Evidence of meeting #7 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 habitat.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Siddika Mithani  Assistant Deputy Minister, Ecosystems and Oceans Science, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
  • Claire Dansereau  Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
  • Marc Grégoire  Commissioner, Canadian Coast Guard, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
  • David Balfour  Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Ecosystems and Fisheries Management, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
  • Kevin Stringer  Assistant Deputy Minister, Program Policy, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
  • David Bevan  Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

5 p.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Kootenay—Columbia, BC

I don't want to put you on the spot, but if you say yes, it's okay.

5 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Claire Dansereau

It is an area we're looking at, even for other species, in other parts of B.C. I know that in the central Okanagan, there is some work happening there as well.

I'm not sure. I won't pretend to have an answer, but it's an interesting question. So thank you.

5 p.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Thank you.

October 6th, 2011 / 5 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rodney Weston

Thank you, Mr. Wilks.

I have a couple of questions and maybe even a comment before we move on. I think all members have had a chance to ask some questions.

With respect to the minister's comments about reforming habitat management within the department, I want to echo some comments from my colleagues. I don't come at it from a scientific standpoint; I come at it from a political standpoint.

Mr. Stringer, I believe your comment was that stakeholder feedback was mixed. I can assure you that the feedback I get is not mixed; there tends to be a lot of frustration with the policy and practices. From my point of view, the focus seems to be more on stopping development--that's the public's perspective--than on helping the developers comply with the policy.

I don't know if there needs to be a change of focus in how you approach this, because that's the feedback I get within my office as a local member of Parliament. I have people coming to me who are completely frustrated with it. It seems as if they hit a roadblock, more than anything else, when they deal with officials. Obviously, I get a little more of an enthusiastic response, if you like. People come into my office and talk about how enforcement officials are over-the-top in some of their practices and whatnot. I try to work with the officials to get to where you need to be. If there were more of a focus on helping them comply with the policy, I think the policy would be much better received—and it would make my job a lot easier, as well. Maybe that's what I'm looking for more than anything else.

Also, the minister talked about $1.7 billion of landed value from the fishery. I was surprised that only 10% came from groundfish. That point caught my attention. One of the questions I had was whether aquaculture was included in that $1.7 billion figure.

I see Mr. Balfour shaking his head. Is it not included in that?

5:05 p.m.

Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Ecosystems and Fisheries Management, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Balfour

That's another $1 billion.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rodney Weston

That's another $1 billion.

My question was going to that. It wasn't all that many years ago that I heard a presentation on the world seafood market that noted, I believe, that 60% came from the traditional fishery. At that point in time, 40% came from aquaculture. I'm not sure if that has changed dramatically since, because I know that the trend was taking it in a different direction, and it wouldn't be very long before it would be completely reversed.

I know that you now have responsibility for aquaculture on the west coast. How has the department's focus changed to adjust to meet that change in the dynamics we're seeing in seafood production?

5:05 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Claire Dansereau

There's no question that the ratio has changed. In fact, aquaculture is beyond the wild fishery at this point. We have to remember, though, that in aquaculture we're not just talking about fin fish aquaculture; there's an awful lot of shellfish and molluscs, and all those. There are really big P.E.I. mussels, for example, and others. So we were involved across the country as a department, even before we took over as the regulator in British Columbia. We have a significant role to play, not as a promoter of aquaculture—that's not our job—but in making sure that....

One of the key areas that we constantly have to focus on is the relationship between aquaculture and the wild fishery. On the east coast, you can imagine that we have to be very careful of anything we might do for fin fish aquaculture that might have an impact on lobster.

So we are involved at many different levels, and will continue to be so.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rodney Weston

I'm aware there's shellfish as well within the aquaculture industry. Obviously, within your landed value, shellfish plays a major role here. I'm just wondering if that's where the world trends are going for seafood production. I'm wondering what you are doing as a department to get yourself to that. Or are we staying behind? When I say “staying behind”, I mean are we as a nation continually trying to look at things the way they used to be, rather than trying to focus on where they should be or are going?

5:05 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Claire Dansereau

I wouldn't say we're staying behind. We're very alive to the question, shall we say. As you know, it's also a very lucrative industry and we need to ensure that a lot of the development work happens by the industry itself. We have had some funding programs that are cost-shared to some extent—or at least help to start up certain things—but it's very important that industry take on some of these costs themselves.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rodney Weston

Thank you very much.

We're going to move to a three-minute round because of time constraints.

Mr. Donnelly will start off.

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

We've recently obtained some information that indicates the department wants to cut resources for monitoring and regulating fish stocks. We also understand that DFO wants to move all fisheries to a multi-year cycle, as opposed to it being re-evaluated yearly. I'm wondering if you can comment on that, if it is the case.

5:10 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Claire Dansereau

No, that's not the case. It's not the case that we want to move all fisheries to a multi-year cycle. There's certainly room for us to move to a more multi-year system for the various fisheries in which almost no cycles happen; but there are others that require significant attention on a yearly basis, and that would certainly continue.

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Are you moving any fishery that's normally evaluated on a yearly basis to a multi-year cycle?

5:10 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Claire Dansereau

Yes, I think we actually announced that in the summer.

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

What kind of implication or impact do you think that will have on the management of those fisheries?