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 / 10:10 a.m.
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Conservative

Patricia Davidson Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, before I start, I would like to note that I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment and Social Development.

Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing is a serious problem in many parts of the world. It is one of the main barriers to the achievement of sustainable fisheries worldwide. Illegal fishing affects some of the poorest countries, where dependence on fisheries for food and livelihoods is high.

By its nature, illegal fishing is not a problem for one country to solve on its own, because the problem respects no boundaries. These exploitive activities put pressure on the sustainability of all fish stocks and marine wildlife and distort the price of fish on world markets.

In recent years, the international community has been working to develop global tools to prevent, deter, and eliminate illegal fishing activities. Improving the control of foreign fishing vessels through a global standard for action that can be taken in ports is one tool to stop illegal fishing. In short, if criminals cannot land their illegal catches, they will not be able to continue their operations.

I am proud to say that our government is part of this movement. As a nation with a well-regulated fishing industry, Canada has a strong interest in protecting fish stocks and in ensuring that fishing regulations are respected around the world.

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. Canada signed this agreement in 2010 to signal the importance of taking strong action in ports to prevent illegal fishing, and today we are taking a step towards ratifying this important agreement. So far, 11 nations have ratified. The United States is in the process of passing ratification legislation, and it is expected that other countries will soon follow suit.

Before Canada can ratify this new global standard, we must address areas where our current legislation differs from the international agreement. These are the amendments we are discussing today through Bill S-3.

Through our current legislation, the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, Canada already has a rigorous port control system for foreign fishing vessels. The proposed changes contained in Bill S-3 will make this system even stronger.

The proposed amendments to the act can be grouped into three broad categories. The first category concerns authorities related to foreign fishing vessels. The port state measures agreement generally promotes a country's ability to refuse port entry to fishing vessels that are suspected to have engaged in or supported illegal fishing. However, there may be situations when the country responsible for the fishing vessel will want Canada's assistance to conduct an inspection and gather necessary evidence against the suspect ship.

The proposed changes will create an enforcement permit that will apply when a foreign fishing vessel has been directed by its flag state to enter a Canadian port for inspection. In this case, Canada would issue a specific entry permit for the sole purpose of inspection and enforcement. This is important, as the current system requires that the vessel itself request a permit to enter a Canadian port. Naturally, those who would commit illegal fishing activities are unlikely to seek permission to land in a country with as rigorous an inspection system as Canada's. This amendment will allow Canada, in partnership with the flag state, to direct a ship to port so that our officers can catch the criminals.

The proposed changes will also give our Canadian fishery protection officers greater authority to take enforcement action in such circumstances. When that foreign fishing vessel is directed to port under the new permit system, these powers will allow Canadian fishery protection officers to inspect and search the vessel and seize any illegal catch.

The second set of proposed changes relates to information sharing. To meet the requirements of the port state measures agreement, these changes provide clarity on the authority to share information with our enforcement partners. The proposed changes cover both the type of information and with whom it would be shared.

These proposed changes would clearly outline that the minister could share information regarding the inspection of a foreign vessel, the denial of entry to port, any enforcement action taken and the outcome of any of those proceedings. They would also outline the international partners with which such information could be shared. Applied globally, this effort would make illegal fishing operators easier to identify and facilitate the denial of entry at ports for those bandits throughout the world.

For our officers at home, the proposed changes would clarify 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.

The third major category of proposed changes concerns import prohibitions. Under the proposed changes, it would be an offence to import illegally caught fish into Canada.

The amendments would also give authorities new tools to enforce these prohibitions. For example, Bill S-3 would expand the powers of fishery protection officers to inspect any place, including containers, warehouses, storage areas and vehicles. These inspections could also be conducted in all ports of entry. This would be an important change since, currently, such powers are limited to fishing vessels and wharves. The amendments would also allow fishery protection officers to seize illegally caught fish in these places and seek their forfeiture in the event of a conviction.

Illegal fishing is a global threat to sustainable fisheries and to the management and conservation of our marine environment. Regional fisheries management organizations are increasingly requiring documentation for high-value species that are targets of illegal fishing. Canada can play its part in preventing economic gains going to illegal operators by preventing the import of fish and fish products that do not have the required documentation. If a court finds the person guilty of an importation offence under the act, significant fines would apply. In addition, with these amendments, the court could also order an additional fine equal to the financial benefit the defendants gained from committing the offence. This would ensure that fines are not able to be factored into the criminal's operating costs and would provide a real deterrent to these operations.

In addition to these three broad categories, the proposed amendments would also change several definitions, in order to be consistent with the port state measures agreement.

The amended definition of “fishing vessel” would include any vessel used in transshipping fish or marine plants that have not been previously landed. The scope of this definition is limited so that it would not include vessels that merely ship across the sea, such as those transporting grain. The proposed changes would also redefine the term “fish” itself. In keeping with the port state measures agreement and the Fisheries Act, “fish” would come to include fish, shellfish and crustaceans, whether processed or not. The amendments would also add a definition of “marine plant”.

Bill S-3 would strengthen the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, aligning it with the new global standard of the port state measures agreement.

As part of meeting our international obligations, the bill would allow us to protect the livelihoods of fish harvesters in Canada more effectively by limiting the amount of illegal fish that enter global markets.

I urge all hon. members to join with me in supporting these critical amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2015 / 10:20 a.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to take the opportunity to pose a question to the minister. When we think of our coastal regions, there is a great deal of concern with respect to overfishing, quotas and so forth. Canada, traditionally, has played a fairly strong role internationally in demonstrating leadership in protection and conservational-type attitudes in what we can do to promote healthier fish stocks.

I wonder if the member would provide some insight, in terms of how the legislation would impact inland fisheries. I am thinking specifically of Lake Winnipeg. We have a lot of healthy freshwater fishing industries in Canada. I wonder if she would provide some comment with respect to whether the legislation would impact freshwater fishing.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2015 / 10:20 a.m.
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Conservative

Patricia Davidson Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is 100% right that Canada has always played a leading role when it comes to protection and conservation and doing the right thing when it comes to protecting our fisheries.

We are a major exporter of fishery products and because of that we are not immune to the economic impacts of illegal fishing in international trade. As I said in my remarks, this is indeed an international issue, and that is why Bill S-3 is being put forward. We do want to continue with our excellent role that we have been playing globally. We do want to be able to take part in the port state measures agreement.

To do that, we need to have the amendments that are being put forward in Bill S-3. We want to be able to continue to prevent illegal fishing and we want to be a part in setting the global standard for actions when vessels do seek to enter a port and they should not be.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2015 / 10:20 a.m.
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NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite certainly laid out what this bill would do, but I am left with a number of questions about future plans for the current government. In particular, we know that in order for this international treaty to be ratified and implemented we need 25 countries to sign on to ratify the agreement.

I wonder what our government is doing in terms of taking a leadership role in working with those other countries to sign and ratify the port state measures agreement. I wonder if our government is actually taking a leadership role, specifically with some of our trading partners, like Mexico, Spain and Panama, whose fishing vessels we know are engaged in IUU, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. This is a serious issue where Canada should be seen to take a leadership role, and I do not see any evidence of that happening.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2015 / 10:25 a.m.
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Conservative

Patricia Davidson Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, we do know that there have to be 25 member countries ratify this agreement before it comes into force. As of this date, I believe 11 countries have ratified it. We have two others that are very close to ratifying. Of course, Canada is moving forward with the amendments proposed in Bill S-3.

We certainly do not want to be the last country ratifying this agreement. We have always taken a leadership role when it comes to conservation and when it comes to trying to protect our fisheries. We want to be able to continue to do that. There are meetings constantly with other countries and we are certainly promoting that other countries do take part in this ratification.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2015 / 10:25 a.m.
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NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am concerned that there has been little mention of our third coast on the Arctic.

My questions for the hon. member are these. Where in the budget, and in successive budgets, are we seeing stepped-up dollars to actually move forward on building these ships that will ply our waters and protect our fisheries? What measures have been taken, including through the Arctic Council, to ensure that we have better monitoring of what fishery is in our Arctic waters; and what measures should we be taking in co-operation with other nations to ensure that those fisheries are protected as well in our Arctic coastline?

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2015 / 10:25 a.m.
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Conservative

Patricia Davidson Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, certainly Canada plays a very strong role when it comes to protecting all of our shores. We know we have wonderful services in Vancouver on the west coast. It has full Coast Guard capacity there. It is doing all kinds of great work.

Bill S-3 would apply to all ports, so it is not just a bill that would apply to the east coast if that is what the member's concern was.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2015 / 10:25 a.m.
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Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley Nova Scotia

Conservative

Scott Armstrong ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be here today to add my support for amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. As we have heard the last time this bill was debated, members from both sides of the House recognized the importance of this bill moving forward. Unfortunately, the suggestion of my colleague, the member for Yukon, for a vote on this important bill was not supported by the opposition.

As a Nova Scotian, this issue is particularly important to the economy of my province and the economy of the riding I represent. It is certainly my hope that we will be able to pass this legislation quickly so that we can continue to focus on protecting fisheries at our ports with the new tools contained in this legislation.

The proposed changes we are discussing today would bring our already rigorous system in line with new international standards for combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing as outlined in the port state measures agreement. As my colleague noted, in 2010, Canada signed this important agreement.

The agreement points the way towards practical, cost-effective solutions that will deter and stop illegal harvesting operations. It would do this by requiring some practical standards for ports around the world. For example, it spells out that vessels involved in illegal fishing activities would be refused entry into a port or the use of that port's services. It also sets minimum standards for information that vessels must provide to obtain entry into a port for the inspection of vessels and for the training of inspectors. Also, it allows for greater co-operation and exchange of information between jurisdictions.

It will require at least 25 ratifications for this agreement to enter into force. As my colleague mentioned, currently 11 members of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations have taken this step. Some 20 others, including Canada, have indicated that they are moving towards ratification. In doing so, these measures would support the global fight against illegal fishing and would help us protect the livelihoods of our hard-working fish harvesters here at home in Canada.

Our government is committed to supporting the efforts of our hard-working fishermen. As part of economic action plan 2015, our government is increasing the lifetime capital gains exemption to $1 million for owners of fishing businesses. This means that fishers and their families would have more money in their pockets.

On the topic of supporting our fishers, I would like to take a moment to speak to the economic advantages of approving these proposed legislative changes.

Canada currently enjoys one of the most valuable commercial fishing industries on the planet. Around 85% of Canadian fish and seafood products are exported internationally, to the tune of over $4 billion annually in export value. We are a major global player in the international seafood market. In fact, Canada is the world's seventh largest exporter of fish and seafood products, and we believe that this is going to grow exponentially. Of course, in order to ensure that this industry continues to provide strong economic opportunities to future generations, we are devoted to responsible fish harvesting practices. We closely monitor fishing within our own waters as well as the activities of Canadian fish harvesters as they conduct their craft on international waters.

With the current Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, Canada already has the tools to carefully monitor and regulate activities by foreign fishing vessels in Canadian waters and in specific areas of the high seas, but what about fish harvesters who do not act responsibly? What about those who try to bend or break the rules? The economic impact of those operations is very serious.

A 2008 study estimated that illegal fish harvesters are potentially siphoning off up to $23 billion from the global economy each year. By refusing to follow the rules and regulations, illegal fish harvesters can reduce their own operating costs, selfishly. This puts legitimate fish harvesters in Canada and around the world at an economic disadvantage.

Fish are one of the most globally traded food commodities. When we consider the volume of Canadian exports each year, it is clear that illegal fishing in other parts of the world does great damage to our economy.

Members should consider for a moment the impact of illegal fishing on our trading relationship with Europe. Between 2010 and 2012, the European Union imported an average of $25 billion annually in fish and seafood. Canada's share of that total was $400 million annually. With the upcoming comprehensive economic trade agreement between Canada and the European Union, our industry stands to have unprecedented access to the European market for our fish and seafood products. That is good news for Canadian fish harvesters and processors. When this agreement comes into force, it will lift 96% of tariffs on Canadian fish and seafood products, and remaining tariffs would disappear over the next seven years. We want to protect these economic opportunities for our fish harvesters from the detrimental impacts on prices caused by illegally caught fish.

Of course, these rules and regulations are in place not just to protect the livelihoods of legitimate fish harvesters, but they are also meant to safeguard our marine resources for future generations. When illegal fish harvesters break the rules that ensure global fish stocks are sustainable, they damage the ecosystems that the fish depend upon. Therefore, for both economic and environmental reasons, we must join our international partners to take comprehensive action to stop these devastating illegal fishing activities. That is exactly what we would do with Bill S-3. We would strengthen our already rigorous system and support this global action to protect the world's fisheries.

For example, our existing legislation, the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act and its regulations, gives the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans the discretion to authorize foreign fishing vessels to enter Canadian fisheries waters and Canadian ports. In other words, the act prohibits foreign fishing vessels from entering Canadian fisheries waters unless they are already authorized to do so by the act, regulations, or other Canadian law. The act also prohibits any person or crew member aboard a foreign fishing vessel from fishing in Canadian waters without proper authorization.

It is important to stress that Canada's legislation already serves us well. We are among the world's leaders in responsible fishing. Nevertheless, there are a few areas where our legislation could be strengthened before Canada meets the requirements of a new standard approach. This approach is outlined in the port state measures agreement. Today's debate is not only about strengthening the Canadian approach to our port control measures; it is also about supporting a global effort to fight illegal fishing. These two goals go hand-in-hand to protect and support both our industry and our environment.

To that end, Bill S-3 proposes several important changes that would make it possible to share information among federal departments and with our trusted international partners. These amendments would also allow Canadian authorities to take enforcement action against foreign fishing vessels that are directed to our ports by their flag states for inspection and enforcement purposes. These changes would make it illegal to import fish and fish products that are sourced through these criminal activities and would prevent their entry into our market.

Together these changes would create the conditions to ratify the port state measures agreement, an important tool in the global arsenal to fight illegal fishing.

Canada's fish and seafood industry is a mainstay of economic life in coastal and inland communities around the country. My riding is a prime example of this. Currently, the fishing industry employs 80,000 Canadians in jobs nationwide, ranging from fishing wild stocks to aquaculture harvests. With our government's ambitious trade agenda, these industries would benefit directly and see Canada's world-class seafood products on dinner plates across the globe.

We are already seeing some of these improvements and advantages taking place in industries like the lobster industry in Nova Scotia. However, in this global context we must continue to support the fight against illegal fishing, for both economic and environmental reasons. To that end, I am urging all hon. members to support changes to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act to protect our industry and our environment, and to ensure that we continue to protect this vital industry and economic resource for Canada's economy.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2015 / 10:35 a.m.
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NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have the same question for my colleague opposite as I did for his colleague who spoke before him. I do not see any evidence of government wanting to take a leadership role on this.

This bill was first introduced in 2012. Here we are quite a few years later, and it still has not been passed by us here in Canada. I want to know this. Once we finally put this piece of legislation to rest and it is passed, will the government urge other countries in the international community to sign and ratify the port state measures agreement?

Beyond that, when we are looking at leadership internationally, would the government consider some regulation that is similar to the regulation we see in the EU, which would require all fish and seafood products entering the Canadian market to be certified and have their origins traceable? Those are really the next two steps here if we are to tackle this issue and be serious about it.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2015 / 10:35 a.m.
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Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, that is a good question. As I said in my remarks, it would take 25 countries internationally to ratify this agreement to put it into force. Currently, 11 have done so. Canada is one of 25 other nations that are getting the legislation in place and moving toward ratification. As members can see, we are all moving together as an international global community to protect our fishing industry and our fishing environment.

As we ratify the agreement in Canada, we will continue to encourage our allies and our colleagues across the international community to put this measure in place. It would bring in international regulations that would have to be followed from one end of the globe to the other. We encourage all other nations to get on board, make sure we pass this legislation, and make sure we protect our industry and our environment.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2015 / 10:40 a.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to repeat the question I asked the member's colleague. Does the legislation in any way whatsoever have an impact on inland freshwater fishing? It is a significant industry within Canada. That is a question on which I would really appreciate an answer.

The second question is in regard to the timetable. Looking at it, the first question I put forward dealt with the strong role Canada could and should be playing on the international scene. I would ask the member why he feels it has taken so long just to get the legislation to the point it is at. Were they working with different stakeholders? Why has it taken this long to get us to this point?

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2015 / 10:40 a.m.
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Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, as I said, so far 11 countries have ratified the agreement and 25 more are moving toward ratification. Canada is in this cohort of 25. We are working with our international partners to make sure we not only have this legislation in place moving forward, but we actually include as many countries as possible.

This is an international piece of legislation. It has to be ratified by many countries, 25 at least, to make it come into force, so we are working not only with the 11 countries that have already ratified but with other countries to encourage them to make sure we ratify this as quickly as possible.

We need at least 25 countries for it to come into force. We would be one of the next countries to ratify this, if all things go as planned, with the support of the opposition parties as well as this side of the House.

Things are progressing the way they should. International legislation sometimes takes longer than domestic legislation, simply because so many different parliaments have to use so many different regulations to pass this legislation. However, we are moving in the right direction. It is good legislation and we appreciate the opposition's support.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2015 / 10:40 a.m.
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NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to note that I will be sharing my time with the member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles.

We have Bill S-3, which is the current incarnation of this bill. I believe it was Bill S-13 before prorogation, so we have started it again. I will start by talking a little bit about the history, how we got to where we are, and the issue of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, or IUU fishing.

In the early 2000s, there was a small group of ministers and directors general of international NGOs who decided to take the lead on this issue of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. This group included ministers from Australia, Chile, Namibia, New Zealand, the U.K., and Canada. In 2003, they came together and established the High Seas Task Force to advise them and finalize an action plan. The aim was to provide political leadership to drive forward some very badly needed practical initiatives about IUU fishing that could be implemented immediately. That word “immediately” is important. This was in 2003. Members are going to see that we are really far behind on this issue.

Why would they have come together on this issue of IUU fishing? IUU fishing is a very serious international problem. It is a global problem. It is increasingly seen as one of the major obstacles to the achievement of sustainable world fisheries, something toward which I think everyone in the House wants to work.

The result of the task force included a 2006 report called “Closing the Net: Stopping illegal fishing on the high seas”. It is a fantastic report, and it found some basic facts. For example, it estimates that the worldwide value of IUU catches is between $4 billion U.S. and $9 billion U.S. a year. Of this, $1.25 billion comes from the high seas. The remainder is taken from exclusive economic zones of coastal states—for example, where Canada has the exclusive right to fish along its coast.

IUU losses are borne particularly by developing countries, believe it or not—actually, it is probably easy to believe—which provide over 50% of all internationally traded fishery products. This is why I have been asking the Conservatives about the idea of having mandatory labelling for seafood, because we do not know where these products are coming from, and we do not know if they have been caught legally or not.

Losses from the waters of sub-Saharan Africa, for example, amount to $1 billion U.S. a year. That is roughly equivalent to a quarter of Africa's total annual fisheries exports. We can see the gravity of the situation. The Pew environmental group notes that fisheries scientists estimate that illegal fishing accounts for up to 40% of fish caught in west Africa. That is a staggering number. IUU fishing, therefore, imposes significant economic costs on some of the poorest countries in the world, where dependency on fisheries for food, livelihoods, and revenues is very high. Moreover, it effectively undermines recent efforts by these countries to manage natural resources as a contribution to their growth and welfare.

IUU, or illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing does not respect national boundaries. It certainly does not respect international attempts to manage high seas resources. It really thrives where we see weak governance arrangements, and it is encouraged by the failure of countries—and we might put Canada on that list—to meet their international responsibilities. It puts unsustainable pressure on our fish stocks, on marine wildlife, and on habitats; it subverts labour standards; and frankly, it distorts markets. There is a lot at play here with IUU fishing.

It has proven to be incredibly resistant to recent international attempts to control it. Its persistence is due both to economic incentives, fuelled by demand, overcapacity, and weak governance, and to the lack of global political resolve to tackle its root causes. I will get back to that resolve in a few minutes.

This report, “Closing the Net”, states:

An extensive framework of international measures has emerged with the aim of resolving...[this issue], but a central difficulty has been to garner the political resolve to carry forward targets and declarations already agreed.

That is the situation we are in now. Many states are reluctant to adopt measures aimed at controlling their fishing vessels on the high seas. Even where they have adopted such measures, enforcement, which is key, is patchy at best.

Thanks to the work of the High Seas Task Force, another international work, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization created the 2009 agreement on port state measures to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. This is where we are today. The bill would effectively enact that agreement. It would implement that 2009 agreement in Canada by amending the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act.

I want to emphasize how important it is that Canada live up to its UN obligations and that Canada be a world leader in combatting IUU fishing. We have the ability to do so and we are pleased to see that the government is taking action on this issue with Bill S-3.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is not only an environmental concern, and of course a concern for our marine ecosystems, but it undermines the sustainable practices of legitimate fishing operations, including those in Canada, and it presents unfair market competition to sustainable seafood. The changes in the bill would help protect fishermen and their communities from unfair competition, which is important to the fishermen in the area around Halifax as well as across Canada. While the bill represents a small step in the right direction, it comes on the heels of decades of Conservative and Liberal mismanagement, taking Canada in the wrong direction.

I will point out that after years of experience as the environment minister in Quebec, the NDP leader understands the important relationship between environmental protections and a thriving fishing industry in Canada. Canadians can trust the leader of the NDP to grow the economy, while protecting the environment. That is the situation we have here, where we want to grow the economy and grow our fishery, yet ensure its sustainable, it is legal and it is regulated. This is the balance that needs to be struck.

We have heard about the dire situation when it comes to illegal fishing globally. The time to act is now. The bill means that Canada can ratify the FAO's 2009 agreement. Once Canada has fully ratified the port state measures agreement, Canada needs to advocate internationally for other countries to do the same. As we have heard from other speakers, we need 25 countries if we are to realize this agreement internationally, so time is of the essence.

The bill was passed in the Senate in 2012, and it has only been recently brought to the House of Commons and sent to committee. While we support the bill, we support it so it is actually passed. However, what has been happening? Why has the government been dragging its feet on the bill? We have heard all this talk about IUU fishing and our international pledge to ratify a bill in 2012, yet we are in 2015, three and a half weeks before the House rises, and now we finally see the bill.

Remember that the worldwide value of IUU catches is between $4 billion to $9 billion a year, yet we waited year after year to ratify this, not to mention the ecological devastation that comes with illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

We are not alone in wondering what the heck the delay has been. Patrick McGuinness from the Fisheries Council of Canada was at committee. He 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 in addressing the IUU fishing issue that has been identified.

The New Democrats support this legislation. I wonder why it has taken so long to bring it forward, especially when its ratification means so much because of the need for 25 countries to sign on before it becomes enforceable.

I have other questions about the legislation, and I have asked some of them of Conservative members, but I will save the rest for later.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2015 / 10:50 a.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member made reference to the leader of the official opposition doing some good on the environment. At the time he was part of a Liberal government as minister of the environment and he did some goods things, but that was in the capacity of a Liberal cabinet, No doubt, that likely contributed to some of the work he did.

The question I have for the member is with regard to the treaty. She really put some emphasis on it, and we are inclined to agree with her on that. The government has not been diligent and has definitely not been proactive in getting this legislation through the House in any form of an expedited fashion. Maybe the member could provide further comment on this. She is right in the sense that the government has not demonstrated leadership.

If we take a look at the role that Canada as a nation should be playing, I suspect there is no other country in the world that has as much coastline as Canada. I could be wrong, and I may be a little biased in favour of my country. However, it should have been playing a much stronger leadership role.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2015 / 10:50 a.m.
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NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for raising the fact that the leader of my party was a cabinet minister in a federalist party. That is really important to underline.

I agree with the member that we have not seen any kind of leadership. It is not just on this issue, though. The Conservatives are very good about saying, internationally, that they are going to talk the big talk and sign onto this and onto that, but it is the actual implementation. That is really important.

A very good example of that is this. My colleague from New Westminster—Coquitlam brought forward a bill that would ban shark finning in Canadian waters. We have a ban, but it is not legislated. We also have no law to prevent the importation of shark fins. Therefore, my colleague thought we should take action. As legislators, that is what we should do. He brought forward this bill and it was defeated, 143 to 38. How can we tell the world that we do not agree with shark finning, yet not have legislation to enforce that ban or prevent the importation of shark fins? They do not exactly come into Canada with labels on them to say where they come from.

It is all about putting our money where our mouths are or, as we heard in the House the other day, putting our mouths where our money is. I am confused on that one. No, we have not seen any action.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2015 / 10:55 a.m.
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NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, first I wish to congratulate my colleague on her speech. We all know how dedicated she is to protecting our planet in several areas.

I am learning about a file that I was not very familiar with, since I do not eat much fish myself. I am allergic to it, so unfortunately I do not eat it very often.

It is nevertheless very important for Canadians to talk about this issue, especially given that it seems to be a global problem, if you listen to the debate and read a little bit about it. This is about a living, wild resource, specifically fish that live in international waters.

Would my colleague like to talk about what a challenge it is, on a global scale, to coordinate quickly on this issue and make it as much of a priority as climate change is?

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2015 / 10:55 a.m.
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NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.

Indeed, this is a global and international challenge and all countries around the world must work together, much like the NDP, on climate change and fishing.

We need to take action with our international partners if we are to achieve this, and the time to act is now. This is not pie-in-the-sky hopefulness. We really can do this if we look at the economic benefits that could come if we decide to tackle climate change. The fact is that there are real economic opportunities for us in the green energy economy.

The issue of international illegal fishing is about the environment, the ecosystems and the damage that kind of illegal fishing does, but it is also about the economic damage. IUU fishing is illegal, unregulated and unreported, so the regulation is really key. We need to work internationally and work with other countries.

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May 28th, 2015 / 10:55 a.m.
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NDP

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

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill S-3. It is a real pleasure to rise after the hon. member for Halifax. I had the opportunity to work with her previously, as the deputy environment critic. We were both members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.

That was at the time when the government completely gutted the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. This government is not interested in striking a balance between the economy and the environment. The NDP understands that these two things are not mutually exclusive. We know that we can develop policies that help and protect our environment while protecting our industries.

Today, we are talking about the fishing industry, since we are talking about Bill S-3, which deals primarily with illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. This bill is essential. It is largely an administrative bill to allow Canada to ratify a United Nations agreement that we signed in 2010, the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing.

We will support this bill, and we congratulate the government for bringing it forward. Unfortunately, there are only four weeks left in this parliamentary session. We saw that this government hesitated to take action. It has really dragged its feet on addressing illegal fishing.

Illegal fishing is a global issue that affects countries all over the world. According to a 2008 study, the global economic loss due to pirate fishing ranges from $10 billion U.S. to $23 billion U.S. a year. Illegal fishing yields between 11 million and 26 million tonnes of seafood every year, and it can account for up to 40% of the entire catch of certain fisheries. There is one last statistic that I would like to mention: commercial fishing, aquaculture and the processing of fish and seafood in Canada contributes $5.4 billion to to our total GDP. Therefore, it is a significant part of our economy. For that reason, we must fight illegal fishing in order to protect legitimate fishers and the fishing industry in Canada.

Another problem with combatting illegal fishing around the world is the fact that a number of countries have rules or regulations in place to combat illegal fishing but they have a hard time enforcing them. There is a lack of inspections and resources to ensure compliance with these laws, regulations and international agreements. That is very concerning.

Canada must play a role in the world to encourage other countries to sign the agreement. We need 25 countries to sign the United Nations agreement on combatting illegal fishing. Canada must take a leadership role on the world stage to encourage other countries to get involved. We need to get other countries to ratify this agreement as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, Canada's international reputation and image are not the same as they were 10 or 15 years ago. They have changed a lot under the Conservatives.

In 2011 I had the opportunity to go to Durban, South Africa, for the UN negotiations on climate change. I was there with the minister of the environment at the time, although he had not included any opposition members in the government delegation.

During these negotiations on climate change, Canada was the laughingstock of the international community. Many delegates from other countries told me that they thought that Canada had negotiated in bad faith, particularly since the Prime Minister did not even allow the environment minister at the time to go home after getting off the plane from Durban before announcing that Canada would be withdrawing from the Kyoto protocol. The minister made the announcement as soon as he got back to Canada from Durban.

Those delegates from other countries were right because Canada did not announce its intention to withdraw from the Kyoto protocol during the negotiations in Durban. It did so in December when very few people are following federal politics. It was done on the sly, without consultation.

I would like to reiterate that Canada must play a leadership role and that it has a lot of work to do to rebuild its reputation in the international community, particularly when it comes to environmental issues and illegal fishing.

The government could have acted more quickly to implement the United Nations agreement. Patrick McGuinness, from the Fisheries Council of Canada, summed up that idea very well when he testified in committee. He said, and I quote:

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 in addressing the IUU fishing issue that has been identified.

This is not at all a priority for this Conservative government, which has been slow in introducing this legislation in the House.

Personally, I am proud to be part of a team that has expertise on the environment and this industry. We have members such as the member for Halifax, who spoke before me, and we also have a caucus leader, the leader of the official opposition, who was Quebec's environment minister. During his career in provincial politics, he showed that he is a man of conviction. He cares deeply about protecting the environment, but he also knows how to balance Canada's environmental and economic priorities.

I am therefore convinced that the captain of our team is the right man. He is excellent. When the NDP becomes Canada's next government, we will solve this problem. By playing a leadership role in the international community, we will fight illegal fishing at the international level.

We want to emphasize how important it is for Canada to fulfill its obligations to the UN and that Canada can be a leader. Once the bill is passed, the government will have fully ratified the port state measures agreement.

I would like to reiterate that we will support this bill, but the government must take preventive action against illegal fishing. The Government of Canada has been dragging its heels on this issue for a decade now.

Even though we are pleased with this bill and support it, the federal government still has a long way to go. There is no doubt that leadership is not the Conservatives’ strong suit.

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May 28th, 2015 / 11:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Tilly O'Neill-Gordon Conservative Miramichi, NB

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

I am pleased to rise in the House today to support Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. This bill would give Canada additional tools to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing activities more effectively and support global efforts to stop illegal fishing.

As a maritimer, I am keenly aware of the critical importance of sustainable fisheries for coastal communities. Illegal fishing is a worldwide problem. Unfortunately, these criminal operators have been able to move around, seeking out opportunities for profits in areas where enforcement is lacking or is difficult to undertake.

Over the last several years, the global community has been developing tools to ensure that illegally harvested fish do not make it to the global market. The goal of these efforts is to remove the economic profits from illegal fishing. By removing the monetary incentive from these illegal fishing operations, which are so detrimental to our environment and to the sustainability of marine species, we can hopefully eliminate these activities.

As a country that exports 85% of our fisheries harvest, we are mindful of the serious impact illegal fishing in other parts of the world can have on our industry too. By ratifying and implementing the port state measures agreement, we are working with our international partners to prevent illegal harvest from being traded around the world. We are making a commitment to support a fishing industry in Canada and abroad that follows the rules.

What kinds of species are targeted by illegal fishing ventures? They are the high-value species: bluefin tuna, toothfish, and so on. In many cases, the reason these fish are so valuable and so attractive to these criminals—their scarcity—is the same reason they are in such dire need of protection from unsustainable fishing practices.

Illegal fishing is not a new problem. In fact, there is a growing trend to require proof to ensure that imports of fish and seafood have been harvested legally. This proof usually takes the form of a document attesting that the fish harvesters followed national or regional fisheries management rules when catching the fish. Such documents must be supported by effective monitoring, control, and surveillance activities so that the importing country can confirm that the proper procedures have been followed.

Depending on the area, fishing requirements in international waters may be set by regional fisheries management organizations, such as the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, or NAFO. Through our membership in NAFO, our government is standing up for the interests of Canadian fishermen and sustainable fisheries. We have consistently called for measures that promote sustainability, address overfishing, and protect important marine ecosystems.

For example, at the 2014 annual meeting, Canada successfully pushed for further measures to strengthen catch reporting by all member countries. Some countries have started requiring catch documents for some or all seafood that is landed or imported into their markets. For example, the European Union has required all fish and seafood imports to be accompanied by a catch certificate since 2010. All countries who export to the European Union, including Canada, must demonstrate that they are able to ensure that their certificates are backed by strong fisheries enforcement.

Many regional fisheries management organizations take the same approach. These organizations have been focusing on creating catch documentation requirements for valuable species that are often fished illegally. For example, some organizations have documentation requirements for tuna species. These include regional management organizations that Canada is a member of, such as the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.

We also import fish and seafood from areas around the world where we do not harvest. In many of these areas, regional organizations exist to manage prized species, such as tuna. Organizations, including the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission and the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna, also require catch certification documents to ensure that fish are caught legally.

Under the amendments proposed in the bill before us, Canada would be able to make it an offence to import tuna from these far-off regions without the required documents. This bill creates the necessary protection between Canada's seafood market and the illegal fishing operations that want to cash in on the high demand for these species.

Import documentation requirements can have a real impact on illegal fishing operations. One example is another species at great risk from illegal fishing operations, the Patagonian toothfish, often sold under the trade name “Chilean sea bass”. This species, living in the world's far southern oceans, is managed by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. All vessels fishing for toothfish in these waters must follow conservation measures and obtain a catch document to show that their catch was sustainably harvested. Since this catch documentation requirement was implemented in 2000, the amount of illegally caught toothfish entering global markets has dropped by half.

Canada does not fish these species, but this species is imported into our country. Much as is the case with tuna, the amendments before us in Bill S-3 will provide clear legal authority for Canada to adopt and implement such certification requirements for our imports.

Outside of catch certification documents designed by regional fisheries organizations, the amendments made to this bill in committee would allow Canada to determine, on our own, whether other fish and seafood imports should require specific documentation and what that the documentation should contain. The requirements would be set out in the regulations.

The amendment adopted in committee is important as it will allow Canada to react quickly with new requirements for fish imports when we learn of new species being targeted for illegal fishing.

The continued threat of illegal harvests was highlighted by the recent case of the fishing vessel called Thunder, which was tracked for months while fishing with illegal nets in Antarctic waters. In this instance, co-operation between Interpol, several states, and the organization performing surveillance left the vessel with no viable safe harbour for its illegal catch. This case clearly demonstrates that when the global community works together, we can stop these criminals and protect our oceans.

I urge all hon. members to join me in supporting the passage of this bill as reported by committee. These amendments to our Coastal Fisheries Protection Act would ensure that Canada's port state measures regime is consistent with this important international agreement and with standards shared by our international partners.

I am proud to be part of a government that is taking action on this important matter. I hope the opposition will do the right thing and vote for this bill.

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May 28th, 2015 / 11:15 a.m.
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NDP

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

Mr. Speaker, I want to reassure the member opposite: the NDP will support this crucial bill.

I would like to ask the member if the government is prepared to appeal to other countries around the world to sign and ratify the port state measures agreement.

I would also like to know how the government plans to put an end to illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing in Canada.

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May 28th, 2015 / 11:15 a.m.
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Conservative

Tilly O'Neill-Gordon Conservative Miramichi, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to know that the opposition will be supporting this bill, because it is very important. It will greatly help our economy.

We need to take measures to put a stop to illegal fishing, and this is what these amendments will do. The bill will give our fisheries officers a bigger role to play. We certainly know about and appreciate the hard work these officers do.

This is an important bill for our economy, and I am so proud to be part of a government that is taking action to help stop illegal fishing in our country and in many waters.

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May 28th, 2015 / 11:15 a.m.
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Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, we too will be supporting the bill, but we do have some concerns about it. One is the limit of a $500,000 fine. Illegal fishing, in some cases, could amount to millions of dollars in profit. However, for some reason, and the government would not allow the proper witnesses to come forward, it has limited the fine to $500,000. That to me, for a government that claims to be tough on crime, will not really be very tough on what will be, after this bill is implemented, an international crime.

Could the member explain why her government is so reluctant to impose the penalties necessary on large or massive fishing vessels that take these illegal measures? Why is it just $500,000?

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May 28th, 2015 / 11:20 a.m.
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Conservative

Tilly O'Neill-Gordon Conservative Miramichi, NB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for his question, and I am happy to learn that he too will be supporting our bill. It will certainly have a great effect on our economy.

We will be leaving much work in the hands of our officers, and it certainly is a lot of work for them. We value the excellent and dedicated work they all do.

As we all know, Canada is taking a leading role, and I am so happy to be part of a government that sees the importance of sustainable fisheries for coastal communities. I am proud to be part of this great government that not only sees the need but is standing up and taking action. Not only does our government see the need to combat illegal fishery activities, it is taking action. I am very happy that the opposition is going to support us.

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May 28th, 2015 / 11:20 a.m.
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Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I spent a number of years on the fisheries committee when I first arrived here in 2006. My background is in conservation, law enforcement, and fisheries management. Therefore, I have a very active and keen interest in this. I am very pleased that the government is moving forward through Bill S-3.

I wonder if the hon. member, being from Atlantic Canada, can give us an update on what the fishermen and folks in Atlantic Canada think about this particular piece of legislation.

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May 28th, 2015 / 11:20 a.m.
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Conservative

Tilly O'Neill-Gordon Conservative Miramichi, NB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for his question. I too, when I first came here, was a member of the fisheries committee. It certainly was a great learning experience.

I know that our fishers are in favour of the bill and realize the benefit to our economy. They are glad that our government is taking action.

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May 28th, 2015 / 11:20 a.m.
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York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I want to speak about Bill S-3, an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, which is a particularly important bill. It is designed to combat illegal fishing and to do so in the context of working with our international partners. This is important for Canadians from a number of perspectives.

Obviously, the fishery is of tremendous economic importance. There are many thousands of families that depend one way or another on the fishery. We have seen in past decades the havoc that can be wrought by foreign overfishing, which has seriously harmed our economy and undermined the fishery in terms of the cod fishery, for example, which has yet to fully recover from that. This makes it particularly important that we implement the measures included in this particular agreement.

It is from that perspective, the economic one, that it is important to the families involved in the fishery, but it is also important from a Canadian sovereignty perspective. This is a further way for us to properly assert our sovereignty over our resources and territory, and that is something I think Canadians support.

Finally, it is, of course, of greater and greater environmental significance. There is a broad recognition that the fisheries are somewhat at risk internationally. There are parts of the world where overfishing has been dramatic, and we have only a vague sense in some parts of the world of the potential impact. Canada can be proud of having been a leader in that regard by taking action to further prevent illegal overfishing and to allow proper management not just of our resource but of the very important natural ecosystem. That is what we are talking about here. It is very important legislation from an environmental perspective.

Economically, sovereignty-wise, and from the environmental perspective, this is a very important bill to support.

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May 28th, 2015 / 12:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on Bill S-3, an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. This enactment would amend 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.

The Liberal Party of Canada supports this bill because it would enable Canada to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, acts which undermine the livelihood of legitimate fishers and the fishing industry in Canada. The bill would also help to meet our international obligations as laid out in the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing leads to the depletion of fish stocks, unfair competition with illegal fish products and price fluctuations created by an unpredictable supply that can be caused by illegal fish products in foreign markets. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing undermines the livelihood of legitimate fishers, as I said earlier, both within Canada and around the world. It is estimated that it costs the global economy about $10 billion U.S. to $23 billion U.S. annually.

Liberals believe in the vital role that the fishing industry plays in Canada's economy and culture. It contributes roughly $5.4 billion and 71,000 full-time jobs to the Canadian economy. We believe that the federal government must play a strong role in cracking down on this type of fishing, and to protect fishing livelihoods, fisheries conservation and the Canadian economy.

While we welcome the measures in this bill, the government has elsewhere undermined surveillance and monitoring programs for foreign offshore fishing vessels. The Conservatives cut $4.2 million and 23 full-time equivalent jobs in Canada's offshore surveillance of foreign fishing vessels, which will result in a reduction of Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization air hours from about 1,000 to 600, and NAFO sea days from 785 to 600. That is a serious undermining of the ability of those organizations to do their jobs and protect the Canadian fishery.

We are also concerned, because it was evidenced during the study of this bill in the House of Commons committee, that the government is seriously lacking information on the amount of possible illegal fishing happening, both within and outside of Canada's 200 mile limit, and on IUU products that may currently be entering Canadian ports. The lack of this information is made even more concerning when combined with the government's cuts to offshore surveillance. We believe that this is vital information that should be available to the Canadian fishing industry and to parliamentarians.

The port state measures agreement would contribute to harmonized port state measures and enhanced regional and international co-operation, and block the flow of illegal, unreported and unregulated caught fish into markets both domestic and abroad. It would also add to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act new prohibitions related to importing illegally acquired fish and marine products, as well as clarify in detail some of the act's administration and enforcement provisions.

Bill S-3 was previously introduced during the first session of the 41st Parliament as Bill S-13.

Bill S-13 was adopted by the Senate and was awaiting second reading in the House of Commons when it died on the order paper with the prorogation of Parliament on September 13, 2013. Bill S-3 was introduced in the Senate on October 23, 2013.

In addition to the government witnesses who appeared before the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, the two non-governmental witnesses were supportive of the bill. The Senate committee reported Bill S-3 without amendment on December 9, 2013. The bill then came to this House and was supported on all sides by the committee. Witnesses at the House committee were also supportive of the bill.

The fisheries committee reported Bill S-3 with some amendments on April 29 of this year. The amendments that the government made were mostly to close some loopholes that the original wording had missed.

These amendments gave authority to make regulations to require those who may belong to a regional fisheries management organization to which Canada is not a party to provide documentation or trade tracking requirements upon entering Canadian ports, to apply the fine and punishment to that section should the proper documentation not to be provided, and to authorize the court to order the forfeiture of illegal goods related to illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing seized in a place other than the fishing vessel itself.

While the amendments were supported for the most part by members of the committee, the fact is that committee members had questions about details surrounding these amendments, but the government could not or would not provide the answers or bring in the appropriate officials who would be able to answer the questions that committee members had.

For example, we would like to know just how much illegal fishing activity is taking place both within and outside Canada's 200-mile limit. We have had no answers to those questions, and the government should be providing those answers. Could the government provide some detailed answers on this question? It is very important for Canadians to have answers. It is especially important for all those in the fishing industry, for the fish and seafood sector, and for anyone who lives in small coastal communities, such as the people I represent in the riding of Malpeque.

Also, are the fines of $100,000 for a summary conviction and $500,000 for a conviction on indictment really enough of a penalty? I raised this question earlier today. If a massive fishing vessel operating under a flag state is making millions of dollars in profits from illegal fishing activities, is a $500,000 fine enough? I do not believe so. Is there flexibility to allow the courts to look at the situation and levy a higher fine if it is warranted? We do not know, and the government has not answered.

A $500,000 fine in terms of the millions that can be made in profits from illegal fishing is really only a slap on the wrist for some of the major illegal fishing operations. That is not exactly what I would call tough on crime, coming from a so-called tough-on-crime government. The fines are clearly not high enough, and we do not know, nor has the government informed us, whether the court has the ability to expand that fine for those illegal activities in certain situations.

The government would not provide a legal expert or legal analysis to the fisheries committee, so perhaps it has the proper legal information and could provide it to the House through its spokesmen later today.

I have other concerns as well. On the one hand, the government is taking these steps to ratify the port state measures agreement to deter illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, which really sounds good, but at the same time, on the other hand, the very same government is slashing the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' budget for offshore monitoring and surveillance.

Conservatives have taken $4.2 million out of the budget for offshore monitoring and surveillance. It will mean very significant reductions in air and sea monitoring off our coasts. On the one hand, the government seems to be showing it is doing something, and on the other it is actually reducing the money that is needed to do what it claims it wants to do. That is not unusual for this government. We have seen that happen many times in many areas.

In the Liberal Party we have a proud tradition of standing up against illegal and foreign overfishing, and I am very proud of that. I have served as the chair of the fisheries committee, which I will admit was one of the highlights of my time in Parliament. It was a committee that worked well, with all parties working together to make many recommendations. Even government members moved motions that were hard on government. We do not see that any more today. That is the way committees should work in this place.

For a time, I also served as parliamentary secretary, and I was always proud to represent the fishing industry and the fishing community.

In terms of the Liberal Party and our time in government, whether was establishing the 200-mile fishing zone that protected fishermen from foreign trawlers; extending the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act to extend its application to the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization regulatory area; the turbot war; or being an active member of the High Seas Task Force, an international task force that was committed to stopping illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in parts of the ocean that are not under the exclusive control of foreign states, Liberals have stood up for our fisheries against illegal and foreign fishing.

Many will recall how former fisheries minister Brian Tobin took that point to the global community. That was a government that would take action on behalf of fisheries. We did not just give the impression that we were doing so; we would actually provide the money and take the action to get the job done.

It is vitally important for the Government of Canada to take action in the fishing industry. It is so important for the area that many of us here come from, Atlantic Canada, because so many livelihoods depend on a healthy fishery. I know we all feel this is a very serious issue, and it is very important for the people we represent on all sides of the House, for that matter.

Again I would refer to what I said in the beginning, and I re-emphasize this point: Liberals believe in the vital role that the fishing industry plays in Canada's economy and culture. It contributes $5.4 billion and 71,000 full-time jobs to the Canadian economy, and over $4 billion in fish and seafood products are exported every year.

In fact, not long ago the fisheries minister was at the International Boston Seafood Show. Many of us have attended this event over the years, and Canadian fish products are certainly profiled at that show in the Boston area. It has attendance from all around the world and it is a great opportunity for Canadians to profile the kind of high-quality fish products that we produce and export out of this country.

I am glad to see the government take some steps in putting this international agreement in place. I know the Conservatives are not big fans of international agreements, so it does come as somewhat of a surprise. They are not big fans of the United Nations. However, it is good that after so many years of sitting on this bill, they are finally moving it forward.

I wonder if further spokesmen from the government side could provide the House with details on when they expect the port state measures agreement to enter into force, how many countries are still needed to ratify it, and what countries are not overly interested in ratifying this agreement. I come back to the point that the committee did not allow enough time and did not allow enough witnesses to get answers to those simple questions. Whether those orders came from the executive branch or elsewhere I do not know, but it was not through the fault of opposition members,

This information is important, and it is important for Canada to do everything it can to ensure that all countries around the world and all regional fisheries management organizations are taking steps to ensure fishing is done in a proper manner. I know that here in Canada, bluefin tuna is a major species that has many benefits for many coastal communities. It is a well-managed hook-and-line fishery, and that is the proper way for this fish to be caught. Hook-and-line tuna fishing is sustainable and it is good for the health of the resource. However, not all countries use hook and line to catch tuna. Some countries use very large boats and nets, or the longline method, or other unsustainable methods that are devastating for tuna stocks. It is a highly migratory species. We need to be doing all we can to ensure each country around the world is fishing in a sustainable and responsible way.

Many stocks, such as tuna, are migratory. These migratory fish could be caught somewhere else through the use of an illegal or improper method, and that for a certainty would hurt the tuna fisheries in our own waters. Ensuring sustainable and legal fisheries around the world will benefit our fishermen here at home, as well as the countries and colleagues with whom we operate in coordination. We need that information, and we need the clout to make those involved in improper and illegal fishing methods stop what they are doing and practise responsible fishing. This bill would help in that regard.

The bottom line is that this bill should provide help for the fishermen that we all represent. It should be good for our entire fish and seafood sector and for the future of all fisheries, both global and domestic, and it should be good for the Canadian economy and the environment.

In closing, I am glad that the government has finally moved forward with this piece of legislation. I and our party are happy to support it, but we wish the government would provide the details and information that members have been asking for. We are disappointed that the government has been cutting the budget for offshore surveillance monitoring, not to mention the many other cuts at DFO in areas such as science and research, oceans management, and enforcement.

In summary, this bill would prohibit the importing of illegally caught fish and marine plants, extend Canadian control over foreign fishing vessels seeking access to Canadian ports, and give Canadian fisheries protection officers greater authority and power of enforcement. As well, it would allow the minister to share information with regard to the inspection of foreign vessels and provide for greater sharing of information between Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency in relation to the importation of fish and fish products.

I want to reiterate that we will be supporting this bill. We fully understand how serious this issue is and we welcome the passage of the bill in this House.

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

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his speech and ask if he would elaborate on the impact that this kind of fishing has on the inshore fishery here in Canada, in his own riding.

Does my colleague not think that creating a traceability and certification system for seafood products, as the European Union has done, would be worth considering?

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May 28th, 2015 / 1 p.m.
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Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, the process they have in place in the European community, or that they are trying to implement in terms of traceability, is indeed a good one. However, this bill, in and of itself, is a major step forward, because first and foremost, even with traceability, illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing still has a very damaging impact. We have to take it a step at a time. This is a major step forward, as long as we can get it ratified and get other countries around the world to ratify it. It is for that reason we support the bill.

In terms of the question he asked, those are next steps, I believe, that are important. I come out of the agriculture sector. We have tried traceability in the agriculture sector, and in some commodities it has worked and in some it has not, but it is certainly worthy of consideration by a future government.

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May 28th, 2015 / 1 p.m.
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Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to reiterate the comments made by my colleague. I had the opportunity to serve on the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans when my colleague, the member for Malpeque, chaired that committee. I think the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore sat on it over that period of time as well. In six years, we did something like 16 or 18 studies, and almost all of them were unanimous. I think there was one with a dissenting report. However, that was back when committees actually functioned and committees worked together for the benefit of those the studies would have the greatest impact on. We do not see that today.

I know that the recommendation from my colleague is to support the legislation. However, I know, particularly in the fisheries, that the current government has brought forward legislation and made announcements in the past, to much fanfare, only for us to find that there was really nothing behind it. I think back in particular to when the lobster fishery in Atlantic Canada had such a tough year three years ago. The government came forward and made a big announcement about $50 million in support for the lobster fishery. When it came, I think it was $8 million that was disbursed. The criteria set up were so stringent that it helped very few. Another one was the big deal with China on seal products. Our sealing industry was going to get such a big shot in the arm, only to see nothing happen with the deal with China.

Especially with the limited amount of time the committee had with this bill, what gives my colleague the assurance that this time is going to be different?

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May 28th, 2015 / 1:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

As you would know, Mr. Speaker, the government's track record on what it claims it will do or even on what it announces it will do is that it is not always that good at getting it done. That even relates to my critic portfolio. The Conservatives talk tough on crime, but they are certainly not smart on crime.

In terms of the fisheries, which is what the member's question really relates to—

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May 28th, 2015 / 1:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, there is a little heckling from the other side. There is one thing the Conservatives are adverse to, and that is evidence-based decision-making and facts. They do not like to hear the facts. However, the fact is that when it comes to announcements, they really do not mean much. They are more political spin for a little while, but the dollars do not always follow suit.

I come back to the point the member raised about the former fisheries committee. Why it does not work as well today in the House and at the committee level is that in a previous time, members of the fisheries committee were actually there to work for the industry and to take direction from the industry. The problem now is that the members who sit on the government side believe that their direction should come from the executive branch, and that is so wrong. Members who enter this place should work for the industry, not the PMO.

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May 28th, 2015 / 1:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, in fact, the fisheries program continues to recruit new talent to protect our fisheries. The government's approach to fisheries protection and enforcement is working. Over the past three years, fisheries officers have issued 5,529 charges, issued 2,638 tickets, obtained 2,972 convictions, and issued $6 million in fines for both charges and tickets.

I would like to know if the hon. member will stand with us in the House and commend our fisheries officers for their great work.

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May 28th, 2015 / 1:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing I would like to do more than commend the fisheries officers for the great work they do.

I hear a lot of applause from the other side, and I am glad to hear it. It is fisheries officers we are talking about. However, when it comes to government policy fostered by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the cabinet, that is an entirely different story.

Conservatives are slow getting to the plate. How long did it take this bill to get here? It took years and years. They still cannot answer questions on how many countries have yet to ratify the agreement, what countries are unwilling to ratify, and when the agreement will be in place. We will be passing a piece of legislation, but the government failed to provide the witnesses at the committee level to give us those kinds of answers.

I say to my hon. friend on the other side that maybe some spokesmen on that side, as soon as they get some direction from the PMO, could give us those answers during the rest of the debate today.

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May 28th, 2015 / 1:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to note that I will be sharing my time today with my hon. colleague, the hard-working and principled member for beautiful Langley, British Columbia.

I rise today to also provide my support for amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. It appears that we have the support of many other members on this critical piece of legislation. It is my hope that the opposition will not only talk the talk but walk the walk and join us in voting this bill through quickly.

As a former member of the parliamentary fisheries committee, and as the longest-serving member of the parliamentary environment committee, I understand the critical importance of defending sustainable fisheries from damaging activities.

As we are all well aware, it is difficult to estimate precisely the total catch from unlawful fishing. It is an illegal market, and estimates are therefore naturally unreliable. However, studies indicate that the global figure could be from 11 million tonnes to as much as 26 million tonnes every year. As my hon. colleague mentioned earlier, this represents a significant portion of the world's total catch.

Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing is a wide-ranging problem with serious impacts on marine environments and law-abiding fish harvesters.

By illegal fishing, we mean contravention of the conservation and enforcement measures of international fisheries management organizations. Unreported fishing refers to fishing activities that have not been reported or that have been misrepresented by vessels to the relevant enforcement authority. Unregulated fishing is self-explanatory. It includes fishing activities that are not adequately regulated or controlled by any responsible flag state. Of course, from a criminal perspective, this kind of fishing operation can be highly attractive. They do not pay licence fees, taxes, or duties on these catches.

Developing countries are at particular risk of having their resources illegally exploited. Canada has built its own capacity to effectively enforce its rules, but by supporting international efforts to cut off port access for these high-seas bandits, we can help countries that are still building their critical infrastructure.

When customers around the world order fish in a restaurant or buy it in a store, they probably assume that it was legally harvested. Once illegally caught fish enter the supply chain, there are very few ways to tell how it was harvested. Therefore, these amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act will further strengthen our controls on the import of fisheries products into Canada that are suspected of being illegally harvested. This will not only help our Canadian harvesters protect their economic interests but will also assist those in other countries in the protection of their fish stocks.

Turning to the subject of port controls, it is important to note that stemming the trade in illegal catches is complicated by the fact that not every vessel needs to enter a port to land its catch. Smaller fishing vessels can offload their catches onto larger ships with refrigerated holds while still at sea. This is known as trans-shipping. It can be used by criminals and can serve to disguise the origin of illegally caught fish. Through Bill S-3, Canada will address this issue by expanding the definition of a fishing vessel to include all of these types of container ships.

Another feature of the problem of illegal harvests is that vessels operate under so-called flags of convenience. Some countries allow foreign fishing vessels to operate under their flags but then take little or no responsibility for the activities of those vessels. It is in response to this gap in flag state enforcement that other measures, such as the port state measures we are discussing today, have been proposed as a highly effective option in the fight against illegal fishing.

The issue of illegal fishing has been on the global radar for years. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations adopted the code of conduct for responsible fisheries in 1995, and that was endorsed by around 170 member states, including Canada. In 2001, the organization adopted an international plan of action to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

Under this framework, member states agreed that a concerted approach by all port states was needed to make it more difficult for illegal fishing vessels to land their catches without fear of any serious repercussions. The agreement on port state measures to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is a treaty that promotes this coordinated global action.

Some regional fisheries management organizations now maintain illegal fishing vessel lists containing details of vessels that have supported illegal fishing activities within that region. This name-and-shame policy is another means to make it difficult for criminal fishing vessels and their support ships to find ports in which to offload their catches. However, the amendments that would be made to the act by Bill S-3 would provide enhanced clarity for our fisheries officers to share information on those who committed illegal fishing offences with the Canadian Border Services Agency and with our international partners.

No single measure on its own will succeed in eliminating illegal fishing. All possible avenues must be explored, otherwise strong market demand and high prices, especially for the world's most sought after species, will continue to attract illegal fishing operations to the long-term detriment of the world's fish stocks. Therefore, Bill S-3 would further deter illegal operators with new powers for the court to order to significant financial penalties upon conviction.

It is clear why all of this matters to Canadians and to our fishing industry. First, as a responsible fishing nation, we need to ensure that we are part of the solution and a leader in combatting illegal fishing, which is also an important priority for our key trading and enforcement partners. Second, the aspects of illegal fishing that I have mentioned put our industry at a competitive disadvantage, and we have to do what we can to level the playing field. Third, we all have an interest in protecting the health of the world's oceans.

Bill S-3 would strengthen the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, aligning it with the new global standards articulated in the port state measures agreement.

Of course, states are free to take more stringent measures than those outlined in the agreement, and as part of meeting our international obligations, this bill would enable us to further protect the livelihoods of law-abiding fish harvesters, not just in Canada but all around the world, by supporting global efforts to prohibit the entry of illegal fish into international markets.

The amendments to the act contained in Bill S-3 would allow Canada to ratify the port state measures agreement and to improve our already robust control measures in regard to illegal fishing and the products derived from this destructive activity.

This is a necessary, important step for Canada to take. I urge all hon. members, not just to talk about this problem but to join me in supporting these critical amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, and vote for Bill S-3.

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May 28th, 2015 / 1:20 p.m.
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NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I used to serve on the environment committee with the member, and I can attest to the fact that he was very active on it.

I understand that this proposed law was originally brought forward in September 2013, but died because the government prorogued Parliament. Therefore, if there has been any delay in bringing forward legislation to implement this international agreement, it is certainly the fault of the other side, not here. We simply want to debate the bill to ensure it is strong legislation, which is our responsibility as elected members.

I raised this question with some of the member's colleagues, and I note he mentioned there would be a requirement for regular inspections. What is the government doing to move forward with finally procuring and building the necessary ships to do the enforcement? What discussions are under way through the Arctic Council to ensure this inspection also occurs for any future fishery activity in the Arctic?

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May 28th, 2015 / 1:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I cannot respond very adequately to the question about the Arctic Council. The Arctic Council is dealing with a vast variety of issues involving borders, land claims, pollutant controls and other issues. I confess that I cannot say whether the Arctic Council has specifically dealt with this issue of illegal fisheries.

As to the question of boat procurement, I know the member opposite, who is thoughtful about environmental issues, at least will understand the necessity to proceed in a manner which avoids some of the fiascos of the past and which in fact carefully costs out the options and looks for ways to maximize the benefit of the shipbuilding program economically to Canadian communities.

In the meantime, as I have mentioned, our fisheries officers work with a very robust enforcement program. In the last three years they have issued 5,529 charges. They have issued 2,638 tickets. They have obtained 2,972 convictions, with $6 billion in fines for both charges and tickets.

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May 28th, 2015 / 1:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I know the member has a keen interest in sustainable issues. Maybe he could spell out how important it is in this area? I do not think there is any other industry that is as affected by the migratory movement of fish around the world and the distances they travel than the fisheries industry. I mentioned earlier in my remarks the tuna industry as a prime example, where we have a hook and line industry here and other areas may not.

Could the hon. member mention how important strong enforcement under this legislation is where other countries apply sustainable practices as we try to do in the long-term future of the fishery and our own economy in those coastal communities?

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May 28th, 2015 / 1:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I compliment my colleague, the member for Malpeque, on raising an important issue. In fact, what he points to is the real necessity for Canada to work collaboratively on a global basis with our partners around the world. He is quite correct about that. These issues are not confined to a single coastline or a single area of the high seas; they do cross borders.

In point of fact, the legislation would allow Canada even to co-operate with distant conservation authorities, of which we are not members, to adopt their standards and to work with them in enforcing their measures against illegal fisheries. We are on the right track.

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May 28th, 2015 / 1:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill S-3.

The amendments proposed in the bill are very important to ensure that we are able to do all we can as a global leader to fight illegal fishing and the damaging impacts it has on our ocean resources. These amendments would strengthen our current robust system by controlling our ports and seafood imports, and would enable us to support the efforts of like-minded nations in the protection of the world's fisheries.

As a British Columbian, I appreciate the great importance of the bill for both the protection of economic interests of law-abiding fish harvesters and the environmental necessity of doing all we can to ensure all fisheries are sustainable.

Today, we have been discussing one of the greatest threats to the survival of the global fish stocks, which comes from illegal, unreported, unregulated fishing. It is in everyone's interest for the global community to co-operate with one another toward the long-term conservation, management and sustainable use of the world's fish and other marine resources. These key resources are critically important, providing livelihoods and food security for millions.

The fight against illegal fishing occurs on many fronts. Effective and coordinated steps need to be taken by the coastal states where this fishing occurs, by port states where the suspected fish may be landed for sale, by flag states of the vessels to ensure that the rules are enforced, and by the home states of the owners and masters of vessels who are fishing illegally.

In particular, port state measures are considered an effective and cost-effective way of preventing illegal fish harvesters from profiting from their activities. There is a recognized need for countries, individually and through regional fisheries management organizations, to continue to develop and implement effective state port control measures that are consistent with international law.

Canada is already an active participant in the global efforts to curb and ultimately eliminate illegal fishing. Canada closely monitors domestic fishing activities within our own waters as guided by the Fisheries Act, as well as the activities of the Canadian fish harvesters in international waters.

Through the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, Canada also carefully monitors and regulates fishing and other activities by foreign fishing vessels in Canadian waters, and in certain areas of the high seas.

Internationally, Canada is an active partner in fisheries protection with Interpol. Fisheries and Oceans Canada officials participate in the Interpol Environmental Crime Programme and the Fisheries Crime Working Group.

In this group and in other international organizations, Canada continually advocates for more responsible control of vessels in the states that register these flag ships, and for improved enforcement against those that facilitate the sale of illegal products. Canada is widely recognized for its expertise in intelligence-led fisheries enforcement, including advanced technologies, such as digital forensic analysis.

We are committed to working with other countries to share this expertise and thereby help to build up the global capacity in the fight against illegal fishing.

Earlier I mentioned the importance of implementing effective port state measures as a deterrent to illegal fishing operations. Canada already has a robust regime for port control measures regarding foreign fishing vessels. These enterprises already avoid Canada as a location to land their catches due to our extensive monitoring and enforcement programs.

However, not all countries have as strong and effective a system as Canada. Real international coordination is needed if we are to make illegal fishing an unattractive business proposition.

With this mind, the international community came forward and together negotiated a treaty that would set standards of action for all countries to take regarding foreign fishing vessels in their ports. The result of this process is the agreement on port state measures to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

For the port state measures agreement to anticipate possible loopholes, the negotiators attempted to ensure that even situations that may not arise often or in all regions of the world would be addressed in the treaty. It should not be surprising, therefore, that in reviewing the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, we found that some sections addressed in the port state measures agreement need to be aligned with our domestic legislation. The bill before us today, Bill S-3, would make the necessary amendments to coordinate our existing legislation with this key treaty.

Even without the need to ratify this treaty, the measures in this bill would strengthen and modernize our legislation in ways that benefit Canadians. This would be accomplished by strengthening controls on our fish and seafood imports from other regions of the world, by providing broader enforcement powers to our dedicated fisheries protection officers in the performance of their duties, and by ensuring that Canadian fisheries officers have the legal authority to share intelligence regarding illegal fishing activities with domestic and international fishery enforcement partners.

By updating our already robust port state measures regime, Canada would be setting an example for other nations that still have further steps to take in order to bring themselves into compliance with the treaty. It would demonstrate that we continue to be committed to maintaining the pressure on illegal fishing operations around the globe, and encourage other countries to follow suit. It would also help to level the playing field for our industry, which must contend with the unfair practices and price distortion of illegal fishing operators.

As we all know, this is a very serious issue. By blatantly disregarding the rules, illegal fishing causes untold harm for the world's marine environment, negatively impacts the profits of law-abiding fishermen, and jeopardizes the safety of those aboard the vessels. I urge all members in the House to join me in supporting Bill S-3 so that we can ratify this important agreement and continue our tradition of leadership in global fishery protection stewardship.

To protect the sustainability of our fisheries and safeguard the economic interests of our global communities and coastal communities, we must take action now, today.

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May 28th, 2015 / 1:30 p.m.
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NDP

Marc-André Morin NDP Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a question.

Only 11 countries have ratified the agreement. The government likes to brag about having signed free trade agreements with 38 countries. I am just wondering how many free trade agreements it has signed with non-signatory countries. Has it not missed out on an opportunity to put some pressure on those countries to ratify the agreement?

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May 28th, 2015 / 1:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member brings up a very important point. When we became government in 2006, there were 4 international trade agreements, and now there are 47, I believe. There has been a dramatic increase in trade, which gives opportunities to Canada and creates jobs and a strong economy. Part of that is making sure that international agreements include the protection of our fisheries.

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May 28th, 2015 / 1:30 p.m.
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NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, as the member said, this is a very important issue and we need immediate action. The same thing was actually said in 2005 by a task force of which Canada was a part, saying that illegal, unreported, and unreported fishing “will persist unless immediate action is taken”. That was in 2005. In 2007, this treaty was passed. We are now dealing with our own legislation in 2015.

What action does Canada plan to take? Only 11 countries have ratified this treaty, yet 25 are needed to make it law. What are Canada's immediate plans to ensure that this treaty is ratified and put into force?

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May 28th, 2015 / 1:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that it is prudent to set a good example. Canada changing its domestic laws to align with this international treaty would set a good example to those who have not yet done this. As the member points out, it is very important that the other countries do follow Canada's example of excellence in protecting our fisheries.

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May 28th, 2015 / 1:35 p.m.
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NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak to Bill S-3, a bill to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, the port state measures agreement implementation act.

The port state measures agreement is actually the United Nations food and agriculture organization agreement of 2009. It was the first global treaty focused specifically on the problem of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. It was a landmark in a sense. It was a response to the need to stop the devastation of unregulated, unreported, and illegal fishing, which is a worldwide scourge and is doing awful damage to the sustainability of fisheries throughout the world. In fact, it is estimated that between $10 billion and $23 billion is the cost of this kind of fishing, which needs to be stopped.

I just mentioned the urgency that was identified back in 2005 by a task force of which Canada was a part. It was known as the ministerially led task force on illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing on the high seas. Its report was called “Closing the Net”. That was an important step along the way. Following that, there was this treaty in 2007. Talking about the importance of immediacy, here we are in 2015, nearly 10 years later, seeking to pass regulations about this, important though they are.

We support the bill. I want it to be clearly on the record that the New Democratic Party, the official opposition here, supports the bill because we recognize that illegal, unreported, unregulated fishing undermines the sustainable practices of legitimate fishing operations, including those in Canada, and presents unfair market competition to sustainable seafood.

The changes that are being proposed here would actually help protect fishermen and their communities from unfair competition, but it is really only the first step in preventing illegal fishing. Upon ratification of the port state measures agreement, we must then take on a leadership role in encouraging others to move forward on the agreement as well.

The previous speaker talked about leading by example. We waited eight years to get to this stage. If we are leading by example, I do not think this is a very good example. We need a government that is prepared to take a leadership role to encourage other countries, in the most forceful way we can, to take seriously their responsibilities as stewards of our Earth.

We are talking mostly about fishing on the high seas here, but we are also talking about the necessity of ensuring that all countries do a very significant job in enforcement of the regulations where they exist, internally in their own waters, in shared waters, or in waters where we have overlapping species.

We have seen some failures by the government in enforcement procedures. We know under the NAFO agreement that Canada has an important role in surveillance and enforcement. However, have seen in recent years a reduction in the number of surveillance aircraft hours from 1,000 to 600 annually. That is a 40% reduction. We have also seen the number of sea days devoted to surveillance activities cut by 25%.This is an indication of a failure to take seriously the importance of illegal fishing, both in our waters and in the NAFO areas, as well as in the areas where we have straddling fish stocks that move between international waters and the regulatory areas. It is extremely important to be on the water and in the air to conduct the surveillance in order to ensure these problems are encountered and to have an enforcement regime that is credible and believable and acts as a deterrent to people who wish to break the law.

We in Newfoundland and Labrador know all too well the consequences of having a devastation of the fish stocks. I think it is worth reminding everyone in Canada about the history of the cod moratorium, which commenced in 1992, and the devastating effects of that, caused by overfishing, unreported fishing, and illegal fishing. It had a devastating effect throughout the entire Atlantic region, but particularly in my province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I can say that on the northeast coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, as a consequence of the cod moratorium in 1992, there was a reduction of 500,000 tonnes of groundfish in Atlantic Canada and a loss of employment for 12,000 fishermen and 15,000 plant workers. There were 25,000 people who lost their employment and incomes as a result of the collapse of the cod fishery in 1992. I see my colleague across the way is listening carefully. This was a devastating loss in a province like Newfoundland and Labrador, a coastal area with small communities.

Just imagine the consequences of an equivalent devastation to the auto sector in Ontario, for example, taking away the livelihoods of that many people as a result of one single event, which in this case was the collapse of the cod stock. It resulted in a depopulation of much of Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly the parts where people were heavily dependent upon that fishery. There was a decline in population on the northeast coast of Newfoundland, particularly the Great Northern Peninsula. The effects are still being felt to this day because those codfish stocks have not recovered.

This legislation is very important because it actually moves the ball forward. As I said at the beginning, it is long overdue, but we are not getting the sense of urgency that it deserves. This was first brought to the Senate in 2012. I do not know why it was not brought to the House of Commons, where the elected people would perhaps have insisted on giving it the urgency it deserved. It is here now, in 2015. It was introduced in the Senate first in 2012, and in 2013 it reached third reading in the Senate, but then there was prorogation and the bill disappeared. It was reintroduced and passed in the Senate and not introduced in the House of Commons until February of 2014.

New Democrats see some important changes. We are pleased to see that the provisions are being changed that would provide for inspections to try to prevent the entry of unreported, illegal, and unregulated fish into the ports of the states that ratify the treaty. It would give powers of inspection and surveillance and would also attempt to set up a worldwide reporting system to monitor the actions of ships and states that are engaged in illegal fishing. These are important steps, but they need to be carried out with the co-operation of all countries of the world, particularly those with a history of failing to properly enforce fishing laws on their own citizens, which we have a problem with in this country, particularly in the NAFO area, but we had a problem historically in the offshore until the 200-mile limit was established, and even since.

The devastation of the offshore cod stock off Newfoundland and Labrador and the whole northeast coast has been well documented. A very fascinating book was written in 1983 by a gentleman named William Warner, called Distant Water. It talked about how the development of the factory freezer trawler starting in the fifties and going on until the early eighties, took 11 million tonnes of codfish out of that whole northeast coast. The development of fishing methods that were essentially clear-cutting the oceans, taking away the breeding stock, fishing inside the ice off the Labrador coast, going all the way down to the United States as well, caused a major devastation of this huge biomass, which is an extremely important protein source for the world.

We are now in a situation where the population of the world is growing. We need to have a sustainable fishery throughout the world. We need to have international co-operation on the high seas as well, to ensure the sustainability of domestic fisheries like those in Africa, which are suffering because of the failure of enforcement. There needs to be co-operation on this level. There needs to be a sense of urgency and we need to hear from the government, and I am not hearing it from the other side. Perhaps somebody will tell us in a comment on this speech that there is a program, that there is a plan to use whatever influence Canada has.

My colleague just asked a question about we only have 11 nations ratifying this treaty and 25 are needed to bring it into force. Conservatives brag about the number of trade agreements that they have negotiated with countries since they came into office in 2006. In how many of them has Canada said, “We want to trade with them and do business with them, but we also want, as a fishing nation, as a coastal nation, as a nation that is interested in international co-operation on matters such as this, if they are going to be partners with us in trade, we want them to ratify this treaty so that this can be in force”?

This is the kind of leverage that we could expect a Canadian government to engage in if it believed that this was an urgent international problem as well as one that provides for the sustainability of our own fisheries here in Canada. The fisheries are very valuable to Canada, to Newfoundland and Labrador and to the west coast, Quebec regions and the Great Lakes, although that is not necessarily the subject of the bill, the inland waters. We have to have respect for the oceans and we have to have respect for the sustainable nature of the fisheries and we have to have measures in place to make that work.

That is all I have to say right now, except that we support this legislation. We want to see it passed, but we really also want to see significant action on the part of the government to try to get this ratified by the 25 nations and we want to see Canada play a leadership role in that regard.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

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

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

Mr. Speaker, I represent one of the largest and most valuable fisheries ridings in the country. Our landed catch, along with West Nova, the neighbouring riding, is somewhere in excess of 20% of the entire Canadian fishery on all three coasts.

If the member were to ask the fishermen in my riding, they would tell her that there is lots of enforcement. There is a process in place, which the hon. member is very aware of. They have to hail out before they leave to go fishing and they have to hail back in. There are on-board inspections. There is an inspection when they come to the wharf. It is very difficult to break the rules in Canada. Also, there is much more electronic surveillance available. A good part of the fleet carries a black box, so they have geographical positioning at all times, so fisheries and oceans can track those vessels. They know if they are fishing up against the line, if they are not allowed inside the 30-mile line, or if they are supposed to fish outside the 50-mile line. We know where they are at all times.

In answer to her question, enforcement is extremely important, but enforcement tools are more robust and far reaching than they have ever been.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 12:20 p.m.
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Vancouver Island North B.C.

Conservative

John Duncan ConservativeMinister of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, our fish harvesters work tirelessly on the seas to make a living, often in challenging conditions. Through their determination, these efforts support the economies of coastal communities and, more broadly, a multibillion-dollar seafood industry for Canada.

Therefore, it is completely unacceptable that international poachers are ignoring national and international rules and regulations that allow them to avoid the true cost of fishing. They leave distorted market prices and missed profits in their wake, which undermines the livelihoods of our legitimate fish harvesters and threatens the stability and the sustainability of global fisheries.

That is why I am pleased to support Bill S-3, an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, which would give Canada additional tools to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities.

Our government has embarked upon the most ambitious trade agenda in our nation's history. This is important in the context of this bill. Through our comprehensive economic and trade agreement with the EU and the Canada-Korea free trade agreement, we are opening up new markets and economic opportunities for all Canadian industries and sectors. Our fish and seafood producers will be able to benefit significantly from these agreements with the reduction and removal of tariffs on our world-class products.

However, as we gain increased market access, it becomes all the more important that we support global efforts to fight illegal fisheries.

According to a 2008 British study, the impact of illegal fishing activities is staggering. The global economic loss from these fisheries is estimated at $10 billion U.S. to $23 billion U.S. annually.

The impact of global activities by illegal fishing vessels on the high seas does affect Canadians. After all, Canada exports 85% of its fish and seafood products. This generates a healthy $4 billion for our economy every year. However, if we could curtain illegal fishing internationally, we would do even better.

As a British Columbian, I know how illegal fishing half a world away can have a real impact upon Canada's bottom line. In British Columbia, our once-thriving red and green sea urchin fishery severely declined when illegally harvested products entered international trade and flooded the market. These short-sighted actions by criminals looking to make a quick profit have caused massive damage to this fishery. Illegal fishing is not just some far-off issue. It has real economic impacts for those who make their living from the sea and the communities that depend upon this income.

The strong economic argument is one reason why Canada joined other countries to adopt the port state measures agreement.

There are strong environmental reasons why Canada supports the agreement. Illegal fishing undermines the sustainable management of both fisheries and the ecosystems and habitants upon which those fisheries depend. The port state measures agreement is a logical step in the global effort to improve fisheries' conservation, by ensuring that only legally harvested fish can enter ports for domestic markets and international trade. That is what Bill S-3 is all about.

Canada already has many of the core requirements in place to ratify the port state measures agreement. However, there are a few areas where we need to align our legislation with the new global standard. Specifically, these amendments would expand inspection and enforcement powers beyond the traditional fishing vessel; strengthen prohibitions and international enforcement against imports of illegally harvested fish products; and create an enforcement regime for foreign fishing vessels ordered to port by the flag state for enforcement purposes.

I will speak to two of these important amendments: the ability of flag states to order their ships to port; and improved information sharing among enforcement partners.

Under the Coastal Fisheries Protection Regulations, a foreign fishing vessel must apply for a licence to enter a Canadian port at least 30 days in advance of its entry into Canadian fisheries waters. However, a vessel that has been fishing illegally has good reason to avoid our ports and therefore the vessel is unlikely to apply for entry. Even if the nation responsible for the vessel, the flag state, orders the vessel to enter a Canadian port for inspection, the current legal system requires that the vessel itself apply for a licence. To address this, Bill S-3 would authorize fisheries protection officers to take appropriate enforcement action when the circumstance is such that the vessel is directed to port by its flag state solely for inspection purposes.

It is important to note that this amendment would not change Canada's ability to refuse port access to any illegal fishing vessel that violates conservation and enforcement measures of regional fisheries management bodies. What it would do is implement a key provision of the port state measures agreement. Generally, the agreement requires parties to refuse entry to vessels involved in illegal fishing. This would now be an exception in order to enable a party to allow such a vessel to enter port for the purpose of inspecting it, gathering evidence and taking other appropriate enforcement action on behalf of the flag state.

To crack down on illegal fishing internationally, we need intelligence and better sharing protocols among our enforcement officers at home and leading nations when it comes to tracking offenders. That is why the second area of amendments focuses on improving information sharing. Through this bill, for example, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency would gain new and express authority to share information with each other. Similarly, Canada would gain clearer authority to share information regarding actions taken against illegal foreign fishing vessels with other responsible states and regional and international organizations. For example, the information could include the fact that we denied a foreign vessel entry into a Canadian port, any enforcement action that we might take, the results of any inspection and the outcome of any legal proceedings.

Experience tells us that globally strong port state measures can deter illegal fishing. The port state measures agreement represents one of the most efficient and effective approaches to deal with illegal, unreported or unregulated fishing across the globe. Supporting Bill S-3 would allow Canada to follow through on this important international commitment. I urge all members to support this bill.

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May 7th, 2015 / 12:30 p.m.
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NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's comments on this act and the amendment and proposed changes. He did talk about illegal fishing, as did the parliamentary secretary earlier.

My question is in terms of illegal fishing. We are well aware that one of the worst offenders is the shark fishery. Scientists tell us that over 100 million sharks a year are being fished out of our seas. They are being targeted for their fins. It is a very brutal fishery where the fins are cut off and the shark is then tossed back into the ocean, often alive and left to suffocate. It is a brutal way for this fishery to do that to these animals. As members know, sharks play a key role in maintaining the health of our oceans.

If the government is serious about illegal fishing, I am wondering why we have not been able to make more inroads. For instance, I put forward a private member's bill to ban the importation of shark fin to Canada. The government had an opportunity to vote on this to make a difference in illegal fishing. We know this fishery is mainly composed of illegal fishing. The Conservatives could have made a difference by voting with me and with the opposition but they did not. I wonder if the hon. member could explain why they did not do that.

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May 7th, 2015 / 12:30 p.m.
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Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, there are amendments to Bill S-3 that allow the government to make documentation requirements for seafood imports consistent with the catch document requirements of regional fisheries management organizations around the world. Therefore, once we pass this bill, any illegal fish in any part of the world would then be illegal in Canada. I think that addresses the concerns that the member has just expressed.

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May 7th, 2015 / 12:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Yvonne Jones Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, it is no surprise that the Liberals would certainly support any measures that help prevent overfishing and illegal fishing in our waters. After all, we were the people who introduced the 200-mile limit off Canada to protect our fishing industries. We were the ones who fought the Spanish in the turbot wars to protect the Canadian fisheries and to shut out foreign interests.

However, we also know it is equally important to protect our own fishing people in this country. The government opposite has cut things like marine Coast Guard centres in St. John's, Newfoundland and Coast Guard radio operations in places like St. Anthony, where people in the industry depend on it.

When the member spoke, he talked about protecting our fishermen who put their lives on the line and go out there on the sea. Therefore, I would ask him if he supports reinstating those services so that we can ensure that the lives of the fishing people are protected in this country.

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May 7th, 2015 / 12:35 p.m.
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Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, like the member from Atlantic Canada who spoke before me, the member for South Shore—St. Margaret's, I come from a large coastal riding with a lot of commercial fisheries. I am also host to the Canadian Forces air base in Comox where we run aerial surveillance right out into the mid-Pacific and ensure that the use of the long nets that had been used throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s to intercept valuable fisheries pretty much comes to an end due to the aerial reconnaissance that Canada has carried out and continues to carry out.

We have done a lot of good things on the fisheries resource. Many of our salmon runs are coming back. We have put individual quotas in place on most of our groundfisheries and commercial harvesting is now in a very sustainable place, so I am not finding the same findings that the member for Labrador is alluding to.

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May 7th, 2015 / 12:35 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is privilege to stand on behalf of the official opposition New Democratic Party of Canada and speak to this important Bill S-3, an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, Port State Measures Agreement Implementation Act. Behind that rather anodyne title I think reside some very important principles.

I should say at the outset that I am proud to be sharing my time with the hon. member for New Westminster—Coquitlam.

The bill essentially deals with an extremely important industry for Canada, which is our fisheries, and the very important need to protect the coastal communities and the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who depend on that fishery, and the many jobs that come with it, for their livelihoods.

A couple of statistics show the importance of the problem the bill aims to address, which is illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. A 2008 study estimated that the economic loss worldwide due to pirate fishing ranges from U.S. $10 billion to U.S. $23 billion every year.

Illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing produces between 11 million and 26 million tonnes of seafood annually and can represent as much as 40% of the total catch in some fisheries.

Canada's commercial wild capture fisheries, aquaculture, and fish and seafood processing contribute $5.4 billion in total GDP annually and support 71,000 full-time equivalent employees in this country's economy.

The official opposition New Democrats want to focus on the importance of the bill in protecting our fisheries resources and in starting to tackle illegal fishing, because it undermines conservation and management efforts put forth by Canada and others to ensure that the fishing industry remains sustainable. Of course, underlying everything is the important need to protect our ocean ecosystems. The changes proposed in the bill will help protect fishers and their communities from unfair competition, and we support the bill accordingly.

Bill S-3 has been a long time coming, and if there is one criticism we would make of the government is that it has taken an unacceptable amount of time to bring this legislation before the House. With the numbers I just went over, we see that every year of delay costs our economy billions of dollars and harms the ecosystems of the world.

The bill was introduced in the Senate and passed third reading on March 7, 2013, some two years ago. After prorogation, the bill was reintroduced as Bill S-3, and it passed through the Senate again. It was introduced in the House of Commons on February 11, 2014, so it has taken the government a number of years to bring this legislation before the House, and I have not heard any acceptable reason for that.

I want to go over some of the provisions of the bill so that we can get an idea of why the bill is important and what it actually does to change Canadian law.

The Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, one of the pieces of legislation the bill amends, regulates foreign fishing vessels that are fishing in Canadian fisheries waters and are harvesting sedentary species, like oysters and clams, on the continental shelf of Canada beyond Canadian fisheries waters. The act also extends its application to the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization regulatory area, and it prohibits specific classes or sizes of foreign fishing vessels from fishing for straddling stocks, that is, fish that move between international waters in the regulatory domestic area. The act also prohibits fishing vessels without nationality from fishing in Canadian or NAFO waters.

I will stop there for a moment, because this reminds me of a very concerning provision in the comprehensive economic trade agreement, CETA, that is currently being discussed between Canada and the European Union. By the way, contrary to what the Conservatives say, that treaty is not concluded. We have no final official text yet. It is still being worked on, although it is expected to come some time this year or perhaps next year.

There is a provision in CETA that deals with cabotage that has many people in this country in the seafaring industry concerned, and that is the provision that would allow European flag vessels to move containers on inland Canadian waters, primarily between Newfoundland and Montreal. The seafaring industry and the seafarers' union, in particular, are very concerned that permitting foreign flagged vessels on inland Canadian waters represents a threat not only to their jobs but to the security of Canada.

I should point out that the United States has the Jones Act, which prohibits any foreign flagged vessel from anywhere from plying American inland waters. Only U.S. flag vessels can do that. It is so the U.S. can keep control of the crews and the security of their ships. However, the Conservative government wants to allow foreign flag vessels to ply Canadian inland waters and seas. I would point out that this is a concern the New Democrats will be bringing up if CETA ever comes before the House in legislative form.

The port state measures agreement is an agreement that aims to prevent illegally caught fish from entering international markets through ports. Under the terms of the treaty, foreign vessels would provide advance notice and request permission for port entry, countries would conduct regular inspections in accordance with the universal minimum standards, offending vessels would be denied the use of ports or certain port services, and information-sharing networks would be created. The reason this provision is important is that Canada should be a world leader in preventing illegally caught fish from entering international markets through our ports.

Here is another irony. About six months ago, I raised in this very House the practice of illegally caught fin whale meat entering the Port of Halifax, being transported across Canada, and leaving the port of Vancouver. Fin whale meat is an endangered species, and Canada is a signatory to international conventions that prevent us from engaging in the trade of fin whale meat. I raised in the House that Canada was being used as a conduit by a Scandinavian country to ship its illegally caught whale meat through Canada to Japanese markets, and the government has done nothing since to stop it. Therefore, it is ironic that Conservatives stand in the House and try to look like they are preventing illegally caught fish from entering Canada or markets through our ports, when they are permitting endangered whale meat at this very moment to go through our ports.

I also want to point to the government's failures with regard to taking care of our oceans and fisheries. My hon. colleague from New Westminster—Coquitlam has already brought up his excellent bill that would prohibit the importation of shark fins into this country, because, of course, there is an absolute crisis in our oceans with illegal shark finning, and the Conservatives refuse to act on that.

In addition, it has been pointed out that the government has closed Coast Guard stations and maritime communications centres on both coasts, including in my city of Vancouver, where it closed the Kitsilano Coast Guard station. I have already seen the foolishness of that decision, because there was just an oil spill in English Bay, right off the coast of Vancouver. Everyone in Vancouver and British Columbia knows that had the Kitsilano Coast Guard station been open, there would have been a quicker response time, and that oil spill would have been contained better and more quickly. Yet as a result of the Conservatives' mismanagement in this area, they actually caused toxic damage to be done to the ocean off the coast of Vancouver because of their shortsighted decision.

I also want to talk a little about fish stock conservation. The fishery on both coasts, in fact, on all three coasts in this country, is extremely important. It is important to aboriginal people, coastal communities, Canadian consumers, and the fishing industry. Yet the government has not taken adequate steps to protect fishery stocks in this country.

On the coast of British Columbia, its iconic species of salmon is critical to the economy of British Columbia and in fact to the culture of British Columbia. I know that the people of British Columbia want to see their federal government take every step possible to make sure that there are sustainable fish stocks of every species, on all coasts, today and for generations to come.

With an NDP government, which will happen this fall, they will see a government that will actually take better steps to conserve fish stocks on the east coast, the west coast, in the north, and in the inland waterways, where the current government has gutted navigable waters protection. They will see a New Democrat government that will protect all waters in this country and all of the life within those waters for the benefit of future generations and our economy.

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May 7th, 2015 / 12:45 p.m.
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Oak Ridges—Markham Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, if I understood correctly, the NDP will be supporting this bill, so I congratulate him on that.

I want to ask him a question on a separate but I think related topic, because he touched on it somewhat in his words. Under the previous Liberal government, there was the complete destruction of the ability of the Canadian Armed Forces and the Canadian Coast Guard to respond to a number of issues on either coast. We have embarked on a national shipbuilding strategy, which would renew the fleets of both the Royal Canadian Navy and the Coast Guard. A large part of this is the reconstruction and rebuilding of yards on both the east and west coasts, potentially very close to the member's riding.

I wonder if he might comment on how important it is that we get these vessels completed and on the importance of these vessels not only in securing our borders from illegal fishing but in helping to improve the local economies of British Columbia and our Atlantic provinces.

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May 7th, 2015 / 12:45 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question. I would congratulate the government on its made-in-Canada procurement solution to our navy needs. I am very happy to see that the government has done that. The NDP has been calling for that for decades to make sure that we stimulate the Canadian shipbuilding industry.

The member is quite right that on the north shore of the Lower Mainland we have Seaspan, which is going to get, I think, several billion dollars of work. That will not only help British Columbians and the British Columbia shipbuilding industry but will provide what we all believe we need to have a well-equipped navy.

I want to just for a moment address his reference to the performance of the previous Liberal governments. Under the previous Liberal governments, and we have heard some bragging here, we saw the collapse of the cod fishery. We saw the mismanagement of several species of fishery stocks in this country, which created crises in many provinces. We saw an infrastructure deficit build up under the previous Liberal governments, which basically balanced their budgets by ignoring important infrastructure and pressing social needs.

Again, with a New Democratic government this October, Canadians will have a chance to see a government that actually invests in infrastructure and does not allow such a deficit to build up only to pass on that responsibility to future generations.

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May 7th, 2015 / 12:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Yvonne Jones Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, it is always great to have dreams, I say.

Liberals believe in the vital role of the fishing industry. We know the number of Canadians who are dependent on this industry. Protecting this industry is why we brought in the 200-mile limit. It is why we challenged the Spanish in the turbot war. It was so we could protect the Canadian fishing industry from foreign fishing.

We support the bill before us today. However, the problem I see, and I ask the member if he shares this, is that it was the Conservative government that cut $4.2 million and 23 jobs in Canada's offshore surveillance of foreign fishing vessels. Today they are talking about giving more powers to Canadian fisheries protection officers and greater authority for enforcement, but do they not also need to give them the resources and tools to do their jobs appropriately and not cut the people who are out there enforcing these policies already?

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May 7th, 2015 / 12:50 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member is correct in the sense that we can pass all the laws we want in the House, and we can put words on paper, but it really comes down to providing the actual resources on the ground to the civil service and the regulatory bodies that are charged with actually making the goals of these pieces of legislation a reality.

I want to stop for a moment, because my hon. colleague mentioned that it is good to have dreams, and it is. Tommy Douglas, one of the founders and towering figures of Canadian politics, said do not dream little dreams. What we saw yesterday in Alberta is what happens when people come together and choose the politics of hope and a politics of investing in our communities. They chose a New Democratic government that will provide a better form of government, not like the Conservative and Liberal failures that have marked this country for far too long. It will change this October.

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May 7th, 2015 / 12:50 p.m.
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NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to talk about Bill S-3, an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, the Port State Measures Agreement implementation act.

I just want to provide a little background. It is an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. It was introduced in the Senate, about which of course we have some serious concerns, not only about that body in the upper chamber but how this bill was introduced. However, it was passed at third reading on March 7, 2013, after prorogation. The bill was then reintroduced as Bill S-3 and passed through the Senate again. It was introduced in the House of Commons on February 11, 2014.

The bill would amend the CFPA to implement the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's 2009 Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing. In addition, Bill S-3 would add to the act prohibitions relating to importing illegally acquired fish and marine plants, and would clarify some of the act's administration and enforcement provisions.

Under the CFPA, the act would also prohibit fishing vessels without nationality from fishing in Canadian or NAFO waters. The United States has introduced similar legislation in an effort to ratify the PSMA. It should be noted that the agreement can only come into force after it has been ratified by 25 nations.

We in the official opposition think this is a small step in the right direction. We, in fact, support this bill and support this measure. However, we have some serious concerns. We have some concerns about how this bill would be resourced and how it would actually come into effect and be implemented.

I want to talk about some of those concerns, whether they be the fisheries, the Coast Guard, or dealing with our oceans. I think this really speaks to the commitment of the government to invest in the real concern of illegal fishing, which is surveillance. We can look at the past actions of the government. When it comes to the fisheries, it has gutted the Fisheries Act.

This is a critical tool that has been used to protect our fishery for over 100 years in this country. It is a powerful piece of legislation. Under this watch, under this government, it has now been gutted. It specifically went after a section, under habitat, where it has made very significant changes that would weaken the Fisheries Act and the protection of our fishery.

The resources to habitat are critical because I think this speaks to what the government's agenda is, which is really focused on getting oil to the coast. We on the west coast certainly know that is a clear agenda the government has. It has been open about the Enbridge northern gateway pipeline, which would traverse northern British Columbia through watersheds that are critical to fish and fisheries. That is a clear objective that the government has, and it is overriding the fisheries and our commitment to a sound investment in fisheries.

We can also see that in terms of the government's lack of investment on science, or hearing from scientists. We are not getting that information from scientists because the government is muzzling those scientists. They are not able to speak out on some of these serious concerns. Once they find these concerns through their studies, getting that to the public is made even more difficult.

The government has made significant cuts to the department in terms of its resources over the years, and has not spent some of the budgeted funding that is available. We are seeing a pattern here in terms of the fisheries. When we look to the Coast Guard, which is there to protect our coast, to prohibit illegal vessels from coming into Canadian waters, we are seeing cuts there, as well.

We are seeing cuts in the busiest port in the country, Vancouver, to the Kitsilano Coast Guard station. There has been a huge outcry from many people across the political spectrum, from the province to cities to health concerns to mariners to recreational boaters. All have said the same thing, that closing that strategically located station in a key position in that port is going to not only cost lives but will make a difference.

My hon. colleague from Vancouver Kingsway mentioned we recently had a very small spill in English Bay, and that station could have played a key role in maintaining and confining that spill. Unfortunately, it was not able to do that. It is closed. The equipment that was there obviously could not be used. These are indications of a government that is not serious about investing in the resources needed to protect, investigate, and do the surveillance needed for an illegal fishery.

I come back to our Coast Guard. I am from the west coast. My riding of New Westminster—Coquitlam, along with Port Moody, right on the Fraser River, also touches Burrard Inlet, so I am nestled in coastal waters in an important riding that is part of the fisheries on the Fraser River. It is one of the greatest salmon rivers in the world. Therefore, it is important to my riding that the federal government is investing in coastal protection.

We had five MCTS stations on the west coast until the government closed three of the five. It closed the Ucluelet, Comox, and Vancouver stations. The Marine Communications and Traffic Services centres are really the air traffic controllers for the oceans. The centres play a critical role in knowing what vessels are out there and what is happening on the waters. The government is closing three of the five, leaving two, one in Victoria and one in Prince Rupert, near Alaska, to do the entire coast. This is unacceptable. This is going to cause problems. After the closure in Vancouver, there will be zero Coast Guard presence in Vancouver. Canadians and those on the coast in British Columbia and Vancouver find that completely unacceptable. It will lead to problems. They have been speaking out for years, in the case of the Kitsilano closure, and the government has refused to listen.

In terms of our oceans, we have a lack of science and knowledge about the changing of the oceans and the impact climate change, for instance, is having on our oceans. Also, there is acidification. The ocean is increasing in acidity, and that is playing a key role in how things change. That speaks again to a lack of investment to find out and to know what those key changes will be.

Earlier, I asked a question about why the government did not support my private member's bill to ban the importation of shark fins to Canada. Our scientists are telling us that sharks are playing a key role in maintaining the health of the oceans, and we are losing them at a dramatic rate, more than 100 million sharks a year. It is hard to fathom that we are losing that many sharks a year. They play a critical role in maintaining the balance of our ocean ecosystem, yet we are not getting the response needed from the government. It was a very close vote. It lost by five votes. All it needed was three more Conservative members. We did have three who stood up and voted with the opposition on that vote, but unfortunately, we did not have enough. That was a simple measure that could have made a difference.

I know the bill is just really a housekeeping measure, but if the government is really serious about tackling illegal fishing, then it must invest the resources needed to deal with our fisheries, including our Coast Guard, and also to look at our oceans.

It is important to mention some of the validators that have come forward to lend their concerns. I want to quickly finish by mentioning two. The Pew environmental group has said:

Illegal fishing is a major threat to the sustainability of the world’s fisheries. Some estimates are that illegal and unreported fishing accounts for up to $23.5 billion worth of fish annually worldwide, and up to 20 percent of all of the wild marine fish caught globally. In some parts of the world, the situation is even more dire. For example, fisheries scientists estimate that illegal fishing accounts for up to 40 percent of fish caught in West Africa.

I can go on. I wanted to mention Brad Caldwell, who is the west coast co-chair of the fisheries committee of the Canadian Maritime Law Association. However, I am out of time. Maybe somebody will ask me a question about what he had to say on this bill.

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May 7th, 2015 / 1 p.m.
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NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that excellent question. That is going to allow me to enter into the record what Mr. Caldwell had to say, and it is important. He said:

The CMLA is strongly in support of DFO’s initiative to curb IUU fishing through the implementation of this bill. Although we strongly support it, there is one area where we feel there could be some modest room for improvement....

A suggested modest improvement to the bill involves the proposed change to section 13 of the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. Our proposal would be very similar to a change that was proposed by the Government of Canada to section 71(2) of the Fisheries Act back in 2007 when it tabled Bill C-32.

I enter that into the record.

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May 7th, 2015 / 1 p.m.
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NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, first I want to thank the member for New Westminster—Coquitlam for his outstanding advocacy and work in protecting fisheries on the west coast. He is a well-known champion and advocate, and his activism in response to the recent oil spill in English Bay was just outstanding. I know he spoke for thousands of people in metro Vancouver who have so much concern.

I would like to ask the member a question on his comments about the importance of coastal protection and how this, as he has pointed out, is really just a housekeeping bill, but the issue that underlies this is coastal protection. It seems incredible that three out of five of the marine communications control centres were closed. Is there anywhere else in the world that would have that kind of lack of oversight in and environment where so much of a complex coast would be unprotected, particularly in metro Vancouver where there is, of course, so much marine traffic? I wonder if the member would just expand upon that a bit more.

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May 7th, 2015 / 1:05 p.m.
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NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her service to this House over the years. That is a great question.

As the member mentioned, I definitely have commitment to ocean health and ocean protection, as does our leader. We are committed to investing in the resources, which is what is really missing. The thrust of my speech was about how there is not that investment and commitment to make a difference in terms of illegal and unreported fishing.

When we look around the world at other jurisdictions, we see the opposite. Where there are similar moves to reduce government involvement, we see problems. In Europe, they are investing now. They are hiring more officials to deal with their coastal protection.

This is the wrong direction. Our Coast Guard officials to whom I have spoken have clearly said that cutting the MCTS stations is going to cost lives. This will not help in terms of increasing our surveillance on the waters. In fact, the limit on the west coast over which we as a country had surveillance was 50 miles just until late last year, when it was reduced to 12 miles.

These are both the wrong directions: to shrink our jurisdiction to 12 nautical miles off the west coast, and to shrink the amount of resources we are investing in protection. It is inexcusable. It is not the right direction. It is not what Canadians want.

I know that, on October 19, Canadians and those in Vancouver who were very concerned about the closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard station and the lack of an MCTS station will have an opportunity to vote in an NDP government to make those changes, to make those investments to increase our coastal protection and communities.

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May 7th, 2015 / 1:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Rodney Weston Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time today with the hon. member for Yukon.

I am pleased to stand in the House today to support Bill S-3, amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. As my hon. colleagues have stated, these amendments would give Canada and our global partners the tools to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities more effectively.

When it comes to foreign fishing vessels, Canada already has a robust port patrol system. The vast majority of annually stocked fishing vessels are Canadian. Our comprehensive port licensing and inspection requirements mean that vessels fishing illegally on the high seas already avoid Canadian ports.

Nevertheless, Canada has made a commitment to implement additional measures in order to support global efforts to combat illegal fishing worldwide. Once approved, the proposed amendments to the act will allow us to better protect the economic interests of our hard-working, legitimate Canadian fishermen and their families by strengthening the global effort to combat illegal fishing and further preventing access to the Canadian marketplace.

Of course, Canada is no stranger to strong fisheries enforcement and conservation. It is an area that we already take very seriously. For example, our domestic conservation and protection program applies a rigorous standard of scrutiny to our fisheries to ensure that practices are responsible and consistent with legal or regulatory requirements.

There are approximately 584 fisheries officers in the conservation and protection program, which continues to recruit new, dedicated talent. In fact, a new class of 22 recruits is currently training and is scheduled to graduate this month. We support the crucial work these officers do with the ongoing development of a national fisheries intelligence service, which complements existing enforcement efforts and will address the areas of greatest risk.

Additionally, five new specialized midshore patrol vessels were built and deployed on the east and west coast, specifically to conduct fisheries enforcement patrols. These efforts to protect our domestic fisheries are garnering real results. From 2012 to 2014, fisheries officers detected over 23,000 violations. They issued over 5,500 charges, which resulted in issuing over 2,600 tickets, and they obtained over 2,900 convictions, an overall $6 million in fines.

In the case of the Atlantic halibut, our government recently announced that over the past five years our enforcement efforts had resulted in over $1 million in fines and 164 convictions.

When it comes to ensuring the sustainability of our fisheries, our government is delivering for Canadians.

Turning to the amendments that we are discussing today, it is important that we take the same dedication to enforcing protection in our fisheries as we do to protecting the port activities of our country. As has been stated by my colleagues earlier, the proposed changes would make it an offence to import illegal, unreported and unregulated fish into Canada, cutting off potential trade of illegal and unsustainable catches.

On top of the penalties and charges, these amendments ensure that courts have the power to fine those convicted under the act for importing illegally harvested fish and seafood products, with a penalty equal to the financial benefits of their illegal activity. This is in addition to strict penalties under the act, which include a summary conviction that would land an illegal harvester a fine of up to $100,000, a conviction or indictment costing vessels up to $500,000, and subsequent convictions that would garner up to double these fines.

The purpose of the port state measures agreement is to create an economic disincentive for this illegal activity. That is why the amendments have included the provision for the courts to order the convicted parties to pay an additional fine equal to the estimated financial benefit they expected to gain from committing the offence. Under the proposed amendments, it would definitely not pay to do the crime.

The species of fish that tend to be targeted for illegal fishing are those of the highest of value. Bluefin tuna and albacore tuna are great examples. From an international perspective, the cost of not taking these actions is too grave to risk, both for our economy and the environment. We must continue to support the efforts of the responsible international fishing community.

The amendments also cover several changes in definitions for consistency with the port state measures agreement. These definitions are phrased carefully to avoid catching the wrong vessels in the enforcement net. While we are broadening our international leadership, we will not saddle our legitimate industry with unnecessary bureaucracy.

As an example, the amended definition of “fishing vessel” would include any craft used in the transshipping of fish for marine plants, but it would not include vessels merely equipped to transship at sea that are not involved in fishing activity and are not carrying fish nor previously controlled in another port.

Naturally, it is not our intention to search for illegal fish on vessels that ship wheat or manufactured products. The proposed amendments will also redefine the term “fish”. In keeping with the port state measures agreement and in alignment with the Fisheries Act, “fish” would include shellfish and crustaceans as well. These amendments would also add a definition of “marine plant” to reflect the broad scope of the international agreement.

Bill S-3 would strengthen the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act greatly, 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.

Canada is a net exporter of fish and seafood, and our world-class products increasingly find their way onto the dinner plates of customers across the globe. The European Union and the United States are our key export markets, to the tune of $3.5 billion per year. For them, as for us, combatting illegal fishing is a high priority. We want to work together with our global allies to combat this scourge, and these amendments would allow us to be at the forefront with our international partners and our customers.

I want to take this opportunity to urge all hon. members to join me in supporting this bill to protect the livelihoods of legitimate, hard-working fishermen, who play by the rules, and to ensure sustainable management of fisheries for generations to come.

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May 7th, 2015 / 1:15 p.m.
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NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, few people in the House know this, but I was born near a small coastal village in the Gaspé called Grande-Rivière. My father worked for many years at the fishery school. We talked about the industry at home. Soon, we will pass this bill.

Fisheries have been transformed over the past 50 or 60 years. They have become industrial. Canada has drawn coastal boundaries to protect its fisheries.

We support this bill, but I am worried. Earlier, the whip said that as part of the new action plan, information would be shared with other countries. Can we get a more specific action plan to protect our fisheries?

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May 7th, 2015 / 1:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Rodney Weston Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, like the hon. member, I too was born in a coastal fishing community and I certainly have a great deal of respect for those who earn their living at sea. We would not want to do anything that would jeopardize that livelihood in any way, shape or form.

As per the port state measures agreement, we will participate with other countries that share the same beliefs and same goals that we have with respect to protecting a livelihood we value and cherish for many years to come. Under the agreement, we will continue to work with these countries to ensure this livelihood continues for many years.

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May 7th, 2015 / 1:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, coming from the Prairies, Manitoba has a very strong, active commercial fishing industry that employs several thousand Manitobans and provides a substantial income. Whether it is on our many lakes or in the Churchill area, there is a great deal of concern with respect to overfishing or the types of fish being brought into Canada, potentially illegally.

How will this legislation impact Manitoba's commercial fishing industry?

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May 7th, 2015 / 1:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Rodney Weston Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, I recognize that the province of Manitoba has a vibrant fishing community. As the member might or might not be aware, I chair the fisheries committee. My hon. colleague from Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette is always making the other members of that committee and me aware of how vibrant the industry in Manitoba is.

The port state measures agreement that we will sign on to through the passage of this legislation will enhance the protection of all fisheries in the member countries. We are in agreement with the other countries with respect to reducing the amount of unreported and unregulated fishing activities. We want to reduce the amount of illegal activity, which is good for our entire fishing industry. It will show that our country does not fool around when it comes to illegal activity, when it comes to protecting a fishery that so many depend on for their livelihoods. We are not prepared to screw around with that at all.

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May 7th, 2015 / 1:15 p.m.
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NDP

Paulina Ayala NDP Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is one thing that worries me. Yes, this bill is a step in the right direction, but the Conservative government basically gutted the Fisheries Act, and the role of Fisheries and Oceans Canada is diminishing every year in coastal communities.

How, then, does the government plan to enforce this bill without adequate resources to do so? How can we eliminate illegal fishing without the resources needed to do so? It does not just magically happen; it takes resources.

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May 7th, 2015 / 1:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Rodney Weston Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, the member might not have heard, but in my speech I noted that we had large enforcement agency and we would continue to expand it on an annual basis. This month we anticipate another 22 officers graduating, and we look forward to training more in the years to come.

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May 7th, 2015 / 1:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I am certainly pleased, today, to stand in this House to add my comments about Bill S-3, an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act.

We have heard today from many members of this House on the merits of these amendments. I will be using my time to reiterate the need for these amendments and highlight a few of the key points that have been discussed.

As we have heard, the purpose of the bill is to enable Canada to ratify the international agreement on port state measures to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

As a former conservation officer myself and ex officio fisheries officer, I understand that a strong, sustainable fishing industry supports jobs and economic growth in rural communities and, indeed, in all communities in this country. In Canada, the seafood industry is a major economic driver. Canadian fishermen work hard and play by the rules. Our country has a rigorous fisheries management system and measures in place to ensure that our fisheries are sustainable and will be present for future generations.

Unfortunately, not all of the world's oceans are so well protected. While Canada's current Coastal Fisheries Protection Act and extensive catch monitoring programs already deter illegal fishing vessels from entering our ports, the bill would further expand our powers to prevent illegal fish from entering the Canadian marketplace and support the global effort to stop illegal fishing.

I cannot stress enough that globally illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is an issue of grave concern. The port state measures agreement would deal with the worldwide problem of illegal fishing, which has serious economic and environmental consequences to Canadians. Fish are a highly valued commodity and, as such, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing has rapidly become a new global challenge. Illegal fishing operators gain economic advantage over legitimate fish harvesters through lower costs of operation, by circumventing national laws and regulations.

They also undermine conservation and management measures of regional fishery management organizations and other international standards, often including those for labour and safety conditions for the crew, the men and women who work aboard those vessels.

Illegal fish in the global market can depress prices for fish products from legitimate fish harvesters. Canadian fishermen feel the impacts of illegal fishing, including unfair competition and price fluctuations created by illegal producers flooding the international markets. Canadian seafood exports are worth $4 billion annually and 85% of all of our fish harvested is exported.

Therefore, Canada has a major economic stake in ensuring that illegal fish are kept off the global market.

We need to continue to be leaders in the international fight against threats to our fishing industry, in order to maintain a fair and stable market environment for our high quality fish and seafood exports.

Canada has a well-regulated fisheries. We are not the problem when it comes to illegal fishing. However, we can be part of the global situation and global solution. By strengthening the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, we would protect this vital resource and support the international fight against this global scourge.

On this side of the House, we stand by our commitments. Canada signed the port state measures act agreement in 2010 and, as demonstrated by this bill being brought forward today, we will follow through on this commitment.

The amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act would also expand our capacity to deal with illegally caught fish from other jurisdictions. If a vessel is fishing outside of the controls required by a regional fish management organization or international norms, then fish caught by that vessel would be subject to intervention under this act.

We would now have the ability to deal with illegal fish product imports in an efficient way that would support the intent of the port state measures agreement.

We are proud of the already strong port access regime for foreign fishing vessels. Among other measures, Canada does not allow entry to vessels that are on the illegal, unreported and unregulated lists of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization or the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas.

These lists are a key tool for combatting illegal fishing globally. Included on these lists are fishing vessels and any craft that helps fishing vessels engage in illegal acts. For example, crafts providing fuel, transshipping products or packing materials would be covered and included in the list.

With these proposed amendments, we would be building on the already strong legislation to protect fishermen and fisherwomen and our national economy. Arrangements have already been undertaken among several regional fisheries management organizations to share such lists so that members can take the necessary action to deny port entry or services to these listed vessels. This would make illegal fishing more difficult and expensive for criminals.

The proposed changes to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act set out tough prohibitions against the importation of illegally caught fish and other living marine organisms. Contravention of these provisions would be an offence under the amended Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, with strict penalties specified under the act. Together, these measures would help to dry up the profits from illegal fishing activities.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada, in close collaboration with the Canada Border Services Agency, would carry out enforcement with a view to protect legitimate cross-border trade of fish and seafood products. Preventing illegally taken fish and seafood products from entering Canadian markets is also a priority for Canada's trading partners, such as the United States and the European Union. Controls at the border for illegal fish harvests would bolster Canada's reputation as a responsible nation and a responsible trading partner.

I am a member of the fisheries committee. During our study of the bill, additional technical amendments were introduced to further strengthen this bill. The first new amendment introduced would enable Canada to make regulations that could specifically document requirements for the imports of fish and seafood products from fisheries management organizations, to which Canada is not party. This is a practical measure, as these amendments would address the situation of illegally harvested seafood from parts of the world where Canada does not fish, but from which it imports. Should a regional fisheries management organization in another region implement certification measures, we would have the authority to also require this documentation. This is a common sense measure and a common sense amendment, which we heard in committee, and we are pleased to put that forward. It would also ensure consistency and improve the sustainability of fisheries throughout the world while we are protecting legitimate trade.

The second amendment is a technical, common sense amendment to ensure that vessels or goods that have been seized are not returned to the offender upon conviction.

The bill, along with the additional amendments presented in the committee report to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act that are before the House, would strengthen and clarify Canada's domestic rules and reinforce its leadership in the global fight against harmful fishing. This bill demonstrates Canada's commitment to addressing the global challenge of combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing by ensuring a modern legislative framework.

I am proud to be part of a government that is taking action against this global problem, which impacts our fishermen and fisherwomen here at home. We cannot tolerate the illegal exploitation of the world's great resources.

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May 7th, 2015 / 1:25 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's contribution to this debate. He is a member of the fisheries committee.

I wonder if he shares my disappointment. This is an important piece of legislation. It would enact an international agreement that was signed by nations, and it is important that it get done and that we deal with this issue. I will talk about this in more detail in my intervention.

This was first introduced into the Senate as Bill S-13, and it passed third reading there on March 7, 2013. That was over two years ago. I wonder if the member shares my disappointment that this important piece of legislation has languished so long in the back rooms, or wherever it languishes, and has not been adequately dealt with in a timely fashion here in the House of Commons.

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May 7th, 2015 / 1:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for both his intervention here and his contributions to our fisheries committee. I look forward to his remarks later in the day. As we move this forward, members heard in my intervention how critical unreported, unregulated fisheries are, not just in Canada but globally. We have a number of key partners involved in this, some 25 states signing onto this agreement, 11 of which have completed and are signatories to this now.

It is important that we get this right. It is important that we take the time, which we did at the fisheries committee where we engaged in a pretty detailed review of this. We were able to ask for technical advice and get the proper input to make sure that we had the right piece of legislation going forward.

We can preserve and protect the integrity of Canada's fishing industry, both our imports and our exports. That is not something that should be taken lightly or rushed through. The House, the Senate and our committee have given it due consideration as reflected by the amendments that are now being put forward here today. We have done a good job. I think the committee has done a good job and Canada can be proud of this. Our industry can be confident that this piece of legislation is going to leave Canada at the forefront of tackling this very serious issue.

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May 7th, 2015 / 1:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pick up on the previous question. We need not only to recognize the fishing industry here in Canada, but to recognize that in the world we have failed to provide stronger leadership from Canada, given the vastness, the coastlines, the interest and strong potential that Canada could be playing at the international scene.

The reason we have this legislation before us is because of an international agreement, so it is a follow-through from that agreement.

Does the member believe that Canada could actually be playing a stronger leadership role, not only here in Canada, but more so in the world when it comes to the important issue of world fisheries?

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May 7th, 2015 / 1:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's question is important and he raises a great point about Canada and the geography. There are 25 member states that are required to sign this FAO agreement and 11 have done so, so we are not quite at the halfway point yet. Canada is such a massive nation and the member pointed out that our coastline is so significant. When we look at what our primary law enforcement agencies and others are doing to deter, detect, prevent and enforce regulations on such a broad coastline, I think they should be commended.

As we look at signing these agreements, we need to make sure that we have the legislation right, and that the tools are appropriate and proper, not just for those agencies, but in the context of the geography in which they have to work. Canada has to do land-based patrols, aerial surveillance patrols, sea patrols, dockside monitoring, electric monitoring, all kinds of things from coast to coast to coast. It is not an easy task, but Canadians are doing a great job. Canada is showing significant leadership on this file simply because of the operating conditions that we work in.

We are in a vastly different pool of regulatory regimes here in Canada and we are doing a wonderful job. Other nations can look to Canada and see how we are able to deter, prevent and detect unregulated, unreported fishing with such big boundaries to protect. The men and women who are doing that job are doing a fantastic job.

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May 7th, 2015 / 1:35 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure and privilege to rise to speak to this legislation, Bill S-3.

As I indicated in my question to the member who spoke before me, I am disappointed by the fact that it has taken so long for this piece of legislation to work its way through the process. It was introduced in the Senate. It should not have been introduced in the Senate to begin with; it should have come through the House of Commons. Instead of slipping it in through the back door, it should have been dealt with here first by the elected representatives of Canadians.

The member suggested that Canada has a significant coastline. Canada has the longest coastline in the world. There are also important ocean nurseries, such as Georges Bank and Lancaster Sound. I am continually frustrated by the lack of leadership that the government shows on issues like this, issues that deal with our fishery, oceans, ocean health and the ocean ecosystem. The Conservatives committed to another international agreement through the UN that 10% of our coastal ecosystem in marine-protected areas would be protected by the year 2020. There is not a hope, if we continue at this pace, that we are ever going to achieve that commitment.

Luckily, as a result of the election that is about to be upon us, on October 19, a New Democrat government is going to start putting things in place to make sure that commitment is fulfilled and that 10% of our coastal ecosystem in marine-protected areas is protected by 2020. It can be done; it just requires the will. New Democrats will show the Conservatives how that is done.

Before I get into the significance of the bill and the lack of leadership we have seen by the government, another important issue is the government's failure to support my colleague's bill, Bill C-380, on shark finning. The member for New Westminster—Coquitlam has worked tirelessly on this issue. He has worked tirelessly on it because it is important. It is estimated that 100 million sharks are killed each year for their fins alone. He worked with members on all sides of the House to get their support, and it was close, but too many members on the government side bailed. They would not stand up. They said they were going to bring in stronger enforcement against shark finning, but that simply has not happened. That is another example of the lack of leadership on this important issue by the government.

I will not forget to mention that the government has cut funds for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Coast Guard by well over $100 million over the last couple of years in the area of science and enforcement. It has been one thing after another. Frankly, it is laughable when members opposite stand and talk about the leadership role that they play in fisheries management and protecting the oceans. As I have suggested, they do not contribute in any way in a leadership role on the issue of healthy oceans internationally.

Turning to Bill S-3, the bill was last debated in the House in February 2014. I do not know why that is. We had two committee meetings to deal with it, so it was not the committee that held it up, that is for sure. As it was, we only dealt with a few technical amendments and then voted to pass it on.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing continues to be a very important global issue. It affects not only the health of our ocean's ecosystem and issues of conservation of stock management, but it also affects our economy.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is a major contributor to declining fish stocks and marine habitat destruction. Globally, IUU fishing takes many forms, both within nationally controlled waters and on the high seas. We know that it further threatens marine ecosystems, puts food security and regional stability at risk, and is linked to major human rights violations and organized crime.

While it is not known for sure how much IUU fishing is taking place, it is estimated that IUU fishing accounts for about 30% of all fishing activity worldwide. The worldwide value placed on IUU catches is somewhere between $4 billion and $9 billion a year. Approximately $1.25 billion of this illegally captured fish is thought to be taken from the high seas, with the remainder fished illegally within the 200-mile limit of coastal states. The overall impact on the global economy, however, is valued much higher, in the area of $23.5 billion.

As members would expect, illegal fishing is most prevalent where governance measures to manage fisheries are the weakest, which explains why developing countries are the hardest hit by IUU fishing. An estimated $1 billion in IUU fishing happens in the coastal waters of sub-Saharan Africa each year.

Strong governance of the high seas through regional fisheries management organizations is integral to reducing illegal fishing activities. The bill before us would help ensure that IUU fish do not make it onto the Canadian market and would provide disincentives for black market fish markets.

Tackling fishing on the high seas, as we have seen historically, requires large-scale international co-operation and commitment, both in terms of providing resources to implement agreed measures, such as in this case, implementing the port state measures agreement, and of coordinating efforts between relevant national and international authorities where, as I have suggested earlier, Canada should be a global leader.

Here in Canada, believe it or not, we do have fairly strong policies and enforcement to combat illegal fishing within our waters. Unfortunately, with the cutbacks to the Department of National Defence and DFO as it relates to the Coast Guard, we continue to be concerned with the ability of the government to actually carry out its enforcement responsibilities within the 200-mile limit.

I will speak for a minute about the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. It regulates foreign fishing vessels fishing in Canada, as well as harvesting sedentary species like oysters and clams on the continental shelf of Canada beyond Canadian fisheries waters. The act also extends its application to the North Atlantic Fisheries Organization, NAFO, regulatory area and prohibits specific classes of foreign fishing vessels from fishing for straddling stocks. The act also prohibits fishing vessels without nationality from fishing in Canadian or NAFO waters.

As I indicated, Bill S-3 is making changes to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act and enacting the international port state measures agreement that requires 25 nations to sign on in order for it to be ratified. Unfortunately, it has not reached even halfway yet.

The port state measures agreement specifically aims to prevent illegally caught fish from entering international markets through ports. Under the terms of the treaty, foreign vessels would provide advance notice and request permission for port entry. Countries would conduct regular inspections in accordance with universal minimum standards. Offending vessels would be denied use of the port or certain port services, and information sharing networks would be created.

The bill also provides regulatory power in relation to authorizing foreign fishing vessels ordered to port by their flag state to enter Canadian waters to verify compliance with law or conservation and management measures of fisheries as an organization.

The bill expands the definition of “fishing vessel”, which we have heard, to include any vessels used in the transshipment of fish or marine plants that have not been previously handled. The bill further expands the current definition of “fish” from shellfish, crustaceans and marine animals to include any part or derivative of them.

The port state measures agreement is the first global treaty focused specifically on the problem of illegally, unreported and unregulated fishing. To date, the European Union, Norway, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar have already ratified the port state measures agreement. The United States has introduced legislation, similar to Canada, in an effort to ratify the PSMA. As I indicated, in order for it to take effect internationally, it requires ratification by 25 states.

The illegal, unreported and unregulated fishery is a serious problem. It is a serious problem for the reasons that I have indicated and others. Canada needs to be at the forefront of measures like this to ensure the agreement is ratified by 25 nations. My question would be as to what Canada is doing to ensure that 25 nations actually move forward and take steps to ratify this agreement. We have not heard that in any of the debate. If the government was taking a leadership role, it would be able to give us a report on that.

Surely the government must understand. As I said earlier it has been two years since the bill was first passed in the Senate. We have had lots of time. The government has been aware of the issue. The government has been involved with this issue. I would certainly like to know, and I have not heard an explanation or a report on progress, how the other states are doing on the whole question of ratification.

When can we expect the agreement to be implemented? Will it be ignored, like the commitment to protect 10% our coastal ecosystem by 2020? Have the signatories to this agreement set a date by which they want to have the agreement ratified? Can the government report on what it is that it has done?

I and other members here have expressed some of our frustration about the lack of action on various issues relating to coastal protection and the failure of the government in so many areas relating to habitat protection.

Speaking of frustration, today in our committee we were hearing from witnesses. There was one from Alberta, the fish and wildlife society I believe it was. He talked about his frustration with the fact that the federal government is not doing enough to deal with questions of the damage to fish habitat. In fact, if I caught it correctly, he said something to the effect that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is invisible in the western provinces.

I assured the witness that now that there is an NDP government in Alberta, he has the opportunity to work with a government that understands the importance of the environment and that, once an NDP government is in place after October 19, we would address that frustration. I assured him that we would ensure there is action taken in these areas and that the federal government would not be invisible in dealing with important issues of habitat management and ecosystem destruction.

We do not have enough time on these committees to ask questions, but one of our concerns is the way that industrial expansion and the development of resources and resource extraction are taking precedence over environmental protections, taking precedence over our ability to protect important marine ecosystems, our rivers and lakes, let alone our oceans.

As members know, the government made enormous negative changes to the Fisheries Act back in 2012 and really exposed itself to this country and to many Canadians. I am in contact every day with those Canadians. They are concerned about the lack of attention that the current government is giving to fish habitat and to our ecosystems, concerned that the Conservatives are primarily concerned with resource extraction, whether that be in the moving of resources. If there is a waterway in the way—if it is a fish-bearing river or brook—the Conservatives have provided for undertakings to be granted that will basically allow them to run pipelines over these rivers and streams and through lakes. Those are the concerns that many of us have expressed and that our witness was partly expressing in his testimony today, if I may say so.

What we are looking at in our committee is the whole issue of the recreational fishery. It is an important fishery economically and culturally. However, as the representative from the Thames River in southwestern Ontario told us, if we do not have a healthy habitat and we are not able to protect and restore marine habitat, we are not going to have any fish. While we want to talk about how important the recreational fishery is to this country, we have to ensure we protect that marine and fish habitat.

It is about leadership, which I have been trying to talk a bit about. While I am pleased that this piece of legislation has come forward, I am disappointed at how long it took. I am disappointed at the fact that the current government has not been out in the forefront of ensuring that illegal, unregulated, unreported fishery stops, not in 10 years' time but now or next year.

Let us see some timelines. Let us see the government taking some action to make sure that the 25 nations, which are supposed to ratify this agreement, get it done. The Conservatives have not indicated to us whatsoever the actions they are taking to make sure they get it done.

I will be supporting this legislation. I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak, and I would be happy to answer some questions.

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May 7th, 2015 / 1:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his intervention. He started with this and he ended with it: how disappointed he has been that this process has taken so long.

I ask my hon. colleague now to join me in calling on all members to remain seated. We can let the debate collapse and move to a voice vote, because the only thing that is delaying this from going forward now, it would appear to me—if the member is so concerned about getting the bill passed and done so quickly—is the continued debate on it. If we all agreed to sit down, this would go to a voice vote and we would be done. No more complaints about—

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May 7th, 2015 / 1:55 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that question because it absolutely underlines and highlights the approach the government has to this place, to the House of Commons, to Parliament. The Conservatives do not want to debate anything. They do not want to give us an opportunity to get up and talk about whether we support something or do not support something, and why. They do not want to hear that. They just want to control the agenda.

It was over a year ago that we last debated the bill. We now have the bill before us and we have had—what?—two hours to debate it and the Conservatives are already telling me to sit down. That is the way the government likes to deal with legislation. The Conservatives do not want debate. They do not want input. They just want to run it themselves.

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May 7th, 2015 / 1:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the member pick up on the important role Canada could play in terms of our world oceans, which are quickly becoming depleted in many different ways, whether it is through small nets, overfishing, or so forth. Given the size of our coastline, not to mention the citizenry as a whole who want to see Canada play a stronger role in terms of leadership in overall management of the fishing industry, there would be benefits not only here in Canada but around the world if we get more directly involved.

Maybe the hon. member might want to provide some comment on that very important point of strong leadership coming from Canada to contribute to better oceans around the world.

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May 7th, 2015 / 1:55 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is very simple. Canadians are frustrated with the lack of leadership they have been getting from the Conservative and Liberal governments over the past 30 years; and come October 19, they will have the opportunity to see what real leadership is all about when they elect the NDP, which actually cares about our oceans and cares about protecting our marine environment. We will put that into action.