An Act respecting the Marine Mammal Regulations (seal fishery observation licence)

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.


Greg Kerr  Conservative

Introduced as a private member’s bill.


This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment requires the Governor in Council to amend the Marine Mammal Regulations to increase the distance that a person must maintain from another person who is fishing for seals, except under the authority of a seal fishery observation licence.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


May 28, 2014 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.

June 18th, 2015 / 4:20 p.m.
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The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I have the honour to inform the House that when the House did attend His Excellency the Governor General in the Senate Chamber, His Excellency was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:

Bill C-247, An Act to expand the mandate of Service Canada in respect of the death of a Canadian citizen or Canadian resident—Chapter 15.

Bill C-452, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons)—Chapter 16.

Bill C-591, An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan and the Old Age Security Act (pension and benefits)—Chapter 17.

Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act—Chapter 18.

Bill S-6, An Act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act and the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act—Chapter 19.

Bill C-51, An Act to enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 20.

Bill C-46, An Act to amend the National Energy Board Act and the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act—Chapter 21.

Bill C-2, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act,—Chapter 22.

Bill C-26, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act and the Sex Offender Information Registration Act, to enact the High Risk Child Sex Offender Database Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 23.

Bill C-63, An Act to give effect to the Déline Final Self-Government Agreement and to make consequential and related amendments to other Acts—Chapter 24.

Bill C-66, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2016—Chapter 25.

Bill C-67, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2016—Chapter 26.

Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Firearms Act and the Criminal Code and to make a related amendment and a consequential amendment to other Acts—Chapter 27.

Bill C-555, An Act respecting the Marine Mammal Regulations (seal fishery observation licence)—Chapter 28.

Bill S-7, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Civil Marriage Act and the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 29.

Bill C-12, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act—Chapter 30.

Bill C-52, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and the Railway Safety Act—Chapter 31.

Bill S-4, An Act to amend the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act—Chapter 32.

Bill S-2, An Act to amend the Statutory Instruments Act and to make consequential amendments to the Statutory Instruments Regulations—Chapter 33.

Marine Mammal RegulationsPrivate Members' Business

February 17th, 2015 / 7:10 p.m.
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Ryan Cleary NDP St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, I begin this speech on one of the most controversial of Canadian topics, the seal hunt, with one of the country's most controversial commentators, Don Cherry.

Don Cherry, who has made his career on and around the ice, recently took a shot at the Newfoundland and Labrador ice industry, our seal hunt. It was a Saturday night earlier this month on Hockey Night in Canada. Don Cherry was doing his usual Coach's Corner, with his CBC sidekick, Ron MacLean. MacLean was actually in St. John's, Newfoundland, for Rogers Hometown Hockey, and he mentioned during the segment how he had eaten a seal burger for lunch that day. The seal burger was prepared by Chef Todd Perrin of Mallard Cottage in Quidi Vidi Village in east end St. John's, one of our finest restaurants. Indeed, we have some of the finest restaurants in Canada.

Don Cherry's immediate reaction to the mention of a seal burger was disgust. That is what I saw in his face. “Imagine eating a baby seal”, Cherry said, before questioning whether McLean was a savage or a barbarian. It was hard to tell whether Don Cherry was serious, or whether he was just ribbing MacLean, which is what he often does. However, the immediate reaction in Newfoundland and Labrador to Don Cherry's comments was not good. To slight the seal hunt is to slight Newfoundland and Labrador, more so than any other slight, from “Newfie” on down. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians take any criticism of the seal hunt as a direct personal attack, not just against us and who we are as a people, but also against our forefathers and our very outpoured souls. To attack the seal hunt is to attack Newfoundland and Labrador. To attack the seal hunt is to poke the bear that is the fighting Newfoundlander. One does not joke about the seal hunt. We are not ready for that yet. The constant attacks on the hunt have left a wound that is still much too raw. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are sensitive, and for good reason.

In the words of Bernie Halloran, the owner of a small outerwear shop in downtown St. John's that has been selling seal products for 30 years, sealing is the most bullied industry on the planet. Bernie Halloran said that in a letter he wrote to Don Cherry.

Don Cherry later issued what was more of a clarification than an apology. He said he had no problem with people who hunt seals and no problem with seal meat, but also said, “I do however find it very unusual, in my world, that a person would go into a restaurant and order a seal burger for lunch.” That may be unusual to Don Cherry in Don Cherry's world, but it is not unusual in my world. Flipper pie is a true Newfoundland and Labrador delicacy, and the best meat by far that I have ever eaten is seal tenderloin fried on a cast iron pan with butter, salt, and pepper and left for 15 minutes. It is heaven on a plate.

Don Cherry may know hockey, but he does not know Newfoundland and Labrador. He does not know our people. He does not know our cultural industry. At what point did Don Cherry become soft? To quote a constituent, “Go buy Rock 'Em Sock 'Em 97, where grown men punch the face off each other for two hours”. Is that not barbaric?

To quote another Newfoundlander, “I wonder what the wings and ribs at Don Cherry's restaurant are made of?” Is that not hypocritical: beef, chicken, seal? The sealing industry has been vilified.

To once again quote Bernie Halloran, owner of that seal shop in downtown St. John's, “ opinion, if sealing is wrong, the whole world is wrong”.

That brings us to the bill before the House today. Her Majesty's official opposition, the New Democratic Party of Canada, supports Bill C-555, the seal fishery observation licence.

This bill would increase the distance that an unofficial observer—a seal protestor, for example—must keep from sealing. Right now, it is against the law for an unofficial observer to come within a half nautical mile of the hunt. Bill C-555 would increase that buffer zone to a full nautical mile. It would increase from a half nautical mile to a full nautical mile.

When I spoke on this bill in March 2014, almost a year ago, I called this bill a charade, to make it appear that the Conservative government is actually doing something for the hunt, for sealing. This bill is a sham, to make it appear that the government is defending the seal hunt. It is an illusion, to make it appear that the government is a champion of the seal hunt.

Changing the distance that unofficial seal hunt observers can approach the hunt from a half mile to a full nautical mile means absolutely nothing when the half mile zone that is there now is not enforced.

Sealers on the ground in my province of Newfoundland and Labrador say that this is a good idea, but they do not see how it would change anything. The east coast seal hunt has seen the biggest collapse of seal markets in its history under the Conservative government. That is a fact.

Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Taiwan, the European Union, and all of its member countries have banned the importation of Canadian seal products while the Conservative government has sat idly by, touting its undying support, for all the good it has done.

The anti-seal hunt groups have been very effective, incredibly effective, in pounding our industry. I recently travelled to Taiwan with a parliamentary delegation. I was curious to ask the Taiwanese first hand why they banned Canadian seal products in 2013, because that is the way it was sold over here: yet another country has lined up against the Canadian seal hunt.

However, what I learned was that the Taiwanese ban on the export or sale of marine mammal products had solely to do with Japanese whaling and the Japanese dolphin hunt. It had nothing to do with Canadian seal products. The seal hunt is not an issue in Taiwan. This is a country where people eat barbequed squid on a stick. Taiwan and Asian countries like it are seafood meccas.

The Conservative government has to do more to educate people around the world about our sustainable and humane seal hunt. The government is not doing enough to spread the word. The Taiwanese quote Greenpeace and the International Fund for Animal Welfare as gospel, as the last word on the seal hunt, when they should not be quoted at all.

To wrap up, my party supports this bill on extending the seal fishery observation licence, but that will not change a thing with the hunt. It will not reopen closed markets. It will not lift the ban on seal products in so many countries around the world. This bill will not stop people like Don Cherry from describing those who eat seal burgers as barbarians or savages. Joking or not, such comments do nothing to promote our sealing industry. The comments sting.

I just attended the 10-day Mount Pearl Frosty Festival in my riding of St. John's South—Mount Pearl. Mount Pearl is a city alongside St. John's, a city that I describe as a land-locked outport. People there are first-, second-, or third-generation baymen. Baymen means that they come from rural Newfoundland and Labrador, meaning sealing is in their blood.

The seal fashion that I took in during the Frosty Festival—the sealskin boots, jackets, and coats, mostly on the women—was absolutely lovely. Besides sending a note to Don Cherry, Bernie Halloran of St. John's mailed him three seal ties, including a blue one in memory of Don Cherry's late dog, Blue. How nice was that? That is who we are.

The best thing that could happen to the seal hunt is if someone like Don Cherry, with his unique fashion sense, embraced our industry, embraced our fine fashion sense and melded it with his own.

Don Cherry in a sealskin jacket and tie would get two minutes for looking so good.

Marine Mammal RegulationsPrivate Members' Business

February 17th, 2015 / 7 p.m.
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Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission B.C.


Randy Kamp ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to speak in support of Bill C-555, an act respecting the Marine Mammal Regulations (seal fishery observation licence), both as a concerned member of Parliament and also as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

Let me begin by commending the member for West Nova for his initiative with this legislation. The bill is quite short, but the member has demonstrated that one does not have to have a long bill to make an important contribution to Canada.

Doubling the safety zone between seal harvesters and unlicensed observers is a sensible proposition that would help improve the safety of many. Given that the bill received all-party support at second reading and passed committee without amendments, clearly my colleagues agree.

On paper, the bill is about protecting seal harvesters from unlicensed observers who may disrupt the seal hunt and put sealers' safety at risk, but on a deeper level the bill is also an opportunity for the House to validate once again the legitimacy of the seal harvest. It is humane, sustainable, and well-regulated, and seal harvesters deserve to carry out their work without being harassed and endangered.

In my time today I would like to begin by putting the issue of the safety of seal harvesters into context.

Harvesting seals has never been for the faint of heart. In the 19th century, for example, sealers ran the risk of having their wooden steamships wedged in the ice while chasing seals. In these conditions the mere movement of the ice could crush the hull. Meanwhile, harvesters working away from the ship could have easily been stranded as well. It would be prudent here to remember the men who were lost in the 1914 sealing disaster on the SS Newfoundland and SS Southern Cross.

In our modern era, better vessel designs and more sophisticated technology have helped protect ships from the ravages of ice, although for the sealers themselves, the job has become more dangerous in some new ways.

Hundreds of years ago, sealers only had to contend with the forces of mother nature. If the ice shifted or cracked beneath their feet, it was largely outside their control. Today, sealers have to be mindful not only of the dynamic environment, but also of onlookers who seek to disrupt their work.

I respect the rights of Canadians to protest the seal harvest even if I do not agree with threatening the livelihoods of hard-working Canadians from rural, coastal, and aboriginal communities. When such dissent puts the very lives of harvesters at risk, we as elected officials must take action.

If a protest ship gets too close to harvesters, it can crack and break up ice flows. Even a mild shift in the ice can disrupt the balance or concentration of a seal harvester. Given that almost all harvesters are using high-powered rifles or shotguns, the result could be fatal.

We have a responsibility to our constituents and to Canadians to ensure that they are able to provide for their families in a safe and secure work environment. Whether they work in an office, in a factory, on a boat, or anywhere else, Canadians deserve to know that all safety risks are at a minimum.

According to existing regulations, unlicensed observers must stay at least one-half nautical mile away from seal harvesters. This legislation proposes to double the distance to a full nautical mile. That would result in a buffer of 6,000 feet, or about 1,800 metres. This extra distance would ensure the integrity of the ice under the sealer's feet and give DFO enforcement personnel more time to react if a protest vessel breaches the distance requirement. This increased buffer would give additional assurance to sealers that DFO and the Coast Guard will be able to intervene if necessary to protect sealers whose safety may be put at risk by such reckless action.

Our seal harvest is humane, sustainable, and well-regulated. Our sealers are trained in the use of the three-step process for humanely dispatching a seal. Sustainability is assured thanks to thorough regulations and good stock management. In fact, the population of the harp seal has more than tripled in size since the early 1970s and the grey seal population has increased by 30 times. Some would say that we have managed the population too well, with the seal population now having a major effect on fish mortality in Atlantic Canada.

The government thoroughly monitors the industry's compliance with regulations to ensure that the harvest continues to meet these five standards.

We recognize that misinformation continues to circulate, provided by radical groups committed to the abolition of this traditional seal hunt. This is particularly true around the type of seals that are harvested. It has been more than 30 years since Canada allowed the commercial harvest of unweaned harp seals, often referred to as whitecoat seals, and young hooded seals, known as bluebacks. However, some critics continue to use outdated photos to malign the nature of today's harvest and to market their campaign against the industry.

Despite the misinformation, Canada seal products are in demand around the world. Between 2005 and 2011, Canada exported $70 million worth of seal pelts, value added garments and edible seal products, such as oil and meat, to more than 35 countries.

There is no denying, however, that the European Union's ban on the import and sale of seal products and other bans which followed it have hurt this proud and historic industry. That is why our government has been relentless in its effort to end this ban, and last fall we had a major breakthrough.

Members may recall the ban exempted certain types of seal products, including those related to indigenous hunts. This is an important recognition of the social, cultural and economic value of the seal hunt to Inuit and aboriginal communities.

However, it was never entirely clear how this exemption would work. For example, in some cases, Inuit rely on suppliers in southern Canada to support them. Some thought the involvement of non-indigenous people should disqualify these products from the exemption.

In October, Canada and the European Union announced a joint statement regarding the operationalization of the indigenous exemption. In includes a provision to allow non-indigenous Canadians and groups to process, manufacture and market seal products harvested by indigenous Canadians. This is good news for Inuit and aboriginal seal harvesters, for their partners and for greater future market access in Europe.

In the meantime, our government continues to vigorously defend the commercial seal industry as humane, sustainable and well-regulated. By approving the bill, the House can complement our government's efforts.

To summarize, the bill demonstrates to both sealers and our trading partners that Canada believes in the legitimacy of the seal harvest. On a practical level, it helps to protect the safety of seal harvesters while they are at work.

An act respecting the marine mammal regulations is strong legislation that received all-party support at second reading, and it deserves the full support of this House at third reading.

Marine Mammal RegulationsPrivate Members' Business

February 17th, 2015 / 6:50 p.m.
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Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be here today, speaking on Bill C-555, an act respecting the marine mammal regulations, introduced by my hon. colleague from West Nova. Originally, the member for Cardigan was going to speak on this, but he is stuck in a snowstorm blizzard in P.E.I. He is shovelling snow, and he has sealskin cap on as he is doing it. He would love to be here, but I am taking his place.

I would like to thank my hon. colleague for introducing this bill. He is well aware that I and the Liberal Party of Canada will be fully supportive of the Canadian seal hunt and the sealing industry. It is an industry that is so important to so many rural and coastal communities in our country.

The nature of the bill is to increase the safety of all those who are involved in the seal fishery, whether they are the fishers, the observers, or the enforcement officers. The safety of all those involved in the seal hunt must always be the top priority. We have to do everything we can to help those involved in the seal fishery industry and to keep it secure.

We know that, here in Canada, we practise a sustainable and humane seal fishery. In fact, it is one of the best run and monitored seal fisheries in the entire world. The Canadian seal hunt is a tradition that provides so much value to so many rural, northern, and Atlantic coastal communities.

We have to do everything we can to make sure that everyone involved is safe and secure when they are carrying out their livelihoods. The seal hunt on our shores dates back thousands of years and to this day remains such an important part of our history, culture, and economy of communities right across Atlantic Canada, in Quebec, and in the north, as an hon. member mentioned.

Over those thousands of years, many have lost their lives out there, hunting seals. It is usually in the spring, when people are quite far out on the ice. One of the books that I read left a big impression on me. It is called Death On The Ice: The Great Newfoundland Sealing Disaster Of 1914. It is a true story about the Newfoundland and Labradorian men and their sons who were out. They used to go out on the ships and they would be sent out to get the seals. All of the ships got lost, and they were out on the ice in a storm overnight. Many perished during the couple of nights out there, hunting seals.

As I said, many families in rural and remote communities make between $20,000 and $30,000 a year or less. When they can make between $2,000 and $5,000 more for seals, it is big for their families, especially in these rural areas where there is no other income, and especially during that time of year, March and April.

In addition to the economic and cultural importance of the seal industry, seals provide a wide variety of great products, including meat, pelts, and oil, which is very high in omega-3 fatty acids.

Seals are the biggest consumers of fish. They are very competitive, and with the population explosion that we have seen, they are competing with our commercial fishermen for fish in the water. When I go out on the boat with my friends off of Bird Islands in Cape Breton, I can see all of the seals there. They are really cleaning up on the fish.

My friend from Cape Breton, Robert Courtney, is a sealer. He and some of his buddies from Neil's Harbour in northern Cape Breton go sealing. It is a short season, so it is a very serious issue. My colleagues know that they are fishermen and getting seals to make a living. Their livelihood is being hurt by the massive population explosion off our coasts. These seals are eating a lot of fish, and a lot of them carry parasites that go into other fish.

There is quite an imbalance out there, so it is a great thing if we can get a livelihood and cull these seals at the same time. This is one of the reasons why we need to ensure the safest possible hunt every year. We need the government to do more to open markets, because we can sell more of these products. It is a healthy product.

There is a lot of talk and activity from wealthy people, these Hollywood celebrities and others, who live thousands of miles away from our communities. They do not realize or understand how we live in these rural communities. They do not understand how much fish the seals are eating. They know nothing about the Canadian seal hunt or the sealing industry. They prey on people who believe the misinformation in their campaigns. They raise money and use their efforts to try to disrupt the seal industry with their pictures and propaganda.

It is hard to believe the kind of misinformation that these people use, and it is hard to believe that they would ever try to stop our seal hunt.

If they were successful in stopping our sustainable and humane seal hunt, where else would they go? They would then move on to maybe the slaughtering of our cows, chickens, or pigs. It would not stop there. They just do not believe in this balance we have with nature and the nutritious products we get from it.

That is why I wish the government would take these well-funded campaigns of misinformation more seriously and do more to combat them to fight the spread of this misinformation. We should never bow to the pressure from other countries or interest groups when it comes to this humane and sustainable practice that provides jobs and food in a traditional way for so many people. That is also why the EU ban on our Canadian seal products, and the recent WTO ruling in its favour, is particularly troubling. The reason given was public morals. It is so unfortunate that the Conservative government left those discussions to the WTO, when it knew very well that this would happen.

Only two short years ago, the Prime Minister and the fisheries minister went on a trip to China. Before they left, the Prime Minister was speaking to The Globe and Mail and said that he was going to open up the large Chinese market to help our sealing industry. We have not seen that market open. We have not seen any amount of seal products going to that Chinese market.

In fact, much more needs to be done to promote all our seafood products in China and Asia. We need to let our Asian customers know about the importance and quality of our Canadian fish and seafood products, including, of course, our seal products. I was in Taiwan last year on a trade mission. It is big market. They love the way we manage our fisheries and how good our product is. It is a big market for us, and we have to be on it all the time, or others will take it.

It is also sad to see that the Conservative government has let down our sealing industry by not fighting harder for it.

People in the fishery struggle every day. It is very hard to be out there with the elements. They have to ship their product far away to markets. It is a struggle every day, and I commend them for going out in the springtime and being on the ice. Springtime in Montreal or Ottawa is quite different from springtime off Newfoundland or Cape Breton. It is all ice. It is cold out there. It is still as dangerous as ever, but they go out there for the seal hunt.

The hunters and fishers do not need these outside forces tormenting them and endangering their lives. It is a hard living, and every dollar counts. That is why the government needs to do more for Canadian sealers and the seal industry.

I think the private member's bill is a good start, and I commend the hon. member for doing that. However, the bill comes down to safety, which is so important. The safety of our sealers and those involved in the seal hunt has to be the number one concern. I believe that this is a good bill that would help increase the safety of all those involved in the hunt.

I would like to thank my hon. colleague once again for introducing the bill. We will truly miss him when he does not come back to the House in the next term.

Marine Mammal RegulationsPrivate Members' Business

February 17th, 2015 / 6:30 p.m.
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Greg Kerr Conservative West Nova, NS

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank members who have participated in Bill C-555, an act respecting the Marine Mammal Regulations (seal fishery observation licence), commonly referred as the triple nickel bill. I am pleased that the bill is at this stage, because it shows, first of all, continuing interest in and support of safety in the seal hunt. It also shows the government's recognition of the seal harvest as a legitimate livelihood.

For more than 300 years, Canadians have relied on the sealing industry to support their families, and today I am really pleased that we are continuing the support for this important industry.

Many members may have enjoyed in recent days the Seal Day held on Parliament Hill. A number of aboriginal representatives from northern Canada showed how important sealing is to the culture and the economy of their communities. I am particularly pleased that the Minister of the Environment and the member for Yukon led the way in that. For those who enjoyed it, certainly they saw some great food, entertainment, and wonderful clothing made from seal skins.

I am glad that members from both sides have been supportive of the bill thus far, as most have been. This whole process is to make sure that we look at legitimate safety within a legal industry. The bill would simply create a larger zone of safety around the sealing expedition. It would go from one-half to a full nautical mile.

When we reflect on the need for the bill, an obvious question comes to mind: why is it that some people are prepared to endanger sealers and those around them and those who are protecting the public? One example stands out. In 2008, the Sea Shepherd irresponsibly and illegally endangered not only the sealers but licensed observers, and it caused considerable damage to a Coast Guard vessel.

We think this continues because of three basic misconceptions that keep cropping up. One, of course, is that the seal hunt is inhumane. Many years have gone by. With the 50th anniversary of the Seal Protection Regulations, many changes have taken place. The sealers are very responsible and very much aware of making sure they do things right. We think it is time for that myth to go, because it is a humane industry and a humane harvest that takes place.

The second myth that kicks around is the sense that this is unsustainable, which may have been possibly a concern back in the fifties and sixties, but today there are over seven million harp seals. They have almost exploded in population and indeed have become a threat to other fish, particularly cod. It is way overdue that we let that myth go by, because not only is it sustainable but it is done in a most efficient manner. Maintaining a healthy sea population is to the benefit of all sealers, and certainly it is to their advantage to make sure it continues.

The third myth is that the seal harvest is not thoroughly regulated, and that is absolutely incorrect. Fisheries and Oceans officials have worked hard over the past decades to make sure that sealers are well educated, well informed, and well regulated, and they certainly do their industry in the most productive and most supportive manner. These regulations make sure that in collaboration with the Coast Guard, policing authorities, provincial authorities, and so on, they are followed. It is important that the officials ensure not only safety but that the proper methods are followed.

It is unacceptable to let the critics simply spread misinformation, but it has been part of almost a worldwide effort for some time. It has been easy for some on the sidelines to make these very incorrect accusations. Today we know that we have not only a sustainable and a very well-regulated industry but an industry that remains incredibly important to the Inuit and the northern population and certainly to many communities in Atlantic Canada. Violations are taken very seriously, with fines, and the process is followed very closely by authorities as well.

This bill, as I said, would double the zone of safety. There is a very thorough process with regard to becoming a licensed observer, and the bill would make sure that both observers and sealers are protected. It would ensure that this legal and legitimate industry is allowed to pursue its course of action and harvest in a safe and thoughtful way and that those who simply want to protest and cause disruption are not allowed to interfere with this legal ongoing industry.

The end result of the effort here is to bring about improvements. We realize there will be more to come. There are certainly more things that should be considered and looked at in this very important industry.

I want to end by saying that we in the House, the government, and I think the general population, in taking the time to understand what this bill is about, realize that sealing is very much a part of both the culture, the background, and the economy of many communities. We want to ensure that it becomes a bit safer, and that is what this bill would do. I appreciate the support of the House and I hope we get this bill moved forward.

Marine Mammal RegulationsPrivate Members' Business

February 17th, 2015 / 6:30 p.m.
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The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Pursuant to Standing Order 37, the House will now proceed to the consideration of Bill C-555 under private members' business.

There being no motions at report stage, the House will now proceed without debate to the putting of the question on the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-555, An Act respecting the Marine Mammal Regulations (seal fishery observation licence), as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

November 26th, 2014 / 3:15 p.m.
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Rodney Weston Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans in relation to Bill C-555, An Act respecting the Marine Mammal Regulations (seal fishery observation licence).

The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House without amendment.

November 25th, 2014 / 10:05 a.m.
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The Chair Conservative Rodney Weston

Thank you, Ms. May, and to your point about Mr. Kerr's presence here, Mr. Kerr did appear before this committee to explain this bill fully in the initial stages of this committee's consideration of Bill C-555.

Are we ready for the question on the amendment? This is amendment PV-1.

It has been moved by Ms. May that Bill C-555, in clause 1, be amended by replacing line 1 on page 2 with the following:

(e) to a person who resides on or frequents, in the normal course of their daily activities, land within

(Amendment negatived)

Shall clause 1 carry?

(Clause 1 agreed to)

Shall the title carry?

November 25th, 2014 / 9:50 a.m.
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The Chair Conservative Rodney Weston

Thank you very much, Ms. May.

As Ms. May stated, her amendment is that Bill C-555, in clause 1, be amended by replacing line 1 on page 2 with the following:

(e) to a person who resides on or frequents, in the normal course of their daily activities, land within

We'll go to questions.

Mr. MacAulay.

November 25th, 2014 / 9:40 a.m.
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The Chair Conservative Rodney Weston

I will call this meeting back to order.

As you're all aware, we are moving into clause-by-clause study of Bill C-555. I believe you all have a copy of the bill in front of you.

(On clause 1)

We have one amendment, which is by our colleague, Ms. May.

Ms. May, I think this is the first time we've had the pleasure of your company at our committee. I appreciate your coming here this morning. I'll give you a minute or so to explain your amendment.

November 25th, 2014 / 9:15 a.m.
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Chief Executive Officer, Carino Processing Ltd.

Dion Dakins

I'm not versed in these other bills that are currently alive. I know we as a sector believe very strongly in animal welfare and animal welfare improvement. I think Bill C-555 is a start for a debate that's been long required around how we allow observation and evaluation of the Canadian seal hunt. I think our current structure does not allow for the consumers to feel that they've been given a robust enough traceability or verification system to allow them to comfortably purchase seal products. I think we need this tool to go forward. Again, I think Bill C-555 is a start, but we need to go further with how we control and validate our Canadian seal hunting, and not just the east coast one.

November 25th, 2014 / 9:10 a.m.
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Chief Executive Officer, Carino Processing Ltd.

Dion Dakins

It's a very interesting period in the existence of this planet. We have a higher demand for proteins. We have a higher demand for omega-3 oils. We have a higher demand for eco-friendly textiles and other products. Yet we don't see an opportunity to position seal products for what they are. It's a conservation success for Canada. We have recovered our populations inside four decades to higher than virginal levels or at about maximum virginal levels at 7.4 million animals. But because of the positions of various groups that do not subscribe to the sustainable use of any wildlife species running falsified campaigns with misinformation in primary markets and in emerging markets, it has added a complication to the sealing sector because we're such a small commodity.

If you wanted to position the 4,000 tonnes yield from a 400,000 animal harvest into the omega-3 market comparatively, other marine-based omega-3s are about one million metric tonnes, so we represent 0.4% of the total global supply. It's very easy to single us out, and with a well-oiled false propaganda machine it's very difficult to reposition the hunt. That's why we see steps like having third party validation, veterinarian inspection, removal of the erroneous observations, the biased observations that are used to discredit the industry and destroy market capabilities. We need to remove that and we need to replace it with what consumers can buy into, which is a third party validation system.

That's why Bill C-555 in itself doesn't go far enough. However, it can be modified through future bills to achieve what we need to achieve.

November 25th, 2014 / 9:05 a.m.
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Chief Executive Officer, Carino Processing Ltd.

Dion Dakins

Bill C-555 is specifically focused on non-licensed observers. I think there is an opportunity to craft another set of legislation that would go where the industry sees it needing to go. This is a first step that certainly has opened a dialogue and a mechanism for the sector and others to voice their concerns.

November 25th, 2014 / 8:50 a.m.
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Dion Dakins Chief Executive Officer, Carino Processing Ltd.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

First I want to thank the committee for this opportunity to appear before you to address Bill C-555. I am here representing the Seals and Sealing Network, which is a national non-profit organization promoting sustainable and wise use principles.

The network is made up of sealer associations, Inuit, processors, manufacturers and traders, veterinarians, provincial and territorial governments, among others.

Rather than just rely on my representation, I'd like to draw attention to the testimonials that are in the backgrounder, which we will leave behind. Those are testimonials by sealers related to interference they have experienced due to the observation regime we currently have.

The purpose of our presentation today is to provide you with our perspective on Bill C-555, and our recommendations for achieving the objectives that both the sealing sector and the government share. These shared objectives centre around worker health and safety, animal welfare, validation and enforcement to demonstrate the integrity of the industry, continuous improvement in management practices based on best science and experience. Bill C-555, which we support in principle, also provides the opportunity to revisit the rules and regulations related to Canadian seal hunt observers.

In its current form the bill proposes a change to the marine mammal regulations that would alter the minimum distance from one-half nautical mile to one nautical mile for unlicensed observers. The Seals and Sealing Network strongly believes that Bill C-555 is not addressing the real problem. It is important for the committee to know that unlicensed observers are not the primary concern of the sector. Difficulties lie with the licensed observers. Our preferred recommendation is to change the regulations to apply to all observers.

We have provided you with a fuller description of our proposals, but I will describe them briefly in my presentation today. We have three recommendations.

Recommendation one is to establish a mechanism for developing and deploying a verified assurance program for the east coast Canadian seal hunt. This assurance program is to be conducted by objective third party qualified experts and to have such a program recognized under the marine mammal regulations.

Recommendation two is to eliminate the licensed observer category under proposed subsection 33(1) and apply the one nautical mile buffer zone to all observers unless otherwise directed by the minister, or failing that, extend the observation for licensed observers to a minimum of 500 metres, and that observers meet the same requirement as seal hunters and be required to carry an electronic locator, GPS, or DFO enforcement officer or recognized at-sea observer for the purpose of distance and activity enforcement.

Recommendation three is to update the regulation to clearly state that it applies to both a person fishing for seals as well as sealing vessels travelling to and from and at the seal harvest site, and that it apply to marine vessels and aircraft, including drones.

I would like to briefly explain each recommendation. I ask that you refer to the discussion paper for a complete description.

On recommendation one, a verified assurance program, the sealing sector has become highly regulated and is conducted in a responsible manner by sealers who are trained to operate under the highest standards of humane harvest and handling. The next step is to demonstrate that this high level of hunting is conducted by providing objective and fact-based data rather than the distorted misinformation campaigns of anti-seal hunt protesters.

The sealing community believes there is both a need and a demand to create a third party assurance program for sealing. This would be similar to programs in other animal use sectors. It would revolve around a third party audit and validation system performed by qualified independent validators. A transparent assurance program would satisfy the need for public accountability and would help to offset one-sided reporting by biased observers such as anti-sealing groups that do not prescribe to the basic principles of sustainable use of wildlife.

Such a program would also support regulatory responsibility, that the best practices are being followed by the sealing sector, and where necessary that corrective measures are identified and implemented. It would also provide quantifiable data and would identify needs and opportunities within the sealing sector.

It would provide market assurances for buyers of our seal products. The need for independent evaluation was identified by the European Food Safety Authority in its 2007 report to the Scientific Panel on Animal Health and Welfare related to the Canadian seal hunt. Such an assurance program would be tied to other ongoing activities by the sector, such as training and education, codes of practice, and best management practices.

Recommendation two is to change the observer licence.

Option A: The Seals and Sealing Network strongly believes that Bill C-555 is not addressing the real problem. The concerns revolve around the violations by observers under their licence. Such violations create risks to human safety, animal welfare, and the lawful right to conduct business unfettered. The sealing community submits that with the development of a verified assurance program, the public's interest can be realized and would eliminate the justification for close proximity observation. Sealers report that close proximity allowed under the licensed observer permit can interfere with their ability to conduct their work, including the need to dispatch animals as quickly and humanely as possible. It also poses a safety risk to sealers, enforcement personnel, and the observers themselves.

Furthermore, with today's advanced photographic and satellite capabilities, there is no longer a need for close proximity observations. Applying the proposed amendment to one nautical mile for all observers would still afford observers the ability to conduct their surveillance without impeding on the sealers' workplace.

Option B: Should licensed observers' permits be maintained, then the sealing community believes that the current regulated observation distance must be extended. The current distance of 10 metres, only 32 feet, does not provide adequate safety or security for sealers, observers, or enforcement officers.

In his testimony to the committee on June 11, 2014, Jean-François Sylvestre, chief of conservation and protection with DFO, confirmed that the current 10-metre observation limit is insufficient. He said:

There can be some confrontations between hunters and people with observer permits within 10 metres.

Actually, this prevents the hunters from doing their job. They cannot work as well when they have a camera filming them 10 metres ahead or next to them compared with when they are alone on the ice. This is supported by Yves Richard, chief of regulations for Quebec, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, in his testimony to this committee. He said:

Having someone filming them with a camera can lead to additional stress for hunters.

Our own research at the Seals and Sealing Network has also found that from a safety aspect, the 10-metre limit is arbitrary and is inconsistent with limits set for other forms of hunting involving firearms. A cross-country analysis of municipal firearms discharge laws showed that 10 metres is insufficient for public safety when a firearm is used on stable land and even more so in an unstable sea and ice environment

For enforcement purposes, we also ask that these observers be required to be equipped with an electronic locator, GPS, as is required for the licensed hunters, in order for enforcement personnel to monitor their movements and locations.

Recommendation three is to clarify the regulations.

For better clarity, extending the observation distance one nautical mile should also state in regulations to apply to both a person fishing for seals as well as sealing vessels travelling to and from and at the seal harvest site. The extended observation distance should also be clearly stated in the regulation to apply to marine vessels, aircraft, and drones.

As I mentioned, there is a detailed brief on our recommendations and supporting evidence for the committee to consider.

In closing, I would like to thank the committee for considering our recommendations. I would be happy to answer any questions.

For further information we do have a website: