Extension of the 2007-2011 Canada-Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem

The 2007-2011 Canada-Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem (COA), will expire on March 31, 2011. The governments of Canada and Ontario are considering extending the term of the COA to June 24th, 2012. This extension will help maintain momentum on the restoration, protection and conservation of the Great Lakes while negotiations proceed between the Governments of Canada and the United States to amend and strengthen the Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA).

The COA is an effective mechanism for coordinating actions of the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario and has contributed to significant progress in cleaning up the Great Lakes. Recent examples include the restoration of environmental quality in Wheatley Harbour and its official removal from the list of Great Lakes Areas of Concern, and the development of biodiversity conservation strategies.

Through the extension period, Canada and Ontario will continue to make progress towards the achievement of current COA goals and commitments. Several new commitments are also proposed, as follows:

Canada and Ontario will share information from their respective chemical management programs to improve joint coordination of efforts in reducing harmful pollutants in the Great Lakes Basin.

Canada and Ontario will develop options and engage on a Canadian framework to assess and protect the aquatic ecosystem health of Great Lakes’ nearshore.

Canada and Ontario will undertake an evaluation of the environmental and economic effectiveness of agricultural non-point source best management practices, including an assessment of actions at the farm and watershed scale.

Canada and Ontario will undertake an intensive monitoring year for Lake Superior; and coordinate Canadian and U.S. federal, Ontario, and state monitoring and research initiatives based on research and monitoring priorities.

Canada and Ontario will initiate the implementation of the “Aquatic Invasive Species Complete Prevention Plan” to address aquatic invasive species issues in Lake Superior.

Canada and Ontario will strengthen their combined effectiveness for spill prevention, preparedness, response and recovery, including reviewing capabilities, roles and responsibilities. This will include assessing opportunities for enhancements to capabilities for responding to significant incidents or spills to air, land or water that could potentially impact the Great Lakes Basin ecosystem.

Discussions on implications for a new COA will proceed concurrently with the negotiation of amendments to the GLWQA over the next several months, and a renewed COA will be developed for spring/summer 2012 that would deliver on commitments in an anticipated amended GLWQA.

Should you have any comments on the extension of the COA or any of the proposed amendments, please submit them to the Great Lakes Environment Office, Environment Canada at COA.Extension@ec.gc.ca by February 28, 2011.

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