Good news for the Experimental Lakes Area! In a memorandum of understanding between the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the International Institute for Sustainable Development, the beleaguered research facility’s future may have been secured. Here’s the official press release:
May 9, 2013- Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) are pleased to announce that a Memorandum of Understanding concerning the future of the Experimental Lakes Area has been signed effective immediately. This agreement is a major milestone in the transition of the Experimental Lakes Area to a third party operator and is the result of seven months of confidential negotiations between the federal government and IISD.
IISD is a Canadian-based, internationally renowned public policy research institute for sustainable development that champions sustainable development around the world through innovation, partnerships, research and communications.
“The federal government has been working diligently for many months to secure another operator for this unique, world-class facility,” said the Honourable Keith Ashfield, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. “I believe that IISD is well-suited to operate the Experimental Lakes Area with excellent capacity, expertise and international reputation to take on this important work. We are pleased to have worked with IISD to get to this point and look forward to working with them towards a final agreement.”
“The Experimental Lakes Area complements IISD’s work in freshwater management and, if the Experimental Lakes Area does come to IISD, we would ensure it remains an independent, world-class research facility that continues to produce leading-edge freshwater ecosystems science in the public domain and in the public interest,” said Scott Vaughan, CEO and president of IISD. “IISD has been working with the federal government for several months to get to this point. This is not a finished deal but is an important step, and we look forward to working with Ottawa, Ontario and Manitoba going forward.”
Today’s announcement of the Memorandum of Understanding between the federal government and IISD provides a framework within which an agreement can be negotiated that will enable IISD to proceed as the operator of the unique, world-class Experimental Lakes Area. In order to facilitate the smooth transition of the facility, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and IISD require this agreement to address past and ongoing responsibilities, remediation of the lakes and the site, the transfer of material assets needed to operate the site, operational support, data sharing and other matters.
As an important part of this agreement, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will conduct a sampling program over the summer of 2013 as part of the transition to maintain important scientific research and ensure that long-term data sets can continue uninterrupted. Fisheries and Oceans Canada will work with scientists who have active research at the Experimental Lakes Area to support their needs for the upcoming summer research season, including monitoring activities and requirements to access their equipment.
IISD will continue discussions with the landowner, the Province of Ontario, on an agreement to operate the site going forward. Both Fisheries and Oceans Canada and IISD are committed to ensuring that these discussions are successful.