Briefing Held to Highlight Maritime Issues on Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Maritime Day

  • Mike Piskur, Program Manager with the Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers

The Northeast-Midwest Institute and the Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers hosted a briefing focusing on critical maritime issues impacting the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region on December 14, 2017. Speakers addressed the status and importance of the Soo Locks, the future of autonomous vessels, and the potential to expand tourism in the Great Lakes with cruise lines. The briefing was part of a larger gathering in Washington, D.C. of regional stakeholders and Congressional staffers participating in Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Maritime Day. Stakeholders attended the briefing in preparation for their Congressional office visits throughout the rest of the day.


A full, timestamped audio recording of the briefing can be found here.

The slides used during the briefing can be found here.


Mike Piskur, Program Manager with the Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers, began the briefing with an overview of the Conference’s strategic goals and ongoing policy priorities at the federal level, including dredging, icebreaking, and increased cooperation with Canadian partners. He also emphasized the economic impact of vital water transportation infrastructure in the region–especially the Soo Locks, the closure of which he asserted would trigger a nationwide recession due to disruption of the American steel industry’s supply chain.

Bruce Nierenberg, President and CEO at Victory Cruise Lines, discussed his recent experiences in expanding the cruise industry in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region. He asserted that the unique geography and atmosphere of the Great Lakes provides many advantages to cruise lines, and that a robust cruise tourism industry would lead to stronger economic growth in the region. His presentation encouraged stakeholders and regional leaders to become more engaged in branding the Great Lakes as a major cruising destination.


This briefing was co-hosted by the Great Lakes Washington Program (GLWP) at the Northeast-Midwest Institute. Created to further the restoration and revitalization of the region, the GLWP improves the Great Lakes ecosystem and economy through its relationship with the bipartisan U.S. Senate and House Great Lakes Task Forces of the Northeast-Midwest Coalitions, as well as its outreach and interaction with state, provincial, and federal agencies, experts, and stakeholders. By conducting and providing non-partisan federal policy research and background, and tracking legislation, the GLWP serves as a trusted source for the region on Great Lakes issues. You can read more about the GLWP here.

The Northeast-Midwest Institute is a Washington, D.C.-based, nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy organization committed to economic vitality, environmental quality, and regional equity for the 18 states of the Northeast and Midwest.