Evidence of meeting #36 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 things.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Tim Purdy  Vice-President, Purdy Fisheries Limited
  • Peter Meisenheimer  Executive Director, Ontario Commercial Fisheries' Association

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

Well, I hope not.

Peter, I wouldn't ever mention the study to Tim after what he stated about studies, but I understand that on the American side there's a study done indicating that the impact of invasive species is $180 million to $800 million a year. Was any of that done on the Canadian side, or not?

4:30 p.m.

Executive Director, Ontario Commercial Fisheries' Association

Peter Meisenheimer

It's very difficult to know sometimes. The Army Corps of Engineers and the organization—whose acronym I forget—of governments and mayors on the U.S. side just commissioned a study, and none of the Canadian numbers were included in it. So it's not at all clear to me that the numbers that are put forward are comprehensive at any point in time.

I've heard numbers for annual impact considerably higher than that. It's a bit of a mug's game, I think, to try to put a dollar value on it.

It's a lot of money to us. Speaking on behalf of our industry, it has clearly had a profound effect on the viability of our industry for half a century or three-quarters of a century.

May 2nd, 2012 / 4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

I take it, listening to you, that you're not against having environmental reviews before projects take place.

Also, before you get going, I'd like you to—because my time is short here, if I don't get the questions in.... The Fisheries Act could, in the budget implementation bill, bring in changes on possession, import, export, and the release of invasive species.

I wonder whether you have any recommendation to the committee. We've heard a lot of different suggestions—and no doubt it's probably factual—that it comes in, it's flushed down toilets, you find it in ponds. Would you have some advice for the committee as to what type of regulation should be put in place in order to make sure that it's not just imported into the country?

4:30 p.m.

Executive Director, Ontario Commercial Fisheries' Association

Peter Meisenheimer

I'm a major proponent of risk management as a way of dealing with fisheries issues generally as long as it is fully open, transparent, and accountable to stakeholders. I think this is an issue that could very well be structured through that kind of approach very productively. For example, I can't think of any credible reason why anybody should be allowed to bring a snakehead into Canada alive.

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

But do they?

4:30 p.m.

Executive Director, Ontario Commercial Fisheries' Association

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

Is there anything that can stop them?

4:30 p.m.

Executive Director, Ontario Commercial Fisheries' Association

Peter Meisenheimer

It's a very thin border. It's very difficult. When we were dealing with the Asian carp stuff, the Ministry of Natural Resources people approached the Border Services guys, and I am told the Canadian Border Services guys were just effusive in their gratitude. They had nothing. They didn't understand the issue. They didn't understand the technology that was being used to transport these things. They didn't know how to identify the fish. There are many fish that can be moved in legally that are carried in exactly the same tanker trucks in which the Asian carp come in.

Something like the snakehead may not even necessarily be brought in predominantly for the food trade in these live markets in Markham and north Toronto. There is interest in them from aquarium collectors as well. The problem with them is they get huge. People think they're cool when they're little, but when they get big, well, they're not so cool anymore. It's fairly clear that some of these exotics that are crawling around the United States right now were brought in by the aquarium trade, without much in the way of permitting required at all.

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

It would be education that's missing there too, wouldn't you think, Peter? The fact of the matter is, I do not believe society in general wants to destroy things, but people do not realize what harm they're doing when they bring this stuff in.

4:30 p.m.

Executive Director, Ontario Commercial Fisheries' Association

Peter Meisenheimer

That's it up to a point. I think actually there was a lot of real clarity about what Asian carp did when they were brought into the United States. They were brought in with the express purpose of cleaning up nutrient-rich waters that were nutrient rich because they were polluted. They were polluted in part through aquaculture activities and agricultural activities. They were deliberately released by people with the full knowledge that these things would go out and filter the water clear. Nobody thought about what came next. It was not part of the thought process.

There's an awful lot of revisionist history that's been circulated around these things from the folks down in Arkansas and elsewhere in the southern States. The U.S. state agencies were deliberately releasing these things into bayous to clean them up. It was no surprise to anybody when they got loose.

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

I'm sorry, but they cut me off.

4:30 p.m.

Executive Director, Ontario Commercial Fisheries' Association

Peter Meisenheimer

Did I use up all your time?

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

No. It's good. We need to hear that.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rodney Weston

Thank you very much.

We'll move to the five-minute rounds now, and Mr. Donnelly will lead off.

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Welcome to our witnesses. To the Purdy family, I appreciate your passionate testimony, and the same goes for Mr. Meisenheimer as well.

I'll start with Mr. Purdy. You mentioned the shipping industry as a real focal point. We heard earlier this week, on Monday, at our standing committee here about U.S. changes to legislation that are coming. I'm wondering if you've seen those drafts, if you know about that, if you feel those changes go far enough for the American side, and if there's anything related to shipping on the Canadian side that you could recommend this committee should look into, or if you have any suggestions or recommendations on that.