**The title, authors, and abstract for this completion report are provided below. For a copy of the completion report, please contact the GLFC via e-mail or via telephone at 734-662-3209**
Analyzing Legal/Policy Rules and Frameworks for Fisheries Management in the Great Lakes Basin: Identifying and Assessing Overlaps, Conflicts and Gaps
This research identified gaps, overlaps and conflicts between Great Lakes fishery management laws, agency mandates, and agency policy implementing strategies in Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Wisconsin, Ontario, Canada, the United States, and the Indian tribe stakeholders of Lakes Erie and Superior. A review of each jurisdiction’s laws and constitution revealed a considerable disparity in the routes through which each jurisdiction holds fishery management authority. In the U.S. that authority has historically rested with the states, while only in relatively recent times has it been delegated from the Canadian federal government to the Province of Ontario. Additionally, the nature of rights to fish and manage fisheries in the Great Lakes differs considerably between Native American tribes in the U.S. and First Nations in Canada. Even given the high degree of dissimilitude in laws at the national level, an impressive cooperative management arrangement has arisen across the basin. This coordination primarily occurs through Great Lakes Fishery Commission sponsored committees made up of managers from the different jurisdictions. Previous commentators suggested that lake committees were an example of a conflict in the laws, specifically, that they were in violation of the U.S. Constitution. However, this research showed that lake committees and the Joint Strategic Plan for Management of Great Lakes fisheries is clearly constitutional. Yet the research did identify other gaps, overlaps, and conflicts with respect to the public trust doctrine, U.S. Native American tribal and Canadian First Nation rights, harvest allocation rules, and complexity and a lack of uniformity in fishery harvest regulations. Finally, we learned that key ecosystem threats, such as invasive species, are perceived as beyond the reach of agency powers even though they threaten fisheries. This research provides preliminary guidance on moving to fill identified gaps and improving coordination so as to minimize overlaps (wasting resources), diminish conflicts, enhance management and hence the fisheries. It also lays a foundation for future research.