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 7th, 2015 / 11:15 a.m.
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NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is a bill that is worthy of support, certainly, but there are some questions that were raised at committee.

I want to raise one point that he raised during his speech, that currently ships need to voluntarily request a licence to be able to come to Canadian port. With the bill, we could react to a flag state making that same request of a ship that is possibly carrying illegally fished product.

I would like to ask the parliamentary secretary how often a flag state actually asks Canada to inspect one of its ships? It strikes me from the reports that were brought to committee that this never happens, or if it does it is extremely infrequent. What would the bill actually do regarding bringing ships to our ports for inspections?

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 11:20 a.m.
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Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, technically, what the bill does is provide authorization for the minister to allow these ships into port, even if they have not voluntarily applied. If the flag state hears from whatever sources, international organizations for example, or perhaps an RFMO, that a particular vessel that flies its flag is engaged in illegal activity and that state wants the vessel into port, with the proposed legislation, even without application from the vessel owner, the ship could be directed into port.

We hope, of course, that there is no illegal activity. As it becomes less profitable over the years, as there is more of collaborative approach to solving the problem, as the port state measures agreement is intended to do, we hope there is no illegal activity. However, in the, I hope, rare cases where a vessel is identified this would allow that vessel to come into port and be involved in enforcement activities here in Canada.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 11:20 a.m.
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Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I know they have some aversion to the Senate over there, but it is part of the Parliament of Canada and bills are introduced in both places and have to be considered in both places, wherever they are introduced.

In fact, Bill S-3 was originally introduced as Bill S-13 and made it most of the way through the process before having to be reintroduced as Bill S-3. We are pleased by it, and we are pleased for the support of the NDP on the bill as well.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 11:20 a.m.
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NDP

Dany Morin NDP Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, having been Quebec's environment minister for years, the leader of the NDP understands the significance of the relationship between sound environmental protections and a flourishing fishery.

That is why I am asking my Conservative colleague the following question: what is the Conservative government doing to stop illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing? Even though this bill is a step in the right direction, it will not completely stop unregulated and unreported fishing.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 11:20 a.m.
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Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I suppose it is difficult to argue with that point. It is difficult to stop illegal, unregulated and unauthorized fishing. The only hope of stopping it is to have a global approach to it, and that is the approach that Canada is taking.

It is a relatively small problem within the Canadian jurisdiction, but it is a large problem around the world. If nations around the world can make it difficult or impossible for illegal operators to land their fish and sell it, then I think everyone will see that we are going to make some very serious progress on this.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 11:20 a.m.
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NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to rise to comment on Bill S-3. As the parliamentary secretary mentioned, this is the act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, also know as the port state measures agreement implementation act.

The title does not really explain what the bill does. It is not really about protecting the coastal fisheries, but rather controlling illegal fishing as well as unregulated, illegal and unreported fishing. That is a good thing. The bill goes in the right direction and it deserves our support. It is about time. As the parliamentary secretary said, certain aspects of the bill were already brought forward by the United Nations several years ago. Now with Bill S-3, we can ratify the UN agreement. That makes me very happy, and I am very grateful to the government, which rarely acknowledges the United Nations and its agreements. I am very pleased that today the government is prepared to support an international agreement. It seems to me that the Conservative government is uncomfortable with international agreements, and it is about time that it took them seriously.

Before I continue with the rest of my speech, I want to point out something that the parliamentary secretary said about the ships entering our ports. As he clearly indicated, in the past and even still today, until this bill is passed, ships that come into port undergo inspections on a voluntary basis. It is true that, with this bill, the minister will have the discretionary power to authorize an inspection. However, once again, he can do so only if the state that issued the vessel its licence gives its approval and requests an inspection. It is not just a matter of ministerial discretion. The foreign country must first authorize the inspection. I would like to come back to the testimony we heard when this bill was sent to committee. It is extremely rare for a country to ask Canada to inspect a vessel because of the possibility of illegal fishing.

I do not see anything in this bill that will really improve the situation. Other members have mentioned it and it is true that illegal fishing in Canada is mostly under control. It is mainly a problem in the Canadian areas outside the 200 mile limit. I am thinking, for example, of the Grand Banks off the eastern coast of Newfoundland, which are outside the international limit of 200 miles. Canada does not really have surveillance powers and cannot prevent ships from engaging in illegal fishing there.

Even though Canada has had a moratorium on cod fishing since the early 1990s, illegal cod fishing continues outside the 200 mile limit. I do not see anything in this bill that would give us the tools we need to better control the situation and ensure that this fishery is managed properly. The parliamentary secretary was saying that the bill would help achieve a sustainable fishery. It will support over 80,000 jobs in Canada that depend on the fishery, but once again, it will not help reduce illegal fishing in Canada's offshore waters.

I would have liked to see a much better international agreement than what we have in Bill S-3, since illegal fishing will continue on the Grand Banks even if this bill passes. We missed a golden opportunity here. However, once again, I will say that this is certainly a step in the right direction.

I would like to point out a few facts. A 2008 study commissioned by the United Kingdom estimated that the global economic loss due to illegal fishing is over $23 billion per year, representing 11% to 19% of total global reported legal catch.

This is obviously something that we need to get under control. A few minutes ago my colleague mentioned that illegal fishing has an effect on prices. This is true. The facts show that illegal fishing drives down the prices of fish products. Passing Bill S-3 will finally help bring about better control of the prices on the international market. That is certainly a good thing. However, one of the big problems with this bill is that 25 states will have to ratify it before it becomes binding. Just 11 states have ratified it so far.

I have not heard anyone talk about any plan the government might have to ensure that enough other countries support the agreement to make it binding. I am confident that Canada will ratify this agreement if we pass the bill. However, we need quite a few other states to make it binding, and there is no plan for that. I did not hear the parliamentary secretary to the minister say anything about a plan to make the agreement binding on the international stage. I hope that the government will provide more details about that because the clock is ticking. This agreement has been awaiting ratification for several years, and we will have to keep waiting until 14 more countries ratify it.

Let us remember that the bill amends a number of Canadian bills. Bill S-3 itself will not create a new law. It will ratify the international agreement and amend existing Canadian laws. Since that has already been covered, I will not talk about the bills that will be amended. I might get back to that in a few minutes.

I would like to reiterate a point made by my colleague from New Westminster—Coquitlam a few moments ago. It is fine to amend the laws in order to ratify the international agreement, but Bill C-38, an omnibus budget bill, amended the Fisheries Act and the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. The amendments went so far that we wonder whether the government is serious about protecting the environment and the fishery. With the amendments in Bill C-38, we have reached a point where the federal government is shirking its responsibilities with respect to protecting the fishery, and with Bill S-3 the government is saying that we will have a sustainable fishery. I find it very hard to believe that we can have a sustainable fishery in Canada if we have reached a point where we cannot even report on the state of the species in our waters.

During debate in committee, we heard that the bill did not address the problem of the cuts made to Fisheries and Oceans Canada in recent budgets. The budget for monitoring illegal fishing, the focus of Bill S-3, was cut by $4.2 million. Fisheries and Oceans Canada does not have the tools to do what it is being asked to do in this bill. It is all well and good to say that we want a sustainable fishery, that we want to more closely monitor illegal fishing in Canada, but we need the tools for that. With budget cuts to Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard, we suspect that our ability to perform these roles will diminish.

I would also like to point out that marine communications and traffic centres are being closed. The government wanted to close the Quebec City marine rescue sub-centre, but fortunately the NDP was there to defend it.

All of these valuable tools allow better surveillance of our waterways and illegal fishing. However, when these surveillance tools are eliminated, any legislation we pass becomes meaningless. We should reject bills that are of no real substance. There have been too many cuts at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and this government has basically gutted the Fisheries Act. We all remember how much frustration there was when Bill C-38 and Bill C-45 passed.

Fishers, coastal communities and the fish processing industry are being asked more and more to be the only protection officers. They are being asked to do what Fisheries and Oceans Canada should be doing. All of those people pay taxes and expect certain services, but unfortunately, those services have been eliminated. The role of Fisheries and Oceans Canada in coastal communities is diminishing every year, and now we have a bill before us that claims to increase surveillance of our waters. The people of my region would therefore be right to question how this is going to be done. How can our waters really be monitored with so many cuts to Fisheries and Oceans Canada and, more importantly, the Canadian Coast Guard?

To come back to the bill and the amendments it will make, it is important to note that this bill is not just about surveillance and control. There are some aspects of the bill that we did not talk about today but that deserve our attention.

For example, the bill will change the definition of “fish” and add a definition of “crustacean” and other species that will now be subject to the protection regime set out in the international agreement signed through the United Nations. That is a good thing. We need to broaden the definition so that it covers more than just traditional products. Things are not at all like they were in the 1980s, when we could fish large quantities of cod. Crustaceans have become much more popular on the international market, and the government is right to add them to the definition to widen the jurisdiction.

However, where is the support? This year, coastal communities had a lot of problems because the winter was so cold. Unfortunately, the Canadian Coast Guard and icebreakers were not around very much to help coastal communities prepare for the shellfish season. In eastern Canada, the start of this fishing season was significantly delayed, which will affect the industry's profitability and the income of many fishers. We can do as much as we want to control illegal fishing, but if our fishers are the last ones to get their products on the international market and that market is already flooded with legal products from other countries, it will be difficult to remain competitive internationally.

The bill supposedly enhances protection for legal fishing, but fishers need certain tools in the field to benefit from that protection. I am wondering why this government believes that this bill will be enough to help coastal communities.

Even today, fishers in the Magdalen Islands think that Fisheries and Oceans Canada has not consulted with them enough regarding a number of aspects of the fishery. That is something that I hear often. There is almost no consultation. Consultation was conducted fairly regularly on this bill. For example, the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans examined it and heard from witnesses, which is a good thing. However, when it comes to consulting coastal communities on the real impacts of legal fishing, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is basically missing in action.

I am very grateful to the parliamentary secretary and the members of the standing committee for studying this bill so thoroughly, but I would like them to go much further.

When the parliamentary committee is called on to discuss the impact of a bill on the other changes Canada has made to its laws, then maybe it should focus on that, especially on the changes made by Bills C-38 and C-45.

Let us come back to the bill before us today. The international fish trade is worth roughly $130 billion. International fishery is a highly valuable industry on the world market.

However, there is practically no illegal fishing in Canada according to testimony in committee. When departmental representatives were asked the question, they were unable to describe the extent of illegal fishing in Canada. They said it was hard to put a number to it because there were very few facts available and, if I understand correctly, little to no monitoring.

Again, we would be hard-pressed to improve our ability to monitor and quantify illegal fishing in Canada with this bill, if the resources are not on the ground to truly assess the extent of illegal fishing.

It is all well and good to give the minister discretionary power, but, to start with, the government always grants fishing vessels a licence. The licence request is key in ensuring that Canada can monitor and search a ship suspected of fishing illegally.

This bill goes in circles. I would have liked to see measures that were much more beneficial to the fishery.

The testimony in committee was given by a Fisheries and Oceans Canada representative, Allan MacLean, on March 12, 2015. That was not that long ago. A question was asked in English by an NDP member:

If the purpose of this is to prevent illegally caught fish from coming into Canada, don't you have any estimates on how much fish is coming into Canada, or any idea of what kind of problem it is, or the extent of this problem?

Mr. Rosser replied:

—it's hard to be certain about the level of illegal activity.

Once again, the department is simply not able to tell us the extent of the problem.

Today we are debating a bill that the parliamentary committee spent a lot of time studying, and the department itself cannot answer a simple question about the extent of the problem. The department does not even know.

I think it is important to ratify United Nations agreements, and I am pleased that the Conservatives are ratifying an agreement, because I think they have some reservations about ratifying UN international agreements. Nevertheless, they will do so with this bill and that is very good.

However, I do have to wonder something. If the government does not even know the extent of the problem, would it not be a good time to conduct an investigation? Should we not beef up resources at Fisheries and Oceans Canada so that the department can do the work this bill is asking it to do?

The government cut $4.2 million from surveillance, maintenance and marine traffic and rescue centres. We should beef up these resources. We are jeopardizing mariners' lives and the outcome and value of the fishery if we do not improve the resources at Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Unfortunately this is not addressed in the bill, but the bill is a step in the right direction. The government should start investing in the fishery instead of just passing bills that have no substance.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 11:40 a.m.
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Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech in the House about this important matter. I have two questions pertaining to the committee.

He mentioned quite a bit about the committee seeming to have a hard time trying to get the scale and scope of what is happening out there with illegal fishing. The first question is this. What was the problem there? Was it a lack of witnesses, or did the witnesses not have the knowledge? Did the committee ask any international witnesses to come forward?

My second question is this. Why has it taken so long for this bill to finally come forward? Has the committee been pushing over the years to get it? It seems that this could have been done a long time ago, because other countries seem to be ahead of us.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 11:45 a.m.
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NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, starting with the last question, the committee could have moved this forward. We remember that this bill was initially presented to the House as Bill S-13 but, due to prorogation, the bill died on the order paper.

Certainly when it comes to ratifying international agreements, we should be more timely. It would be best to ask the parliamentary secretary why the government has not been more forthcoming in bringing these bills forward.

Going back to the member's first question, when Fisheries and Oceans officials are brought to the committee and asked direct questions on the impact of this bill and the value of illegal fishing in this country, it is abhorrent that they cannot answer. It is unfathomable to me that our ministries do not have the resources at their disposal to be able to know the state of the fisheries in Canada. If we ask them specific questions, they should be able to come up with specific answers. To this date, they still have not. I am still waiting, and I would love to hear more precision from the government regarding fisheries activities in this country, because I know the Conservatives have gutted the Fisheries Act and they have gutted resources to the ministry. It is about time they started investing.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 11:45 a.m.
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NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague make some excellent points about this bill. While he acknowledged we are supporting it and it is a small step in the right direction, he listed quite a few concerns in terms of illegal fishing, what our government is doing, and what could be done, including increased surveillance and the lack of surveillance that we currently have.

The member talked about the cuts to the Coast Guard. Certainly on the west coast, in the busiest port in the country, we have lost the Kitsilano Coast Guard station. It was shut down. He also pointed out the Marine Communications and Traffic Services centres being shut down, on the west coast again. We have had five centres consolidated down to two. We have lost three centres.

The question is to the point of surveillance. The member mentioned that, when the officials came to committee, they were not able to provide the answers needed by the committee. I want to know from my hon. colleague if he believes the government is serious about protecting our coast and about monitoring our fishery and providing the surveillance needed in terms of investments and resources. I also want to ask, finally, if he could comment on this: while there is a 200-nautical-mile limit on the west coast, late last year the government quietly reduced from 50 nautical miles to 12 nautical miles our responsibility and jurisdiction.

Could the member comment on either of those two questions?

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 11:45 a.m.
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NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the questions. They certainly merit a lot of attention. In the few minutes I have in front of me, I do not think I could do them justice.

Certainly, the government has been seen, over and over again, to reduce its responsibilities as much on the international scene as locally. Bringing us back to a 12-nautical-mile limit, instead of the more modern 200-nautical-mile limit, shows that the government is looking back and not forward. It needs to improve its responsibilities. With respect to protecting our coasts and fisheries, I think actions speak louder than words when we close Maritime traffic control centres, close Coast Guard stations, and challenge communities themselves to replace the work that Fisheries and Oceans and the Coast Guard are supposed to do on our behalf. We are asking people to do things that they simply are not equipped to do. Government is the best vehicle to protect our coastlines and to ensure our fisheries are sustainable, and we need to have bills in front of us that reflect that engagement on the part of our government. Unfortunately, what we have seen from the government are bills that gut fisheries protections and coastal protections. Its priorities are upside down, and they certainly are not sustainable.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 11:50 a.m.
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Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak on Bill S-3, an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. The fishery is the biggest employer in my riding and also provides many of the fresh fish products to the states and throughout Asia. The fishermen back home are trying to get out on the water, but they are surrounded by ice.

It is a pleasure for me to speak on this bill today, a bill that would prohibit the importation of illegal codfish and marine plants, extend Canadian control over foreign fishing vessels seeking access to Canadian ports, give Canadian fisheries protection officers greater authority and powers of enforcement, and allow the minister to share information with regard to the inspection of foreign vessels, as well as greater information sharing between Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency related to the importation of fish and fish products.

As the Liberal critic, the member for Cardigan, said when he spoke on this bill at second reading, the Liberal Party supports this bill and the implementation of the Port State Measures Agreement. On November 22, 2009, a conference of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations approved the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, or Port State Management Agreement. Canada signed the agreement on November 19, 2010, but it has yet to be ratified. The Port State Measures Agreement would contribute to harmonized port state measures, enhance regional and international co-operation, and block the flow of illegal, unreported, and unregulated—which we abbreviate to the IUU—codfish into national and international markets.

As discussed previously in the House and at committee, this is a good bill. It is good that the government is signing on to the Port State Measures Agreement and making the proper legislative amendments needed to do so. On the other hand, however, Liberals wonder why the government has taken so long to move on this important legislation, a question I asked of the member earlier. Proroguing Parliament takes this all away, sometimes for political gain, and the government should look at the situation and how it is putting the fisheries in jeopardy.

This was first introduced as Bill S-13 at the end of 2012. Then it was brought back as Bill S-3 in October of 2013. It is difficult to understand why the Conservatives let the bill sit so long before moving it forward if they place any importance on this issue. The major problem we have on this side is that, while the government is finally putting this legislation in place, which is a good thing, it is taking away the other areas that are so important in this fight against illegal fishing.

While Liberals welcome the measures in this bill, the government has undermined surveillance and monitoring programs for foreign offshore fishing vessels. It has cut $4.2 million and 23 full-time jobs in Canada's offshore surveillance of foreign fishing vessels, which will result in a reduction of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, or as many of us know, NAFO. NAFO air hours will go from 1,000 to 600 and its sea days will go from 785 to 600. That is a big reduction. If we are going to implement this bill, we are going to need more resources, but the trend now is that we are getting less. That is very concerning. It is hard to see how this would help in the fight against illegal fishing activities, both within and outside of Canadian waters.

The government also has no information on what illegal fishing is taking place, both within and outside of Canada's 200-mile limit. Despite repeated questions at committee stage of this bill, the government could not provide the proper answers to members of the committee or provide the witnesses who would be able to answer the committee members' questions with knowledge and authority. For a country that relies so much on fisheries, having such a large fisheries department, and taking part in international agreements, one would think the committee would have been able to get the proper resources and people to answer those questions. We can see the scope of how important this bill is.

The lack of this information is made even more concerning when combined with the government's cuts to offshore surveillance.

These are serious concerns. Illegal fishing inside or outside waters and illegally caught fish entering our country are very serious issues. I wish the government would take these things more seriously and have the proper answers as to what kind of activity is taking place and what is going on in these areas.

Members of the House and Canadians deserve answers to questions like this. We are all here to represent people who sent us to the House of Commons. If the people in our ridings depend on the fishery, they deserve to have more answers. As I stated before, in communities that I represent all through northern Cape Breton, it is a lifeline. Tourism is important in our area, but fishing is the mainstay, and it always was. People originally came to Cape Breton for the fish. Before coal and steel, fish were the thing. They came for the groundfish, now it is shellfish. Whether it is crab, lobster or shrimp, these are the big fisheries in our area. The fish move, so when they move in and out, and people catch them offshore, it is a problem.

People involved in the fishing industry and all those concerned with illegal fishing activity deserve to have answers. If the government has some details on these questions, perhaps it could provide them to the members here today.

How much illegal fishing activity is taking place in Canadian waters? How much is happening outside the 200-mile limit? I was very concerned with some of the members bringing up how our surveillance was getting shorter and the limit was being expanded. How much illegally caught fish and seafood enter into our ports? These figures are very important to members of the House and anyone involved in the fisheries. If the government could shed some light on that, it would be much appreciated.

As long as I have been in the House, I have been involved in the fisheries. I have represented men and women living in my area. In my area of northern Cape Breton, there are at least 20 fishing communities from Pleasant Bay all the way to New Waterford. The average community would probably have 20 or 25 lobster boats, but they also catch crab, groundfish and halibut. In addition, we have four fishing plants there. If we take everyone who is involved, whether it is the skippers on the boats, or the helpers, or the guys and girls on the wharfs sorting the lobsters, or the people who bring ice or the truck drivers, the fisheries are very important in my area.

These fishers employ thousands and people in Cape Breton rely on that, whether the fishermen are buying trucks, or rope from our rope manufacturing plant. Therefore, it is more than what we see down at the harbour or at the port. There is more of an impact directly and indirectly from all those jobs in the fisheries. It was such a big thing for us at the time to get the 200-mile limit, but now we have to go one step further. We catch mackerel in our area, but they swim outside the 200-mile limit and come back. If they are getting caught outside that limit, we are not going to catch them. We use them not only for eating but also for bait.

Sometimes it can be hard to get people in central Canada and people in the west, who are thousands of miles away from our coasts, to fully understand just how important the fisheries are to us down home. Many come there during our tourist season and see it. We appreciate it when they come to the east coast to see not only our beauty, but our small fishing communities. It is not by coincidence that we still have those small fishing communities. It is part of what was installed years ago by the late Roméo LeBlanc when he set up the quota system and the owner-operator system. Those are key pillars to our fishing communities.

Sometimes we have to look at it. It is a major economic driver, not only to my province, my riding and Atlantic Canada, but to all of Canada.

We have some of the best seafood products in the world down home, and it is very concerning that if there is illegal fishing taking place, it could be contributing to lower prices for our products or weaken demand at home and abroad. Therefore, not only is it taking the fish away, but it is dumping them on markets and bringing the prices down.

The government made some needed amendments at committee, which brings the bill in line with what it sets out to do. However, I would like those on the government side to clarify that the fines set out in their amendments would have a cap for fines and punishment of at least $500,000 upon conviction, or impose heavier fines if needed.

Members of the fisheries committee tried to get these answers last week. However, since the Conservatives were unable to let the committee hear from any legal experts on this, I am sure they were been given the proper legal opinion. It is great to catch people, but what will deter them? There has to be major fines.

For example, imagine if the amount of illegally-caught fish was in the millions of dollars. It is like catching people speeding. They could be doing it all time. Therefore, if the catch is $1 million, those convicted have millions of dollars in capital, and a fine of $500,000 might not even be enough to deter them from doing it again. It is one thing to catch people, and we would need to have the surveillance and people there to catch them, but when they are caught, there has to be a quick process, such as major fines and being blacklisted around the world for illegally catching fish. Many times, illegal fishing hurts the fishermen in these areas, but it could also decimate some of the fragile fish species.

The government and the courts need to have the flexibility to make the punishment fit the crime. Far too often, members of Parliament and members of committee ask questions but get no answers from the government. I hope the Conservatives can clarify these issues in the House.

The amendments made at committee were okay, and we support them and the bill. However, I wish the government would be willing to provide further information and clarification for members who have questions on these issues. However, the port state measures agreement implementation act is important and it needs to be passed into law so Canada can do its part in the international fight against illegal fishing.

Canada needs to take a leadership role in the fight against this kind of activity, both at home and around the world. As a country with the world's largest coastline and so many people relying on fisheries to make a living, it is our duty to be a leader on this. We took the leadership on the 200-mile limit, and we should take leadership on these measures.

The Liberals believe in the vital role the fishing industry plays in Canada's economy and culture. It contributes over $5.4 billion and 71,000 full-time jobs to the Canadian economy, which is big. In Canada, over $4 billion, including $1.3 billion in my province of Nova Scotia alone, in fish and seafood products are exported each year. This number could be even higher if Canada and the global community came together to effectively crack down on the illegal fishing happening here and around the world.

We believe the federal government must play a strong role in cracking down on illegal, unreported and unregulated, or IUU, fishing to protect the livelihoods of fishers, fisheries conservation and the Canadian economy. It is important to note that illegal fishing activities cost the global economy up to $23 billion per year.

I am proud the Liberal Party has a strong record when dealing with illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. As many in the House know, former fisheries minister, Brian Tobin, made a very good point to the world when we caught a Spanish trawler off the coast of Newfoundland. It was shocking to see the small fish the trawler caught, which I think were turbot. Mr. Tobin took the net to the UN in New York and held it up. The world could not believe how small the mesh was, so no fish would get through.

It really woke up the international community at the time, and Canada took a big lead in that. However, it was under the leadership of Mr. Brian Tobin and the Liberal government of the time.

We had communities, whether they were in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Atlantic Canada, or P.E.I., that lost a ground fishery because there was overfishing. It was not just because of international causes, we were one of the culprits. We were catching too many fish. We were going through a phase when we were trying to get our fisheries back, so we took strong steps. We had the cod moratorium, so we closed our fisheries. However, lo and behold, others did not. Others were fishing outside of our limits. It was very important that to manage our fisheries, protect them, save them and rebuild them everybody around the world also had to do it. However, that was not happening, so what Mr. Tobin did was a good thing.

We established the 200-mile limit fishing zone that protected the fishermen from foreign trawlers. We also amended the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act to extend its application to the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, or NAFO, regulatory area. Then there was the turbot war, as I mentioned. We are an active member on the High Seas Task Force, an international task force committed to stopping the IUU fishing in parts the ocean that is not under the exclusive control of sovereign states.

Our party has taken a strong lead in protecting our fishing communities and helping them rebound. Fish, especially wild fish, is in great demand around the world, not only for its taste but for its health. It is only going to be maintained if we regulate it properly, if we catch the bad guys who are catching too much of the wrong species or the wrong size and not reporting it.

In my community, and in many communities, we are now seeing a process in place where people are certified in managing and monitoring their fisheries properly. Many countries in Europe and around the world, and many of the buyers of fish are looking for that certification. That will also be a deterrent in preventing illegal fish or the wrong fish getting into the market.

We on this side the House are pleased to support the bill and to fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, both here at home and around the world.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 12:05 p.m.
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South Shore—St. Margaret's Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the whip of the Conservative Party.

I am certainly pleased to be here today to speak to this important piece of legislation, Bill S-3, an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act.

As has been stated by my hon. colleagues, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is a very serious problem both around the world and here at home. It is one of the main impediments to the achievement of sustainable fisheries worldwide, and it depresses the market prices for our fisheries exports.

As a Nova Scotian and a former chair of the fisheries committee, I understand the critical importance of our fishing industry and the role it plays in our economy, both at the local level and national level. Hard-working, law-abiding fishermen are committed to ensuring that Canada's marine resources are sustainably harvested and continue to be available for future generations. We invest in extensive fisheries science and monitor the status of fisheries and make decisions on how much catch can be allowed in a given season to ensure the health of the fishery.

However, those vessels that undertake illegal fishing operations have no regard for the sustainability of the fisheries they target. Their only concern is fishing as much as possible and selling that catch in the global market. We must stand up for our fishermen by supporting efforts to combat illegal fishing. We need to pass Bill S-3.

In Canada, we appreciate the critical importance of protecting our shared fishery waters. This includes our leadership efforts to ensure sustainable fishing practices and enforcement in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, and let me be clear that the bill before us today would not impact the management of NAFO, as the amendments relate to the activities at port, not at sea. Plus, our leadership in this organization demonstrates our country's commitment to sustainable fishing.

As part of our NAFO enforcement efforts, our inspectors make use of a comprehensive approach, including the use of satellite vessel monitoring systems, port inspection, daily catch reports and surveillance overflight information to target offenders.

We are seeing results. Due to our conservation measures, illegal fishing has been deterred, and the number of citations has been decreasing overall in the last 15 years, with only nine citations issued in 2014.

Turning back to the bill before us, the international community has been working to develop global tools to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities. I am proud to say that the Government of Canada is part of this global movement.

As a nation with a robust fishing industry, Canada has a strong interest in protecting fish stocks and ensuring that fishing regulations are respected. The goal of the port state measures agreement is to prevent a vessel that has been fishing illegally to land its catch and for the illegal catch to enter the market. The agreement needs 25 parties to come into force. So far, 11 countries have taken the steps needed to ratify or otherwise become parties to the treaty, and another 16, including Canada, have indicated they will become parties as well.

With the existing Coastal Fisheries Protection Act and its regulations, Canada already has a robust port state control regime for foreign fishing vessels, and these amendments would make our regime even stronger. Even without the agreement, these amendments are important for improving Canadian fisheries enforcement efforts.

The proposed legislative changes have a practical necessity as well. The first concerns authorities related to the port access of foreign fishing vessels. As my hon. colleague has stated, the proposed changes establish an enforcement system that would apply when a foreign vessel has been directed by its flag state to enter a Canadian port. In this case, Canada would issue a specific permit for the sole purpose of inspection and enforcement.

It may be the case that the flag state may want Canada's assistance to conduct an inspection and to gather evidence. In such cases, allowing a vessel into our ports to gather this evidence would be more effective at combatting illegal fishing than keeping that vessel out of our ports.

As illegal fishing is a global threat to sustainable fisheries, the sharing of information on illegal fishing operations is essential for our partners to work collectively to address this international threat. We need to know who the criminals are to ensure that they are prevented from landing their catch.

The amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act would clearly lay out information to be shared with our international enforcement partners. Here at home, Bill S-3 would give clarity to the ability of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency to share information related to the importation of fish and seafood products.

Another category of changes contained in Bill S-3 concerns import prohibitions and related authorities. Under the proposed changes, it would give authorities new, practical tools to enforce prohibitions on illegal fisheries.

Currently, fisheries officers are limited to inspecting wharves and ships. Obviously, global trade is changing and fisheries officers need to be able to inspect all areas where fish may be kept. Those areas include warehouses, vehicles, or through a point of entry, such as an airport. These amendments would allow fisheries protection officers to seize illegally caught fish in these places and seek their forfeiture in the event of conviction for their illegal transportation.

The amendments would also ensure that the punishment fits the crime. If a court finds the person guilty of an importation offence under the act, significant fines would apply. Over and above these penalties, the court could also order an additional fine equal to the financial benefits the defendants gain from committing the offence. This would ensure that fines do not simply become a cost of doing business.

Fishing is a global industry, and our government recognizes this reality. Some of our key fisheries export markets, such as the European Union, have already ratified and implemented the port state measures agreement. Others, such as the United States, will soon be on board. These amendments would apply the same global standard in our ports as our key trading partners.

In conclusion, Bill S-3 would strengthen the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, aligning it with the new global standard articulated in the port state measures agreement as part of meeting our international obligations.

The bill would allow us to protect the livelihoods of legitimate fish harvesters in Canada more effectively by limiting the amount of illegal fish that enter the world markets and that undermine the profits of responsible law-abiding fish harvesters. Our government is committed to ensuring sustainable fisheries and maximizing economic opportunities for our harvesters. Part of that commitment is supporting the global fight against illegal fishing.

In closing, I urge all hon. members to join me in supporting these critical amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. This is a piece of common sense legislation that I think all sides of the House can support. It would enable our fisheries officers to actually board foreign vessels not just at the wharf, but also when that fish has been landed at the wharf and is en route to a market somewhere in Canada or North America.

The importance of this should not be understated. It would be one more tool in the tool belt of our enforcement officers. They have a tough job as it is. This would enable them to shut down overfishing, and specifically foreign overfishing. It would allow them to go on board foreign vessels. It would encourage those flagged owners of those vessels to force those vessels to port in Canada, and would allow our fisheries officers to go on board.

This is a win-win not just for enforcement in Canada, but it is a win-win for the global fisheries and sustainability everywhere.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 12:15 p.m.
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NDP

Dany Morin NDP Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I agree that this bill is a step in the right direction to protect our fishing industry. However, this is a global issue, and we do business with economic partners.

Will the Conservative government ask other countries in the international community to sign and ratify the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing? Canada does business with some countries, such as Mexico, Spain and Panama, whose vessels are known to practise illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 12:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the hon. member that this is a global problem. This problem is not as bad in the North Atlantic as it is in some areas of the world's oceans, especially off of Africa and in Southeast Asia, but it is not as if it is not a problem off the east coast and west coast of Canada. It is a problem.

What the bill would allow is for the first time we would be able to encourage those countries where the vessels are flagged to force the owners, through pressure from international agencies, to bring those vessels ashore. If there are no illegal fish on board, good for them. If there is, it could be seized and reasonable penalties could be applied.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 12:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Yvonne Jones Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, obviously, we certainly support any measures that we can take to combat illegal activities in our waters, illegal fishing, unreported and unregulated foreign fishing.

However, my question goes back to the cuts we have seen in the fisheries sector, in particular in surveillance, monitoring and other services. Throughout Atlantic Canada we have seen fisheries offices close and many people who were in enforcement positions lose their jobs. We have seen the government cut about $4.2 million from offshore resources for surveillance and monitoring. It has also cut 23 positions in foreign monitoring and surveillance of the offshore fishing vessels.

In developing these new measures, is the government also prepared to put adequate resources in to ensure that the job gets done properly?