This vision statement addresses three types of relationships among the commission, governmental agencies and other institutions, and the public-at-large:
In the late 1970s, fishery agencies recognized that threats to the Great Lakes fishery resource and opportunities for rebuilding the resource required greater management capability than any one agency or government could provide. The agencies agreed that a strategic management plan was necessary and requested that the Commission lead the development process. The Commission convened natural-resources-agency administrators, directors, and ministers as a Committee of the Whole to oversee development and implementation of the plan. The Joint Plan was adopted in the 1980s by federal, provincial, state, and tribal natural-resources agencies the Committee of the Whole), and stands as an explicit statement on cooperative fishery management for the Great Lakes. In this partnership vision statement, the Commission reaffirms a commitment to the intent, processes, and goal stated in the Joint Plan and to the partnerships required for its successful achievement. Several elements of the vision statement have evolved directly from the Joint Plan:
Fish Community Objectives and the State of the Lake Reports identified in the first milestone are products requested from the Lake Committees by the Committee of the Whole in 1980 and 1986, respectively. These products will assist the Committee of the Whole as it reviews and evaluates progress in the implementation of the Joint Plan. The Fish Community Objectives have been a difficult assignment for the Lake Committees. The Commission was quested by the Committee of the Whole to facilitate and help the Lake Committees in the development of these key elements of the Joint Plan. The first milestone reflects the Commission's desire to assist the Committee of the Whole, its willingness to help the Lake Committees, and its commitment to the Joint Plan. Achievement of this first milestone will require strong partnerships among all those involved.
Enhanced partnerships need to be forged from those that already exist between fish management and environmental agencies of the Great Lakes. Recently, environmental agencies have begun development of ecosystem objectives, often without involving fishery managers. Similarly, fishery managers have established fishery management goals often without recognition of the critical role environmental agencies must play if fishery anagement goals are to be achieved. Over the next decade, the Commission will work towards the maintenance of effective linkages between environmental agencies (such as Environment Canada, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the International Joint Commission), fish management agencies, other agencies (such as the Council of Great Lakes Governors), and itself. For example, the establishment of Fish Community Objectives by the Lake Committees may serve as useful additions to the objectives adopted by environmental agencies to guide their programs. Similarly, fishery agencies can support environmental agencies by adoption of complementary environmental objectives and quantitative indicators. By working together, a synergism can be generated that should accelerate the achievement of mutual goals.
Stronger partnerships also need to be forged between the Commission and the public. The Commission defines a stakeholder as someone affected by the quality and productivity of the Great Lakes ecosystem, especially the fishery. As part of this vision statement, the Commission desires to strengthen and broaden its partnerships with non-agency stakeholders. In the United States, legislation provides for the appointment of advisors presenting interest groups and agencies. Formal links with the public and the Commission will be improved by the addition of Canadian advisors. The Commission will also seek to enhance opportunities for United States and Canadian advisors to offer guidance to Commission programs. In the past, the Commission's primary contact with the public was with sport and commercial fishermen. Although this contact is essential and must continue, the Commission has had only limited communication with representatives of environmental organizations such as Great Lakes United and the Lake Michigan Federation. The Commission will devote more attention to working with all organizations concerned with Great Lakes rehabilitation, not just those interested in participation in the fisheries.
Effective communication is essential for achievement of all the vision statements. Communication requires careful consideration of message content, selection of channels to send messages, recognition of intended audience, and listening for responses to the messages. The process is complicated by the wide diversity of audiences interested in Great Lakes fish management. A communication strategy shall be developed (and adopted) to improve communication and to cultivate partnerships between the Commission and stakeholders concerned with Great Lakes fishes.
The Commission also maintains a long-standing commitment to assist communication among scientists and between scientists and resource managers. Sponsorship of symposiums and workshops and publication of results are examples of this type of communication.