Ecosystem Health and Sustainable Fish Populations: Ecological and Biological Research to Inform Management

Great Lakes Fisheries Trust

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Next anticipated deadline: Jan 10, 2021 2:00pm PST (Pre proposal)

Later anticipated deadlines: Apr 13, 2021 2:00pm PDT (Full proposal)

Grant amount: Up to US $1,300,000

Fields of work: Ichthyology (Fish) Fisheries

Applicant type: Government Entity, Nonprofit, Indigenous Group

Funding uses: Research

Location of project: Canada, Michigan, Lake County, Illinois, Counties in Indiana: Adams County, Allen County Show all

Location of residency: Canada, United States

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About this funder:




The Great Lakes Fishery Trust (GLFT) invites preliminary proposals for Great Lakes fisheries projects under its Ecosystem Health and Sustainable Fish Populations grant program. This request for proposals (RFP) process will be used for the disbursement of up to $1.3 million in grants for the Ecological and Biological Fisheries Research to Inform Management funding theme.

In 2019, the GLFT embarked upon a year-long effort to update its strategic plan. Through that process, the trust identified a pressing need for increased effort to answer critical research questions regarding the lake whitefish population in the upper Great Lakes. The GLFT is dedicating a minimum of $500,000 of its 2020 fisheries research budget to lake whitefish research and intends to continue prioritizing lake whitefish research for at least five years. With its investments in lake whitefish research, the GLFT seeks to:

  • Increase the amount of management-relevant, scientifically sound research related to lake whitefish populations in the upper Great Lakes 
  • Build the base of knowledge regarding underlying causes of declining lake whitefish populations 
  • Inform management strategies for lake whitefish in the upper Great Lakes with sound research and science

Mission and Goals

The mission of the GLFT is to provide funding to enhance, protect, and rehabilitate Great Lakes fishery resources to compensate for lost use and enjoyment caused by the operation of the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant. The GLFT pursues its mission through investments in three broad categories: Access to the Great Lakes Fishery, Great Lakes Stewardship, and Ecosystem Health and Sustainable Fish Populations. Fisheries research is one of several grant types under the Ecosystem Health and Sustainable Fish Populations category.

The broad goals of investments in ecological and biological research to inform fisheries management are to:

  • Create a more resilient and stable fish community
  • Increase the sustainable value of the fishery to stakeholders
  • Foster and increase self-sustaining fish populations

The key intended outcomes for fisheries research investments are to:

  • Enhance the ability of managers and their agencies to understand, anticipate, adapt, and respond to changes in the fishery and ecosystem
  • Build research capacity and management expertise needed to understand and manage the Great Lakes ecosystem for sustainable production of valuable species

Lead Priority: Lake Whitefish Recruitment

In 2019, the trust is reserving at least $500,000 of its 2020 fisheries research budget for lake whitefish research and intends to prioritize lake whitefish research for at least five years. The GLFT will implement its priority through a combination of competitive and funder-directed grant processes.

 In 2020, the GLFT’s primary interests in this research theme are:

  • Synthetic papers exploring bottlenecks to recruitment
  • Data-driven original research on bottlenecks to recruitment and early life history

Additional Research Themes

In 2020, the GLFT will grant as much as $800,000 to research efforts responding to one or more of the following themes. Applicants are encouraged to focus on one or more of the six areas: 

  • Fish recruitment
  • Ecosystem disruption
  • Habitat research and evaluation
  • Aquatic invasive species
  • Native species rehabilitation (Lake Sturgeon emphasis)
  • Emerging Issues

Lake Michigan Priority

Whether shore-based fishing access, stewardship, dam removals, or fisheries research, all GLFT-funded projects must have benefits directed primarily to the Great Lakes. The settlement agreement establishing the GLFT further requires that priority be given to efforts that benefit the Lake Michigan fishery. Projects outside of the Lake Michigan basin are considered if their results and outcomes are transferable to Lake Michigan. Projects that examine the consequences of environmental pollutants on the recruitment or health of a Great Lakes fish species are eligible.

It is important to note that the GLFT’s Lake Michigan priority emphasizes benefit to the Lake Michigan fishery, as opposed to activity limited to Lake Michigan. In the context of fisheries research, the question is not whether there are “feet on the ground” in Lake Michigan, but whether proposed research will yield high-priority knowledge and information for the Lake Michigan fishery. For example, in some areas of research inquiry, cross-lake comparative efforts may hasten learning, as compared to studies focused exclusively on Lake Michigan. Such cross-lake studies are encouraged.

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