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2018 Ecosystem Health and Sustainable Fish Populations: Ecological and Biological Research to Inform Management

Grants to USA and Canada Nonprofits, IHEs, and
Agencies to Improve Great Lakes Fisheries Management

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Great Lakes Fishery Trust (GLFT)

LOI Date:


Deadline Date:

04/13/18 5:00 PM EST


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Grants to USA and Canada nonprofit organizations, government agencies, tribal agencies, and educational institutions to address sustainable fish populations and ecosystem health in the Great Lakes. Preliminary proposals are due January 12. Canadian applicants must contact program staff prior to applying.

Mission and Goals of GLFT’s Investments of Fisheries Research:

The mission of the GLFT is to provide funding to enhance, protect, and rehabilitate Great Lakes fishery resources to compensate for lost use and enjoyment caused by the operation of the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant. The GLFT pursues these goals through investments in three broad categories: Access to the Great Lakes Fishery, Great Lakes Stewardship, and Ecosystem Health and Sustainable Fish Populations.

The broad goals of fisheries research investments are to:
-Create a more resilient and stable fish community
-Increase the sustainable value of the fishery to stakeholders
-Preserve self-sustaining fish populations

Specifically, the key intended outcomes for fisheries research investments are to:
-Enhance the ability of managers/agencies to respond to changes in the fishery and ecosystem
-Build research capacity and management expertise needed to understand and manage the Great Lakes ecosystem for sustainable production of valuable species
-Reduce the cost of fishery management in relation to benefits provided

Research Themes:

The GLFT pursues its fisheries research efforts through competitive grantmaking within established thematic areas. Funded activities include hypothesis-driven research, as well as tools, resources, and capacity-building efforts that support the development or use and application of research.

Applicants are encouraged to focus on four areas: fish health, fish recruitment, lake sturgeon rehabilitation, or lake whitefish recruitment. See the end of this section for additional guidance on the Lake Michigan priority of the GLFT.

Fish Health:

The GLFT’s primary interests are in priorities established by the Fish Health Committee of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission,1 including projects that address one or more of the following:
-Development and validation of new methods for detecting emerging fish pathogens or pathogens of concern in the Great Lakes basin
-Disease ecology and epidemiology
-Nutritional aspects of fish health in the Great Lakes
-Fish pathogen and disease management

The GLFT has greater interest in efforts that yield knowledge, protocols, or practices with application to demonstrated long-term issues of health and/or disease, or to issues of health and disease with relevance to numerous species. Conversely, the GLFT has less interest in efforts limited to a single, specific pathogen or disease outbreak, particularly in circumstances where there is lack of consensus about the severity, persistence, or likelihood of impact of the pathogen or disease and where the timeline for management action is short.

Fish Recruitment:

The GLFT’s primary interests in this category lie in:
-Research that describes and clarifies mechanisms (such as abiotic conditions, predation, competition, or fish health) that affect the reproduction and recruitment of commercially or recreationally important Great Lakes fish species: Among nonsalmonids, research that targets valuable fish populations experiencing recent unexplained declines in abundance, growth and/or condition factor (e.g., lake whitefish and yellow perch), particularly where aligned with interagency research efforts and priorities; Projects related to salmonid recruitment (e.g., steelhead, Chinook, and Coho) may include exploration, development, and application of new technologies and models to better assess natural recruitment and its contribution to adult populations
-Related efforts to build management capacity or collaborative capacity (e.g., conferences and workshops, data-sharing vehicles, synthetic papers)

Lake Sturgeon Rehabilitation:

Comprehensive lake sturgeon rehabilitation will likely be achieved only on a basin wide scale, either for one of the Great Lakes or the entire basin; thus rehabilitation will require the coordination of multiple research and management agencies. Accordingly, all proposals under this research area must be designed to foster the development of new or existing partnerships among fishery agencies and researchers.

The GLFT has sponsored two workshops to identify research priorities regarding lake sturgeon rehabilitation.

The workshop convened in 2000 identified four primary research priorities:
-Status assessment and rapid survey process (consolidation of existing information, design of indicators and survey strategies to provide comprehensive and system wide inventories, and coordination of periodic census efforts)
-Habitat studies (filling information gaps related to habitat utilization by various life- history stages and detailed habitat classification and inventory)
-Fish passage technology for lake sturgeon (design of safe and effective upstream and downstream passage of dams)
-Propagation techniques and strategy development (research and development to improve hatchery production and stocking success)

The workshop convened in 2011 further defined the research priorities regarding fish passage technology for lake sturgeon into the following categories:
-Lake sturgeon behavior during migration and passage: Specific research activities in this category may include telemetry studies that seek to determine if upstream/downstream migratory routes are random or based on stream flow or the behavior of adults and juveniles after entering impoundments.
Physiological consequences of passage: Recent work suggests that passage compromises the physiological condition of sturgeon in general, but individual sturgeon do recover well from a single passage attempt. Research in this category would benefit from studies seeking to determine the physiological impacts of multiple passage attempts, including trap and transfer techniques, and differences related to size, sex, and reproductive condition.
-Passage design, technology, implementation, and development of operational windows: There are many inventive engineering solutions that can be applied to lake sturgeon passage efforts; however, the implementation of these solutions would be greatly enhanced with studies seeking to tie specific technologies with survival rates of adults, juveniles, and larvae.
-Advancement of technologies that improve assessment and monitoring: Perhaps one of the largest gaps to lake sturgeon passage involves how to measure success. Thus, research attempting to deploy novel techniques to quantify movement and theoretical or empirical research attempting to tie passage efforts to population level parameters (e.g., recruitment) would be desirable.

Applicants considering a proposal related to lake sturgeon rehabilitation are strongly encouraged to consult both workshop reports and other biennial conference proceedings.

Lake Whitefish Recruitment:

Lake whitefish has been one of the most highly sought commercial fish species in the Great Lakes for well over a century. Like many native fish species, lake whitefish suffered from the invasion and colonization of sea lamprey, alewife, and rainbow smelt in the 1930s-1940s. However, following implementation of the sea lamprey control program, coupled with the initiation of salmon and trout plantings that both utilized and reduced alewife and rainbow smelt, lake whitefish recovered to historic levels. By the early-1970s, whitefish were the mainstay for the state-licensed commercial fisheries on both lakes, and since the early 1980s, lake whitefish has been the cornerstone for the tribal commercial fishery composing 60-70 percent of total landings.

Strong and consistent reproduction and subsequent recruitment of lake whitefish to the fishable populations in lakes Michigan and Huron during the late 1990s to the early 2000s drove commercial yields to levels not seen in either lake since the early twentieth century. There is growing recognition among management agencies that lake whitefish populations in two of the upper three Great Lakes have experienced a steady and substantial decline over the last 15 years. Additional research is needed to understand the ecosystem dynamics driving these changes, which will then help identify potential management solutions. The GLFT invites proposals that can help advance understanding of ecological factors driving the lake whitefish decline, with an emphasis on recruitment.

Ecosystem Modeling:

Through this theme, the GLFT supports research that models critical ecosystem components essential to sustainable population management of the most valued species. The GLFT will support holistic approaches to understanding interspecies relationships that will provide guidance on the optimum mix of species to produce sustainable benefits with the lowest management/maintenance costs.

Emerging Issues:

This funding theme allows for applications proposing ecological and biological fisheries research (or related capacity building) that is aligned with management needs and the intent of the strategic plan, but beyond the scope of established themes.

This includes:
-Research that bears directly on the intended goals and outcomes expressed in the strategic plan, but lies outside the scope of other articulated GLFT research themes
-Inquiries initiated under a past, duly funded GLFT grant, where results and need warrant continued support but the content is no longer aligned with the priorities expressed in the strategic plan
-Research that bears directly on the priorities and interests expressed in key management documents for the Lake Michigan fishery but lies outside the scope of articulated GLFT research themes

The GLFT has relatively greater interest in this category in efforts that address issues of high management priority or urgency and unmet need. The GLFT will not fund, through this thematic area, research suited to one of its established research theme areas. Additionally, the GLFT does not fund research related to sea lamprey control, inshore fisheries, or the human health effects of environmental toxins present in Great Lakes fish, nor does it fund activities or expenses that have been the traditional responsibility of state natural resource management.

Lake Michigan Priority:

Whether shore-based fishing access, stewardship, dam removals, or fisheries research, all GLFT-funded projects must have benefits directed primarily to the Great Lakes. The settlement agreement establishing the GLFT further requires that priority be given to efforts that benefit the Lake Michigan fishery. Projects outside of the Lake Michigan basin are considered if their results and outcomes are transferable to Lake Michigan. Projects that examine the consequences of environmental pollutants on the recruitment or health of a Great Lakes fish species are eligible.

It is important to note that the GLFT’s Lake Michigan priority emphasizes benefit to the Lake Michigan fishery, as opposed to activity limited to Lake Michigan. In the context of fisheries research, the question is not whether there are “feet on the ground” in Lake Michigan, but whether proposed research will yield high-priority knowledge and information for the Lake Michigan fishery. For example, in some areas of research inquiry, cross-lake comparative efforts may hasten learning, as compared to studies focused exclusively on Lake Michigan. Such cross-lake studies are encouraged. Applicants may wish to consult documents generated by the Lake Michigan Committee of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission to identify research priorities for the Lake Michigan fishery.

Joint Strategic Plan for Management of the Great Lakes Fisheries:

Through its strategic planning, the GLFT established a close relationship between its intentions for support of Ecological and Biological Fisheries Research to Inform Management and A Joint Strategic Plan for Management of the Great Lakes Fisheries (Joint Plan).

The interagency management of fishery resources in the Great Lakes was formalized in the 1980s in the Joint Plan, which provides a process and structure for a consensus approach to fish-community management on each of the Great Lakes. This process, facilitated by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, relies on individual lake committees representing the fishery resource management agencies with management responsibilities on each of the Great Lakes. The lake committees have adopted Fish-Community Objectives for each lake, containing consensus recommendations on goals and objectives for the respective fish communities. The individual lake committees are supported by technical committees, and in many cases, by task or working groups focused on specific species or issues. Through these structures, the management agencies have developed and adopted various planning documents, and routinely identify priority research needs.

As noted in the GLFT’s strategic plan, since the GLFT board and SAT members represent either the agencies involved in the development of the Fish-Community Objectives for Lake Michigan (and other Great Lakes) or the constituent organizations that provided advice, it makes sense that the GLFT’s priorities for management-oriented research support the recommendations contained in the Fish-Community Objectives and the accompanying species plans and research priorities.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 177377

Estimated Size of Grant:

There are no cost or time limitations on grant requests; however, projects will be evaluated on the cost versus the expected benefits, as well as upon the reasonableness of the time requested to complete the project.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Proposals are encouraged from educational, governmental, tribal, and nonprofit institutions with a 501(c)(3) designation from the IRS.

Canadian public and nonprofit organizations also may be eligible, but should contact GLFT staff prior to submitting a proposal.

Pre-Application Information:

This request for proposal (RFP) process will be used for the disbursement of up to $1.0 million in grants in 2018 in two grant categories: (1) Ecological and Biological Fisheries Research to Inform Management; and (2) Social, Economic, and Technology Research to Inform Policy and Practice.

Canadian public and nonprofit organizations should contact GLFT staff prior to submitting a proposal.

The GLFT will accept questions about the submission and review process, as well as funding priorities, via e-mail. Questions received by January 5, 2018, will be posted online with a response so all prospective applicants may benefit from the inquiry and response.

Applications are due by Friday, January 12, 2018, at 5:00 PM EST. Late preliminary proposals will not be accepted.

The Scientific Advisory Team will review the preliminary proposals based upon the GLFT’s Funding Criteria on Tuesday, February 13, 2018.

Invited full proposals will be due on Friday, April 13, 2018. Full proposals will be subjected to external peer review and be evaluated by the SAT. The SAT will then make funding recommendations to the Board of Trustees.

Grants are targeted for award in August 2018.

Budget Forms and Definitions:

Chart of Work Instructions:

Grant Policies:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Applications must be submitted through the GLFT’s Web-based grant management system:

Jonathon Beard, Grant Manager
(517) 371-7468

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

Canada: Alberta   British Columbia   Manitoba   New Brunswick   Newfoundland and Labrador   Northwest Territories   Nova Scotia   Nunavut   Ontario   Prince Edward Island   Quebec   Saskatchewan   Yukon