Port State Measures Agreement Implementation Act

An Act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act to implement the Port State Measures Agreement, to prohibit the importation of fish caught and marine plants harvested in the course of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and to clarify certain powers in respect of the administration and enforcement of the Act.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

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

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

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

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

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

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

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

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

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

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on Bill S-3, an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. This enactment would amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act to implement the port state measures agreement, to prohibit the importation of fish caught and marine plants harvested in the course of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and to clarify certain powers in respect of the administration and enforcement of the act.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

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

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

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

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

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

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

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

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

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

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

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

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

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

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

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

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

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

Conservative

Tilly O'Neill-Gordon Conservative Miramichi, NB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

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

NDP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The problem that has emerged in trying to address this IUU through an international agreement, the port states agreement, is that it's taking so long. It took a long time to negotiate and it's going to take a long time to be ratified by a significant number of countries to be able to attest that this is the right thing in addressing the IUU fishing issue that has been identified.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

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

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This report, “Closing the Net”, states:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are not alone in wondering what the heck the delay has been. Patrick McGuinness from the Fisheries Council of Canada was at committee. He said:

The problem that has emerged in trying to address this IUU through an international agreement, the port states agreement, is that it's taking so long. It took a long time to negotiate and it's going to take a long time to be ratified by a significant number of countries to be able to attest that this is the right thing in addressing the IUU fishing issue that has been identified.

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

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

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

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

Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

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

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

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

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

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

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

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

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

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

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2015 / 10:20 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.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 10:55 a.m.
See context

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission B.C.

Conservative

Randy Kamp ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to stand in this House in support of Bill S-3, an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act.

Bill S-3 complements our unwavering commitment to sustainable fisheries by ensuring economic opportunities for our fishermen. Throughout our country's rich history, fisheries have always been a cornerstone. In fact, some Canadian communities have been sustained by commercial fisheries for close to 500 years. Our commitment to sustainable responsible fishing both at home and in support of global efforts will ensure that this tradition continues for centuries to come.

The fishing industry is a critical economic driver in Canada's coastal and inland communities, providing jobs and other opportunities for generations of Canadians. More than 80,000 Canadians earn their living directly from the sea, on inland waters, in processing plants, or in aquaculture operations.

The health of this industry is dependent on effective and responsible management of our fisheries. By ensuring sustainable fisheries, our government is investing in the economic prosperity of current and future generations.

To support the fisheries, our government conducts extensive research to make informed fisheries management decisions and activities. For example, our fisheries science and the application of the precautionary approach assist in the setting of catch limits for Canada's fisheries.

We also ensure that Canadians can have their say. We work as closely as possible with industry and other stakeholders to make sure our strategies and plans are practical and effective to ensure both sustainable fisheries and the maximum economic opportunities for harvesters.

We announced as part of economic action plan 2015, funding that will support fisheries, foster trade, protect Canada's environment and create jobs in small communities. As an example of an investment that will support fisheries research, our government has committed $2 million to the Pacific Salmon Foundation to support the Salish Sea marine survival project. As a British Columbian, I was very pleased to see that. Also, our government has increased the lifetime capital gains exemption to $1 million for owners of fishing businesses, which will keep more money in fishermen's pockets and support the creation of jobs in rural and coastal communities across Canada.

In addition to working with industry and conducting scientific research to ensure sustainable fisheries, we also have a strong enforcement system in place to protect our fisheries from those who do not want to abide by the rules, and unfortunately, there are some. That being said, we know that fish do not stop swimming at the 200 nautical mile limit of the exclusive economic zone, which is why Canada must remain engaged with the international community to ensure global fisheries are managed sustainably.

We work with our international partners through regional fisheries management organizations, often called RFMOs, to ensure a consistent, effective approach to the management of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks that traverse Canadian waters and upon which our harvesters rely. However, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, often called IUU fishing, remains a worldwide problem which affects the prosperity of our fishing communities.

This brings me to the amendments before us in Bill S-3 and why it is important that Canada amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. The amendments support two objectives: first, strengthening an already robust regime for Canada's ports in order to further close the net on illegal fishing operators; and second, by doing that, enabling Canada to ratify and implement the international port state measures agreement.

Fish are a major commodity and a source of economic opportunity and trade throughout the world. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, of the approximately 158 million tonnes of fish and other aquatic animals that are wild caught and grown in aquaculture operations each year, 37% are traded in international markets. This is a large share of the total fish production that is going into international trade, especially when compared with 21% of wheat being traded internationally, or only 10% of meat products. The value of the international trade in fish products is almost $130 billion U.S. annually.

As a major exporter of fisheries products, Canada is inevitably affected by international trends, policies, and the enforcement activities of other nations. Canadians are not immune from the economic impact of illegal fishing on international trade.

Around 85% of Canadian fish and seafood products are exported, to the tune of over $4 billion annually in export value. Global illegal fishing activities undermine the livelihoods of legitimate fish harvesters, both in Canada and abroad, by distorting prices and the profits that legitimate harvesters receive. Our industry has to compete in a global market, where illegal fishing activities manipulate international pricing, so we must stand up for our hard-working fish harvesters by supporting the international effort to end illegal fishing.

Canada also imports fish and seafood from around the world, and as a responsible fishing nation, we want to ensure that the fish on our plates comes from legal and sustainable sources, those that respect the environment from which the fish are harvested and that also respect the rights of the crew on board these vessels.

Preventing illegally taken fish and seafood products from entering the market has been a priority for Canadians and is also a priority for Canada's key trading partners, such as the European Union and the United States. Making these changes would ensure that Canada is on the same page as our key partners in this endeavour.

If enforcement on the high seas is lacking in some areas, then strong port state measures ensure that nations can take action in their ports to ensure that illegally harvested fish are not traded. If there is no trade then there is no profit for the illegal fishing operators.

The port state measures agreement creates a global standard for what actions should be taken in ports to combat illegal fishing. This new international treaty aims to prevent, deter, and eliminate illegal fishing through the implementation of effective and globally consistent measures. That is a very important point.

In 2009, Canada and other countries approved the port state measures agreement that had been negotiated at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The goal of this treaty is to make it extremely difficult, and ideally impossible, for a fishing vessel to land and profit from any illegal catch. Canada signed this agreement in November 2010 to signal our commitment to the importance of taking strong action in ports to prevent illegal fishing. Passing Bill S-3 is the next step toward ratifying the port state measures agreement.

Eleven countries have already ratified or otherwise become party to the treaty, and another 16, including Canada, have indicated that they intend to become parties as well. For example, the United States is in the process of passing ratification legislation, and it is expected that other countries will soon follow suit. The agreement needs 25 parties for it to come into force.

I am pleased to say that the world has seen the results of strong international enforcement efforts. Recently, a fishing vessel called Thunder was not able to enter nearby ports to offload its catch. It had been identified as possibly fishing illegally in the Southern Ocean off Antarctica, and countries in West Africa, a long way away, agreed to take action once it tried to enter their ports. Facing few alternatives, the vessel was seemingly abandoned by the crew.

It is important to note that Canada already has a robust system in place to manage foreign fishing vessels. The Coastal Fisheries Protection Act and its regulations contain a range of prohibitions and controls in relation to foreign fishing vessels entering Canadian fishing waters and ports. However, in order to ratify the port state measures agreement, Bill S-3 proposes some amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act to further strengthen these important controls.

There are three major groups of amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act proposed in Bill S-3. First, the amendments would ensure that Canada has clear authorities in relation to inspecting, searching and seizing, and other enforcement activities when a foreign vessel is directed to enter a Canadian port by its flag state for enforcement purposes.

The port state measures agreement normally requires that fishing vessels engaged in or supporting illegal fishing be prevented from entering a port, as in the case of the Thunder, for example. However, there are occasions when a flag state might need help with enforcement. As a strong and responsible fishing nation, we do not want to encourage moving the problem to other jurisdictions. However, our current rules under the current Coastal Fisheries Protection Act require a ship to voluntarily apply for a licence to enter Canadian waters. In the case of a ship being directed to port by a flag state for enforcement purposes, it is highly unlikely that it would wish to apply voluntarily for a licence. The bill before us today would resolve this issue by allowing a vessel into port for enforcement purposes at the request of the flag state.

Second, fisheries enforcement relies on sharing information with other appropriate legal authorities. Bill S-3 proposes amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act that would clarify the powers of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to share enforcement information regarding illegal fishing vessels with other federal agencies, with other countries, and with international organizations. This information-sharing would allow countries to recognize offenders and take action to protect their fisheries and marketplaces.

Third, the amendments propose common-sense prohibitions against imports of illegal, unregulated, and unreported fish and expanded powers for enforcement officers. As enforcement for fishing vessels increases, illegal operators might want to transport their harvests by means other than ships, for example. In this regard, the amendments would broaden enforcement powers for fisheries officers beyond fishing vessels to areas where illegally harvested fish could be stored, such as in container ships or vehicles.

Finally, there are several amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act to align domestic legislation with the international agreement, namely in relation to definitions. Furthermore, during the study of the bill in committee, additional technical amendments to Bill S-3 were proposed to further strengthen it.

The first new amendment that was introduced would enable Canada to make regulations that could specify documentation requirements for imports of fish and seafood products from fisheries management organizations to which Canada is a not a party. These amendments would protect the Canadian marketplace from illegally harvested seafood in parts of the world where Canada does not fish but from which it imports. If a regional fisheries management organization in another corner of the world implemented new certification measures for fishery imports, Canada would also be able to require this documentation. This change would further strengthen Canada's import controls and would support its international partners.

The second committee amendment is a technical clarification of the amendments to ensure that seafood that has been seized would not be required to be returned to the offender upon conviction.

It is clear that countries have to co-operate to manage fisheries and oceans resources. Regional fisheries management organizations have been established to meet this challenge. These organizations present a realistic means of governing fish stocks that occur either as straddling or shared stocks between zones of national jurisdiction or between these zones and the high seas.

Regional fisheries management organizations apply global standards to the conservation and management of fish stocks. Canada is active in several regional fisheries management organizations and constantly promotes science-based decision-making and the precautionary approach.

As I have stated, the port state measures agreement has introduced new global standards for the fight against illegal fishing. Regional fisheries management organizations are aligning their port state measures with the agreement as part of their overall fisheries management. In addition, some of these organizations are now developing trade tracking systems, such as mandatory catch documents for key species like tuna.

Canada can continue to play a leadership role in these organizations by ensuring that our domestic port state measures set an example for other responsible fishing nations worldwide.

Canadian communities have a large stake in our fisheries and in the health of our fish and seafood exports. Strong port state measures are one tool in the fight against illegal fishing, but we must and will remain vigilant on all fronts.

Canada is recognized as a global expert in the areas of intelligence-led enforcement and the use of advanced techniques, including forensic analysis, and Canada is committed to working with other countries to share our technical expertise to build global capacity to fight illegal fishing. When we work to combat illegal fishing that takes place elsewhere in the world, it has far-reaching, positive effects here in Canada in the long term.

Our government is committed to protecting Canadians' interests at home and on the world stage. We need to ensure that the responsible harvesters who play by the rules and compete in the global marketplace are on a level playing field.

The bill, along with the additional amendments presented in the committee report on the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act that are before us, will strengthen our ability to protect fishermen's interests. The bill ensures that we have a consistent framework in place to work in collaboration with other responsible fishing nations to fight illegal fishing.

I am proud to be part of a government that is taking action against this global problem and that stands up for fishermen here at home.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill S-3, an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, as reported (with amendments) from the committee.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

April 30th, 2015 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I admire the quality of optimism, and I know that hope springs eternal in my colleague's breast.

After this statement, we will complete the motion, pursuant to Standing Order 78, in relation to Bill C-51. After that, we will consider Bill C-46, the pipeline safety act at report stage, and then proceed to debate it at third reading. This bill would ensure that Canada's pipeline safety regime remains world class. That debate will continue next week, on Wednesday.

Tomorrow we will wrap up the second reading debate on Bill C-50, the citizen voting act. The House will have an opportunity later today, I hope, to deliberate on how that will proceed.

Monday, we will conclude the report stage debate of Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015. Our Conservative government takes all threats to the security of Canada and Canadians very seriously.

That is why we are moving forward with Bill C-51 and the crucial provisions contained in it to protect our national security. Third reading of this important bill will take place Tuesday.

Thursday, before question period, we will consider Bill S-3, the port state measures agreement implementation act at report stage, and hopefully, third reading. This bill passed at second reading with widespread support, and I am optimistic that third reading will be no different.

I understand that the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities is meeting this afternoon to give clause-by-clause consideration to Bill C-52, the Safe and Accountable Rail Act. This bill would further strengthen Canada's rail safety regime and ensure that adequate compensation is available. If the committee finishes that work today, we will consider the bill at report stage and third reading after question period next Thursday.

At second reading, New Democrats spoke about the importance of passing this bill urgently and therefore I hope that they will see to letting this legislation pass next week, so that the Senate will have plenty of time to complete its consideration of the bill before the summer adjournment.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

April 29th, 2015 / 3:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Rodney Weston Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, in relation to Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act.

The committee has studied the bill and decided to report the bill back to the House with amendments.

April 28th, 2015 / 12:40 p.m.
See context

NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

The witnesses who are here today answered the questions with some reservations. They are doing their best, but I think that it is basically part of our work on this committee to check certain things before sending a bill for third reading to the House, if we see that there could be shortcomings.

Mr. Kamp said that some people looked at this and concluded that there were no shortcomings. As Mr. MacAulay said, people find gaps in bills; there are tonnes of them. There is tax evasion on the order of several billion dollars a year. There are gaps in legislation despite the best intentions of the experts who provide their services to departments.

I don't understand why Bill S-3 will be referred back to the House tomorrow morning. Why can we not simply wait until the next meeting of the committee to hear an expert who will tell me that because of jurisprudence and other elements, my concerns are not justified? I will be very happy if an expert comes here to explain that to me. We will thus have worked properly for Canadians, the people of the fishing industry, and the judges.

It would take 48 hours to make sure that there is no problem with the equation in clause 18.04 and the maximum sentence. How would the fact of examining this over the course of the next 48 hours prevent the bill from working? I do not see why the government absolutely wants to do this quickly.

In fact, I know why. Generally, when you propose amendments, you are completely allergic to the very idea that they be questioned. It should be the opposite in the meetings of the committee, which should be a little more collegial.

For once, could you not show some good will and accept that we obtain answers to our questions? I may be proven wrong. You may find it fantastic if an expert tells me that my concerns are not well-founded. That would be good for you. I am offering you this. If that is what I am told, it would be good for you and not for me, but at least, we would have done our work till the end.

April 28th, 2015 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

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

That's exactly what I was going to say. I don't know that I see the problem.

I have two comments.

First of all, that's not the point of this particular amendment to Bill S-3. The amendment that's before us is basically because we've now added 5.6(3). Now we need a penalty section that refers to 5.6(3). That's what this amendment is about. Clause 16 does take into account all of 18.

At the very least, we should pass this amendment and deal with the amended clause. I don't see a problem with it. This works just as other legislation, like—as Angela said—the Fisheries Act, where the courts will use the legislation to decide what constraints it's under in terms of what penalties it can enforce.

This gives the courts the ability to impose a fine that's beyond the maximum if they think that the individual has perhaps sold the goods and made $200 million, $2 million, or $100,000 that is already in his pocket.

This is intended to be a deterrent so that people don't just....Some of these IUU fishing fleets know how it works. They're willing to pay the cost of doing business sometimes by paying the fine. This makes it more difficult for them.

It does work that way. While I understand the concern about whether it would stand up, I don't see why it wouldn't. We have some experience with the Fisheries Act and other pieces of legislation in that regard.

April 28th, 2015 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

I am not a lawyer, but Bill S-3 states quite plainly that there could be a larger fine than the maximum one of $500,000 if a person or organization has derived financial benefit from having sold the proceeds of illegal fishing. For someone to make a profit, the fish has to be sold.

I would be more comfortable if a legal expert told me if my fears are well-founded. Even if I reread clause 18.04, and today's amendment that includes a ceiling, if I think about all that, I see the following scenario unfolding. In the case of an offender who committed a serious illegal act, things can go quite quickly, as my colleague Mr. Godin said. With certain species, with a few cargo loads of illegal fish you can have stock that is worth millions of dollars.

Fortunately, Bill S-3 would allow us to track the offender right into his warehouse. In that case, because the individual would not have had time to sell two kilos of tuna, for example, and because he would not have derived financial advantage from the sale at that point, the maximum fine the judge could impose would be $500,000, if I understand correctly. And yet, that individual would have committed quite a major illegal act.

Mr. Kamp referred to other laws. He said that we could perhaps get organized using other legislation to ensure that this does not happen. I think that our responsibility is to ensure that the aspects covered by the current bill leverage the action of the courts in a case like this one. We should not say that somewhere there is an act that could be used to solve this problem.Saying that this will be settled by other legislation is almost an admission. I don't feel comfortable about it.

Consequently, I agree with Mr. MacAulay, who asks that we invite an expert witness to testify. I am receptive to the argument that other acts contain similar provisions. However, the problem remains the same. Could the scenario I have just evoked come to pass? Could we encounter a situation where someone has committed a highly illegal act involving millions of dollars in potential fines, but the fine is capped at $500,000 because of the addition of clause 18.04 and today's amendment? This seems like a serious problem to me.

April 28th, 2015 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Acting Director, Global Fisheries & Marine Governance Bureau, Strategic Policy, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Angela Bexten

Bill S-3 introduces an import prohibition, so we have the introduction here of an amendment to include penalties for those import prohibitions, and the fines are indicated there. Then there is the opportunity, or the potential, for the court to exceed that maximum with the reference to proposed section 18.04.

The amendment that has just been introduced, under proposed section 18.03, is to deal with the new import prohibition that was discussed earlier.

In terms of how this is drafted and the amounts, and in particular proposed section 18.04, that is drafting that we see in other pieces of legislation. It's considered a standard way of expressing the penalties and also the potential for the court to consider the financial benefits and, therefore, to include an additional fine.

What's written there is certainly a standard drafting approach that has been taken in other pieces of legislation.

April 28th, 2015 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

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

I don't think I agree with that. I can assure the committee that this has been carefully considered by the Department of Justice, as well as the experts at DFO.

To clarify a question that was raised earlier, Bill S-3 is about amending the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, and although it's true, as Angela said, that the act did not have any import prohibitions in it, it did have prohibitions in it. For example, subsection 4(2) of the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act states:

No person, being aboard a foreign fishing vessel or being a member of the crew of or attached to or employed on a foreign fishing vessel, shall fish or prepare to fish for a sedentary species of fish

and it continues. That's just one of the sections.

So there are the prohibitions about fishing in Canadian waters, obviously, and that's what the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act is largely about. There are penalties similar to the ones we see here in Bill S-3 that relate to those offences. They're in section 18 of the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act.

We're introducing new prohibitions about importing undocumented fish and putting in place these penalties that are similar, I think. Maybe Angela can comment more intelligently on that. For example, in that section that I just read to you, the penalties section says:

Every person who contravenes paragraph 4(1)(a), subsection 4(2) or section 5.2 is guilty of an offence and liable (a) on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars; or (b) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding one hundred and fifty thousand dollars.

Then there are some other penalties that are similar to the $500,000 that we've seen here. I don't see the problem that's being raised here, but perhaps Angela has some additional comments.

April 28th, 2015 / 12:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

The text you pointed out to us largely answers my questions. Still, it says, in black and white:

If a person is convicted of an offence under this Act and the court is satisfied that, as a result of committing the offence, financial benefits accrued to the person…

What I am reading brings me back to my concern. It could be that an illegal catch worth $8 million is found in a warehouse but that those responsible are caught—“fortunately” because of Bill S-3, as Mr. Kamp says—before they can get the slightest financial benefit, because they had no time to sell the catch on the black market, for example.

From what I read here, if the judge cannot show that those people used the black market and made a profit of $2 million, for example, the fine is limited to $500,000. The judge could declare that the profits are illegal and the wrongdoers will unfortunately not be able to profit from it because they are going to have to give the proceeds back to the Crown.

According to what I see here, the judge will find it difficult to apply that argument, which I think is the right one. Instead, we are talking about people fishing illegally, making a profit of $2 million, being apprehended and still having $5 million worth of fish in their warehouse. The judge should not be forced to keep to a fine of $500,000. He should be able to get back the money that was made.

Something in this text seems to limit the judge, in my opinion.

April 28th, 2015 / 12:05 p.m.
See context

NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Thank you for being here, Ms. Bexten.

I want to make sure I have understood correctly. Before Bill S-3 was introduced, someone importing the products of illegal fishing into Canada would probably not have been fined. Not only does Bill S-3 state that this is illegal, but it also sets a maximum fine of $500,000. I have seen our Conservative colleagues more often opt for minimum sentences. But here we have a maximum sentence.

How can we justify the bill providing for a maximum limit? For a criminal who has done this 20 times in a row in two years and who has created a black market worth millions of dollars, why should the fine be capped at $500,000? Which expert decided on this $500,000 limit? Why isn’t it $800,000 or $1 million? Where did the assessment come from? Why not leave it to the judge, who would be fully competent to decide that, in this or that case, there has been a black market worth several millions of dollars for two years and that the fine will not be $500,000, but $1 million. Where does this come from?

April 28th, 2015 / 12:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

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

I think the question for Angela is—and I think it's a good question—were there no import prohibitions before Bill S-3 in the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act?

April 28th, 2015 / 12:05 p.m.
See context

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

What were the words before in the history? Was there something there? It looked like it's all new starting from Bill S-3.

April 28th, 2015 / noon
See context

Acting Director, Global Fisheries & Marine Governance Bureau, Strategic Policy, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Angela Bexten

Thank you.

Bill S-3 introduces import prohibitions under subsections 5.6(1) and 5.6(2). The penalties related to that are in section 18. That's in Bill S-3. The amendment that's being proposed is in relation to what was discussed earlier, which was to include a new prohibition that's articulated in subsection 5.6(3). It's a penalty that's being added in relation to that particular import prohibition that's been added.

In terms of the amounts, the amounts for the import prohibition in subsections 5.6(1) and 5.6(2) are indicated in Bill S-3, but there is a doubling provision. The reason there is a doubling provision is that the prohibitions require a knowledge component and normally for a knowledge component there's a higher penalty. For the amendment that was made earlier to section 5.6(3), the penalty provision is the same—but there's no doubling provision because it's considered a strict liability offence.

April 28th, 2015 / noon
See context

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

No. What I was looking at was whether there was something before Bill S-3. Or has it just come in Bill S-3 and it's now just to follow Bill S-3?

April 28th, 2015 / noon
See context

Conservative

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

Well, these are the amounts that were in Bill S-3 in order to bring it in line with the port state measures agreement. We're not changing the amounts here, but are simply referring to a particular offence that was amended earlier in this meeting. Is that clear to you?

April 28th, 2015 / noon
See context

Conservative

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

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I move that Bill S-3, in clause 16, be amended by adding after line 33 on page 18 the following:

(3) Every person who contravenes subsection 5.6(3) is guilty of an offence and liable

(a) on conviction on indictment, to a fine of not more than $500,000; or

(b) on summary conviction, to a fine of not more than $100,000.

April 28th, 2015 / 11:55 a.m.
See context

Conservative

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

I'm not sure I caught the question, but the current law allows the crown to seize vessels or goods on a fishing vessel. Bill S-3 allows the seizure of other things that are in places other than a fishing vessel, but it became clear that the legislation wouldn't allow for the individual to forfeit and for the crown to sell if they were seized from a place other than a fishing vessel.

Now under Bill S-3, in order to be in line with the port state measures agreement, the officials will have the ability to look for illegal product in places other than fishing vessels. It also is important to have a clause that allows the illegal things that are seized to be sold and for the money to go to the crown rather than—

It's a technical amendment, but that's all that it's doing here.

April 28th, 2015 / 11:55 a.m.
See context

Conservative

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

The current forfeiture provisions in the act cover seized fishing vessels and goods on board vessels, but do not authorize the court to order forfeiture of goods seized in a place other than a fishing vessel. Bill S-3 authorizes the seizure of products in places other than a fishing vessel, a warehouse, for example, or it could be at a border crossing, or that kind of thing. This amendment modifies the forfeiture provision to authorize the court to order forfeiture of such goods, otherwise the crown could end up returning the goods or proceeds of the sale, if they've sold the goods, to a convicted defendant.

I hope that's clear. I know it's a long amendment, and I know Angela understands it better than I do if we have any technical questions.

April 28th, 2015 / 11:55 a.m.
See context

Conservative

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

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I move that Bill S-3, in clause 9, be amended by replacing line 5 on page 13 with the following:

9. Paragraphs 14(a) to (c) of the Act are replaced

April 28th, 2015 / 11:50 a.m.
See context

Conservative

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

I move that Bill S-3 in clause 5 be amended by adding after line 45 on page 4 the following:

(2.1) Section 6 of the Act is amended by adding the following after paragraph (d): (d.1) respecting documentation required for the importation of fish and marine plants;

April 28th, 2015 / 11:50 a.m.
See context

NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Bill S-3 deals with the issue of illegal fishing within 200 nautical miles precisely because our objective is to ensure the sustainability of the stocks.

Mr. Kamp mentioned that people should not raise all their fishery questions here. That is absolutely not what is going on. Once again, that comment is the complete opposite of what my colleagues are trying to do. What is at issue here is determining whether we have a chance to ensure the sustainability of the stocks. That is why my colleagues are asking questions about illegal fishing outside the 200 nautical miles and about fishing-related policies for species that we can no longer fish because not enough are returning to Canadian waters. The objective is fundamentally the same.

We need to know whether we are doing our utmost in Canada to establish the sustainability of fish stocks for our fishers in order to ensure that our people will have jobs in the future and that the industry will be doing well in five, 10, 15 or 20 years. In no way are we raising a bunch of questions that have nothing to do with Bill S-3.

Once again, I found that the comment was simply gratuitous given the effort my colleagues have made.

April 28th, 2015 / 11:45 a.m.
See context

Conservative

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

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

With respect, I think Mr. Cleary was just reminding us all to make our comments germane to the matter at hand, which is Bill S-3 and clause-by-clause consideration.

Yes, Bill S-3 is about fisheries. We have to be careful that we don't just raise every fisheries question that we haven't been able to get an answer to just because we see an official here. These officials are here because they're experts on what we're trying to do in Bill S-3, which is to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, to put our domestic legislation in line, to be able to ratify the port state measures agreement.

Frankly, with regard to Mr. MacAulay's comments, I understood them and took no offence to them. I understand why he's interested in tuna and why he could raise this question. But as much as possible, we need to make sure that our comments are germane to the clause that's under consideration, or, in this case, the amendment to the clause that's being considered.

I just took it as a reminder on that, and I think it was a helpful reminder.

April 28th, 2015 / 11:15 a.m.
See context

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rodney Weston

It's clause 2 in Bill S-3.

The reason I ask shall clause 2 carry is that—

April 23rd, 2015 / 12:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I first want to point out how deplorable it is that the official opposition only had 10 minutes to ask the minister questions when we are supposed to be dealing with the fundamental aspects of Bill S-3, Port State Measures Agreement Implementation Act, as well as the 2015-16 Main Estimates. It's a serious breach of the fundamental principles of responsible government. So we will have to focus on the remaining hour, starting with the main estimates.

An amount of $40.9 million is planned for extending the lives of Coast Guard vessels. Of that amount, $13.6 million will go to Davie Canada Yard, in Quebec. That's pretty good news, but it is not a lot considering that $33 billion is currently allocated for the construction of new vessels.

Moreover, when it comes to the construction of those new vessels, the government has experienced a variety of fairly worrisome difficulties, including delivery delays and cost escalation. In 2010, when all that started, Davie Canada Yard was in pretty bad shape, but it was restructured to such an extent that Lloyd's List North American Maritime Awards recently recognized the yard with an award for excellence.

Regarding the issues related to the building of new vessels, can we expect the $33 billion that has been allocated to ultimately be released? Can we expect future decisions to include the Davie Canada Yard in Quebec City?

April 23rd, 2015 / 11:05 a.m.
See context

Conservative

The Honourable Gail Shea Conservative Gail Shea

Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here today.

With me are members of the DFO senior management team, which includes: Matthew King, deputy minister; Jody Thomas, Canadian Coast Guard commissioner; Kevin Stringer, senior assistant deputy minister of ecosystems and fisheries management; Tom Rosser, senior assistant deputy minister of strategic policy; and Trevor Swerdfager, assistant deputy minister of ecosystems and oceans, science sector. Our chief financial officer, Marty Muldoon, is with us again.

I want to begin by reiterating the point I've made at past committee appearances that our government has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to protecting mariners, managing Canada's fisheries, and safeguarding our waters.

Today I'll provide members with a brief overview of DFO's 2015-16 main estimates before speaking to the recently tabled budget and what it means for my department.

I'm also here to speak to Bill S-3, amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. Illegal, unreported, unregulated fishing is a scourge that threatens our oceans and takes money away from fishermen. I hope that the committee will see fit to pass this important bill.

In regard to the main estimates, my department's request for this fiscal year amounts to $1.9 billion. This figure represents a net increase of $283.9 million over last year. This increase is mainly due to funding for the renewal of the Canadian Coast Guard fleet, including both vessels and helicopters, funding to renew the Atlantic and Pacific integrated commercial fisheries initiatives, and additional investments in small craft harbours across the country.

As you are aware, budget 2015 was recently tabled. We committed to getting real results for Canadians and these investments will protect our environment, ensure the sustainability of our fisheries, and support our government's priorities of creating jobs and promoting economic growth.

Under economic action plan 2015, I'm pleased to report that both the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard will be delivering a number of important investments to Canadians.

These include $5.7 million over five years to help secure new market access for Canadian seal products, and $30.8 million over five years to enhance marine transportation safety in the Arctic and further strengthen incident prevention preparedness and response south of 60°. Over the next five years, $34 million will be used to continue to support year-round meteorological and navigational warning services that will support northern communities and safe marine navigation in the Arctic.

Budget 2015 also includes $75 million over three years to continue to support the implementation of the Species At Risk Act to protect Canada's diverse species and secure the necessary actions for their recovery. In addition, $2 million is earmarked for the Pacific Salmon Foundation to support the Salish Sea marine survival project.

I'm also pleased to report than an additional $10 million annually, over the next three years, will be used to extend the recreational fisheries conservation partnership program, which will help support an already robust and successful initiative.

More good news for Canadian fishermen comes from increasing the lifetime capital gains exemption to $1 million for owners of a fishing business, which will allow owners to maintain more of their capital upon disposition of their fishing property. This will make a real difference for our hard-working fishermen by allowing them to keep more of their hard-earned money.

Finally, recognizing the important role of small businesses in Canada as job creators, the government is further encouraging small business growth by reducing the small business tax rate to 9% by 2019.

As you can see, these investments continue to demonstrate our government's ongoing commitment to marine safety, to supporting responsible resource development, to protecting Canada's marine environment, and creating jobs and economic growth.

We're committed to ensuring that our fishermen are able to get delicious Canadian seafood on plates around the world. We have embarked on the most ambitious trade agenda in Canadian history and those in the seafood industry stand to benefit greatly. For example, Canada embarked on a historic trade agreement with the European Union. This was not only a game changer for Canadian businesses but a watershed moment for our fish and seafood industry in particular.

Canada is the world's seventh-largest exporter of fish and seafood products. The European Union is the world's largest importer and the demand from this market will only continue to grow. By opening up new markets in the EU and improving access for fish and seafood, CETA, as well as our trade agreement with South Korea, will result in job creation, higher wages, and greater long-term prosperity for our fishing industry.

As the government we're continuing to look to the future on how we can unlock even more international markets for Canadian businesses. Of course, unprecedented access to global markets is a moot point if we're not making significant and strategic investments here at home. As you know, this past November, Prime Minister Harper announced significant federal funding for DFO and coast guard infrastructure projects. Over the next two years, we will invest an additional $288 million in a vast network of more than 1,000 small craft harbours across the country.

With respect to the Canadian Coast Guard, over the next two years an additional $183 million will be authorized for repair, life extension, and procurement of vessels and small craft. This funding is in addition to our unprecedented investment in the coast guard's fleet renewal program. The coast guard vessels and small craft benefiting from these new funds will support activities linked to search and rescue, gathering scientific data, responding to maritime incidents, and assisting conservation and protection officers.

In addition to this work, Fisheries and Oceans is also responsible for the stewardship of a number of laboratories and other federally owned assets. Over the next two years we will allocate an additional $80 million in 195 projects to upgrade science facilities, Atlantic salmon fishways, lighthouses, search and rescue stations, and federally owned buildings across the country. These infrastructure investments will help support the continued delivery of quality services and support the science and research that represents the foundation of our work.

In Canada we take pride in knowing that our fisheries and aquaculture operations are sustainably managed. This is the case for all species, but I'd like to note in particular our commitment to the conservation and protection of wild salmon. Our scientists are actively monitoring salmon populations in key indexed rivers to better inform our management decisions. We've also implemented more stringent measures for recreational salmon fishing in some locations in support with this rigorous enforcement effort. On the west coast we're seeing the benefits of this work with improved returns of some important salmon stocks. With Atlantic salmon on the east coast however there are still concerns, particularly in the southern region.

I'm personally committed to this issue, which is why last December I announced the establishment of a new ministerial advisory committee on Atlantic salmon. The committee is made up of key stakeholders, who will provide me with recommendations on the future direction of conservation. Last month I attended the committee's inaugural meeting in Halifax, along with experts from across the Maritimes and Quebec. Together they will examine conservation and enforcement measures, as well as predation issues. They will also develop a strategy that addresses international fishing in areas for advancing science. I'm pleased to report that this work is already coming to fruition. After just two meetings I asked the advisory committee to submit a set of interim recommendations that could be acted upon immediately. Based on these recommendations, I recently announced new conservation measures for Atlantic salmon recreational angling throughout the gulf region. All of these management measures were supported by key stakeholders and further demonstrate how we are listening to the concerns of local fishing and conservation groups.

Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing is another area where we're taking decisive action. Canada, of course, has been a leader in global efforts to deter this type of fishing. We know that strong governance of the high seas through regional management fisheries organizations is integral to reducing illegal fishing and protecting the interests of legitimate fishing. Bill S-3, which is before you for consideration, proposes some amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act in order to fully implement the international port state measures agreement. As you're aware, this bill proposes amendments that, if accepted, will broaden enforcement authorities and strengthen prohibitions against the importation of illegally acquired fish and marine plants.

Canada already has a robust regime in place to control access of foreign fishing vessels to Canadian waters, but we know that more needs to be done on a global scale, and that's why passage of Bill S-3 is important to our government.

I urge the committee members to improve the amendments proposed in Bill S-3. Again, the sustainability of our fisheries is a top priority for us. Together with our partners we're committed to improving the way fisheries and aquaculture are managed through science-based reforms, stakeholder and aboriginal engagement, and better access to export markets for Canadian fish and seafood. We're also committed to renewing Canadian Coast Guard assets and its services to Canadians to ensure a safe and efficient navigation and bolster our already robust response to maritime incidents. Going forward we'll continue to ensure Canada's natural resources are developed sustainably and responsibly through strong regulatory frameworks, sound science, and strategic investment.

Over the last year you've discussed and considered many important policies and issues facing our fish and seafood industry at this committee. As we look ahead, I want to thank the committee for your hard work and your assured commitment to Canadians.

I will now ask Mr. Muldoon to explain the estimates.

March 24th, 2015 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

In an article published in 2014 in Le Devoir, the FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, published the following statements via a press release:

[...] illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing has escalated over the past 20 years, especially in the high seas [...]

This echoes the concerns of my colleague Mr. Cleary. The article goes on to say:

[...] and is now estimated to amount to 11 to 26 million tonnes of fish harvested illicitly each year, worth between $10 and $23 billion.

That is enormous. The article continues as follows:

The various available estimates indicate that at least 25% of world fishery is illegal or unreported. According to the FAO, this practice “jeopardizes the livelihoods of people around the world, threatens valuable marine resources and undermines the credibility and efforts of fisheries management measures.”

A major problem was identified by the FAO in this file, and the article says this about the issue:

Flag states are already required to maintain a record of their registered vessels together with information on their authorization to fish [...] However, many fishing vessels engaged in illegal activities circumvent such control measures by “flag hopping”—repeatedly registering with new flag states to dodge detection, which undermines anti-IUU efforts.

Will Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act allow us to fight, if only to some extent, major problems of this type? If not, what intelligent measures could we take in some future bill to attack the source of the real problem that threatens fishery stocks in Canada and everywhere in the world?

March 24th, 2015 / 11:50 a.m.
See context

Conservative

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

Okay, thank you for that.

One more question. When we spoke to the officials from the department, they raised the possibility of a couple of areas that might need amendment or that could benefit from amendment to Bill S-3. I want to maybe just mention one of them to you to see if that caught your attention as well. That was in proposed section 14, where, as I understand it—and you can correct me if I'm wrong—the amended act will allow officials, enforcement officers, to seize fish and fisheries products and other things no matter where they're found, basically, whether they're on a ship or in a warehouse. But as I understand it, they were saying that it wasn't clear that the forfeiture powers of the act would apply to things that were seized in other places besides the ships, and so they suggested that might benefit from an amendment to Bill S-3.

I'm just wondering if you have any comment on that. I know I'm catching you by surprise on that, perhaps, but I just wondered if you had taken a look at that as well.

March 24th, 2015 / 11:50 a.m.
See context

Conservative

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

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, gentlemen, for appearing. I appreciate your taking the time, especially getting here under difficult circumstances. We appreciate that.

Let me begin just briefly with you, Mr. Henley.

We've noted your comments about proposed section 13. It sounds like you've been looking for an opportunity to have that section of the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act amended at some time, and you think this might be an opportunity. We've taken note of that and need to give a bit more thought to that.

Is the new wording, through the amendments of Bill S-3 now, required by the port state measures agreement that we're trying to ratify, to get our domestic legislation in place? Is there any sort of justification for keeping it the way it is in order to meet the terms of the port state measures agreement?

March 24th, 2015 / 11:35 a.m.
See context

NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Thanks very much, gentlemen, for appearing and talking to us about Bill S-3.

I was interested in going over the transcript from the Senate fisheries committee hearings back in 2013. I have a couple of questions relating to your presentations from your organizations today and then.

First of all, Mr. Henley, the point you raised about the amendment is something that was raised by your colleague, Mr. Caldwell, back in 2013. It appears that it wasn't particularly well received.

March 24th, 2015 / 11:25 a.m.
See context

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.
See context

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.
See context

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.
See context

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.
See context

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.
See context

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.
See context

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.
See context

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.
See context

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.
See context

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.
See context

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.
See context

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.
See context

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.
See context

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.
See context

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.

Coastal Fisheries Protection ActGovernment Orders

September 18th, 2014 / 1:05 p.m.
See context

NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this debate on Bill S-3. As has been clearly stated, this is a very important issue. It is one issue of many dealing with the ocean's ecosystem and issues of conservation and stock management that needs to be seriously considered.

It has been suggested that the bill is a piece of housekeeping legislation in that it is meant to help ratify the port state measures agreement that was signed at the UN back in 2010. It would have to be ratified by 25 nations before it would come into effect.

One would think that Canada, with the longest coastline of any country in the world and with important fisheries on all our coasts, including the Arctic, would show some leadership on this issue and would underline the problem by bringing it forward with some urgency and some import.

However, the government introduced the bill through the Senate. Many of us have suggested that introducing legislation through the Senate is like introducing it through the back door. It indicates that the government thinks it is something that should be dealt with but that is clearly not wholly important. It is not something the government wants bogging down its agenda.

The bill was dealt with in March 2013 by the Senate It passed third reading in March and was ready to come here, but then the Conservative government, in its wisdom, decided to prorogue the House in the fall, which meant that legislation died on the order paper. It had to go back through the Senate again. It had been Bill S-13 and had to be reintroduced in the Senate as Bill S-3. Now here we are in September 2014, and the bill has not even passed second reading. Undoubtedly it will, later on this afternoon, but it appears to me as a legislator that the government is not taking this issue seriously enough.

In the whole question of illegal, unreported, unregulated fishing, it has been estimated that tens of billions of dollars in economic value are being lost as a result of the practice of nations around the world taking and selling fish and thus undermining regulated markets. It is something that has been going on for centuries.

There is no doubt that the IUU fishery does threaten ocean ecosystems and sustainable fisheries. It violates conservation and management measures, such as quotas and bycatch limits. It is important to recognize that, and there is an attempt internationally to try to control how the signatory countries, the fishing countries, go about fishing these stocks.

We have a lot of science in this country, although if the Conservative government gets re-elected, there may not be any left. However, there is lots of work being done around the world in terms of monitoring the patterns and health of fish stocks to determine the levels at which the individual fisheries should be prosecuted so that the fishery is sustainable.

If we allow millions of tonnes of fish that are subject to those conservation measures to be taken out of the water without any control, then it defeats the purpose. As was suggested by my colleague from St. John's South—Mount Pearl, there is some question as to the efficacy of those conservation management measures to control how nations prosecute the fishery.

Nonetheless, here in this country commercial wild capture fisheries, aquaculture, and fish and seafood processing contribute upward of $5.4 billion in total GDP and 71,000 equivalent full-time employment positions to the country's economy. It is a big deal, and we must do our utmost to work on this issue.

New Democrats have indicated their support for the measures provided in Bill S-3 because they are part of an international agreement and because we think Canada should be a player in establishing the rules and regulations on the international stage on something as important as the fishery. Some of us would like the Government of Canada to take a much more aggressive role so that we would be much more involved and much more heavily engaged in taking a leadership role on this issue.

My colleague from Northwest Territories talked about the problem with the Arctic doughnut, and that is a real problem. That area is unregulated by international agreements, and some foreign nations are beginning to go into that area and fish at will. They are setting up historical fishing patterns that will have an impact when there is some kind of international agreement that affects that particular area. Canada has not played a role there and, I suggest, will suffer as a result.

I will talk for a few moments about the port state measures agreement, the international agreement to which Canada is a signatory and which Bill S-3, once passed, will cement. It states:

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

It is the first global treaty focused specifically on the problem of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. I missed the comment from the parliamentary secretary earlier, but I understand there may be up to a dozen nations that have signed on. However, it is important to understand that 25 nations must sign on and ratify it through legislation, as we have, in order for it to come into effect.

Bill S-3 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 transshipping of fish or marine plants that have not been previously handled. The bill expands the current definition of “fish” from shellfish, crustaceans, and marine animals to include any part or derivative of them.

We are going to talk more about some of those issues in committee because, on this side, we have some issue with the process and with what authority our Canadian officials would have to carry out those inspections. It appears they would need to get a court order, a warrant, in order to be able to move in to inspect the contents of a ship, a plane, a warehouse, or whatever. Any vehicle or structure used in the trans-shipment of fish or fish products is allowed, but the question is how that will happen. What are the provisions and the authorities that would be allowed? We need to understand that aspect better.

There is another part to that. The bill adds a number of new provisions under which a justice may hear applications for a search warrant, a warrant authorizing a protection officer to seize something, or a forfeiture order. We will want to seek some clarification of that. We will do that at committee.

On this side of the House, we have seen the commitment from the Leader of the Opposition. As a result of his experience on environmental issues, he understands how important ocean health and the ecosystem of our oceans is in terms of how the fishery is conducted and what it means to the overall health of our planet and our environment. As members on this side have intervened in this debate, we have heard them raise concerns about the government's commitment on issues such as conservation, habitat management, and questions of science.

As an example, when I look at the added responsibilities of Department of Fisheries and Oceans officers under Bill S-3, I wonder how they are going to be able to carry them out, given the cuts to their staff over the past three years under this government. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been cut out of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. We have seen a reduction in the number of vessels available to the department and to officers to carry out surveillance and to apprehend, and we have seen a reduction in the ability of our coastal agencies and our navy to be able to help out. The ability of the Coast Guard to intervene is certainly in question as a result of the damaging cuts the government has made.

Likewise, we question the government's commitment to ecosystems, to fisheries management, and to measures to enforce those issues.

We have seen cuts to the inspection staff. We have seen cuts to the rules with respect to legislation and regulations governing what can appropriately be conducted on a lake, a river, or the ocean and we have seen the impact it will have on the fishery and the ecosystem. What the government has done over the past three years will have a detrimental impact on our ability to maintain a sustainable fishery on all our coasts. It will affect these fisheries and it will affect the ability of the people who prosecute these fisheries to do so in a safe and healthy way. It will affect the ability to ensure that families and communities are able to prosper, not only now but well into the future. That is what the whole idea of a sustainable fishery is.

We heard members talk about what happened last spring with northern shrimp. The government weighed in on the side of the corporate fishery, in particular on the side of the big factory trawlers, against the small fishery, the coastal and community fisheries. The result has been, and will be, the loss of hundreds of jobs, not only for the small boat fishery but also in the processing that goes along with this in a number of communities throughout northern Newfoundland and the south coast of Labrador.

That is why some of us are asking questions and raising concerns about the government's commitment with respect to the fishery and ensuring that we have a sustainable fishery. We need to do everything in our power, not only within our purview but within the areas where Canada and the Canadian government have an impact, to protect the environment and ensure the fisheries and those oceans are healthy and we have a sustainable fishery. The government needs to actively participate in a leadership capacity in those international bodies that set regulations, conservation and other management measures, such as quotas and bycatch limits. It needs to ensure that not only are we managing the fishery properly within Canada, but that internationally we are doing everything we can to ensure fishing is sustainable so we do lose that as a result of overfishing, bad management and driving species out of existence. That is happening far too often already. We need to a better job with this.

Let me reiterate a couple of points about Bill S-3. I am disappointed with the way the government introduced these provisions. This was an international agreement signed by Canada in 2010. We are now in 2014 still dealing with the legislation. Why is that? That is because government first introduced the bill not through the House of Commons, not through the front door, but through the back door. It came in through the Senate. The Senate dealt with it in the spring of 2013. That bill ended up dying on the table because the government prorogued the House in the fall of 2013. This does not give us a sense that the government understands the urgency of this problem and will move quickly to deal with the issue.

The whole question of the illegal, unreported and unregulated fishery is a serious problem. Canada needs to be at the forefront of measures like this to ensure this agreement is ratified by at least 25 nations and that we get the job done. Then the government will need to put the resources forward to ensure we can properly enforce the agreement and do everything we can within the powers of our country and of Canadians to ensure we do our part to stop the illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

Coastal Fisheries Protection ActGovernment Orders

September 18th, 2014 / 12:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Ryan Cleary NDP St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, as one of the seven members of Parliament for Newfoundland and Labrador, representing the east coast Newfoundland riding, the great and beautiful riding of St. John's South—Mount Pearl, I make sure I take every opportunity to speak on our once-great fisheries, to speak on what were once the richest fishing grounds in the world: the fabled, storied, legendary Grand Banks of Newfoundland.

When Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949, Canada was elevated from 14th to 6th place in the world as a fish-exporting nation.

In his 2013 book Empty Nets: How Greed and Politics Wiped Out the World's Greatest Fishery, Gus Etchegary writes how Newfoundland presented Canada with the golden gift of her fisheries. Today, those fisheries are but a shadow of what they once were. I wrote an endorsement on the back of Gus Etchegary's book. The endorsement reads, “The rise and fall of the world's greatest fisheries is a crime of the highest order, and Gus Etchegary shows his mettle in telling the tale. He is the ultimate fighting Newfoundlander”.

In 1992, the federal Conservative government of the day and John Crosbie, who was the federal fisheries minister of the day, shut down the northern cod fishery. The shutdown of the northern cod fishery was described at the time as the biggest lay-off in Canadian history, throwing 19,000 people directly out of work. It was compared to the prairie dust bowl of the 1930s. The moratorium that was announced in 1992 was supposed to last two years. It has been 22 years and counting. The province has lost 90,000 people since then. They are gone, most of them never to return.

The fading of our traditional fisheries is having an impact on our heritage; it is having an impact on our culture. To simplify on that impact, how long will we sing of squid jigging grounds, when there are no more squid to be jigged? There has been a modest recovery in groundfish stocks such as cod, but the offshore stocks are still absolutely decimated. The point that I raise now should bring home the gravity of the fall of our fisheries and how far we have fallen. For most of the year, it is illegal for a child to jig a cod from the end of a wharf, to jig a cod from the North Atlantic Ocean. Can members fathom that?

Over the years, the fishing effort has been transferred from groundfish such as cod to shellfish such as shrimp and crab, but both those stocks are in steep decline. On top of that, the biggest cuts to the quotas we have left are to our inshore fleets, meaning that our coastal communities—those we have left—are still taking a pounding.

Management decisions from 2,000 kilometres away, here in Ottawa, are not based on the principles of adjacency or historical attachment; that phrase means that those closest to the resource are the ones who benefit from the resource. No, that is not what is happening. Conservatives ignore those principles in favour of big offshore companies, most of which have foreign ownership. Managing the Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries from Ottawa has resulted in a lack of understanding, a lack of consideration, and a lack of communication. Given all that has happened to our fisheries, to the Grand Banks—the collapse of the stocks, unchecked foreign overfishing, the wipeout of entire domestic fleets, the layoff of tens of thousands of workers, and the loss of almost 100,000 Newfoundlanders—the biggest policy change over the past 22 years has been the decision by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans to eliminate the double-hook jigger. Instead of a jigger with two hooks, they can now only use a jigger with one hook. That has been the most substantial fishery policy change in years. It is absolutely unbelievable.

It is in this context that I speak to Bill S-3, a housekeeping bill.

Bill S-3 would amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. We support this legislation. The bill is required. It is necessary for Canada to be able to ratify the United Nations Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing. Canada signed the agreement in 2010. It should be noted, however, that this UN agreement can only come into force after it has been ratified by 25 nations, and it has yet to be ratified by 25 nations.

It goes without saying—although I will be saying it now—that illegal, unreported, unregulated fishing undermines the sustainable practices of legitimate fishing operations, including those in Canada, including those in Newfoundland and Labrador, and presents unfair market competition to sustainable seafood. It makes sense. We cannot disagree with that.

However, this legislation is only the first step in preventing illegal fishing. Once Canada ratifies the port state measures agreement, we must then take a leadership role in encouraging other nations to move forward on this agreement as well. Good luck with that. Hopefully it will work out better than NAFO, the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, which monitors fishing on the high seas outside Canada's 200-mile limit off Newfoundland and Labrador on the Grand Banks. NAFO is useless. NAFO is toothless. NAFO is a joke.

While there has been a moratorium on fishing in Canadian waters since 1992, for too many of those years it has been a free-for-all outside the 200-mile limit. Fishing in Canadian waters stopped dead in the water. It stopped completely. For the first time in 500 years it stopped, but fishing outside the 200-mile limit continued. The funny thing about migratory stocks such as cod is that they do not pay any attention to imaginary lines in the ocean. The 200-mile limit means nothing to a fish. So we stopped fishing, but foreign nations continued.

Even today, if a foreign nation is cited for illegal fishing outside the 200-mile limit on the Grand Banks, it is up to the home country of the foreign trawler in question to follow through on court action or penalties. How often has that happened? How often is the book thrown at a foreign trawler by its home country for ravaging what is left of what were once the world's greatest fisheries? How often does that happen? It never happens.

I cannot tell the House how many times, as a journalist and as a member of Parliament, I filed federal access to information requests to try to find out what penalties have been imposed on a foreign trawler cited for illegal fishing. How many times have I filed a federal ATIP? I cannot tell the House how many times. The government has denied the release of such information. Why? It is because it says that it may jeopardize international relations. What about Newfoundland and Labrador relations? Where do we fit in?

John Crosbie was the Progressive Conservative minister in 1992 who shut down the northern cod fishery. He shut it down and he brought in the aid package after that. It was a great big fat welfare package. John Crosbie once wrote, “Who hears the fishes when they cry?” He was a funny man. The better question is who hears the fishermen when they cry.

I refer back to Gus Etchegary's book Empty Nets: How Greed and Politics Wiped Out the World's Greatest Fishery and I quote:

I wrote this book because I, like a few others, refuse to accept that this once huge, renewable resource cannot be rebuilt to play a role in the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador and provide a source of food for an increasing world population.

Truer words have never been spoken.

I support this housekeeping bill, but make no mistake, let there be no doubt, let this be beyond the shadow of a doubt: our fisheries and our coastal communities need a hell of a lot more protection than this.

Coastal Fisheries Protection ActGovernment Orders

September 18th, 2014 / 12:35 p.m.
See context

NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by saying that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl. I will have approximately 10 minutes to speak to Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, which will implement the port state measures agreement.

For those at home, this may seem very technical. I will try to explain what sort of impact this bill will have. I am looking forward to speaking to it, especially since I was recently appointed as a permanent member of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. Colleagues who preceded me on this committee have had the opportunity to discuss this topic, so I will have to dive right in and get caught up on what has been happening recently in committee.

The NDP's position is simple. We will support this bill at second reading. This bill originated in the Senate, and I would say that it is constructive. However, that does not change the NPD's concerns and thoughts on the Senate. Senators are unelected. We are talking about an international agreement and changes to legislation that will allow us to finalize these international agreements that were signed many years ago. In my mind, it would have certainly been appropriate for the government to take on this file and ensure that it moved forward, but it decided to go through the Senate. That is highly questionable. However, the fact remains that the bill before us is, for the most part, very constructive.

This bill is primarily administrative. It is intended to allow Canada to ratify the port state measures agreement to deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, approved by the United Nations. This agreement was signed in 2010. It will affect port inspections. Bill S-3 adds to the current law, restricting the import of illegally purchased fish and marine plants, and it clarifies certain provisions concerning the administration and enforcement of the legislation.

The bill includes a number of things that could be very beneficial to and important for Canada. My colleagues are already planning to bring forward some amendments in committee after it passes second reading. From what I understand, they are quite reasonable. I hope this will not prevent us from continuing to work constructively on the bill so that all parties will be in agreement by the time it reaches third reading.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing undermines legitimate fishing operations. A perfect illustration of this is the Atlantic cod fishery, which spiralled way out of control.

Thousands of families made their living off of cod fishing for hundreds of years, but now there is not enough stock to allow those thousands of families to do so again. There is a lot of confusion about the fact that a big part of the problem comes from illegal fishing that may have taken place off the east coast.

Another issue that is very important where I come from is eel fishing, specifically elvers. In the 1980s, Fisheries and Oceans Canada issued a number of experimental licences to fishers in New Brunswick. They were fishing for elvers, which are basically young eels. They are really popular in some Asian cultures. A small jar, approximately the size of a small peanut butter jar, is literally worth a fortune on the international market. Those licences became commercial in the 1980s. The legal amount that fishers from the maritime provinces were allowed to catch went from 28 kg to 9 metric tons. This is approximately 55 million baby eels a year. Imagine how many tonnes of adult eels we would have had if fewer baby eels had been caught.

Beyond the nine metric tonnes allowed, 220% to 250% of the fishery is allegedly illegal, which is one of the fears that stakeholders constantly share with us. People are not fishing nine tonnes, but perhaps 20 to 23 tonnes illegally, not just somewhere off the maritime provinces, but in New England. The equation is simple: such a tonnage of baby eels equals a gigantic tonnage of adult eels that will never mature and end up in the nets of Kamouraska's fishers.

In Kamouraska, eel fishing is an important traditional practice. On the bank of the St. Lawrence, hundreds of families set up long nets that end in a heart shape. The fish enter and turn into the heart at high tide, then the families collect the fish at low tide. This traditional fishing is a local attraction because it is fun to watch. It also has an effect on tourism. Some smokehouses that have been around for over 150 years are having trouble finding eel to smoke. They have existed for generations. We are starting to wonder whether eel fishing will completely disappear from Kamouraska one day.

Therefore, illegal overfishing off the east coast of North America affects even the roots and oldest traditions of Quebec families in Kamouraska. That is why a bill like this is important. It is one of the main reasons why I wanted to speak to the bill today.

Eel stocks dropped so much that in 2009, the Department of Natural Resources brought in a voluntary licence retirement program for commercial American eel fishing along the estuary. The program's goal was to halve the mortality due to fixed trap fishing, which I explained earlier. Therefore, individuals who were doing something completely legal are being pressured to decrease their activity by half because people hundreds of kilometres further east are fishing illegally.

Let us come back to the substance of the agreement. Once Canada ratifies the port state measures agreement, we will have to assume a leadership role and encourage other countries to also enforce this agreement. The example of elvers is always relevant, since a great deal of the illegal activity in this area happens in the United States. A similar bill is currently working its way through the American legislative system, but we should encourage our neighbours to work quickly, because this is a global issue. The agreement requires 25 signatories in order for it to work. If some signatories are vigilant while dozens of other countries continue to turn a blind eye to illegal fishing, that will have a negative impact on overall fish stocks, in spite of the steps Canada will have taken in the right direction.

I would like to clarify some aspects of the bill for the people watching us at home. What exactly is included in the port state measures agreement? The agreement stipulates that foreign vessels must notify the port and request authorization to enter. The authorities will then have to conduct regular inspections in accordance with universal minimum standards. This is the type of measure that seems so obvious that it is surprising that a bill has to be passed to implement it. One would think that such a measure would have been clearly set out somewhere in legislation decades ago. It is surprising, but at least we are moving forward.

Among the many changes the agreement would implement, two seem particularly worthwhile to me. First, the bill broadens the definition of fishing vessel to all vessels used in transhipping fish, or marine plants, that have not been previously landed. Just because a boat is not a fishing vessel does not mean that it will be allowed to transport illegal fish products. That just makes sense, and it is important that this is clear.

Second, the bill broadens the existing definition of fish to include shellfish, crustaceans, marine animals and any part or derivative of any of them. I would like to point out something that I found very surprising. It is clear that the members opposite are going to vote in favour of this bill.

We asked for protection for sharks because a large number of fins has been found on boats. There was smuggling going on.

However, when we tried to have a bill passed on this issue, we lost the vote. We needed only five more votes. The members opposite did not offer enough support. It is a bit strange to see them moving forward on this issue when they refused to accept our proposals regarding sharks.

Coastal Fisheries Protection ActGovernment Orders

September 18th, 2014 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Northwest Territories.

Bill S-3 would amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act to implement the port state measures agreement. This is largely a housekeeping bill that so Canada can ratify the UN Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, which Canada signed in 2010. The purpose of this agreement is to prevent illegally caught fish from entering international markets through ports. It is an important agreement and it is important that Canada ratifies it.

Canada's NDP support the bill at second reading, but we intend to introduce several amendments at committee stage to strengthen it. We feel legislation like this should be introduced in the House, not in the unelected, unaccountable and still under investigation Senate, as my colleague mentioned.

Canada should be a world leader in encouraging policies that promote healthy oceans and sustainably managed fisheries.

I would like to talk about the international commitments approved by the Food and Agriculture Organization, the FAO, of the United Nations in 2009. Twenty-six countries plus the European Union have signed on to this agreement and it will take effect once 25 states ratify it. It is important that Canada ratifies this.

I would like to offer some background information about pirate fishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. It is a major concern. It is a major problem threatening the health of the world's oceans. Pirate fishing fleets are difficult to hold accountable. They obscure their identity. They fly flags of convenience. They are profit-driven and their owners are savvy, wealthy business people who know how to evade detection. As well, their workers face hazardous conditions and slave wages.

Let me offer a few global statistics in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. It causes an annual financial loss of about $10 billion to $23.5 billion. It accounts for up to 20% of all wild marine fish caught. Pirate fishing produces 11 million to 26 million tonnes of seafood annually. These are alarming figures. It is important that Canada does what it can to stop illegally caught fish from entering markets through our ports.

My colleague from Surrey North spoke about elements of the fishery. He spoke about the Cohen inquiry. He also spoke about the lack of resources that the government had put into the fishery and the fact that it had actually taken away from the fishery. I would like to talk about another important element of the fishery, and that is sharks.

IUU fishing is an issue I became familiar with while working on my private member's bill to ban the import of shark fins to Canada. Shark finning is strongly tied to illegal fishing. Over 100 million sharks, many of which are threatened and endangered, are illegally caught every year for their fins. That is an alarming and huge number.

It is surprising to see Conservatives so keen to tackle IUU fishing, yet most Conservative MPs could not bring themselves to stand up to the PMO and vote in support of my shark fin bill at second reading last year. It lost by five votes, a very close vote. With the overwhelming support of Canadians who supported this, this should have been a no-brainer for many Conservative members. Across the country many felt that the legislation should have been passed quickly so it at least could have gone to second reading and on to committee stage. It is very unfortunate that did not happen.

It is important that Canada tackle global shark finning. As I mentioned, 100 million sharks each year are killed, many for their fins alone, and many are threatened and endangered. One-third of all shark species is threatened with extinction due to shark finning. Evidence of pirate fishing fleets that return to ports with boatloads of shark fins has proven this is an incredibly tough task and that countries need to invest in resources to tackle this problem.

Shark finning is a prime opportunity for Canada's government to take a leadership role in the global fight against IUU fishing. One way we can combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing for sharks is by encouraging all countries to adopt a fins-attached policy. Although we do not have a problem with shark finning in Canadian waters to a large degree, many would be surprised to learn that Canada's shark-landing policies are not as strong as they should be. I am hopeful the government will follow through on its promise to introduce stricter shark fin import regulations, yet its silence on this issue has been deafening for me. I have tried over the months to not only contact members, but also the CFIA to see how it is moving forward with the promise the government made to improve regulations.

This is the critical element and the heart of what we are talking about today, proposing amendments to legislation like this. It needs the commitment of the government to go forward with making changes not only in the legislation but in the resources needed to ensure we are able to make changes in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

Let me talk about some of the other pressures of global concern on oceans and our wild fisheries. We certainly have an all-party oceans caucus at the House. We are tackling this issue by coming together to look at some of the issues that threaten the health of our oceans. The all-party oceans caucus is playing a very positive role.

I have intimate knowledge of the Fraser River, one of the world's greatest salmon rivers, located in my home province of British Columbia on the boundary of my riding of New Westminster—Coquitlam. It is an important fishery. It is an incredibly important river. We expected a large return this year, but, as members have pointed out, if we look at these runs pre-contact, they were normal. We have seen a trend downward. Even though we think 20 million to 26 million is a large run, pre-contact there were runs of 100 million sockeye to the Fraser. Therefore, we have to keep it in context. Real fundamental issues must be looked at which require science and enforcement.

There are other pressures on our oceans, such as warming waters and ocean acidification. I want to mention that we have the Bacon and Eggheads breakfast coming up on Thursday next week. The topic will be “Ocean Acidification: the other carbon dioxide problem”. I encourage all members to go to this important meeting to hear and learn about ocean acidification. This is another issue that our fishery is facing.

Oil spills, large and small, from tanker and marine traffic are another problem that threaten the health of our fishery. Our scientists would argue that the oil spilling into rivers and storm drains that combine into creeks and rivers and then into larger rivers and eventually into our ocean is a huge problem, as well as the oil from tanker traffic around the world and in our oceans in Canada.

Pollution threatens the health of our oceans, such as industrial waste. We are familiar with what happened at Fukushima a few years ago. Nuclear waste entered into the ocean, and is bringing debris and material over to our coast. The oceans are connected and there is quite a link. Some would argue that we really have one ocean, but our oceans are definitely connected.

There are certainly garbage islands. The gyre has been reported in the ocean and is an increasingly huge problem with the amount of plastics facing our fishery.

These potential impacts, including those from aquaculture, are all playing a key role in monitoring and taking care of our oceans.

In summary, the threat of the IUU, or the illegal, unreported and unregulated, fishing is important. We need to address this legislation in committee. We need to address pirating fisheries and tackle it together, but we cannot forget investing on the resources to tackle that problem.

Coastal Fisheries Protection ActGovernment Orders

September 18th, 2014 / 12:05 p.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, to return to the actual bill, Bill S-3, and the implementation of international measures to stop the importation of illegal and unregulated fishery products, I wonder if the hon. member for Surrey North would agree with me on something in “Prohibition—importation”, under proposed section 5.6. It says:

No person shall import any fish or marine plant knowing it to have been taken, harvested, possessed, transported, distributed or sold contrary to...

It then lists a number of laws.

We heard earlier from the parliamentary secretary that the definition of “fish” would be changed to ensure that it includes processed fish, as opposed to only fish that have just been caught in the nets.

I hope this law will work to stop the massive injustice of using slave labour, literally slaves, on the fishing fleets of Thailand. Far offshore, they catch the majority of the fish meal that goes into the equally environmentally and horrific practice of shrimp aquaculture throughout Thailand.

This is one of the most ecologically devastating practices, as it begins with clear-cutting mangrove forests. I think that doing something to protect the mangrove forests while at the same time ending the practice of slavery on the high seas would be a legitimate application of this treaty.

Coastal Fisheries Protection ActGovernment Orders

September 18th, 2014 / 11:40 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. parliamentary secretary for his intervention. I appreciate the boats he was on. The only problem is that he arrived here the day the Conservatives formed a majority government. My concern is that the day he leaves there will be no boats. There will be nothing.

My concern is, and I am trying to inform the House, that the path this majority Conservative government is on is one of total destruction. It does not seem to understand the value of the fishery, particularly on the coasts.

He did indicate the importance of Bill S-3 and the port state measures agreement. Of course we agree with the port state measures agreement. However, we are not doing what we need to do in our country to protect our own fishermen and to make sure we know what is going on out in the sea, that we know what boats are out there. We need patrols.

Coastal Fisheries Protection ActGovernment Orders

September 18th, 2014 / 11:40 a.m.
See context

Durham Ontario

Conservative

Erin O'Toole ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague, the member for Cardigan, for his speech here in the House today. There was a lot of history to his speech. He talked about long past triumphs, so I have to talk about my personal history.

When I was in the air force, I had the pleasure of serving on HMCS St. John's and actually participating in some of our fisheries enforcement measures, along with fisheries officers who would come on the ship. Our Sea King crew would be on the Flemish Cap patrolling our exclusive economic zone. We saw some of those trawlers out there. It is important that we enforce our sovereignty.

We support the industry. I have a personal history that keeps me passionate, and that is why I support Bill S-3 fully.

I have two questions for the hon. member. The first one is based on the port state measures agreement. Does he not agree that it is important for Canada to be part of that and to update global definitions related to fishing vessels, fishing, and that sort of thing, to make sure we address the modern fleets out there?

Second, the member spoke a lot about our small fishermen. These are some of the hardest working Canadians. I have seen them first hand. Does he not recognize that our European trade agreement presents the most exciting opportunity for Atlantic Canada in a generation? Tariff rates in the double digits would drop for the lobster and mussels that I know his province sells well. Is that not a boon for our industry?

Coastal Fisheries Protection ActGovernment Orders

September 18th, 2014 / 11:10 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill S-3, an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act.

Fisheries are so important to many areas of the country, and they are certainly important in my area in Prince Edward Island. Around Cardigan, Prince Edward Island, where I live and which I represent, every community depends on the fishing industry. This legislation is important.

There are over 1,300 lobster fishers on P.E.I., 11,000 inshore fishers in Atlantic Canada, and another 20,000 crew. That is well over 30,000 people involved in the fishery, just in the Atlantic region of Canada, not to mention the processing industry and other indirect jobs involved in the fishery. That is a lot in the inshore fishery.

Fisheries are worth about $1 billion to Atlantic Canada alone. Canada's commercial fishery, aquaculture, and fish and seafood processing industries contribute $5.4 billion and 71,000 full-time jobs to the Canadian economy every year.

There are many coastal communities that are equally reliant on having a strong fishery and effective enforcement against illegal fishing activities. At times it can be difficult to get people outside the Atlantic region and the west coast to understand exactly what the value of the fishery is and how important it is to the economy. Fish does not come from a showcase. It comes from the sea, and it is important that we have the funds, the surveillance, and the protection to make sure that the stock survives. That is why I am so pleased to say a few words on this issue today.

This bill would allow Canada to meet its international obligations with regard to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing. Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, or IUU fishing, undermines the livelihood of fishers who play by the rules, both within Canada and around the world. The global economic loss due to illegal fishing is somewhere between $10 and $23 billion annually and represents somewhere between 11 and 26 million tonnes of fish lost to illegal fishing activity. That is a loss of 18% of the total fishery. This is a staggering number, and it is my hope that Canada, along with many other countries around the world, will continue its efforts to decrease this massive economic loss.

We know that our inshore fishers are hurting, and we need to do everything we can to help them receive a proper dollar for the world-class product they produce. In a perfect world, there would be no illegal fisheries. Vessels would all be registered with identification numbers, making them identifiable and authorized to fish by their flag states. It would also be possible to identify the owners of these vessels.

However, the fact is, there is far too much illegal fishing across the world, which is having a devastating effect on fisheries worldwide. No matter where we fish, it has an effect, because it provides an illegal product that is competition. It is important that Canada play a strong role in cracking down on the illegal fisheries, not only to protect fishers' livelihoods but to help in the conservation of our fisheries and the entire Canadian economy, in which our fisheries and seafood industry play such a major role. If there is any excess supply of fish on the market because of some illegal fishing activity, prices may be driven down, which would hurt our economy and coastal communities and the many thousands of Canadians who make their living on the sea.

Canada has long been considered a leader in the fight to combat pirate, or IUU, fishing. I am extremely proud that the Liberals have taken many steps in past years to combat illegal fishing activity. As far back as 1956, Liberal minister of fisheries James Sinclair indicated that Canada favoured a 12-mile territorial zone. In 1977, former Liberal minister of fisheries Romeo LeBlanc established the 200-mile fishing zone that protected fishermen from foreign trawlers. Mr. LeBlanc was instrumental in the establishment of the 200-mile limit and in shaping the international law of the sea.

Another Liberal minister of fisheries, Brian Tobin, mounted a fierce campaign through 1994 against foreign overfishing in waters in the nose and tail of the Grand Banks, located just outside Canada's declared 200-mile zone. Canadians across the country took note of this new and aggressive posture, a posture that has not been taken by any minister of fisheries since the 200-mile zone was declared in 1977.

In 1994, the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act was amended to extend its application to the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, or NAFO, regulatory area, which is a very significant area of the Atlantic Ocean on the high seas. It was a Liberal government that amended that act.

In April 1995, DFO was involved in the so-called “turbot war”, which pit Canadians against the European Union. Nevertheless, fisheries minister Tobin and the Liberal government of the day received the full backing of the United Kingdom and Ireland in this fight. Later that month, Mr. Tobin held an international news conference from a barge on the East River outside the United Nations headquarters, where he displayed an illegal trawl net that had been allegedly cut from a Spanish trawler that was arrested outside the Canadian zone on international waters.

In 1999, the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act was again amended by a Liberal government. This time it was to implement the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 10 1982 Relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks of 1995. These amendments in 1999 allowed Canada to further implement international fisheries treaties and added regulatory powers for the government.

During this time, the minister of fisheries and oceans, my colleague from Halifax West, was a strong advocate for the elimination of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. Under his leadership, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans made significant investments to expand aerial surveillance and at-sea patrols in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization regulatory area. The increase in patrol and surveillance led to the reduction in non-compliant behaviour and a decrease of 29% in foreign fishing vessels in the NRA.

My colleague from Halifax West was also an active member of the High Seas Task Force, an international task force committed to stopping IUU fishing in parts of the ocean not under the exclusive control of sovereign states. In addition to this, he hosted an international conference on global overfishing, which attracted fisheries and oceans ministers from around the world.

Therefore, we have a very proud tradition in this party of strong and effective leadership and action on illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing activity. Canada is considered a leader in combating illegal fishing activities, and the Liberal Party and previous Liberal governments have made strong contributions in ensuring that our system is strong.

I am pleased the government has brought this bill and intends to join the port state measures agreement. However, I do wonder why the government recently took away $4.2 million from Canada's offshore surveillance of foreign fishing vessels. This will result in a significant reduction in Canada's monitoring capability and has been done as part of the government's gutting of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. In fact, this will result in a reduction of the total of NAFO sea days from 785 to 600, and a reduction in NAFO air hours from 1,000 to 600, along with the loss of 23 full-time employees.

It is fine to bring forward this legislation that would let Canada meet its international obligations, but the government needs to put teeth in the bill. We need money to make sure we can enforce the legislation. I hope the government can respond and indicate why it made this cut to Canada's offshore surveillance of foreign fishing vessels and what effect it thinks it will have. Gutting DFO and taking a significant amount of money away from offshore surveillance was wrong, and I hope the government will re-think that and many other cuts it made at DFO.

The government has downloaded extra costs to our fishers such as tags, at-sea observers, and logbooks. It has made changes to quotas and taken them from fishers to pay for scientific research, which should be the responsibility of the Government of Canada, not fishers. It has made drastic cuts to DFO science, fisheries, and conservation officers, the coast guard, and small craft harbours, have ignored the price crisis in the lobster fishery, and have spent nearly a year considering whether it should eliminate the owner-operator and fleet separation policies.

However, I am pleased to say that we are generally quite supportive of the bill the government has brought forward and of Canada's ratification of the port state measures agreement.

As I mentioned earlier, Bill S-3 has three points: to implement the port state measures agreement, prohibit importing illegal fish and marine plants, and clarify administration and enforcement powers in the act.

The bill contains a number of amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act so as to implement the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization 2009 agreement on port state measures to prevent, deter and eliminate the unreported and unregulated fishery.

On November 22, 2009, a conference of the FAO approved the port stage measures agreement. Canada signed the agreement on November 19, 2010, but has yet to ratify it. The amendments to the act and regulations are necessary for Canada to meet its commitments to this important international agreement.

The agreement will enter into force 30 days after 25 countries have ratified it. I believe 11 countries have currently ratified the agreement and another 18 have signed on with the indication that they will ratify this agreement. From my understanding, government officials are hopeful that the PSMA will enter into force in one or two years.

The application of the port state measures act would contribute to harmonizing port state measures, would enhance regional and international co-operation, and would block the flow of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fish into national and international markets.

Enhanced port state control can act as a disincentive to those who take part in illegal fishing by increasing the cost of their operations. For example, if they are prohibited from coming into one port, they will have to find another port, and their costs will increase. Hopefully, we will have something in place to make sure they do not enter any port. That is what this agreement is all about.

The FAO described the port measures agreement by saying this:

The Agreement aims to prevent illegally caught fish from entering international markets through ports. Under the terms of the treaty, foreign vessels will provide advance notice and request permission for port entry, countries will conduct regular inspections in accordance with universal minimum standards, offending vessels will be denied use of port or certain port services....

Information will be shared among the countries that have signed.

IUU fishing poses a considerable threat to the conservation and management of many fish stocks. It can lead to the loss of economic revenue, impair the conditions of the stock, or at worst, can have a stock collapse. This is something we in this country need to be extremely vigilant about and guard against.

Liberals support the main thrust of this piece of legislation and support sending Bill S-3 to committee for review. I do wonder why the government signed the port state measures agreement in 2010 and has waited four years before bringing this legislation to the House. Perhaps the government could shed some light on that.

Over the next number of years, there is going to be a major demand for fish products. It is estimated that the world cannot supply the demand for fish and protein that will be needed in the world in the next 25 years. That is why it is so important that governments invest in the protection of our fish stocks, our fishers, and the safety of our fishermen. As I mentioned, the downloading of tags, at-sea observers, and logbooks, all these costs go against our small fishermen.

There has been a slashing of the small craft harbours budget. At one time it was over $200 million and now it is under $100 million. I know the government announced $40 million over two years. I do not know when that will come, but I can assure the House that in the area I represent it is very much needed.

There have been many other major cuts at DFO over the last number of years. By 2017, it will amount to about $300 million. DFO just cannot afford this type of slashing.

It is awful hard for me to understand certain things. Number one, the government needed to bring this piece of legislation forward, but just before it did, it cut $4.2 million from offshore surveillance. This will mean that NAFO sea days will be cut, as I said, from 785 to 600 days; the air hours will be cut from 1,000 to 600; and the employees who are desperately needed, not only there but in many other places, have been cut by 23 in this particular cut.

That is only a small amount that has been sliced out of DFO. As other speakers have indicated, we have cut search and rescue offices on the east and west coasts. Any sensible human being would think that on the coasts there would be search and rescue offices, but obviously the government does not agree that they should be on the east coast and off the coast of British Columbia. These are things that are so important and we need to take a strong look at them.

Again I say that it is important that Bill S-3 goes to committee. Liberals would support it going to committee, where we will be evaluating it. However, the government must realize that if it is going to put anything in place in order to work with countries around the world, we have to take care of ourselves. We cannot be continually slicing, cutting, and gutting the departments in charge of making sure we are observing. If we do not have the planes out to keep an eye on the foreign fishing vessels, how are we going to know what is going on? How are we going to know what vessels are coming in? We will not.

The fact is—and I am sure the Minister of Foreign Affairs fully agrees with me—that we need to put more money into this—

Coastal Fisheries Protection ActGovernment Orders

September 18th, 2014 / 10:40 a.m.
See context

NDP

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

Mr. Speaker, today, I have the honour of sharing my views on Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act.

I listened carefully to the speech given by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans on this bill, and I think that he raised some very interesting points.

This bill should be referred to the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans for further debate. It should probably also be amended. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and his colleagues will support these amendments.

Nonetheless, there are some problems with this bill that should be debated here in the House of Commons. My first concern is that this bill has already been debated in the Senate.

Today, the government seems to be ignoring our parliamentary procedures and traditions. Usually, bills are introduced in the House of Commons before they go to the Senate, and there are several reasons for that.

It is not just because members like debating these issues in the House of Commons. It is because we are the elected representatives of the people. We raise our concerns and those of our constituents in a place where they may have some bearing. We should therefore start with a debate here in the House.

People generally believe that the Senate is a chamber of sober second thought and that it provides a second chance to ensure that we did not miss anything in the House of Commons.

Unfortunately, that is not the case here. This bill was introduced in the Senate, where the senators diligently did their job and proposed amendments. Now, the bill has come before the House of Commons, where other amendments may be proposed, and the bill will then have to go back to the Senate for a second time.

This is a waste of time, and this way of doing things disregards the role of the House of Commons. The House should have the right to examine bills first. The House is not supposed to oversee the Senate. That has never been its role.

To be quite honest, I believe that the Senate should be abolished, end of story. This institution has no place in a free, democratic and modern parliament. To some extent, this institution is keeping us trapped in the past, but anyway.

The fact remains that the bill has finally come before us. We are interested in debating it and either passing it as is or amending it. Personally, I believe amendments are needed.

I just want to point out that this bill does more than just amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. The purpose of the bill is to ratify an international agreement adopted by a number of countries, including those of the European Union.

The agreement that will be ratified by this bill is the port state measures agreement. This United Nations agreement shows that it is in our best interest to work with our international partners in order to achieve effective management of a healthy industry, management on which the nations of this world can agree.

I think it is great that the government before us is prepared to adopt an international agreement. We have often seen this government struggle with ratifying, adopting and honouring international agreements, except for those it makes in secret, like the free trade agreements that we still have not seen. I am talking about the free trade agreement with Europe. This government does not want Canadians to be able to read the text and decide whether they agree with it or not.

Fortunately, the United Nations seems to be taking the right approach. It is obliged to disclose agreements before those agreements are ratified. Our government could learn a thing or two from the United Nations.

I absolutely want this bill to promote a healthy fishery in Canada. It will certainly improve things.

There have been many occasions when we have seen shortcomings in the tools available to us. The parliamentary secretary said there was already very effective legislation in place that might be improved by this bill. For the most part, I agree with him. However, if there is an international agreement, if other countries can teach us ways of improving our practices in Canada, then we should listen and adopt those practices, if they can help us.

According to the United Nations, illegal fishing has reached a pretty high level internationally. In 2008, pirate fishing was worth an estimated $10 billion to $23 billion a year. We know that related industries in Canada generate roughly $5.5 billion a year and that 71,000 full-time jobs are linked to the fishery and related industries such as aquaculture and processing. That is a lot of money.

International fishing lowers the price of fish products. We know that the arrival of an illegal product on the market has a negative impact on the price. There are already too many concerns about the price of fish products. Every year lobster fishermen in the Maritimes find it difficult to get a price that will ensure the economic survival of their industry. We have seen this many times in other industries as well.

We really want to have the tools to ensure that prices are realistic and reflect the reality of the legitimate fishing industry. We do not want to subsidize the illegal industry. Unfortunately, today, there is still too much illegal fishing. This bill will help us eliminate much of this illegal fishing.

We should remember that there are elements of the bill that are of great concern. The tools we will provide to our officers will be helpful, but do these officers have all the tools they need? Are there enough officers on the job?

In his question to the parliamentary secretary, my colleague from Cardigan did say that there were significant cuts to surveillance by Fisheries and Oceans. The parliamentary secretary replied that he was not worried about it and that even if there were cuts, illegal fishing in Canada has declined.

It is quite reasonable to suspect that, if there is a downsizing of surveillance personnel in Canada, we will not be able to properly assess illegal fishing because it is done at night. We need open tools. We need effective tools on the water in order to really control illegal fishing. I think it would be advisable for the parliamentary secretary to take his analysis further and determine what exactly is the actual reduction or perhaps increase in illegal fishing in Canada.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has suffered a huge number of cuts in recent years. I suspect that the department is not capable of putting a figure on how much illegal fishing is going on in Canada. I am sorry, but I have a hard time believing the parliamentary secretary when he tells us that illegal fishing is on the decline. I do not think the data are there to support that assessment. I implore the parliamentary secretary to talk to his minister and ask her to increase the number of staff, not only in surveillance at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, but also in all of the department's sectors. This department has probably gone through more budget cuts than any other department.

It is time for things to change and for the department to start increasing spending instead of always making cuts.

We heard in the news that scientists at Fisheries and Oceans Canada were laid off. There is a lack of information on the studies that need to be done, including in the case of the port of Cacouna, an item that recently popped up in the news. We have seen repeatedly that Fisheries and Oceans Canada simply does not have the tools it needs.

The bill will also give surveillance powers to our officers. It is hard to justify these new powers, but I am waiting for the parliamentary secretary to explain where the government is going with this.

I want to talk more specifically about the power being given to inspectors, who will be able to conduct searches at sea without a warrant. I doubt that this power will pass the legal test. I am not even sure that our border officers have this power. The government wants to give this power to our fisheries officers, when officers on land do not seem to have that power. I do not understand how this power is useful or valid. Once again, I would like to hear from the parliamentary secretary on that, especially if this bill makes it to committee, so that we have a better idea of where the Conservatives are coming from.

If it is true that officers can conduct this type of search, we have to wonder whether they would be putting themselves in danger. That is something that these workers will have to ask themselves. The ocean is isolated. It is rather big. The officers are far from resources and support. It is a matter of safety for workers. I am concerned about this power being granted to workers, but once again, I am looking forward to hearing further justifications from the government so that we understand where it is coming from.

In addition, the bill poses a legal problem: it takes the new definition of justice from section 2 of the Criminal Code.

According to the Criminal Code, justices include justices of the peace and provincial court judges. The problem we have with that in Newfoundland is that justices of the peace do not exist, first of all, and they certainly do not have the capacity to hand out injunctions and search orders.

I am a little concerned that we are creating in inequality between the provinces when it comes to the bill. I want to hear more from the government side as to what it means to give this sort of power to a justice of the peace.

I will briefly quote a court case, which passed through the courts about 15 years ago, R. v. Saunders, 2002. From Carswell Newfoundland, this is section 155, paragraph 19:

Search warrants are obtained on an ex parte basis.... They are often obtained from justices of the peace who have little legal training and they are often requested on short notice. ...many of them have received little if any training. This is unfair...and makes it impossible for them to fullfil their constitutional obligations. This search warrant illustrates that this is a situation that is no longer acceptable. If the power to issue is going to be granted, then at least a minimum level of training should be provided.

A search warrant is a very powerful tool. People who are perhaps ill-equipped to issue one are being asked consider doing so. Issuing a search warrant to officers who will be isolated and unsupported when they go to sea might put them in a very dangerous situation.

Unfortunately, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has made a lot of cuts to the Coast Guard, which has put its employees in an increasingly precarious situation.

The cuts to Fisheries and Oceans Canada might jeopardize the safety of mariners or Government of Canada officers at sea. We are concerned for their safety. Unfortunately, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is moving in the opposite direction by cutting resources that would give these people the support they need.

I am not interested in talking about recent situations where there were marine safety problems. I would simply like to say that since I was elected in 2011, there have been some fairly serious situations every year where people were in danger when they should not have been. We need to have tools in place to ensure their safety. Unfortunately, the government is moving in the opposite direction.

Not only does this bill jeopardize the safety of our officers at sea, but it also allows someone with little understanding of the potential risk to officers to grant the right to proceed with a search. It is a very perilous situation.

I hope the parliamentary secretary will give us more information on the direction the government intends to take with this. Why is it proposing such a bill? What will it do to ensure that Fisheries and Oceans Canada is equipped to protect officers and mariners in general?

Today, we heard the parliamentary secretary talk about the bill, and I am very pleased about that. However, I doubt that any other members will come forward to debate this bill today. Frankly, I think it is a bit shameful that the government is not taking this opportunity to fully explain its viewpoint. It is unfortunate that the government is not asking members to go over Bill S-3 carefully and thoroughly.

We are asking questions, but we are not getting answers. We expect the government to introduce and defend its bills, but all we get is radio silence. Today is no exception. I would be surprised if even one Conservative member made a speech today. It is unfortunate, but that is the way things are.

I will come back to the bill, which I think addresses some problems. Illegal fishing must certainly be stopped. Apart from conducting searches, officers will be able to inspect containers, even on land, and vehicles, which they were not able to do before. In fact, the legislation allowed them to inspect only vessels used directly for illegal fishing. Bill S-3 broadens the definition, enabling officers to conduct much more comprehensive inspections. Of course, the fact that they will be able to do so just on a hunch worries me. The government must be very clear and ensure that Bill S-3 is consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, specifically paragraph 11(d), which states that any person charged with an offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by an impartial tribunal.

This bill will give the minister the power to impose penalties, but those being penalized will not have the opportunity to defend themselves. We really have to be careful. This bill goes too far in some respects. Some of the powers it gives to the minister are justified, but others are not. Once again, we are heading for court challenges that could take years.

The courts will probably shoot down parts of this bill. Once again, this is a waste of time. Taking this bill to the Senate wasted time, and now more time will be wasted because this bill will most likely go before the courts so that they can get rid of the parts that are unjustified.

If we pass this bill, and that is certainly what I recommend we do, I hope that the parliamentary committee will pay close attention to the witnesses and think long and hard about amending it. That being said, on the whole, this bill deserves our attention and our support.

Coastal Fisheries Protection ActGovernment Orders

September 18th, 2014 / 10:30 a.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, reviewing Bill S-3, an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, is a very positive step forward. I am concerned, though, about process.

I understand that this bill originated in the Senate. It was amended in the Senate. It has now come to this place, and as I understand the hon. parliamentary secretary, there will be further amendments put forward in committee. I assume it then has to go back to the Senate.

I am wondering if the government can explain why a bill this important has taken such a circuitous route.

Coastal Fisheries Protection ActGovernment Orders

September 18th, 2014 / 10:30 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, I too agree that Bill S-3 has to be brought forward and dealt with in order that the government can meet its international obligations. Of course, surveillance is so important, and the illegal fishery is one of the biggest problems we have in our country.

I would like to ask this of the minister, but I will have to ask the parliamentary secretary. Why was $4.2 million removed from offshore surveillance? That is a large amount of money. We have lost surveillance, which is so important to make sure we know what is going on off our coast. Why did the government take $4.2 million out?

I agree the legislation is vital. We need it. It is good to have the legislation, but we have to have the clout with it. From what I can see, the government has removed a lot of the clout. Why?

Coastal Fisheries Protection ActGovernment Orders

September 18th, 2014 / 10:10 a.m.
See context

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission B.C.

Conservative

Randy Kamp ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to begin this debate on Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act.

Like other responsible coastal nations around the world, Canada is concerned about the economic and environmental impact of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. In fact, we have a moral and legal obligation to help stop these illegitimate practices. Today, with the amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act as outlined here in Bill S-3, we have the opportunity to act.

With the existing Coastal Fisheries Protection Act and regulations, Canada already has a robust control regime for foreign fishing vessels.

In recent years, the international community has been working diligently to strengthen tools to prevent, deter, and eliminate illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and activities that support that practice. Improving controls over foreign fishing vessels in port through global standards is one of several important tools to accomplish this goal. I am proud to say that Canada has played an important role in this development.

For that reason, I am proud to lend my support to the proposed legislation before the House.

Before we examine the bill, some background might help to put the proposed amendments into a larger context, which I think members might find helpful, and underscore why they are so important.

For decades, the international community has developed laws and standards to protect the earth's vast marine resources. More than 30 years ago, for example, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea confirmed that states have responsibilities for conservation.

Then, several years later, the United Nations fish stocks agreement of 1995 emphasized the role and responsibility of states in conserving fish stocks. This was also a very welcome measure.

Unfortunately, the practice of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing has become big business. A study produced by the United Kingdom in 2008, for example, suggested that illegal fishing was costing the world economy up to $23 billion annually, representing between 11% and 19% of total reported catch worldwide.

How does illegal fishing hurt the global economy? Fishing vessels that do not follow rules and regulations minimize their operating costs. They then sell fish at a cheaper price than legitimate fish harvesters, distorting prices and markets along the value chain.

While Canada diligently monitors and regulates fishing, we are not immune to the economic impact of illegal activities. Let us consider for a moment that we export up to 85% of our fish and sea products. In 2012, the last year for which the statistics are available, these exports were worth about $4.1 billion. This is an impressive figure, but it could be higher if markets were not distorted by illegal and unregulated catch.

Let me give a real-life example. On the west coast of Canada off British Columbia, the sea urchin fishery has been in place since about the 1950s. It started to grow significantly in the 1980s. Sea urchin was caught and urchin roe was sold to the Japanese market. It is a delicacy there, although I am not sure I understand why.

By 2002 this fishery was thriving. There were 70 boats and $25 million in exports. However, almost right at that time, an illegal and unregulated fishery began around the Kuril Islands, an archipelago stretching from northern Japan to the southeast coast of Russia. This fishery was mainly operated by organized crime based in eastern Europe.

In 2003, for example, in just one day, the illegal fishery dumped the equivalent of B.C.'s entire annual green sea urchin quota onto the market. It was about 200 tons. In just one week, they dumped B.C.'s entire annual red sea urchin quota, about 4,500 tonnes, onto the market. The price fell, and B.C.'s export market to Japan all but collapsed. In British Columbia, this affected real people with families to care for and mortgages to pay.

Illegal fish harvesters do more than wreak havoc on the economy. Their practices harm efforts to protect ecosystems and habitat. Why? It is because they operate for short-term profit not long-term sustainability.

In 2009, the international community approved the port state measures agreement, technically known as the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing. It was negotiated through the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, which promised real and cost-effective solutions to the problem of illegal fishing. The agreement requires port state measures for controlling the access of foreign fishing vessels to the ports of coastal nations like Canada. Improving these rules globally is considered a cost-effective way to fight illegal fishing.

I might just say here that obviously the problem has two sides to it. Fishing vessels fly flags of the states from which they come. They have an obligation, as we do in Canada, to make sure those vessels follow the rules; but they also offload in ports, not necessarily their own, and it is these measures we are talking about.

Rest assured that Canada already has strong rules when it comes to foreign fishing vessels, but this would strengthen our point of entry checks on incoming fish and fish products. The port state measures agreement establishes minimum standards for states to deal with foreign fishing vessels implicated in illegal fishing activity.

Canada signed the agreement in 2010, indicating our intention to ratify it. However, before we ratify it, we must shore up some gaps in our own domestic legislation related to monitoring, enforcement and information sharing. That is what Bill S-3 is seeking to do. Once approved, the proposed amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act would allow us to meet our international obligations as a responsible member of the international community and to enhance the integrity of legitimate fish harvesting activities in Canada.

With this context, allow me to review and provide some additional detail on the proposed amendments, which can be loosely grouped into three broad categories. The first concerns enhancing and fine tuning controls over foreign fishing vessels that are seeking to access our ports. Under the current act, fishing vessels must apply for a licence to enter Canadian fisheries waters and to access our ports, at least 30 days before they arrive. Under the proposed amendment, the minister could allow a foreign vessel that has been directed by its flag state to enter a Canadian port even if it has not applied for a port licence, to the extent that the vessel has been ordered to port by its flag state for enforcement purposes.

In this case, Canada would issue a specific permit for the sole purpose of inspection and enforcement. While the port state measures agreement generally promotes refusal of entry to fishing vessels that have engaged in illegal fishing, there might be situations where the flag state—that is to say the country responsible for the fishing vessel—might want Canada's assistance to conduct an inspection and to gather evidence of a violation.

It is not enough to direct vessels suspected of illegal fishing into our ports. We must then arm Canadian fisheries protection officers with greater powers to enforce the amended Coastal Fisheries Protection Act and the regulations. These amendments would thus increase the powers of Canadian fisheries officers to inspect a suspected foreign fishing vessel in port and to search for and seize illegal catch when that vessel is directed to port under the new permit regime. This would strengthen current prohibitions regarding the import of fish or marine plants that have been taken, harvested, processed, transported, distributed or sold in contravention of international law. I stress that officers would have to have reasonable grounds to believe the vessel had been engaged in illegal fishing activities for the exercise of these powers.

The second set of amendments involves information sharing. Without accurate intelligence about the activities of illegal fish harvesters, Canada's fisheries protection officers are at a tremendous disadvantage. If we do not have better information about the potential for illegal operations, illegal fish harvesters will quite literally leave authorities in their wake.

To meet the requirements of the port state measures agreement, the amendments provide clarity on the authority to share information. The amendments cover both the type of information and with whom it can be shared.

First, the amendments clearly outline that the minister has legal authority to share information regarding the following: the inspection of the foreign vessel; refusal of entry to port to a foreign vessel; a change in decision regarding such a refusal; enforcement action taken; or the outcome of any proceeding relating to a decision on port access. For example, we could access the results of any enforcement activity or the outcome of a legal proceeding. Knowing that a vessel has been involved in numerous offences also raises a red flag for our fisheries protection officers and would lead to a refusal of port access.

Second, the amendments clarify that the minister can share this information with the flag state of the vessel, relevant coastal states, regional fisheries, management organizations, states in whose fisheries waters the illegal fishing may have occurred, the state of nationality of the owner of the vessel, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and other relevant international organizations. It is a very broad power. For example, if France refused entry to a foreign fishing vessel and then shared the name of the vessel with us, our protection officers would be on the alert if that vessel tried to enter port in Canada.

Third, amendments to the act clarify that the minister may report, to other state parties, actions that Canada has taken with respect to Canadian vessels that have engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing or fishing-related activities in support of such fishing. In addition, the proposed amendments would enable Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency to share with each other relevant information related to the importation of fish, fish products and marine plants. That is an important initiative.

Having information is one thing, and being able to act on it is quite another. That is why the third major category of amendments concerns prohibitions and offences and enforcement powers, providing an expansion of the powers of fisheries protection officers.

Currently, fisheries officers can only investigate seaports and wharves for illegal catch, but since illegal catch does not always come to port in fishing vessels, one of the important innovations in the agreement is to target illegally harvested living marine resources and products, including marine plants, that enter not only on a fishing vessel but in a shipping container on a large ship. The bill would therefore prohibit the importation of fish, marine plants and products that have been taken, harvested, processed, transported, distributed or sold in contravention of international law—to use the language of the bill—in order to foreclose this additional avenue of illicit access to our market. The negotiators of the agreement wanted to ensure that strong actions taken against fishing vessels would not be circumvented by the use of other vessels to transport or transship the catch to ports. These amendments would enable Canada to exercise appropriate border controls to close the front door when necessary, so to speak.

With these amendments, Canada is once again assuming a leadership role in the fight against illegal fishing, by taking this concept a step further. These amendments take the measures in the agreement aimed at container vessels to the next level, as Canada is entitled to do. They would enable fisheries protection officers to inspect any place, including containers, warehouses, storage areas and vehicles at all ports of entry, including airports and beyond—effectively, wherever such products may be found. This power would enable fisheries protection officers to support and enhance the work of CBSA customs agents. At the same time, fisheries protection officers would have the power to enter and search these places with a warrant and, if circumstances demanded, without a warrant, working in conjunction with customs officials as required.

These amendments would allow fisheries officers to seize illegal, unreported and unregulated caught fish, fish products and marine plants aboard the vessel or in any other place believed to be obtained by or used in the commission of an offence under the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. However, further deterrence is necessary when dealing with illegal fish harvesters whose main concern is monetary profits. If it is shown that foreign vessels have been engaged in or have supported illegal, unreported, unregulated fishing, substantial fines can be imposed: on summary conviction, a fine of up to $100,000; upon conviction on indictment, a fine of up to $500,000; and on a second conviction, double these fines.

Moreover, if a court finds the person guilty of an offence under the act, the court could order the person to pay an additional fine equal to the estimated benefit they expected to gain from committing the offence. This structure would present a significant deterrent to this very serious crime and would demonstrate to illegal fish harvesters that Canada is serious about putting an end to their illegal endeavours.

In addition to these broad categories, the amendments also cover several changes in definitions required by the port state measures agreement. For example, the amended definition of “fishing vessel” could include any vessel used in transshipping fish or marine plants, but it would exclude vessels equipped to transship that are not involved in supporting fishing activity at sea, such as vessels transporting general merchandise.

The proposed amendments would also redefine the term “fish” itself. In keeping with the port state measures agreement, “fish” would come to mean a species of living marine resources, whether processed or not. The amendments would also add a definition of “marine plant”, because marine plants are also living marine resources.

The port state measures agreement outlines cost-effective and practical solutions to the problem of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. Bill S-3 would strengthen Canada's Coastal Fisheries Protection Act and enable Canada to exercise enhanced port controls and importation measures consistent with, and in fact even stronger than, the minimum standards established in the port state measures agreement. These amendments would once again demonstrate Canada's leading role in the international fight against illegal fishing. These amendments are a step forward in that fight. These robust measures would limit the quantities of illegal fish that enter our market and other markets around the world where Canadian fish harvesters sell their products. Canada's fish harvesters stand to benefit from a more level playing field.

To date, 11 members of the Food and Agriculture Organization have become parties to the agreement. We need to maintain the momentum so that the 25 parties required for the agreement to enter into force will be achieved sooner rather than later. Today, by supporting Bill S-3, the House has an opportunity to move Canada one step closer to ratification, one step closer to helping protect the livelihoods of legitimate fish harvesters, one step closer to effective conservation and management of living marine resources and protection of the fragile ecosystems that support their existence.

I urge all hon. members to join me in supporting Bill S-3. We can do no less.

Coastal Fisheries Protection ActGovernment Orders

September 18th, 2014 / 10:10 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Conservative Halton, ON

moved that Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

June 12th, 2014 / 3:25 p.m.
See context

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have another opportunity to respond to the Thursday question from the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster.

I know how proud he claims to be about showing up to work. In fact, though, the New Democrats seem to have a spotty record on that. Last evening, that very member rose to speak to our government's bill to protect our communities and exploited persons—that is Bill C-36—and after one whole minute he moved to adjourn the House. He said we should all go home. Maybe that is the parliamentary equivalent of taking one's ball and wanting to go home when one is unhappy with how things are going in another meeting.

In any event, we did all dutifully troop into the House to vote on that at 6 p.m. However, what was very revealing was that only 61 of those 98 New Democrats stood in their places to vote. A few of them were missing their shifts, oddly. We did not find that on the Conservative side. In fact, we just had two votes in the House, and the number of New Democrats who were not standing in their places was very similar to that.

Therefore, when I ask myself who is not showing up for work, I can say it is not the Conservatives not showing up; it is, in fact, the New Democrats.

However, following the popular acclaim of last week's Thursday statement, I would like to recap what we have actually accomplished in the House since last week in terms of the legislative agenda.

Bill C-37, the riding name change act, 2014, which was compiled and assembled through the input of all parties, was introduced and adopted at all stages.

Bill C-31, the economic action plan, act no. 1, was adopted at both report stage and, just moments ago, at third reading.

Bill C-24, the strengthening Canadian citizenship act, was concurred in at report stage.

Bill C-20, the Canada-Honduras economic growth and prosperity act, was passed at third reading. Of course, the NDP tried to slow down its passage, but Conservatives were able to get around those efforts, as I am sure the 50 New Democrats on vigil in the House last night fondly appreciate, and we were able to extend our hours because there were, again, not even 50 New Democrats here in the House to stand in their places to block that debate as they wanted to. So we did finish the Canada-Honduras bill that night, and were able to vote on it.

The government's spending proposals for the year were adopted by the House, and two bills to give these plans effect, Bill C-38 and BillC-39, were each passed at all stages.

Bill C-22, the energy safety and security act, was reported back from committee, and several other reports from committees were also tabled. As I understand, we will see Bill C-17, the protecting Canadians from unsafe drugs act, reported back from the health committee in short order.

Finally, this morning we virtually unanimously passed a motion to reappoint Mary Dawson as our Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.

Sadly, though, the New Democrats did not heed my call last week to let Bill C-32, the victims bill of rights act, pass at second reading. We were treated, sadly, to only more words and no deeds from the NDP.

Turning to the business ahead, I am currently anticipating the following debates. This afternoon and tonight, we will finish the debate on Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, at second reading. That will be followed by third reading of Bill C-24 and second reading of Bill C-35, Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law).

Tomorrow morning, we will debate Bill C-24, if necessary, and Bill C-18, Agricultural Growth Act, at second reading. After question period, we will get back to Bill C-32, and give the NDP one more chance to send the victims bill of rights to committee.

The highlight of Monday is going to be the report stage of Bill C-6, the Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act. Tuesday’s feature debate will be Bill C-2, the Respect for Communities Act, at second reading. Wednesday will see us finish third reading, I hope, of Bill C-6. During the additional time available those days—in addition to Thursday and Friday of next week—I will schedule any unfinished debates on Bill C-18, Bill C-32 and Bill C-35.

I will also try to schedule debates on Bill C-22 and Bill C-17, as well as other bills, such as Bill C-3, the Safeguarding Canada’s Seas and Skies Act, at third reading; Bill C-8, the Combating Counterfeit Products Act, at third reading; Bill C-12, the Drug-free Prisons Act, at second reading; Bill C-21, Red Tape Reduction Act, at second reading; Bill C-26, Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act, at second reading; Bill S-2, Incorporation by Reference in Regulations Act, at second reading; Bill S-3, the Port State Measures Agreement Implementation Act, at second reading; and Bill S-4, the Digital Privacy Act—which I understand we will receive shortly from the other place—at second reading.

Coastal Fisheries Protection ActRoutine Proceedings

February 11th, 2014 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Egmont P.E.I.

Conservative

Gail Shea ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

moved for leave to introduce Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Message from the SenateRoutine Proceedings

December 10th, 2013 / 10:20 a.m.
See context

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed the following bill, to which the concurrence of the House is desired: Bill S-3, an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act.