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Closure of Experimental Lakes Area (ELA)

Published On: 6/21/2012

Canadian government to close Experimental Lakes Area

The Canadian government announced on May 17, 2012 that it would close the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) in 2013. The ELA is unique in the world and has produced much of the foundational knowledge in aquatic science. Founded in 1968, ELA has offered scientists the unique opportunity to do applied research on entire freshwater ecosystems. The ELA is located on the Canadian Shield in northwestern Ontario, about 250 km east of Winnipeg. Fifty-eight small lakes and their catchments are managed through a joint agreement between the Governments of Canada and Ontario. The lakes range in size from 1 ha to 84 ha in surface area and are typical of small Canadian Shield lakes that many Canadians use for recreation. The ELA laboratory and lodging began in trailers and over 44 years these trailers have slowly been replaced with permanent yet modest buildings.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada staff were informed of the decision of the Government of Canada to close operations at the Experimental Lakes Area in Kenora, Ontario. In its decision, the Government has said that whole lake manipulative experiments are better carried out by universities and NGOs. This is despite a central mandate of Fisheries and Oceans Canada to be managing resources with a whole-ecosystem approach.

A joint letter from the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO), the Ecological Society of America (ESA), the International Society of Limnology (SIL), the Society of Canadian Limnologists (SCL), and the Society for Freshwater Sciences (SFS) has been sent to the Honorable Keith Ashfield, Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, to express the concern from the international scientific community.

If you would like to express support for this major global scientific resource, please consider contacting the following individuals:

Steven Harper – Prime Minister of Canada < pm@pm.gc.ca > @pmharper
Keith Ashfield – Minister of Fisheries and Oceans < min@dfo-mpo.gc.ca >
Peter Kent – Minister of the Environment < minister@ec.gc.ca >
Tom Mulcair – Leader of the Official Opposition < thomas.mulcair@parl.gc.ca >
Robert Chisholm – Fisheries < Robert.Chisholm@parl.gc.ca>
Kennedy Stewart – Science and Technology < kennedy.stewart@parl.gc.ca>
Peter Julian – Energy and Natural Resources < peter.julian@parl.gc.ca >
Bob Rae, MP, Interim Leader Liberal Party <bob.rae@parl.gc.ca>
Elizabeth May, MP, Leader Green Party <Elizabeth.May@parl.gc.ca>

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