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

5:15 p.m.

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

Greg Farrant

I cannot speak to the sea lamprey or the Asian carp, but to give you an example, three or four years ago the potential for round goby getting into Lake Simcoe was identified. Of course Lake Simcoe in Ontario had been the focus of a lot of activity in terms of its water quality and its protection. We participated in an exercise with Pefferlaw Creek, which feeds into Lake Simcoe and was judged to be the source of where these gobies would breach the lake, so to speak.

Essentially the exercise involved several different jurisdictions and agencies. They got together, went in, and pre-fished this thing, took out as many of the normal fish species as they could, and then just bombed that particular creek. I think rotenone was used to wipe out everything in existence. It was very serious. We had the cooperation of the municipality, and the local residents had to be involved. Everybody was on the ground, knew what was happening, and was involved in it. Did it work? No.

So you take extreme measures like that—and that's an extreme measure—where you close down an entire creek body for a period and just bomb the hell out of it with a poison that kills everything that's in there that hasn't been fished out of there in the first place, and it still doesn't work. That shows you how pervasive the problem is.

I have been to bait dealers in Ontario, who just by virtue of the fact that they did not know—and this is where education is so important—if you buy sucker minnows or something like that to fish with, you see goby in the tank that look very similar to the minnows in their bait tanks. This is why it's important that we have those types of things.

The Pefferlaw example is a good example of how difficult these things are to eradicate once they get in. Going back to Mr. Donnelly's question, when Dr. Quinney refers to the risk assessment the DFO and the U.S. have done on the Asian carp, this is critically important, because they've done great work up front: DFO, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, and the U.S. authorities. This is going to be released shortly, within a matter of a week or two. This risk assessment lays out where we're going with this, and what happens if this happens, and it tells you what the map is to try to deal with it. We don't often have the ability to do that. The case of a goby is one small example that shows you how difficult it is. Once they are here, they are not going away.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rodney Weston

Thank you.

Mr. Kamp.

April 23rd, 2012 / 5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, gentlemen, for appearing. We appreciate it, and of course we appreciate the initiative of Ms. Davidson and Mr. Hayes in bringing this issue to our attention as a committee.

First let me say we're looking forward to that study as well to see the socio-economic analysis that comes with that. I know you'll be familiar with the fairly recent report from the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, which they call “Restoring the Natural Divide”. I think you referred to it, Dr. Quinney, as well.

Are you of the opinion that the only good answer or permanent answer to the problem of the Asian carp making it into the Great Lakes is some kind of natural divide between the Mississippi basin and the Great Lakes?

5:20 p.m.

Provincial Manager, Fish and Wildlife Services, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters

Dr. Terry Quinney

Professionally, I agree that physical separation of those basins is the best permanent solution. That would greatly reduce the risk of carp invasion into the Great Lakes basin, for example. This is a two-way street. You've heard that there are already 150 invasives in the Great Lakes basin. We want to prevent their transfer into the Mississippi basin as well. But this is a war, so to speak, that needs to be fought on several fronts, not only in the Chicago waterway system. That's one of the fronts. It's a very important front. It might be the leading front in the war, but it's not the only front.

Your members expressed concern about the continued demand for Asian carp through the live food trade, to be consumed by people in Canada, in places such as Toronto. There's another front of this war that we have not successfully fought yet, and we need to keep fighting on that front as well.

So there are several pathways for Asian carp. Right now, Chicago is among the most important. Physical separation is absolutely necessary, as you'll see if you invite representatives from the Great Lakes Commission and the Great Lakes cities initiative. There are feasible ways to accomplish this, but it needs to be done cooperatively. That's why, by the way, one of our recommendations is that the Government of Canada endorse this very important initiative of the Great Lakes Commission and the Great Lakes cities initiative.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, BC

Thank you for that. I think that is a good point—that there are other avenues that require both regulatory and educational initiatives as well, to be able to at least interfere with those pathways.

With regard to your comment, which has been referred to already, about whether DFO's analysis or evaluation of things was too rosy, Mr. Gillis, who was with us, said—and we were talking about sea lamprey—that with the money that was available for that program they were “able to put in place all the components of a full-blown program, everything from the understanding of the science all the way through to the mitigation and monitoring programs, and more recently the regulatory package”. That's a quote from him.

But in your comments you refer to still not being able to meet the targets, at least in some of the Great Lakes. Could you elaborate on that? What are the targets, for example? Are they percentages? How are they measured? Although we may not meet the targets, are levels declining? Are they getting better or worse?

Mr. Farrant.

5:25 p.m.

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

Greg Farrant

I'll speak to the generalities, and then I'll let Dr. Quinney refer to the actual percentages.

If you go through them one by one, for Lake Erie, the spawner abundance estimate is nearly six times the target range, and although it's lower than the record high abundance observed during 2009, spawner abundance remains at a pre-control level. After all these years and all the efforts, it remains at pre-control level.

In Lake Huron, the abundance estimate is above the target range and has fluctuated widely since 1980.

In Lake Michigan, the abundance level is above the target range. It has declined over the past several years. There are still some specific concerns there.

In Lake Superior, the abundance level is above the target range for the fourth consecutive year. There are several sources of concern, particularly the Black Sturgeon River, due to uncertainty regarding the future of the de facto sea lamprey barrier that is in place on that river.

In Lake Ontario, the abundance level is above the target range but has been low for more than 25 years. That's the only lake of the five in which there are no known sources of concern at this moment.

Maybe Dr. Quinney would like to talk about percentages.

5:25 p.m.

Provincial Manager, Fish and Wildlife Services, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters

Dr. Terry Quinney

I'm not sure if it's necessary to get into the real details here, except to simply add to what Mr. Farrant says in this regard. A very painstaking, comprehensive, and thorough analysis is conducted by the commission to establish these targets. All of the agencies buy into these targets, and then they work on killing the lamprey so they are below those target levels. That's what they try to do.

To paraphrase what you heard DFO say, they get the results they get with the resources they have and provide. That is true. We insist, however, that returns to people, society, and a healthy ecosystem will be significantly better if the allocation from the federal government of Canada to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission is increased from $8 million to $11.6 million.

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rodney Weston

Thank you very much, Mr. Kamp.

Mr. Donnelly.

5:30 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Do we have an idea of when our draft copy will be returning to the committee?

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rodney Weston

Kristen.

5:30 p.m.

Kristen Courtney Committee Researcher

I'll have it to translation for next Tuesday, May 1. They tell me they can have it back to be distributed to all of you on May 9.

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rodney Weston

Thank you very much, Mr. Donnelly.

Gentlemen, thank you very much for taking the time from your busy schedules to appear before the committee today. I apologize for my tardiness here. I want to thank Mr. Donnelly for very graciously filling in for me. We really appreciate everything you've provided to this committee today, and we certainly look forward to continuing our study on invasive species.

If you have anything further you want to add to what you've brought to the table today you can certainly send that through to the clerk's office to the attention of the committee.

5:30 p.m.

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

Greg Farrant

People indicated they would like follow-ups on two or three things, and we will certainly get them to the clerk for all members of the committee expeditiously.

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rodney Weston

Thank you very much.

5:30 p.m.

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

Greg Farrant

Thank you very much.