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 funding.

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

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

Thank you for being here. I certainly appreciate what you're doing. I'm well aware of how valuable a fishing community is, coming from the east coast of this country—different, but very dependent, much more dependent, possibly, than you are.

Mr. Farrant, you were talking about the funding. As I understood from your statement, you're quite concerned about the provincial reduction and somewhat concerned about the federal reduction. What's the breakdown on who provides how much for invasive species funding? How is that broken down?

4:25 p.m.

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

Greg Farrant

Thank you, Mr. MacAulay.

It comes from various envelopes and various departments. Federally, the Department of the Environment has provided funding envelopes for projects on invasive species. As I said, the alien invasive species partnership program was funded until just recently by some funding from Environment Canada, which traditionally has had the lead on invasive species because it covers also terrestrial invasives. DFO does have funding envelopes for invasive species. The former minister, the Honourable Gail Shea, was at our conference a year or two ago and announced a small amount of funding from DFO for our invasive species program.

Provincially, the Ministry of Natural Resources provides us with approximately $300,000 a year in funding, which we match. We contribute equal to what they put into it. There are various pockets, little bits, dribs and drabs, that go on throughout the year and that come from various tiny little spots. But when you look at the magnitude of the problem, the amount of funding that is provided....

Again, I must stress that this is not indicative of this particular government. This is a chronic underfunding issue. I mean, I personally have worked for the federation for 11 years, and I've been arguing for more funding for invasive species for 11 years. This issue around sea lamprey funding goes back into the nineties, the early nineties. It wasn't until 2003 that the Ministry of Natural Resources in Ontario formally stepped up and started to provide funding towards this.

So there are various pockets from various ministries. We certainly put money where our mouth is in terms of OFAH contributing to this. I've lost track of how many biologists we employ. Dr. Quinney can probably tell you. Between aquatic and terrestrial invasive species, we probably have no less than about eight full-time people working on this issue. They are all biologists. The Ontario Invasive Plant Council is now based at OFAH head office.

We take this very seriously, and we put our own money into this every year. We work with 150 cottage associations across the province and all of the commissions you can think of. Public education and awareness has been a focus of our program from day one.

I have left with the clerk some packages just as an example of what our program actually does on the ground.

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

You mentioned that DFO was presenting a rosy picture, and I don't think you felt the picture was quite as rosy as they were presenting. I'd like you to expand on that.

In that, I would like you also to talk about the relationship between your organization and the U.S., looking at, I think, your providing less funding per capita than you were. Are you having difficulty, or more difficulty, or are Americans just deciding that they're going to take care of this issue themselves?

4:30 p.m.

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

Greg Farrant

Do you want to speak to that? You go ahead.

4:30 p.m.

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

Dr. Terry Quinney

Thank you.

I believe Mr. Farrant was trying to demonstrate that on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes there is a greater proportional contribution to the protection and enhancement of the Great Lakes on the fisheries side and the aquatic invasive side.

Having said that, we do want to emphasize the continued importance of partnerships, and the key role the federal Government of Canada has. The prevention, control, and management of aquatic invasive species is a perfect example of this. Federal departments, such as DFO and Environment Canada, have developed expertise that is now world-renowned. You do not want to compromise that expertise. Other agencies, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources for example, have additional expertise.

The point is that partnerships also provide leveraging. We've never said that the responsibility for prevention, control, and management of all aquatic invasive species across Canada is only a federal responsibility. We've never said that. You've heard us say that we're all in this together, but we have individual contributions to make and we have individual responsibilities. There are federal responsibilities here, in our opinion, and they are clear. There are provincial responsibilities as well.

We'd be the first to admit these are very difficult financial times, but my gosh, let's keep our eye on the ball, meaning benefits to people, society, governments, economic benefits, return on investment. You've heard about the $7 billion in the case of recreational fishing alone. What's the investment for that return? On the Canadian side, it has been $8 million. The grand total, by the way, is about $25 million a year, two-thirds from the Americans. For $25 million, with reference to sea lamprey control, we're all receiving benefits in the order of $7 billion. Surely that is an admirable rate of return on investment. But we say we can increase that return. We can increase the benefits. Please don't compromise our ability to optimize those benefits by cutting so badly that we won't recover.

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

Am I done?

April 23rd, 2012 / 4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rodney Weston

You're done.

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

I thought that. Thank you very much.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rodney Weston

Thank you, Mr. MacAulay.

Now we'll move to the five-minute round, and we'll start with Mr. Tremblay.

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Tremblay Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Thank you for coming to testify to the committee.

You provide several pieces of advice to recreational boaters in order to prevent the spread of invasive species, such as draining ballast water or water from engines, emptying bait buckets on land and washing boats and equipment with hot water from a tap or a pressure washer.

To what extent do recreational and commercial fishermen follow your advice?

4:35 p.m.

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

Greg Farrant

I'd be happy to respond to that.

For our Ontario invasive species program at OFAH, across Ontario you will see signs at marinas, whether they be at boat ramps or in marinas themselves, in hundreds of locations across Ontario. Our invasive species staff work with marine operators and bait operators to educate the public about the need to wash and spray boats and the need to not transmit boats from one water body to another and to not dump bait buckets in foreign waters where the bait didn't come from, etc.

And yes, it does have an impact. The packages we brought today and have left with the clerk contain some information about those programs that we operate with, again, the cottage associations and whatnot. These are on-the-ground programs that do not cost a lot of money but have tremendous impacts on the ground, in the lakes, and in the waters. It's the type of thing where, for very little money, you can see big dividends.

When we were before this committee in 2003 and 2005 and talking about similar issues, we proposed at that time a national public education and awareness program that would deal with exactly those issues that you've raised, sir. At that time, and in fact still to this day, for the sum of $1.4 million and change, we could and we can deliver a national public education and awareness program across Canada to address those very issues, the issues you raise, with boaters and with bait operators and what not. I dare say, with all due respect to the government, that there isn't a government in this country that can deliver that kind of program on the ground for that dollar value. We can do that. It doesn't take huge pots of money to make a difference.

I know it's easy to come to government. Everybody comes to government with their hands out, and I know you guys get tired of it and the province gets tired of it, and I recognize why.

We will make a recommendation that you will see attached to your package today. One of the things you can do that costs not a dollar up front is to simply amend the regulation to stop the importation of live Asian carp into Canada. That costs no money, except for perhaps increased vigilance at the border, which is already happening. But it's not like we're coming here and saying that it's going to cost you $10 million to implement that. It costs nothing but an amendment of a regulation to expand it across the country, which will stop those fish from coming into this country over that route.

Yes, other things that we have recommended do have price tags attached to them, and we recognize that we're in a time of restraint, both provincially and federally, but for the programs you referred to with bait operators, marine operators, boaters, and people who fish on the ground, those programs have a huge impact. They work—and they don't cost a lot of money.

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Tremblay Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Thank you. You answered the question I was going to ask.

If it were mandatory to follow the advice you provide, do you believe that it would be followed to a greater extent, that things would be done more effectively?

4:35 p.m.

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

Dr. Terry Quinney

My quick response is that prevention through, for example, public education wherever possible is a very effective tool for the tool box. There are many tools from the tool box that are required to successfully address this very large nationwide problem associated with both aquatic and terrestrial invasive species. Use as many of those tools as possible, in the most efficient and most cost-effective manner. Public education is one; regulation is another, as Mr. Farrant referred to.

From where we sit, in the province of Ontario, it's illegal to import live Asian carp. That's very good. The federal government, in cooperation with the province, DFO, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and the Canadian border security services, is having success in enforcing that law at the border between Ontario and the United States. But—my gosh—these critters could be imported into Montreal and then just trucked down the road to Toronto. Hypothetically, they could come in from Winnipeg to Thunder Bay, etc. That's what Mr. Farrant is alluding to.

We understand that the federal government and DFO are currently working on perhaps those very types of regulations, so let's get on with them. But in addition, as Mr. Farrant said, this is not only about money; there are other things that particularly the Government of Canada can be doing. We have recommendations specifically with reference to Asian carp prevention. To their credit, the United States of America have a federal law that forbids the interstate movement or interstate transport of injurious harmful species. Asian carp is on the list. So why are Asian carp still reaching the Canadian border at Windsor and Sarnia? Perhaps, diplomatically speaking, the Government of Canada could ask the Government of the United States of America to fully enforce the Lacey Act.

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rodney Weston

Thank you very much.

Mr. Sopuck.

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Many thanks.

Mr. Van Rooyen, you talked about the effect of zebra mussels on the Pacific salmon fishery in Lake Huron. How have other fish species, such as rainbow trout, for example, responded to the zebra mussel?