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GLIN==> Lake Ontario: Stakeholders Prioritizing the Future

Lake Ontario: Stakeholders Prioritizing the Future

How do the people who work, live and play along Lake Ontario see the future of this great resource? Can American and Canadian recreational anglers, government agencies, charterboat captains, planners, aquaculturists, environmental groups, researchers and academics come together to discuss how they’d like to see the future of Lake Ontario?

To open up such a discussion, the bi-national Lake Ontario team of the Great Lakes Regional Research Information Network (GLRRIN), co-coordinated by Dale Baker (Associate director of New York Sea Grant) and Dave MacNeill (New York Sea Grant fisheries specialist), held two separate conferences at opposite ends of Lake Ontario. Facilitated by Dr. Bruce Lauber of Cornell University’s Human Dimensions Research Unit, two similar Lake Ontario “Search Conferences” were held in Grand Island, New York near Niagara Falls (March 31-April 1, 2008) and Gananoque, Ontario in the St. Lawrence valley (April 3-4).

After an overview of Lake Ontario presented by MacNeill, facilitator and meeting format developer Lauber led each group of approximately 40 participants into a “shared history” discussion of Lake Ontario. Participants wrote on a wall-sized timeline to show decade by decade the natural and socioeconomic history of Lake Ontario and the forces affecting it. By alternating small and large work groups, each consisting of a balance of stakeholders, the group listed a shared vision of the “ideal future” followed by the “likely future” of Lake Ontario. Although lists from breakout groups varied, a future of better water quality, sustainable fisheries, habitat restoration, reduction of invasive species and alternative energy policy seemed to resonate throughout the conversations.

During the two-day conferences, participants were aided by other members of the planning committee: Dr. Tim Johnson (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources), Tom Brown (director of Cornell University’s Human Dimensions Research Unit), Dr. Gary Sprules (University of Toronto), and Dr. Jim Johnson (USGS Fisheries Lab). Although not present for the conferences, much of the initial planning had been done by Dr. Jack Mattice, former New York Sea Grant Director who spearheaded the conference prior to his retirement last year.

As part of the future search process, the facilitator led participants into an exercise to identify information needs that would be of practical value to Lake Ontario stakeholders. Each group reported its findings and all participants had an opportunity to indicate which information needs had priority.

Lists of prioritized research needs as well as pre- and post-workshop evaluations that were filled out by all participants will be reviewed and synthesized by the team in the coming weeks. A full report will soon be available on www.glrrin.info. For more information, contact Barbara Branca, New York Sea Grant Communications Manager at 631.32.6956 or barbara.branca@stonybrook.edu.

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Paul C. Focazio
Web Content Manager, New York Sea Grant
Communications Rep, Northeast Sea Grant
Office of Communications
115 Discovery Hall/ Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, NY 11794-5001
Phone: 631.632.6910 (Desktop)/ Fax: 631.632.2394 (Desktop)
Phone: 631.632.9124 (Office)/ Fax: 631.632.6917 (Office)
E-mail: Paul.Focazio@stonybrook.edu
Internet: http://www.nyseagrant.org

New York Sea Grant - "Bringing Science to the Shore" Since 1971

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