Sustaining North American Salmon: Perspectives Across Regions and Disciplines

Chapter 11: Managing Great Lakes Fisheries Under Multiple and Diverse Authorities

Margaret Ross Dochoda and Michael L. Jones


The Great Lakes make up a vast and complex ecosystem, and the fisheries they support have a colorful and frequently troubled history of use, abuse, and rehabilitation by the human inhabitants of its basin. No less complex than the lakes themselves are the many institutions that share responsibility for, or at least a substantive interest in, the management of Great Lakes fisheries. No fewer than two federal governments, two intertribal authorities representing 15 Indian tribes, one provincial government, eight state governments, and one international commission play key roles in the process of making fishery management decisions on the Great Lakes. Further, this classification does not include the many other stakeholder interest groups, divisions or departments with governments, and other transjurisdictional institutions whose actions can affect Great Lakes fish. In this chapter, we examine these institutional arrangements, focusing on those aspects of the current arrangements and the history of their development that explain why Great Lakes fishery management has been relatively free of conflict, at least when compared with the other salmon management case histories considered in this book. To tell this story it is impossible to separate Great Lakes salmon management from other fish species and stocks of concern in the basin, so our discussion is not specifically about salmon but rather about institutional arrangements that bear on the management of all economically valuable fish stocks in the Great Lakes.