Evidence of meeting #32 for Fisheries and Oceans in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was species.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • David Gillis  Director General, Ecosystems and Oceans Science Sector, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
  • David Burden  Acting Regional Director General, Central and Arctic Region, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
  • Michelle Wheatley  Regional Director, Science, Central and Arctic Region, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

4:45 p.m.

Director General, Ecosystems and Oceans Science Sector, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Gillis

I wouldn't comment on your process.

4:45 p.m.

NDP

Ryan Cleary St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Would that be your advice, though? I heard you get a little political earlier.

4:45 p.m.

Director General, Ecosystems and Oceans Science Sector, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Gillis

We'll keep you as apprised as we can as to what our deadline is on the socio-economic component of the study.

4:45 p.m.

NDP

Ryan Cleary St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

I was surprised about the $2 million figure for all of Canada for invasive species. I know you were asked earlier about whether or not that's low or if that's enough to carry out all the work that needs to be done.

But it does seem like peanuts. Look at that statement as a question.

4:45 p.m.

Director General, Ecosystems and Oceans Science Sector, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Gillis

Well, I'm not sure what else I could add to what I said earlier. As I say, we have $2 million for the general program for AIS and it's broken up into a number of components. We're able to have all of those components of a national program.

Obviously any program can use more money to make it a bit bigger, but with these resources—setting aside the sea lamprey as a bit of a special case, a long-established management program—we have been able to do the key pieces of work that have been necessary, even in the case of Asian carp, to do the binational risk assessment.

The quality of that work is very, very high, and our partners are very pleased with what we've been able to do. I think we have a program that is making best use of the dollars we have available for it.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rodney Weston

Thank you, Mr. Cleary.

Mr. Sopuck.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Thank you.

I'm interested in returning to the sea lamprey. What is the mortality rate of fish that have been attacked by sea lamprey, and is there a difference between the salmonids versus a thicker-skinned fish like a walleye?

4:45 p.m.

Director General, Ecosystems and Oceans Science Sector, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Gillis

I'm not sure I have that knowledge. In fact, I'm sure I don't.

4:45 p.m.

Regional Director, Science, Central and Arctic Region, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Michelle Wheatley

I think a lot depends on the size of the sea lamprey and the size of the fish that's attacked. I think once it gets through the skin, it doesn't matter how thick is it. Once it's through, it's through. But I don't have the rates.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

I was interested in the comment where you said that when you relaxed the sea lamprey control, the numbers of sea lampreys went up. Do you see an associate increase in scarring in fish and then a decrease once you get back on track with the lamprey control?

4:45 p.m.

Regional Director, Science, Central and Arctic Region, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Michelle Wheatley

The wounding rates, especially on the lake trout, are used as one of the measures of success. That's monitored, and those come from the commercial fishermen reporting the wounding rates they're seeing.

In general, if you look back on the historical data, there has been a decrease in the wounding rates. Some of the numbers are up a bit at the moment. We're working on some of that to figure out why the numbers of sea lamprey are down but the wounding rate is up. That may also depend on the numbers of fish that are there and the opportunities that are there.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Okay. What is the cycle of aquatic invasive species in terms of an initial population explosion versus later populations? Do they level out on their own?

4:50 p.m.

Director General, Ecosystems and Oceans Science Sector, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Gillis

I'm generalizing, but they probably could. I know of other instances, though, where a species has become established in a localized area and can exist for quite some time but then go through a period of breakout once the animal gets fully adapted to its new ecosystem.

This is the pattern we saw on green crab. They have been on the east coast of North America for several hundred years but confined to several bays down around Chesapeake and the Potomac area. In the last 50 to 70 years, since the Second World War, they have broken out and are migrating up the coast in a fairly aggressive fashion.

4:50 p.m.

Acting Regional Director General, Central and Arctic Region, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Burden

If I could add to what David was saying, it really is species-dependent. If we look at the Asian carp and what we're seeing in the United States and the Mississippi watershed, there is a lot of sound science telling us that basically anywhere between 80% and 90% of the biomass is Asian carp.

Some things can get in and get established, and it's about the degree of impact. You can have a lot of them, but it doesn't really impact the native ecosystem. If you get something like Asian carp and you see what's happening in the Mississippi delta, that's a different story.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

My line of questioning relates to focusing our work on exactly what the problem is. To carry on with that theme, there are invasive species, and the green crab was really interesting. That's a native species that all of a sudden is expanding its range.

We have a couple of other species, for example, the smelt in Lake Winnipeg and the alewife in the Great Lakes, and they have become very important forage fish for very important economic fisheries. The system has kind of adapted to those species being there, and they probably wouldn't be a target of these efforts, right?