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.

March 24th, 2015 / 11:25 a.m.
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David Henley Member, Canadian Maritime Law Association

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you for inviting the Canadian Maritime Law Association to discuss Bill S-3 today. I particularly appreciate being here with my colleague, Mr. McGuinness. As he suggested, while their focus is on the context and the underlying issues, the Canadian Maritime Law Association had a closer look at the drafting. So I hope that our presentations will complement each other.

My comments will cover three brief points. ln the first part, I'll briefly introduce the Canadian Maritime Law Association. In the second part, I'll essentially confirm that we endorse the bill. ln the third part, I would like to reiterate an area where the bill could be improved, and that will mirror our submission to the Senate on this point. Our endorsement of the bill, though, is not at all contingent upon this suggested improvement.

To begin, the Canadian Maritime Law Association is an organization consisting of both practising maritime lawyers across the country and a number of constituent companies and associations involved in the maritime industry. There are currently 14 of those constituent members representing a broad spectrum of the shipping industry. I can name the full 14, but just to give you a sense of the types of organizations, they include the Canadian Shipowners Association and the Shipping Federation of Canada.

The CMLA has its origins in Canada's involvement in international maritime law organizations. Specifically, the Comité Maritime International is an international body that was organized in 1897 to promote uniformity and reform in international maritime law and commerce. The CMLA is Canada's representative to the Comité Maritime International. The CMLA looks at domestic maritime laws, among other things, with one of the goals being uniformity. Since Bill S-3 would basically implement an international treaty that promotes uniform law, it's been of interest to the CMLA for some time. We have been monitoring it and have made similar submissions before the Senate. We've also had representatives on conference call meetings with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans involving the port state measures agreement and its implementation.

The fisheries committee of the CMLA has reported to its membership a number of times throughout the progress of the bill, and we've not received any adverse comments from any of our members. The CMLA agrees with the philosophy of the port state measures agreement. Specifically, because some countries do not effectively control their fishing vessels, we agree that it's necessary for states where fish are landed, including Canada, to take steps to control illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

The CMLA is strongly in support of DFO's initiative to curb this illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing through the implementation of this bill.

Although we support Bill S-3, there is one minor area where we feel there could be some room for improvement, and it's a particular area of drafting. Clause 8 of the Bill proposes an amended section 13 of the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. This section retains wording from the existing act that allows seized fishing vessels and goods to be redelivered on posting of a bond in an amount and form satisfactory to the minister. lt also requires consent of a protection officer for release of that seized vessel. This is very similar to the existing wording in subsection 71(2) of the Fisheries Act.

Subsection 71(2) of the Fisheries Act was reviewed by the Nova Scotia courts in the trial decision of R. v. McDonald in 2002, which was upheld by the court of appeal, and in that decision the judge observed that, “It seems there is a failure in the legislation to have the issue of interim possession of these important items determined judicially”. Essentially the judge was critiquing subsection 71(2) of the Fisheries Act, which is largely the same as section 13 of the current Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. The CMLA feels that this is a timely opportunity to make that amendment in the current legislation. We concur with the comments of the judge in that decision of R. v. McDonald.

The CMLA is of the view that both section 71 of the Fisheries Act and section 13 of the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act are fundamentally flawed because they provide that the security to be granted for release of a vessel must be in a form and amount satisfactory to the minister as opposed to a court. As I've said, this provision has been interpreted by at least one court to mean that if no form of security is satisfactory to the minister, the vessel need not be released.

Our suggestion is a modest improvement to the bill. It would be a proposed change to section 13, similar to what was proposed by the government in 2007 when it looked at changing subsection 71(2) of the Fisheries Act, 2007. That was in Bill C-32. Unfortunately, that bill died on the order paper, so the amendment was never implemented.

But the amendment required is very simple. It just changes the determination of the form and the amount of the security from the minister to a court or tribunal.

When a fishing vessel is seized by the Government of Canada pending trial, it can take one to two years, or even longer in some cases, to work its way through the courts. The underlying concern is that during this time the owner of the seized vessel cannot use the vessel, and it very likely will put the crew out of work. Given the presumption in our legal system of innocence until proven guilty, preventing the vessel from working pending trial seems problematic. It amounts to a penalty prior to any finding of guilt.

The Fisheries Act and the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act have always had provisions whereby owners of these vessels could post money to get the vessels released pending trial. Normally in that case, the penalty that the crown is seeking would be roughly what they're seeking for security to release the vessel, sometimes slightly in excess of that. This allows the asset, then, to resume working pending the outcome of the trial.

The problem with the current provisions in both Fisheries Act subsection 71(2) and section 13 of the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act is that they essentially say that the court can allow the vessel to be released, but they also say that the minister and not the court decides on the amount and form of the security. The fundamental concern we have with this is that this amount and form of security should be determined by an impartial and independent person, such as a judge or an administrative tribunal. With the present version of section 13, this task is essentially performed by the minister, which effectively in most cases means that it's the fisheries officer conducting the investigation who decides upon the amount and form of security.

The earlier amendment recommended in Bill C-32 to the Fisheries Act would have substituted a court or tribunal for the minister. I recognize that there is no tribunal associated with the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. In the present case, the CMLA is of the view that section 13 could refer only to a court rather than the minister.

I'd also note that in the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act there's a requirement in section 13 that a protection officer “consent” to the vessel being released. The CMLA also suggests that this reference be deleted because, similar to the minister, the protection officer is not necessarily an impartial and independent person. In our view, the reference should also be to the court, or the court should decide that.

To summarize, Mr. Chair, the CMLA proposes this minor amendment to address what we see as largely a procedural concern. We think it's timely to fix what we see as a minor flaw in the legislation. We believe, given the presumption of innocence until proven guilty under our legal system, that the court is best positioned to set the form and amount of security and that this change would improve the bill. Regardless, the CMLA does agree with the philosophy of the legislation and endorses Bill S-3.

Subject to any questions, those are my submissions. Thank you.

March 24th, 2015 / 11:10 a.m.
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Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rodney Weston

Thank you, Georges.

I want to thank our witnesses for taking the time to appear before the committee today. As you are no doubt aware, we're discussing and studying Bill S-3. We certainly appreciate your taking the time out of your busy schedules to appear before us to make some comments and to answer some questions the committee members might have afterwards. I'm not sure if you have decided amongst yourselves who wants to go first this morning.

Mr. McGuinness, any time you are ready, the floor is yours to begin with your opening comments.

March 24th, 2015 / 11:10 a.m.
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Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rodney Weston

It's to cover the expenses of the witnesses appearing before the committee for the study of Bill S-3.

March 12th, 2015 / 12:05 p.m.
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Conservative

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

Okay, good. Thank you for that.

In the few minutes I have left, let me return to the notion of amending Bill S-3, which amends the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, thus amending the amendments so as to have in the end a Coastal Fisheries Protection Act that is as robust as it can be.

We talked about a couple of areas in the last meeting. If I understand correctly, one of the areas is we have the right in our current legislation to put in place regulations for documentation, if we're a party to a regional fishing management organization, but it's not as clear that we can require documentation if we're not a party to that organization. It might be good to put that in this bill as an amendment. We've already given the clerk some possibilities.

The amended Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, with the current Bill S-3 amendments to it, would say:

No person shall, in connection with the importation of any fish or marine plant, transport...knowing that it was taken, harvested, possessed, transported...contrary to any of the following:

Then it lists:

(a) an international fisheries treaty or arrangement to which Canada is party...;

We understand that. Then it also says:

(b) any conservation or management measures of a fisheries management organization of which Canada is not a member that is prescribed by regulation;

Is it that last phrase, “prescribed by regulation”, that sets the issue here, that we need to provide the authority for the government to put in place a regulation requiring documentation even from parties that are part of an RFMO we're not a member of?

Help me understand the necessity for this amendment, which we talked about the other day.

March 12th, 2015 / 12:05 p.m.
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Conservative

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

Thank you very much. That's good to know.

Somewhat related to that, is there anything in the amended Coastal Fisheries Protection Act—the amendments we're making in Bill S-3—that directly impacts Canadian fishers or Canadian fishing operations in some form? In other words, are we making their life more difficult in some way, adding red tape or something like that?

March 12th, 2015 / 11:50 a.m.
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Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Tom Rosser

I was trying to allude to the fact that...I mean, as an illegal activity, IUU fishing inevitably evolves over time. While we believe that the port state measures agreement implementation act, Bill S-3, represents an important step forward, inevitably those engaged in illegal activities, as the international legal regime evolves, may too respond to that in some fashion. It is an evolving process. We believe that these are positive, concrete steps, both domestically and internationally, but we need to recognize as well that we are trying to discourage an activity that itself is continually evolving.

March 12th, 2015 / 11:50 a.m.
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Tom Rosser Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

You will recall from our testimony here earlier in the week that I was accompanied by Mr. Allan MacLean and Mr. Tim Angus. With your permission, we have also invited Ms. Angela Bexton to join us. Angela was part of the Canadian delegation to the negotiations that led to the port state measures agreement and has been closely involved in our departmental input into the drafting of Bill S-3 as well.

I will make very brief opening remarks, Mr. Chair, and then I would be happy to engage in further questions and answers with the committee.

We appreciate the opportunity to discuss the amendments and further questions. I'd like to reiterate a few points from the discussion earlier this week.

Working towards the ratification of the port state measures agreement provides an opportunity for Canada to strengthen an already robust port measures system in relation to foreign fishing vessels. The amendments being proposed will improve our existing enforcement regime and in our view should be undertaken whether the international agreement existed or not.

As I described on Tuesday, there have been situations in which Canada would have benefited from having the enhanced enforcement authorities in place. For example, a flag state might want to direct its vessel to a Canadian port for inspection purposes to avoid re-calling the vessel to its port and risking the possibility of compromised evidence.

Another example involves the situation in which the fish have already been partially off-loaded to places beyond the reach of existing authorities under current legislation.

Besides enhancing enforcement, the proposed amendments address another important aspect preventing illegal fishing, which is the prohibition of imports of illegally harvested fish products. Once fish enters the domestic market, it is almost impossible to determine how it was harvested, and it is effectively laundered. Thus, stopping illegally harvested fish and seafood products at the border is an essential contribution to the fight against illegal fishing.

States and regional fisheries management organizations are increasingly demanding proof of legal harvest. This is an evolving issue, so the bill as it stands makes some headway towards addressing the issue of prohibiting imports of illegally harvested fish products. More inevitably could be done, but the bill starts this process. The import prohibitions clearly demonstrate Canada's contribution to the global effort, in line with our key export markets, in particular the United States and the European Union.

IUU fishing is a global problem, but it mainly occurs in regions of the world where there is lax governance or limited capacity to undertake enforcement. This is why port state measures are important. Port state measures are considered cost-effective deterrents to IUU fishing activity that help compensate for lax control by flag states. Canada continues to support a suite of tools for monitoring, control and surveillance of fishing activities, but in regions of the world where the capacity for enforcement by the flag state is limited, port state measures can be effective.

As we are working through our domestic processes to enable Canada's ratification of the treaty, we also encourage other states to consider ratifying the treaty. Canada has supported these efforts in regional fisheries management organizations that are developing their own requirements for port state measures based on this international treaty or that are aligning existing requirements with this new global standard. We therefore see the momentum growing for these measures.

Again, speaking on behalf of my colleagues, let me say that we appreciate the opportunity, Mr. Chair, to make additional comments, and we welcome further questions.

Merci. Thank you.

March 10th, 2015 / 12:55 p.m.
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Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rodney Weston

That's all right.

I was going to say that if you have any amendments to Bill S-3 for this committee to consider, please submit them to the clerk before our next meeting so they can be considered on Thursday.

Also, as we approach any amendments that might come forward, I was going to ask if you want to have the witnesses back so they can provide some counsel to this committee before we proceed into clause-by-clause study.

On Thursday my intention is to return to Bill S-3, and I would like to have any proposed amendments come to the clerk before Thursday so we can consider them. We will hopefully have the witnesses return again on Thursday.

Mr. MacAulay, do you have something that you want to add?

March 10th, 2015 / 12:55 p.m.
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Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rodney Weston

Thank you very much, Ms. Davidson.

I want to take a moment to thank the officials for appearing today and for providing us with some insight into Bill S-3.

Mr. Cleary.

March 10th, 2015 / 12:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Patricia Davidson Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Thanks, gentlemen, for being with us today.

I just want to go back to the port state measures agreement. I think you indicated that it needed 25 countries to ratify it and that so far 11 have ratified it. I'm just wondering what further steps, if any, Canada has to take beyond the amendments through Bill S-3 in order to be able to ratify it. That's my first question.

Second, in Bill S-3 there's a new prohibition against importing illegally acquired fish or marine plants. That's in clause 4. We added new section 5.6 to that act. Is this prohibition required to implement the port state measures agreement? Also, could you talk a bit about the current extent of the problem of illegally acquired fish and marine plants being imported into Canada?

Third, do any of the amendments in Bill S-3 address the problems of shark finning?

March 10th, 2015 / 12:35 p.m.
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Conservative

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

Along that line, have you identified any other areas where this committee could consider an amendment to Bill S-3? I know it came out of the Senate unamended, but are there any areas that you could bring to our attention?

March 10th, 2015 / 12:30 p.m.
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Conservative

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

If we're not a party to a particular fish management organization, would these amendments to the act give us the power to require that documentation, or would we need to amend Bill S-3 in order to make that happen?

March 10th, 2015 / 11:15 a.m.
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Tom Rosser Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Good afternoon, everyone.

I appreciate the opportunity to talk about DFO's role in combatting illegal fishing and to answer any questions about the proposed amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act.

Before I do that, though, I'd like to introduce the colleagues here with me today. I'm very pleased to have with me here on my left, Mr. Allan MacLean, director general of conservation and protection. Allan has overall responsibility for enforcement activities at DFO. As well, on my right, I'm very pleased to be joined by Tim Angus, acting director general of external relations. He has overall responsibility for international negotiations for policies on fisheries, oceans, and trade, as well as federal, provincial and territorial relations.

Illegal fishing is a global problem that requires a global solution. One solution was negotiated under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in the form of a new treaty, entitled the “Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing”. It is also called the “Port State Measures Agreement”, for short.

The goal of this treaty is to undermine the economic incentives behind illegal fishing. The key requirement of this treaty is to prevent the trade of illegally harvested fish. This is done by taking action against foreign fishing vessels trying to land illegal catches, and by taking action against other vessels or methods of trying to import illegally harvested fish into countries.

A 2008 study commissioned by the Government of the United Kingdom estimated that global economic loss due to IUU fishing, or illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, ranges from $10 billion to $23 billion U.S. per year, representing 11% to 19% of total global reported legal catch.

Illegal fishing undermines the livelihoods of legitimate fish harvesters, such as Canadian fishermen, because illegal fish harvesters can operate more cheaply and sell their products more cheaply by not following rules and regulations, such as documenting catch, respecting catch limits, applying ecosystem protection measures, and implementing labour requirements. Illegal fishing also undermines efforts to ensure fisheries are sustainably managed and that ecosystems and habitats upon which they rely are appropriately protected.

Canada has a well-regulated fishery, as fishing violations are kept to a minimum and policies for sustainable use are implemented. However, Canadian fish harvesters are part of the global fishing industry and Canada needs to be part of the international effort to stop illegal fishing, even when it takes place in other parts of the world.

As a responsible fishing nation, Canada is committed to implementing efforts that stem the trade of illegally harvested fish and seafood products. Our key trading partners, the United States and the European Union, as well as other responsible fishing allies, continue to work domestically to stop illegal fishing through strong actions at their borders and ports. With our allies, we need to remain vigilant in the face of illegal fishing operators who seek to profit from being out of sight on the high seas.

Bill S-3 is an Act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. Canada already has a robust port State measures regime in relation to foreign fishing vessels. All foreign fishing vessels wishing to enter Canadian waters and ports must apply for and receive authorization from the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans pursuant to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Regulations. The minister can issue authorization only if the foreign fishing vessel is in compliance with the conservation and management measures of a regional fisheries management organization.

However, in order to meet the requirements of the port state measures agreement, some amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act are required. The most important amendments in this regard include: number one, expanding inspection enforcement powers beyond the fishing vessel to any place where fish might be transported or stored; number two, strengthening prohibitions on imports of fish and seafood products, including marine plants that are illegally harvested; number three, adding the authority to permit foreign fishing vessels to enter Canadian ports for enforcement purposes; number four, facilitating information sharing among federal agencies and with relevant international organizations for enforcement purposes.

If you permit me, Mr. Chair, I will just review each of them briefly, in turn.

First, we must expand inspection and enforcement powers.

The Port State Measures Agreement makes reference to “container vessels”, as a possible means to transport illegally harvested fish. Although this would be a rare situation at this time, the intention of the negotiators of the agreement was to anticipate and close any potential gaps for how illegally harvested fish might be brought to markets. Should stronger measures be taken against fishing vessels, the idea is to take similar measures in relation to other types of vessels that might be used to transport fish not previously landed.

Of course, we need to avoid creating a burdensome regime for shipping vessels, which is why the definition of “fishing vessels” is carefully drafted. However, it also means that protection officers—whether from DFO or the Canada Border Services Agency—need to have enforcement powers that are not just limited to fishing vessels, but also apply to “any place” where illegally harvested fish may reasonably be kept.

Number two is strengthening prohibitions on imports. The broad scope of the port state measures agreement also means that we need to consider our regime in relation to the import of fish and seafood products. The key tools for determining whether a product should be considered illegal or not are whether the vessel is on the IUU fishing vessel list of a regional fisheries management organization and whether the fish import requires any documentation. It is a growing trend for fisheries management organizations to implement documentation requirements to prevent illegally caught fish from entering international markets. This documentation follows the fish when it is sold and when it is imported or re-exported.

Number three is directing foreign fishing vessels to port for enforcement purposes. The purpose of the port state measures agreement is to make it difficult and expensive for illegal operators to bring their fish to market. Hence, the agreement focuses on denying port entry and port services to vessels that engage in or support illegal fishing.

As mentioned, Canada already has these powers in its legislation. However, we need to be mindful that not all jurisdictions have such strong provisions and that Canada can help others in enforcing international and domestic laws. Thus, the agreement envisions a situation in which a flag state might order one of its vessels to a nearby port for the purposes of inspection and enforcement. Under our current legal regime, authorization to enter any port can be granted only if a vessel requests it. There is currently no mechanism to allow a vessel into our ports at the request of a flag state. If the vessel has violated a rule, then it may well not be inclined to seek entry to port on its own. A new provision needs to be included to allow the minister to authorize entry when the request comes from a flag state rather than the vessel, and in relation to enforcement purposes.

Finally, the amendments provide clear authorities for sharing information among the various federal departments and agencies. This would promote more efficient and better use of resources for enforcement purposes.

In summary, the amendments proposed in Bill S-3 will strengthen and clarify Canada's domestic regime to enable ratification of the Port State Measures Agreement and ensure that Canada maintains its place among countries that are leading the fight against illegal fishing.

Thank you again, Mr. Chair, for the opportunity to highlight the proposed amendments.

My colleagues and I would be pleased to answer any questions you or the committee members may have regarding this proposal.

March 10th, 2015 / 11:15 a.m.
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Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rodney Weston

I'll call this meeting back to order.

I'd like to take a moment to thank the officials for their patience here today.

We're here to consider Bill S-3, and we certainly look forward to hearing from officials from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on this bill.

Mr. Rosser, I believe you're going to open up with a statement. The floor is yours, Mr. Rosser, and perhaps you want to introduce your colleagues with you as well. Please proceed whenever you are ready.

Coastal Fisheries Protection ActGovernment Orders

September 18th, 2014 / 1:35 p.m.
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NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to rise and speak in support of Bill S-3, an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. Before I start my debate, let me take a few minutes to congratulate my colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour for the stellar job that he does in representing his constituents here in the House, and also for the stellar job he has done in handling his file of Fisheries and Oceans. It is not an easy task to handle that file when we have a government that is so bent on taking away environmental protections and putting much of our oceans and waterways into jeopardy. Congratulations to him. The constituents in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour are very well served by their current member of Parliament.

I also want to take this opportunity to congratulate my friend from New Westminster—Coquitlam. For those of us who are from B.C., we know he is the Fraser man. He is the gentleman who swam the length of the Fraser River. He has also been a very loud and effective voice in the House, whether it has been about shark finning, the protection of our waters, or the saving of our Coast Guard, all critical issues to those of us who live on the coastlines, and I would say, to all Canadians. Both of these colleagues have done an absolutely amazing job of holding the government to account, and also of putting forward what I would say are effective policies and how to have good policies when it comes to our oceans and fisheries.

The bill that is before us is a very important one. As many colleagues have mentioned, I am a little embarrassed that the bill originated in the Senate. After all, it is the House of Commons that is supposed to build the bill, have it go through the process and then the bill goes to the Senate for the second sober look. However, the way the government has been handling some of the legislation recently would put into question that second sober look. Maybe we all need to be taking more time, slowing down and having meaningful debate during the legislative process instead of rushing through with legislation.

I will tell members why the bill is so important to Canadians and specifically to the coastlines, coast to coast to coast. The 2008 study, which I am sure every parliamentarian has read because we all know how important the fisheries are to us, estimated the economic loss worldwide due to pirate fishing ranges from $10 billion U.S. to $23 billion U.S. annually. That is a huge number and that is what the bill tries to address to a small degree.

Canada's commercial and wild capture fisheries, aquaculture, and fish and seafood processing contributes $5.4 billion in total GDP and 71,000 in full-time equivalent employment to the country's economy. What we are talking about here is very significant, not only to protect the species and to make sure that we have fishing on an ongoing basis so that my children and great-grandchildren can fish our beautiful oceans and actually find fish there, but it is also because illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing equates to anywhere between 11 to 26 million tonnes of seafood caught illegally. That represents 40% of the total catch in some fisheries. That is scary. We know that in order to manage the fish out there, quotas are set. How can we set reasonable quotas for catching fish when we do not even know how much fish is being caught?

This goes to something that I really have to hit on here. The current government, never mind environmental protections that would lead to proactive caretaking of our fisheries, which it has failed on miserably, has also failed to provide fundamental protections because of all the cuts.

There are some very basic things. I have to talk about the cuts to the Coast Guard in Kitsilano. It is very important for British Columbians, putting the lives of many fishermen and also regular seafaring folk in jeopardy. However, we have also had cuts to the fishing department at a time when really we need to have more enforcement because so much illegal activity is going on. We also know the current government has very little respect for science or expertise and informed advice because we know it has an allergy to it and does not like it. We have seen that not only with cuts to science but ignoring sound advice from scientists and experts. We have argued ever since I have been here over the kind of damage that is being done to habitat with the sweeping changes that the government brought in, buried in the budget bill of course, to habitat protection. That has put creeks in my riding, like the Bear Creek Park creek, into jeopardy. That in itself is unacceptable.

We have just so much work that has to be done in this area, and this is a baby step. Even though this is a baby step in the right direction, and we are supporting this baby step, my colleagues will have some amendments. This baby step has a few flaws in it, but we are counting on the Conservatives and their good will in wanting to see this legislation go through to pay heed to the very informed amendments my colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour is going to be presenting at the committee stage. I know they just cannot wait to hear those amendments. We are looking forward to working on those.

We are also pleased to hear that the bill will have the government endorse a UN position, which is long overdue. As we know, the European Union, Norway, Sri Lanka and Myanmar have already ratified the port state measures agreement, and we are going to do the same. However, I am also hoping that our government will now persuade other countries to join this agreement. Once again, I despair at times because I am wondering what kind of an influence we really have left after the damage that has been done to our international standing by my colleagues across the way, whether that is with the Security Council or the fact that some of the positions we have taken have isolated us from the international community in different ways.

Let me summarize because I know there are going to be lots of questions. In summary, I would say that we will support this but there will be amendments. Let me urge the Conservatives to look at all the cuts they have made to Fisheries and Oceans and let us take some real action to protect our oceans and fisheries for our children and grandchildren. Let me once again recognize the work done by our member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour and my well-respected colleague from New Westminster—Coquitlam.