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Balast law Upheld.


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I'm very proud to have been an MCBA member for almost 20 years now. We've been part of and have had a voice in many decisions over the years concerning our lakes and fisheries. Some that did not go our way in many of the Indian netting rights cases on the Great Lakes. But this case in my view goes well beyond special rights for any one group of people sharing the use of the lakes. So I think/hope we will get a more sympathetic ear from our federal judges to enforce what is only right for everybody using and enjoying the Great Lakes.

BALLAST WATER LAWSUIT DISMISSAL

The Michigan Charter Boat Association (MCBA) and the Michigan Fish Producers Association (MFPA) are delighted to announce that the Hon. John Feikens recently dismissed a federal lawsuit filed in the Eastern District of Michigan by shipping industry members seeking to challenge Michigan’s new ballast water law.

The new law was enacted in June of 2005 but the effective date for compliance was delayed until January 1, 2007 in order to give the shipping industry time to meet the new law’s requirements.

In March of 2007, a consortium of shipping entities filed a 7-count complaint in federal court seeking to have Michigan’s new law declared unconstitutional. In May 2007, MCBA and MFPA were granted permission to participate in the case as amicus parties, and asked the court to consider the tremendous harm that invasive species have caused to native fish populations in the Great Lakes. Attorney Amy Kullenberg represented the two associations. On August 15, 2007, the Hon. John Feikens dismissed the lawsuit entirely.

The Michigan Charter Boat Association is a non-profit corporation with over 600 active members throughout the Great Lakes Regions. MCBA’s members are U.S. Coast Guard licensed charter boat captains, as well as associate captains, first mates, and others affiliated with the charter industry. MCBA’s mission is to promote a safe and professional charter boat industry in Michigan, to educate its membership and the public regarding issues that affect the charter boat industry, and conduct activities which enhance the public’s enjoyment of the Great Lakes. The MCBA conducts charter excursions in over 70 ports and on 11 major rivers throughout the Great Lakes. In addition to its ongoing support of the Charter Boat Survey Program, the MCBA also maintains a Charter Boat Directory, administers a Student Scholarship Fund, publishes a newsletter, and hosts shows and workshops.

The Michigan Fish Producers Association is an Agricultural and Commodity Organization listed with the State of Michigan Department of Agriculture. MFPA’s multi-generational membership includes over 40 state-licensed fisheries and fishermen and 30 allied businesses. MFPA also works with tribal members who are re-establishing their rights to fish. MFPA holds an annual convention, promotes sustainable harvests of native aquatic species, and has engaged in scientific research to track the effect of invasive species on native fish populations. The MFPA has a long history of working on policy issues related to fishing in the Great Lakes and has been a long-time supporter of the Michigan Sea Grant Program.

The MCBA and the MFPA believe it is vitally important to protect Michigan’s natural resources generally – and the viability of the fishing industry in the Great Lakes particularly – especially in a period of forced transition between a manufacturing-based economy to other economic platforms such as technology and tourism. With proper control of invasive species and other threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem, there is vast economic potential in fishing for Michigan’s economy. For instance, in addition to the $10.1 million generated by charter fishing fees in 2002, there was an additional $19.8 million spent on food, lodging and other local purchases in Michigan’s Great Lakes ports.

Both the Michigan Charter Boat Association and the Michigan Fish Producers Association are deeply committed to the protection of Great Lakes waters and the ecosystems associated with the Great Lakes. These Associations applaud the dismissal of the ballast water lawsuit, and encourage other Great Lakes states’ legislatures to follow Michigan’s lead in drafting laws to protect the Great Lakes from further damage by invasive species.

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