea Grant in 2012 and is based at the UW-Manitowoc campus. He holds a doctorate in biology from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, where he studied fish habitat in Great Lakes coastal wetlands. Before accepting his position with Sea Grant, Titus worked as a research ecologist for the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station in St. Paul, Minnesota, developing water quality models for the Western Great Lakes. He also led research on fish habitat in springs and the classification of river flow regimes at Oklahoma State University, and he assessed the impacts of flow regime change on fish assemblages at Cornell University.
Here’s his answer to “What are the biggest challenges facing the Great Lakes today?”
• The changing Lake Michigan ecosystem. This is a complex topic involving invasive species, nutrient/watershed loading, contaminants, habitat, climate, etc. It affects fisheries, beach goers, and everyone.
• A changing, aging, smaller (but still important) commercial fishing fleet. Working for flexibility for the industry.
• Bottom line: the changing food web. The structure of the ecology of the lakes is important to everyone (even if they don’t know much about it).
This information and more can be found in Anne’s presentation, “The Great, Great Lakes: Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st Century.”
Anne is available to give the PowerPoint presentation to groups in Wisconsin who want to know more about the Great Lakes, and she’ll do it for FREE! If interested, you can contact Anne at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 608-262-3069.