As you know, the longest water boundary between two countries in the world exists right here, between Michigan and Ontario, the United States and Canada. Two great nations that have a love affair with the water. Our great countries both look at the water of the Great Lakes with awe, reverence, and thanks. The glistening waters keep us alive by providing water to sustain life in our water systems, by providing recreation opportunities and for many, providing the place they provide for their family.
While these waters, especially those of the St. Clair/Detroit corridor may separate us, they also bring us together in our love for the outdoors and using the Great Lakes to make us better people and nations. Whether it be sailing, cruising, or fishing, both of us know that the water of the Great Lakes can help us; heal us; renew our souls.
Millions of dollars of income are generated by the Great Lakes every year in the form of boat registrations, launch fees, use permits and most importantly, fishing licenses. For proof of the importance we place on keeping these waters, and the fisheries they provide healthy, just look at the amount of dollars each country allocates to fish stocking, water quality and water law enforcement. The Great Lakes are important, no necessary, to the health of our countries in so many ways.
The past year has been agonizing for so many, and through that time the water has provided an escape. A place to leave our troubles, connect with nature, refill our souls. Anglers on both sides of the border have used the rivers and lakes to cope with pressures the pandemic has forced upon us, to stay somewhat healthy, and to continue to create income to feed our families.
Soon the border between our countries will be re-opened, and the friendship our countries share can be renewed in person. With that in mind we are asking that you consider a "soft opening" of the border on the waters of the St. Clair River/Lake St. Clair/Detroit River corridor. Anglers from both sides are anxious to be able to fish the entire system, and since these anglers do not come in contact with other boats, do no drop anchor, do not touch land, and do not disembark on a foreign shore, we would ask that you open boating and fishing on both sides of the border to anglers and boaters of both countries.
The recreational fishing industry creates huge amounts of revenue for both Michigan and Ontario. Sales of licenses to both residents and non-residents fund most of the money needed to sustain, preserve, and monitor the fishing on the Great Lakes. Closing the invisible, watery border has impacted each country negatively due to a loss of non-resident fishing license revenue over the past season.
Charter boat captains have been especially hard hit since they must stay on their side of the border. Due to wind, wave, weather, and water conditions this often means that they cancel trips or are very unsuccessful because the best opportunity for successful fishing is just on the other side of the border, causing loss of income for these struggling small business operators. These same charter boat operations based in Michigan provide literally millions of dollars in non-resident license revenue, fees, and other income for the province of Ontario, most of it lost during the 2020 season. One marina on the Detroit River has charter boat operators that create sales of non-resident Ontario licenses that exceed $200,000 EACH SEASON, and there are literally dozens of such marinas in Michigan that do the same on the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers and Lake St. Clair. Add in the recreational anglers that visit this area and buy Ontario licenses each year and the revenue number becomes substantial.
Recreational anglers and charter boat operators from Michigan are hopeful you will consider opening the border on the Great Lakes and allow boating and fishing to occur on both sides of the border. Laws are already in place that prohibit us from coming in contact with other boats, dropping anchor, landing on shore, or disembarking in Canada; and we OBEY these laws every day. We, the recreational anglers, boaters, and charter boat operators of Michigan are pleading with you to open the border on the water and let us be the example of how open borders can be done safely.
We are submitting this letter as a petition with the attached signatures from recreational anglers, recreational boaters, charter captain operators, fishing clubs and other water-based organizations to show how many Michigan residents support this cause.
Thanking you in advance for your time and consideration….