09.15.17

STANDING AT THE BUFFALO OUTER HARBOR, SCHUMER LAUNCHES MAJOR PUSH TO SUPPORT LAKE ERIE; ON THE HEELS OF ANNOUNCEMENT OF COSTA FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE SERIES IN BUFFALO NEXT SUMMER, SENATOR ANNOUNCES SUPPORT FOR BILL THAT WOULD CREATE A NEW FEDERAL PROGRAM TO HELP PROTECT AND GROW FISH POPULATION IN LAKE ERIE

Schumer: Sport Fishing Is An $80M Industry In Western New York; New Bill Will Support Future Infrastructure Updates To Improve Great Lakes Fisheries And Restore Habitats Across Lake Erie 

Schumer Bill Aligns with Buffalo Niagara Water Keeper's Recently Released "State of Our Waters" Report, Which Calls for Support for Recreational Fisheries and Reconnecting Native Fish with Their Natural Habitats

Schumer: The Costa Fishing League Worldwide Series And Other Potential Competitions Bring A Major Economic Boost To The Entire Region; Urges Congress To Quickly Pass Bill To Invest & Protect Our Great Lakes For Future Generations

Schumer: Preserving Lake Erie’s Fisheries Will Reel In Big Tourism Dollars For Years To Come

Standing with tourism officials and sport fishermen at the Buffalo Outer Harbor, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced a major push to support Lake Erie and protect local fish populations.  On the heels of a major announcement that the Costa Fishing League World Series will take place in Buffalo next summer, Schumer is pushing legislation that would support infrastructure updates to improve Lake Erie’s fisheries and restore its habitats. Specifically, the bill would provide grants to repair or replace aging dams, culverts, and roads that inhibit the movement of fish populations across Lake Erie and its tributaries. Schumer said this program is necessary to not only protect Lake Erie, but also to support tourism, jobs, and the economy of the surrounding region. 

“Lake Erie is the lifeblood of Buffalo and the regional economy. With over $80 million pumped into this area every year by the sport fishing industry, it is imperative that we protect and support fish populations in Lake Erie,” said Senator Schumer. “Protecting and improving Lake Erie’s fisheries, especially through funding for infrastructure updates, is a top priority of mine and I am committed to ensuring that we not only protect our Great Lakes but also prepare Buffalo to host one of the most successful fishing competitions in a life time. The fishing industry plays a vital role in Western New York’s economy and I will continue to support legislation that bolsters this multi-million dollar industry."

Schumer is a cosponsor of The Great Lakes Aquatic Connectivity and Infrastructure Program Act, a bill introduced by Senators Debbie Stabenow, Gary Peters, Sherrod Brown, and Tammy Duckworth, who also represent Great Lake states. The bill supports infrastructure updates that will improve Great Lakes fisheries and restore habitats. The bill would provide grants to repair or replace aging dams, culverts and roads that inhibit the movement of fish populations across the Great Lakes Basin. Additionally, the bill creates a grant program that would fund infrastructure projects to help improve fisheries. 

Schumer explained this push comes on the heels of the announcement that Buffalo’s Outer Harbor will host the Costa Fishing League Worldwide Series next summer. Schumer said that events like this are vital to reel in interest in the local fishing industry and serve as an economic boom for the region. Local officials have said that estimated economic impact of the event is over $836,000, which includes nearly 1,200 hotel reservations. Schumer said that events like this will not be possible in the future without investments to protect Lake Erie, the surrounding infrastructure, and fish populations. 

Aquatic connectivity is crucial to migratory fish like bass, trout, and walleye in Lake Erie. Declines in migratory fish populations are attributed to habitat degradation, invasive specials, and barriers that restrict upstream movement. According to The Nature Conservancy, when fish cannot travel far enough upstream to reach ideal spawning environments, they may be forced to spawn in sub-optimal conditions, which threatens egg survival. Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper recently released a "State of Our Waters" report, which outlines these challenges, as well as action items to improve fish and wildlife habitats. Schumer's bill aligns with Waterkeeper's goal to support recreational fisheries, restore habitats and spawning areas, and reconnect native fish with their natural habitats. Schumer noted that removal of dams, improved road crossings, and construction of fish passageways around immovable barriers are all examples of infrastructure improvements that can support and protect migratory fish. 

Schumer was joined by Patrick Kaler, Executive Director of Visit Buffalo Niagara and Scott Callen, President of WNY Bassmasters, and Jeff Liebel, Board Chair for Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper.

"The legislation being championed by Senator Schumer demonstrates how the Great Lakes region can simultaneously advance ecological restoration and water-based economic activity," said Jill Jedlicka, executive director of Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper. "This proposed bill completely aligns with Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper's recently released State of Our Waters report, which includes recommended actions for recreational fisheries and habitat connections in Western New York lakes and tributaries. We know what the problems are and how to address them, and this legislation can provide the support needed for those actions to be implemented." 

 Schumer has long been an advocate for legislation and funding that supports protecting and preserving the Great Lakes. Most recently, Schumer secured over $1,000,000 from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) for NYS. Schumer has also secured funding to combat invasive species in the Finger Lakes, and protect the flood damaged shorelines of Lake Ontario.

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