Evidence of meeting #39 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 organisms.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Hugh MacIsaac  Professor, Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, University of Windsor, and Director, Canadian Aquatic Invasive Species Network

4:15 p.m.

Prof. Hugh MacIsaac

I really don't work on the treatment side, but there are probably 15 different approaches, some of which are patented, that—

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

Is this the regulation that the U.S. is talking about implementing, or...?

4:15 p.m.

Prof. Hugh MacIsaac

The State of New York had been very aggressive in stating that they wanted a much more stringent ballast water policy than what the IMO was going to implement.

I'll give you an example—the spiny water flea that I'd mentioned, which is a type of zooplankton. If I were to go out and sample in a pond right now, I might find 150 of these organisms, all the different animals combined, in a litre of water. In a cubic metre of water, which is what we normally talk about in shipping, there are 1,000 litres. If we take that pond assemblage, it has about 150,000 individuals per cubic metre of water.

The IMO standard that would apply to this group is that vessels would have to come in with fewer than ten live organisms of that size in their tanks. We're talking about going from a possible 150,000 down to ten.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

Do you test that? How do you know that this organism is out there? How do you know—

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rodney Weston

Sorry, Mr. MacAulay, your time is up.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

Oh, my.

I'm sorry.

4:15 p.m.

Prof. Hugh MacIsaac

We can come back to it.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

It's questionable.

4:15 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rodney Weston

Thank you very much, Mr. MacAulay. As always, your cooperation is appreciated.

Monsieur Tremblay.

May 16th, 2012 / 4:15 p.m.

NDP

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

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, Mr. MacIsaac.

There will probably always be invasive species, and that is why it is so important to have early detection and intervention capacities, as you mentioned in your introduction. Invasive species often come from abroad or from the continent, through the St. Lawrence Seaway or other navigable routes, through the gulf, or by way of surface transport. The bait comes in numerous ways.

Where should we begin in order to improve our early detection and intervention capacity? Are current efforts sufficient to reach that goal?

4:15 p.m.

Prof. Hugh MacIsaac

The Auditor General addressed that question in 2008 and identified what she felt were deficiencies in early detection and rapid response. One of the reasons why Transport, and Fisheries and Oceans, were willing to provide new money for our research network was to specifically address those objectives, so we're doing the best we can with the resources we have available to us.

As I mentioned, given the expense of trying to run some of these analyses, we're restricted in terms of how intensively we can sample. Ideally I'd like to sample 15 ports in the Great Lakes, but we only have funding to sample three on the Great Lakes and one on the St. Lawrence River.

We're using state-of-the-art approaches. Currently, we're the only group in the world that is doing this in an orchestrated fashion. I have colleagues in the United States who are doing this piecemeal. One colleague at Wayne State University in Detroit is sampling the port of Toledo, Ohio, and is using some of the knowledge we've gained to help his study, but he's only sampling one port.

We would like to see a comprehensive, collaborative approach by both the U.S. and Canada as part of this early detection program. Once our sampling of these 16 ports is done, we don't have sufficient funding to go back and resample. We did 14 last summer; we're doing two more in the Arctic this year.

It's not going to be by us, but we ought to have periodic, systematic sampling of key ports throughout Canada. You can't sample all ports, but you would target the ports that you perceive to have the highest risk of new invaders, and then you would go back every five years and resample, and then compare your previous results with your new results to see whether or not you have new invaders.

4:20 p.m.

NDP

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

Thanks to creative and innovative people like those in your group, innovation is happening.

If we compare American investment in invasive species in the Great Lakes to Canadian investments, we see that there is quite a difference.

Should we invest more, here, so as to increase our effectiveness?

4:20 p.m.

Prof. Hugh MacIsaac

As I mentioned, the U.S. does not have this systematic approach that we're using.

We met with the science agency called the NSF a couple of weeks ago to see if they would be willing to fund American colleagues so that they could do the type of work we're doing. A number of other agencies, NOAA and EPA, are interested in doing this and using the Canadian model.

On the one hand, to answer your question, there is a Great Lakes Protection Fund, which last year had hundreds of millions of dollars. A lot of it went for salary support and things like that, but very clearly they had strongly ramped up their surveying, but it was only for one year. They have $50 million this year. I think they had $800 million last year, so it has been cut dramatically. Still, $50 million is a lot of money for restoration projects, and some of that is going to be dedicated to invasive species.

Currently, the U.S. is probably investing more. Ours is more stable, but at a lower level.

I certainly would like to see more, particularly for this type of surveillance. I don't think you can consider it a one-off when you have to come back repeatedly to see whether or not the high-risk areas are being colonized by new invaders. That takes money.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rodney Weston

Thank you, Mr. Tremblay.

Mr. Kamp.