Evidence of meeting #33 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 lakes.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Greg Farrant  Manager, Government Affairs and Policy, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters
  • John Van Rooyen  Hatchery Manager, Board of Directors, Bluewater Anglers
  • Terry Quinney  Provincial Manager, Fish and Wildlife Services, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters
  • Kristen Courtney  Committee Researcher

4:15 p.m.

Manager, Government Affairs and Policy, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters

Greg Farrant

I think it's fair to say that in the context of budgetary constraints, it's not just the federal government that's going to play a role here and it's not just the federal government cutbacks that are going to have some impact on invasive species in the Great Lakes, because you will be aware that recently the Ontario budget, which was tabled a couple of days before the federal budget, contained some fairly severe cuts itself. Based on what we see thus far—until you see the regulations and how those are all going to spin out, it's a little difficult to say that a plus b equals c—there is no doubt that the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources is going to suffer under that budget cut. There will probably be a minimum 7% cut to their funding—it could be more—which is a concern to us in the province of Ontario, because where are those cuts coming from?

Equally, any federal cuts to DFO in this particular circumstance could, on the ground, certainly have an impact. We don't know what those are going to be right now, so it's a little premature to speculate.

I can say to you that there are professionals at the department, certainly in the central and Arctic regions, which we work most closely with. There are an astounding number of experts there with great expertise and great commitment to invasive species and the control of invasive species. There is a national alien invasive species strategy under which the government operates and in which provinces have a role to play. They're partners in that. So there is a strategy in place.

Progress has been made in terms of things like ballast water and NOBOBs--“no ballast on board”--emissions of invasive species over the year by changes that were made by Transport Canada. So it's not all doom and gloom.

But there is no doubt at this point in time that we're concerned about where these funding cutbacks could land, what they're going to mean in terms of people, in terms of resources. When you look at international treaties and certainly when you look at the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and its work on sea lamprey, the U.S. has been funding a disproportionate amount of that envelope for years, and the gap is getting a little bigger. Just to bring it back to where Canada should be would require an additional $2.5 million per year. That does not, however, bring either Canada or the United States to the funding level they would need to be at to deliver the entire program that GLFC would like to deliver in order to have an impact on sea lamprey. That dollar value is a bit higher than the two combined values I'm talking about now.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair Fin Donnelly

Thank you.

Ms. Davidson.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Thanks very much, Mr. Chair.

Thanks very much to our presenters today. It's nice to see you.

Jake, thanks for coming. I hope you have better luck getting home than I had getting here. It wasn't a good day to travel.

I have certainly listened intently to what you've had to say, and I know that the Bluewater Anglers have done a great deal in our area to promote sport fishing through stocking the lake, through education, and through the role they have taken in the community for many years. So I congratulate and thank you for that.

I was certainly interested in hearing you talk about how you get your funding, how you raise your money through your membership, and how there is a lack of funding for you from other sources. When you stop and think about the work you've been doing to promote sport fishing in the Great Lakes and the lack of support you've had from government sources, I think that's something we definitely should be looking at.

Even when it comes down to education, I think that's a very important role.

We've talked about different things with the alien species, and we've talked in general about the Asian carp. I want to ask you a few questions in particular about the Asian carp. I know in the Sarnia—Lambton area there have been huge concerns raised for a long time about the possibility of the Asian carp coming in and the negative impacts it's going to have on the industry, which while not as robust as it used to be is still a very robust industry in the Great Lakes area.

Could you talk a little bit about what you see as the main issues with the Asian carp coming in? And could you talk a little bit about the education?

We've also talked about transportation of live fish and Ontario regulations. Do you see that as an issue too?

I'll start with those questions, and then we'll continue on if there is time.

4:20 p.m.

Hatchery Manager, Board of Directors, Bluewater Anglers

John Van Rooyen

Well, to go back to funding, yes, we raise all of our own funds. Funding is a bigger challenge every day for all non-profits and charitable organizations, in that we're competing for the same dollar market. As government makes cutbacks, our funding is reduced.

Sponsorship funding is the biggest thing that has hit us recently. If we need project money, we can go out and lobby one of the big companies. Usually we can generate enough of a case that we can get support, but getting the daily operating funding is very difficult.

On the education front, we typically run 30 to 40 tours a year. We do tourism from outside the area. We do schools. My tours program covers everything from day care kids to the old folks homes. When seniors come into the hatchery and recount their youth and their experiences with fishing, it's one of the most enjoyable things I have to do. It makes my job worthwhile.

I look at this education component when I go back to the kids. If we don't have fish and a fish community for the kids to work with, they're all going to be techno geeks, and we have so much of that now. To get the kids involved in the outdoors, our fish community has to be there. We run an open house every year for the hatchery. We had one just three weeks ago. We had over 2,000 people come through on two days. This is one of our major public education programs.

We run a kids' day at the end of May. Usually we have 150 booked in throughout the day, and every one of those kids will catch a rainbow trout before they leave. We have a stocked pond. They get to know how sport fish react.

If we don't stop things from coming into our Great Lakes, we will not have a sport fishery. The Asian carp is another addition. It's going to attack the existing spawning grounds. The grass carp will rip up the spawning beds we have. The existing habitat keeps disappearing. The zebra mussel has cleared so much water.... Where do the fish hide? We have the cormorant. When it can see the fish, it attacks the fish.

We've done nothing to stop these invasives from coming in. The majority have come in aboard the ocean carriers. Yes, we have started ballast water regulations, but what about the hull? Zebra mussels will come in on the hull of a boat just as easy as the villager will come in on the boat. I've seen the effects of the zebra mussel.

When I was a kid and fished, we could always catch fish. The kids don't have that opportunity today.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Jake, we've heard a bit this afternoon about the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the collaboration of a bunch of different groups and governments and so on. Do groups such as yours that work on the ground have interaction with the commission?

4:25 p.m.

Hatchery Manager, Board of Directors, Bluewater Anglers

John Van Rooyen

No, not with the commission directly. We have interaction through the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and through the OFAH. The OFAH is our greatest communicator. Being that they represent so many clubs, they have a decent voice to put forth our interests. Being of small relative numbers, even though we cover a fairly large area, we have a very small voice.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Sarnia—Lambton, ON

What is your main concern with the Asian carp as a group?

4:25 p.m.

Hatchery Manager, Board of Directors, Bluewater Anglers

John Van Rooyen

What it's going to do to the fishery.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Do you see it having other negative impacts on the community as well?

4:25 p.m.

Hatchery Manager, Board of Directors, Bluewater Anglers

John Van Rooyen

Well, if the silver gets here, for the on-surface boating activities you'll want to be outfitted in an armoured suit to be on a Sea-Doo. If you've seen the tapes that are produced.... It has now become a redneck sport of several different ilks. The one with the bows and arrows is the one that scares me the most.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair Fin Donnelly

I think we're going to have to cut it there.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Okay. Thank you.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair Fin Donnelly

Sorry. We'll go around again.

Mr. MacAulay.

April 23rd, 2012 / 4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I'd like you to continue on the bows and arrows, or whatever....

4:25 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!