Gov. John Kasich pledged that he is “completely, totally, 100 percent committed” to Lake Erie and that he wants to see the lake and its attributes promoted aggressively, the Toledo Blade reports.
The governor's remarks about the lake came on Monday in Port Clinton where he was on hand for the 33rd annual Fish Ohio Day. In the morning, fifteen charter boats fanned out into Lake Erie, each with six anglers on board, guests of the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association. But these were no ordinary fishermen; they were public officials, being treated to a genuine lake fishing experience, while the fisherman got a rare opportunity to promote sports fishing in Lake Erie.
“What we have here is just magnificent,” Kasich said, in what the Blade characterized as a "somewhat disjointed" address during his short visit. He said some of the right things. He stressed the need to step up promotion of Ohio tourism and take commercial advantage of the lake. At one point, according to the Blade, he even said that the state “never has taken good advantage of this lake.”
We're not sure what the governor meant by that exactly. He is poised to sign House Bill 231, which would allow companies to remove five million gallons of water from the lake with zero oversight. If that what he means by "good advantage," the lake is in for a rough ride.
The governor made brief reference to two critical issues facing Lake Erie right now, the threat of Asian carp, which are poised to enter Lake Michigan, with Erie not far behind, and "dumping and dredging" being carried out by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of the Toledo harbor and other commercial waterways, which threatens to increase the already disastrous algae bloom on the lake.
Kasich said it is “a high, high priority” to maximize commercialization of business on Lake Erie, citing among other things tax credits for small businesses dealing with fisheries. In the same breath, according to the Blade, he took credit for “plugging an $8 billion hole [in the state budget] without tax increases,” thanks also to his “partners in the Legislature.”
After the governor's address, Rick Unger, LECBA president, was skeptical. “He thinks solutions are happening, and I don’t see solutions happening.”
Fish Ohio Day is sponsored by the Ohio Division of Wildlife and its parent Department of Natural Resources, LECBA, whose skippers donate boats and guidance, the Ohio tourism agency, and Lake Erie Shores & Islands.