Gov. DeWine visits Port Clinton on Governor’s Fish Ohio Day

Jul 2, 2024 | Featured, Around Ottawa County | 0 comments

Governor Mike DeWine addresses the crowd at Shores & Islands Ohio on Governor’s Fish Ohio Day, held on June 25. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

BY SHERI TRUSTY

Once a year, Governor Mike DeWine, ODNR Director Mary Mertz and Division of Wildlife Chief Kendra Wecker invite leaders from across the state to enjoy one of Lake Erie’s most popular draws: fishing. But the 2024 Governor’s Fish Ohio Day, held on June 25, was about more than just fishing. It was also a chance to step back and recognize all that the governor’s office and the ODNR have done to protect Lake Erie and the quality of life of those who utilize its waters for business and pleasure.

One of the governor’s most successful tools for protecting Lake Erie is the H2Ohio program, a far-reaching initiative that utilizes action and education to safeguard Ohio’s greatest natural resource. Among many other points of success, the program has established 180 wetlands statewide to work as natural filters for waters heading to Lake Erie.

ODNR biologist Zak Slagle talks about fish sampling on a research vessel during an educational tour that was offered on Governor’s Fish Ohio Day. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

DeWine said he has had bipartisan legislative support for the H2Ohio program and the continual creation of wetlands.

“We’re doing something in Ohio that I don’t think is being done in any other state,” DeWine said.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted talked about the important connection between H2Ohio and the economy. When Ohio waters are healthy, it improves the quality of life for residents, which is a draw for families and the businesses that employ them.

“What you’ve done under your leadership with Mary Mertz is fantastic,” Husted told the governor during the Governor’s Fish Ohio Day ceremony at Shores & Islands Ohio Welcome Center West in Port Clinton.

ODNR Director Mary Mertz watches ODNR biologists Matt Faust, left, and Brian Schmidt work a net on a research vessel during a trawling demonstration. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

Mertz discussed the ODNR’s many programs and initiatives that have positively impacted the state in the last year. She thanked the governor and First Lady of Ohio Fran DeWine for creating a foundation that allowed her staff to work toward continual success.

“What we do could not be done without the support of Governor DeWine and Fran DeWine. They’ve led the way in many projects,” Mertz said.

As dozens of people headed onto Lake Erie in pursuit of walleye on Fish Ohio Day, others visited the ODNR’s Sandusky Fish Research Unit for a firsthand view of fish management. They toured the facility and boarded ODNR research vessels for live demonstrations of trawling, gillnetting and electrofishing. Each method is a successful means of capturing fish for data collection that is utilized by researchers around the world. The data is an invaluable tool for ensuring the health and sustainability of Lake Erie’s fish populations.

ODNR biologist Heather Luken flips a fish into the holding tank during an electrofishing demonstration. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

While Mertz often spends Ohio Fish Day on the water, she chose to take the educational tour this year, which started with an introduction by ODNR biologist Zak Slagle.

“What I find incredible is that these guys are out here in the water working hard, and you go inside and find out they have PhDs and are computing all of this data,” Mertz said. “They are really incredible.”

See more images in the Governor’s Fish Ohio Day Photo Gallery found here: https://www.thebeacon.net/governors-fish-ohio-day-2024/.

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