Port State Measures Agreement Implementation Act

An Act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act

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

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act to implement the Port State Measures Agreement, to prohibit the importation of fish caught and marine plants harvested in the course of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and to clarify certain powers in respect of the administration and enforcement of the Act.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2015 / 1:45 p.m.
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NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. He is always so well informed about the issues. I also know that this issue affects his riding and that he consulted fishers and the fishing industry in order to have an informed opinion.

I would just like to ask the hon. member for more information on the fishing industry in his riding and in Canada.

What are the spinoffs from this industry? Why is this bill so important for protecting this industry in Canada? I would also like him to speak to the important role Canada needs to play in the international community to ensure that other countries ratify this agreement.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2015 / 1:45 p.m.
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NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, it is important to note that Canada's involvement in fishing and aquaculture contributes $5.4 billion in total GDP to the Canadian economy and 71,000 in terms of full-time equivalent jobs to the country's economy. This is extremely important in my province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The raison d'être of the settlement of Newfoundland and Labrador going back 500 years was based on the abundance of codfish, in particular, off our shores, so it is a matter of great existential importance to the communities, the economy and the future of our province. It is extremely important that we value this type of legislation and this approach.

I will give one quote back to the member, from the Fisheries Council of Canada, which said:

The problem that has emerged in trying to address this IUU through an international agreement, the port states agreement, is that it's taking so long. It took a long time to negotiate and it's going to take a long time to be ratified by a significant number of countries to be able to attest that this is the right thing....

This is clearly the problem here, that we have taken a long time to get this far and we are going to have to do a lot of work as a country in order to ensure that other countries follow suit and make this the enforceable pact that it is supposed to be since 2007.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2015 / 1:50 p.m.
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NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, given the importance of the fishery to my colleague's riding, I would like to know whether many people, young people in particular, are concerned about the future of fishing. Does the hon. member think that his constituents would have liked to see this bill put back on the table much sooner? I believe this bill died on the order paper with the dissolution of Parliament in 2011.

In the hon. member's view, would people have liked this bill to be reintroduced much sooner? This parliament is winding down. It would have made sense for us to address this sooner for the sake of our coastal regions. I would like my colleague to comment on that.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2015 / 1:50 p.m.
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NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, of course it is very important. What the people in my province and my riding are concerned about is the fact that the fisheries do not seem to rank as very important to the Government of Canada and this Conservative government. We are very concerned about that. As I have noted, I have seen a reduction in fisheries science and in surveillance of the offshore. People are concerned about the lack of urgency and priority being given to these issues. As I mentioned, this agreement was negotiated in 2007 under the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. It is important that speed is of the essence. We should be moving faster than we are and I think people are concerned about that. Clearly, it is important, and we want to see measures to improve the fishery, not let it languish.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2015 / 1:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the conservation and protection program provides excellent compliance and enforcement services to protect Canada's fisheries. The program continues to recruit new talent to protect our fisheries. Our approach to enforcement is working. Over the past three years fisheries officers have issues 5,529 charges, 2,638 tickets, 2,972 convictions and over $6 million in fines in both charges and tickets. Would the member join us in commending these incredible fisheries officers for their good, hard work?

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2015 / 1:50 p.m.
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NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Langley for his interest in this issue and the statistics that he provided in terms of prosecutions. I am not sure whether he is talking about everything from angling to fishing on the high seas. It sounds like he is including an awful lot in these statistics. I do not hear those kinds of numbers when we are talking about illegal fishing on the high seas or elsewhere. However, I know that we have a lot of dedicated fisheries officers who surely should be commended for their work.

The issue here is how important a ranking is this being given by the government in terms of involving other nations in trying to ratify this treaty and getting it working internationally so that we have a sustainable fishery throughout the world.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2015 / 1:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, our efforts to protect Canada's fisheries are working. We take fisheries extremely seriously. For example, we have modernized our approach with extensive catch monitoring and forensic intelligence. When it comes to the valuable Atlantic halibut fishery, over the past five years our efforts have resulted in over $1 million in fines and 164 convictions. When will the opposition members recognize our modernized approach is working and take the protection of fisheries seriously?

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2015 / 1:55 p.m.
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NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I know the member is a long way from my end of the country. It is encouraging to see that the member from Manitoba would be interested in ensuring that we have an effective fishery. I think my constituents might be heartened to hear that this is of great interest in his riding. I thank him for that.

Obviously, we recognize the importance of enforcement. The concern we have, particularly when it comes to foreign overfishing, the straddling stocks that we have and NATO enforcement, is that there is not a sufficient level of enforcement. There is a 25% cutback in the number of sea days devoted to monitoring fishing and overfishing offshore. There is a cutback of 40% in the number of flying hours that are used for aerial surveillance to keep an eye on what is going on in a vast ocean. We have a very vast ocean out there and one has to be on the water or over the water to be able to see what is going on. Cutbacks in that are seen in my part of the country, in my riding and my province, as being a dereliction of duty.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2015 / 1:55 p.m.
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NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his excellent speech and for the work he does to protect our fishery resources.

A 2008 study estimated that the economic loss, worldwide, due to pirate fishing ranges from $10 billion U.S. to $23 billion U.S. This pirate fishing has some serious repercussions. We need to focus on protecting our fishery resources. Illegal fishing undermines conservation and management efforts by Canada and other countries.

I would like to ask my colleague whether he thinks that the Conservative government is doing enough in Canada to put an end to illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2015 / 1:55 p.m.
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NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

In a word, Mr. Speaker, no, I do not think the Conservative government is doing enough to stop illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, and it is a devastating issue throughout the world. It is particularly difficult, for example, along the African coast.

The African countries need the support of strong regulations and the encouragement of countries like Canada to ensure this treaty gets ratified so that it can be put into effect and help these countries develop their own fisheries and know that they will be protected.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 10:55 a.m.
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Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission B.C.

Conservative

Randy Kamp ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to stand in this House in support of Bill S-3, an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act.

Bill S-3 complements our unwavering commitment to sustainable fisheries by ensuring economic opportunities for our fishermen. Throughout our country's rich history, fisheries have always been a cornerstone. In fact, some Canadian communities have been sustained by commercial fisheries for close to 500 years. Our commitment to sustainable responsible fishing both at home and in support of global efforts will ensure that this tradition continues for centuries to come.

The fishing industry is a critical economic driver in Canada's coastal and inland communities, providing jobs and other opportunities for generations of Canadians. More than 80,000 Canadians earn their living directly from the sea, on inland waters, in processing plants, or in aquaculture operations.

The health of this industry is dependent on effective and responsible management of our fisheries. By ensuring sustainable fisheries, our government is investing in the economic prosperity of current and future generations.

To support the fisheries, our government conducts extensive research to make informed fisheries management decisions and activities. For example, our fisheries science and the application of the precautionary approach assist in the setting of catch limits for Canada's fisheries.

We also ensure that Canadians can have their say. We work as closely as possible with industry and other stakeholders to make sure our strategies and plans are practical and effective to ensure both sustainable fisheries and the maximum economic opportunities for harvesters.

We announced as part of economic action plan 2015, funding that will support fisheries, foster trade, protect Canada's environment and create jobs in small communities. As an example of an investment that will support fisheries research, our government has committed $2 million to the Pacific Salmon Foundation to support the Salish Sea marine survival project. As a British Columbian, I was very pleased to see that. Also, our government has increased the lifetime capital gains exemption to $1 million for owners of fishing businesses, which will keep more money in fishermen's pockets and support the creation of jobs in rural and coastal communities across Canada.

In addition to working with industry and conducting scientific research to ensure sustainable fisheries, we also have a strong enforcement system in place to protect our fisheries from those who do not want to abide by the rules, and unfortunately, there are some. That being said, we know that fish do not stop swimming at the 200 nautical mile limit of the exclusive economic zone, which is why Canada must remain engaged with the international community to ensure global fisheries are managed sustainably.

We work with our international partners through regional fisheries management organizations, often called RFMOs, to ensure a consistent, effective approach to the management of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks that traverse Canadian waters and upon which our harvesters rely. However, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, often called IUU fishing, remains a worldwide problem which affects the prosperity of our fishing communities.

This brings me to the amendments before us in Bill S-3 and why it is important that Canada amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. The amendments support two objectives: first, strengthening an already robust regime for Canada's ports in order to further close the net on illegal fishing operators; and second, by doing that, enabling Canada to ratify and implement the international port state measures agreement.

Fish are a major commodity and a source of economic opportunity and trade throughout the world. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, of the approximately 158 million tonnes of fish and other aquatic animals that are wild caught and grown in aquaculture operations each year, 37% are traded in international markets. This is a large share of the total fish production that is going into international trade, especially when compared with 21% of wheat being traded internationally, or only 10% of meat products. The value of the international trade in fish products is almost $130 billion U.S. annually.

As a major exporter of fisheries products, Canada is inevitably affected by international trends, policies, and the enforcement activities of other nations. Canadians are not immune from the economic impact of illegal fishing on international trade.

Around 85% of Canadian fish and seafood products are exported, to the tune of over $4 billion annually in export value. Global illegal fishing activities undermine the livelihoods of legitimate fish harvesters, both in Canada and abroad, by distorting prices and the profits that legitimate harvesters receive. Our industry has to compete in a global market, where illegal fishing activities manipulate international pricing, so we must stand up for our hard-working fish harvesters by supporting the international effort to end illegal fishing.

Canada also imports fish and seafood from around the world, and as a responsible fishing nation, we want to ensure that the fish on our plates comes from legal and sustainable sources, those that respect the environment from which the fish are harvested and that also respect the rights of the crew on board these vessels.

Preventing illegally taken fish and seafood products from entering the market has been a priority for Canadians and is also a priority for Canada's key trading partners, such as the European Union and the United States. Making these changes would ensure that Canada is on the same page as our key partners in this endeavour.

If enforcement on the high seas is lacking in some areas, then strong port state measures ensure that nations can take action in their ports to ensure that illegally harvested fish are not traded. If there is no trade then there is no profit for the illegal fishing operators.

The port state measures agreement creates a global standard for what actions should be taken in ports to combat illegal fishing. This new international treaty aims to prevent, deter, and eliminate illegal fishing through the implementation of effective and globally consistent measures. That is a very important point.

In 2009, Canada and other countries approved the port state measures agreement that had been negotiated at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The goal of this treaty is to make it extremely difficult, and ideally impossible, for a fishing vessel to land and profit from any illegal catch. Canada signed this agreement in November 2010 to signal our commitment to the importance of taking strong action in ports to prevent illegal fishing. Passing Bill S-3 is the next step toward ratifying the port state measures agreement.

Eleven countries have already ratified or otherwise become party to the treaty, and another 16, including Canada, have indicated that they intend to become parties as well. For example, the United States is in the process of passing ratification legislation, and it is expected that other countries will soon follow suit. The agreement needs 25 parties for it to come into force.

I am pleased to say that the world has seen the results of strong international enforcement efforts. Recently, a fishing vessel called Thunder was not able to enter nearby ports to offload its catch. It had been identified as possibly fishing illegally in the Southern Ocean off Antarctica, and countries in West Africa, a long way away, agreed to take action once it tried to enter their ports. Facing few alternatives, the vessel was seemingly abandoned by the crew.

It is important to note that Canada already has a robust system in place to manage foreign fishing vessels. The Coastal Fisheries Protection Act and its regulations contain a range of prohibitions and controls in relation to foreign fishing vessels entering Canadian fishing waters and ports. However, in order to ratify the port state measures agreement, Bill S-3 proposes some amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act to further strengthen these important controls.

There are three major groups of amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act proposed in Bill S-3. First, the amendments would ensure that Canada has clear authorities in relation to inspecting, searching and seizing, and other enforcement activities when a foreign vessel is directed to enter a Canadian port by its flag state for enforcement purposes.

The port state measures agreement normally requires that fishing vessels engaged in or supporting illegal fishing be prevented from entering a port, as in the case of the Thunder, for example. However, there are occasions when a flag state might need help with enforcement. As a strong and responsible fishing nation, we do not want to encourage moving the problem to other jurisdictions. However, our current rules under the current Coastal Fisheries Protection Act require a ship to voluntarily apply for a licence to enter Canadian waters. In the case of a ship being directed to port by a flag state for enforcement purposes, it is highly unlikely that it would wish to apply voluntarily for a licence. The bill before us today would resolve this issue by allowing a vessel into port for enforcement purposes at the request of the flag state.

Second, fisheries enforcement relies on sharing information with other appropriate legal authorities. Bill S-3 proposes amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act that would clarify the powers of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to share enforcement information regarding illegal fishing vessels with other federal agencies, with other countries, and with international organizations. This information-sharing would allow countries to recognize offenders and take action to protect their fisheries and marketplaces.

Third, the amendments propose common-sense prohibitions against imports of illegal, unregulated, and unreported fish and expanded powers for enforcement officers. As enforcement for fishing vessels increases, illegal operators might want to transport their harvests by means other than ships, for example. In this regard, the amendments would broaden enforcement powers for fisheries officers beyond fishing vessels to areas where illegally harvested fish could be stored, such as in container ships or vehicles.

Finally, there are several amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act to align domestic legislation with the international agreement, namely in relation to definitions. Furthermore, during the study of the bill in committee, additional technical amendments to Bill S-3 were proposed to further strengthen it.

The first new amendment that was introduced would enable Canada to make regulations that could specify documentation requirements for imports of fish and seafood products from fisheries management organizations to which Canada is a not a party. These amendments would protect the Canadian marketplace from illegally harvested seafood in parts of the world where Canada does not fish but from which it imports. If a regional fisheries management organization in another corner of the world implemented new certification measures for fishery imports, Canada would also be able to require this documentation. This change would further strengthen Canada's import controls and would support its international partners.

The second committee amendment is a technical clarification of the amendments to ensure that seafood that has been seized would not be required to be returned to the offender upon conviction.

It is clear that countries have to co-operate to manage fisheries and oceans resources. Regional fisheries management organizations have been established to meet this challenge. These organizations present a realistic means of governing fish stocks that occur either as straddling or shared stocks between zones of national jurisdiction or between these zones and the high seas.

Regional fisheries management organizations apply global standards to the conservation and management of fish stocks. Canada is active in several regional fisheries management organizations and constantly promotes science-based decision-making and the precautionary approach.

As I have stated, the port state measures agreement has introduced new global standards for the fight against illegal fishing. Regional fisheries management organizations are aligning their port state measures with the agreement as part of their overall fisheries management. In addition, some of these organizations are now developing trade tracking systems, such as mandatory catch documents for key species like tuna.

Canada can continue to play a leadership role in these organizations by ensuring that our domestic port state measures set an example for other responsible fishing nations worldwide.

Canadian communities have a large stake in our fisheries and in the health of our fish and seafood exports. Strong port state measures are one tool in the fight against illegal fishing, but we must and will remain vigilant on all fronts.

Canada is recognized as a global expert in the areas of intelligence-led enforcement and the use of advanced techniques, including forensic analysis, and Canada is committed to working with other countries to share our technical expertise to build global capacity to fight illegal fishing. When we work to combat illegal fishing that takes place elsewhere in the world, it has far-reaching, positive effects here in Canada in the long term.

Our government is committed to protecting Canadians' interests at home and on the world stage. We need to ensure that the responsible harvesters who play by the rules and compete in the global marketplace are on a level playing field.

The bill, along with the additional amendments presented in the committee report on the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act that are before us, will strengthen our ability to protect fishermen's interests. The bill ensures that we have a consistent framework in place to work in collaboration with other responsible fishing nations to fight illegal fishing.

I am proud to be part of a government that is taking action against this global problem and that stands up for fishermen here at home.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 11:10 a.m.
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NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague with interest. He talked about the government's commitment to protecting Canada at home and on the world stage in terms of our fishery and strengthening our fishery.

I want to ask the member then, why the government has gutted our Fisheries Act, which should normally be handled through a committee and looked at separately, and has done this through an omnibus budget bill. I am very concerned about how that was done and how the government went after a specific section of the Fisheries Act. The government has also cut resources to DFO, especially for habitat and science.

Why has the government not implemented the 75 recommendations from the Cohen inquiry, on which the government spent nearly $30 million? I remember this inquiry well, because when I was first running, it was a huge issue in my riding and on the west coast. We had just had a collapse of the sockeye salmon. That was almost six years ago, and we have had no action from the government on the 75 recommendations. I would like to hear from the parliamentary secretary on that.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 11:15 a.m.
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Conservative

Randy Kamp Conservative Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, BC

Mr. Speaker, it will not surprise the member to know that I disagree with the premise of all of those questions.

With respect to the Fisheries Act, we put in place common-sense provisions to focus on the fish and the habitat that supports them. In fact, as we have introduced these new changes and have developed the policies and structure around those changes, I think it is going very well. I encourage him to speak to some people who are working on the ground.

In fact, in our committee, even at this very moment, we are hearing from people who are engaged with the Fisheries Act in real life situations. They are involved in stewardship and in using their voluntary activities in co-operation with the federal government to improve fisheries habitat. We asked them this question. Although they admit that it is a work in progress, I think it is going in the right direction.

With respect to the Cohen commission, of course, it was back at the beginning of my career here, when I first moved a motion to put in place a judicial inquiry. In fact, I think if the hon. member looks carefully, he will see that the minister and our department have already begun to implement the changes that were recommended by Cohen in our day-to-day activities.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 11:15 a.m.
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Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague in his statement mentioned that this was before committee. It was brought to my attention that, during committee, there was a lack of information on the amount of possible illegal fishing that is happening within and without the 200-mile limit.

Therefore, if it was before committee that there was no information, that is very concerning because of all the cuts to offshore surveillance. How are the Conservatives going to back up the bill if there are not more resources put in to gathering up the information needed to implement the bill or make sure it has any teeth without that information being gathered?

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 11:15 a.m.
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Conservative

Randy Kamp Conservative Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, BC

Mr. Speaker, I assume he is referring to activities on the east coast. In fact, we are still a very important partner in NAFO and we make a very large commitment to the enforcement activities off the east coast. Although there was streamlining there because we needed one less vessel, we are still engaged in still very effective enforcement activities.

If he looks at the results he will see that over the years the number of serious infractions has been considerably reduced as we have been involved in those activities. We have no concerns about the ability to enforce the changes that are proposed in the bill.