Evidence of meeting #35 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 lamprey.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Okay. And how is it being differentiated between American and Canadian waters, with the ships going through?

4:50 p.m.

Director and Chair, Fisheries Committee, Georgian Bay Association

John Wilson

I do not know how they will be able to do that. It may well end up being the end port. If the ship is coming into the Great Lakes and it is going to stop with its load at a Canadian port, it may well be allowed to do that. If it's going to then go and pick up product at a U.S. port, it would then have a problem if it doesn't have ballast water technology on board.

Each of the U.S. states—certainly Michigan, Wisconsin, New York—put in their own ballast water quality standards. Some were 100 times stronger than what the U.S. Coast Guard has just announced. At this point, I think we were away for about one or two months, but the standards that New York State had put in were going to shut down all the shipping this year.

I believe there was an agreement with the U.S. Coast Guard that said to the states, if you will withdraw your ballast water standards, we will implement these for all of the Great Lakes. I believe that is how we ended up getting a common standard. Everyone is in agreement on the American side. All of the states are in agreement on this standard. Part of the agreement was that they would look at whether they will move it up to the 100 times stronger standard by 2016.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Sarnia—Lambton, ON

I can't remember which one of you were speaking to the slide that said “current status”. A comment was made about the IJC. I don't know if I heard you correctly. Did you say the IJC does not seem to be taking this seriously enough, or they are?

4:50 p.m.

Executive Director, Georgian Bay Association

Robert Duncanson

No, it was in the audience as we were at the IJC forum. We were hearing the presentations from the various scientists. There just seemed to be this silence about preventative measures on the Asian carp when we had just gone through a day and half worth of the damage and the cost of controlling the ones that are already in.

It just seems to us, as members of the public, frustrating to not hear somebody stand up and say, “Guess what, guys? It's going to cost us a fraction of the amount to stop these things from coming in as it would to chase them.” The Asian carp, I should point out, unlike the lamprey, does not need rivers to procreate. It's going to be really difficult to interrupt their breeding cycle.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Sarnia—Lambton, ON

What do you see these permanent barriers looking like? How do you see that working?

4:50 p.m.

Executive Director, Georgian Bay Association

Robert Duncanson

Permanent barriers. The biggest challenge we've heard, or one of the biggest push-backs, is the canal barges in the Chicago area. To be honest with you, I'm not an expert in this area at all, but I don't see why you can't have roll-on, roll-off barges coming up to this barrier in between—save jobs and save the barging industry—and create this concrete or land barrier that will separate in real terms the two bodies of water, as they once were.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rodney Weston

Thank you, Ms. Davidson.

4:50 p.m.

Director and Chair, Fisheries Committee, Georgian Bay Association

John Wilson

The U.S. Coast Guard will be producing their report by 2015, in which they will outline these options: how they would go about producing a permanent barrier, as well as any other options they have been able to come up with. Until that time, the U.S. will continue to have to spend $51.5 million per year to kill off as many of the Asian carp as they can in the rivers leading up to Lake Michigan.

4:50 p.m.

Executive Director, Georgian Bay Association

Robert Duncanson

I would like to think there's a creative solution that is a win-win, and that we can appeal to the merchants or businesses that are threatened by a permanent barrier, yet achieve this ethological separation.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rodney Weston

Thank you very much.

Mr. Toone.

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thanks for your presentations.

I especially like the slide on regime change. It's astounding to see how much change can happen in such a short time. It's truly frightening, in fact.

If I could speak to you, Mr. Duncanson, or both of you in fact, your members are particularly interested in controlling the Asian carp. Are they looking at other species, or is this their main concern, that particular species?

4:50 p.m.

Executive Director, Georgian Bay Association

Robert Duncanson

As John pointed out, last fall, when thousands of waterfowl washed up on Wasaga Beach, the smoking gun was the round goby and the quagga mussel. They were critical in bringing that botulism into the food chain, and that catches the attention of the public.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

I have to agree; this particular slide certainly takes you back.

4:55 p.m.

Executive Director, Georgian Bay Association

Robert Duncanson

If you go back and look at the history of botulism, and this kind of kill-off, it's only in the past couple of decades that we have been seeing regular occurrences of this. It's a bit of a perfect storm. It's not just the invasive species; it's a bit of the warming of the water. It's the clarity, which is also invasive-species-related, in that the zebra mussels and quagga mussels are now clearing out the water columns, so that the sun is penetrating lower and growing algae at the bottom of some of these lakes that have never had algae growth there before. It's a bit of a perfect storm that this is happening there.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

The change is happening so quickly that one of the concerns I have is that we're not really sure where this change is leading to. We don't know what species is going to be affected next. It's all new science. Frankly, the cutbacks at DFO are of great concern to me, that we might not be able to keep up with the science.

We're talking about now changing the Fisheries Act, so that we no longer protect habitat, we're only going to protect fish—and only commercially interesting fish—against serious harm. I'm not sure we even know what that is. I don't think we can predict any of this. I'm worried that the changes to DFO are actually going to compound this issue.

Do your members have any comments on that?