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 / 10:20 a.m.
See context

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 / 10:10 a.m.
See context

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.

The House resumed from May 7 consideration of the motion that Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, be read the third time and passed.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

May 14th, 2015 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, we have no shortage of very important work to attend to.

This afternoon and tomorrow we will continue debating Bill C-59, economic action plan 2015 act, no. 1, to implement important measures from the spring's budget, such as the family tax cut, enhancements to the universal child care benefit and a reduction to the small business income tax.

The parties across the way have made no secret of their opposition to the excellent tax reduction measures we have proposed, and this week the hon. member for Papineau explained why. As he told the House on Tuesday, “benefiting every single family is not...fair”. Well, that is consistent with his approach to fiscal policy, that budgets balance themselves.

However, our budget implementation bill will deliver those benefits to every family, because that is the fair Canadian thing to do.

After our constituency week, on Monday, May 25, we will debate Bill S-6, the Yukon and Nunavut regulatory improvement act at report stage. This bill will improve opportunities for economic development north of 60.

After question period that same day, we will take up Bill C-42, the common sense firearms licensing act at report stage, and hopefully third reading. Unnecessary, cumbersome red tape facing law-abiding gun owners across Canada will be reduced, thanks to this legislation.

Also, pursuant to Standing Order 81(4)(a), I am appointing that day, Monday, May 25, as the day for consideration, in a committee of the whole, of all votes in the main estimates, for 2015-16, related to finance.

Tuesday, May 26, will be the fifth allotted day. We will debate a Liberal proposal. I expect the Liberal leader will explain why helping every family is not fair.

We will return to the third reading debate on Bill C-52, the Safe and Accountable Rail Act, on Wednesday, May 27, when I am hopeful that it will pass.

The following day, we will continue the third reading debate on Bill S-3, the Port State Measures Agreement Implementation Act. In debate last week, the hon. member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles said, “Soon, we will pass this bill”. I look forward to her NDP colleagues proving the hon. member right.

Later that Thursday, we will start the report stage for Bill S-7, the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act, which will re-affirm this Parliament’s ongoing efforts to end violence against women and girls.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

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

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.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

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

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.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

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

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.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

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

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.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

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

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.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

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

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.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

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

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.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 12:05 p.m.
See context

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 / 11:50 a.m.
See context

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 / 11:20 a.m.
See context

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 / 11:20 a.m.
See context

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.