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.

June 18th, 2015 / 4:20 p.m.
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Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

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.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

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.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

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.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

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.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, be read the third time and passed.

Bill S-4--Time Allocation MotionDigital Privacy ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2015 / 11:25 a.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order and would appreciate your guidance on this, but it is a question of relevance. I understand that the government House leader can at any point rise to put forward such a motion as the one to put time allocation, yet again, on another government bill. However, I find it to be offensive to the principles of examining Bill S-3 to then, in the pretense of speaking to Bill S-3, which is an important piece of legislation to ratify global action on our fisheries, slide into a completely different matter.

On the point of relevance, I think the hon. government House leader should not have pretended to be speaking about Bill S-3 in order to put time allocation on Bill S-4.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

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.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

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.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

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.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

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.

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 / 10:25 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 / 10:25 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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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.