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House approves resolution calling on President to declare Straits of Mackinac as designated waters


FILE – This July 19, 2002, file photo, shows the Mackinac Bridge that spans the Straits of Mackinac from Mackinaw City, Mich. Officials tell The Associated Press that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration and Canadian pipeline giant Enbridge have reached a deal on replacing 65-year-old twin pipelines in a channel linking two of the Great […]

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The Michigan House has approved a resolution introduced by Rep. O’Malley, of Lake Ann, that calls on President Donald Trump to officially declare the waters of the Straits of Mackinac as designated waters.

This designation would ensure that any foreign vessels passing through the Straits must have either an American or Canadian pilot on board directing the navigation of the ship.

“The Straits of Mackinac are extremely important to Michigan’s economy, recreation and environment and absolutely deserve the best protections available,” O’Malley said. “By receiving the designated title, vessels piloted in the Straits would be under the navigational direction of pilots familiar with the many unique navigational challenges that these waters require.

“It seems like common-sense, with thousands of ships crossing this area every year and so many people relying on the Great Lakes for drinking water, to make sure they are best protected.”

Earlier this month, Western Great Lakes Pilots Association President Jon Olney testified in support of O’Malley’s resolution in the House Commerce and Tourism Committee.

“The Straits of Mackinac are beautiful, economically important and  environmentally sensitive,” Olney said. “Additional protections called for under Rep. O’Malley’s resolution would be a win for Michiganders. We urge President Trump to designate the Straits in the best interests of all of Michigan and the Great Lakes region.”

O’Malley said while most people might think of Michigan as the “highway capital of the world,” people should also realize that the Great Lakes are also like a highway, but in water. 

“Boats are traveling every single day in this area, for both recreational reasons and for transporting goods and services,” O’Malley said. “The Straits, which are in an area with restricted visibility, narrow waterways, and important infrastructure such as the Mackinac Bridge and pipelines,  are often congested with traffic. There is no reason such an important area should not be thoroughly protected and prioritized.”

House Resolution 244 now heads to President Trump, the President of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the members of the Michigan congressional delegation, and the Commandant of the United States Coast Guard.

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