Skip to main content

Developing ecosystem objectives for the Great Lakes: policy, progress and public participation

Abstract

Under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1978 between the United States and Canada, as amended in 1987, an ecosystem objective with associated indicators for Lake Superior was adopted, and a commitment was made to develop ecosystem objectives and indicators for each of the other Great Lakes. Building upon a history of activities within the International Joint Commission related to the development of ecosystem indicators for Lake Superior and for mesotrophic waters, a binational Ecosystem Objectives Work Group (EOWG) has been established by the U.S. and Canada and charged with developing ecosystem objectives for the Great Lakes, beginning with Lake Ontario. These objectives are primarily biological in nature, in contrast to chemical objectives. The approach of the EOWG is to identify in sequence: (1) broad ecosystem goals, (2) a suite of objectives whose attainment would ensure achievement of the goals, and (3) one or more measurable indicators of progress toward meeting each objective. Societal values are reflected in the goals and objectives following consultation with competing users of ecosystem resources. Identification of appropriate indicators requires the assistance of technical experts. The experience of the EOWG in developing ecosystem objectives for Lake Ontario illustrates the application of this process.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • Canada & USA, 1987. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1978, Agreement, with Annexes and Terms of Reference, between the United States and Canada signed at Ottawa November 22, 1978 and Phosphorus Load Reduction Supplement signed October 7, 1983 as amended by Protocol signed November 18, 1987. Consolidated by the Internat. Joint Comm., Windsor, Ontario.

  • Edwards C. J. & R. A. Ryder, (eds), 1990. Biological surrogates of mesotrophic ecosystem health in the Laurentian Great Lakes. Report of the mesotrophic work group to the Science Advisory Board, Internat. Joint Comm., Windsor, Ontario.

  • Environment Canada, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Ontario Ministry of the Environment, & New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 1989. Lake Ontario Toxics Management Plan. A Report by the Lake Ontario Toxics Committee.

  • Marshall, T. R., R. A. Ryder, C. J. Edwards, & G. R. Spangler, 1987. Using the lake trout as an indicator of ecosystem healt-Application of the dichotomous key. Great Lakes Fish. Comm. Tech. Rep. 49.

  • Ryder R. A. & C. J. Edwards, (eds), 1985. A conceptual approach for the application of biological indicators of ecosystem quality in the Great Lakes Basin. A joint effort of the International Joint Commission and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. Report to the Great Lakes Science Advisory Board, Internat. Joint Comm., Windsor, Ontario. 169 pp.

  • Sly, P., 1990. The effects of land use and cultural development on the Lake Ontario ecosystem since 1750. Rep. Rawson Acad. Aquat. Sci. to Environ. Can. 135 pp.

  • StevensR. J., 1988. A review of Lake Ontario water quality with emphasis on the 1981–1982 intensive years. Rep. Surv. Subcomm. Great Lakes Water Quality Board. Internat. Joint Comm., Windsor, Ontario. 300 pp.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Bertram, P.E., Reynoldson, T.B. Developing ecosystem objectives for the Great Lakes: policy, progress and public participation. Journal of Aquatic Ecosystem Health 1, 89–95 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00044040

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00044040

Keywords

  • ecosystem
  • objectives
  • indicators
  • Lake Ontario
  • Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement