An Act to amend the Fisheries Act (closed containment aquaculture)

Sponsor

Fin Donnelly  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Defeated, as of Dec. 6, 2016

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-228.

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Fisheries Act to require that finfish aquaculture for commercial purposes in Canadian fisheries waters off the Pacific Coast be carried out in closed containment facilities. It also requires the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to prepare, table in Parliament and implement a plan to support the transition to the use of closed containment facilities and to protect the jobs and financial security of workers in that sector.

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.

Votes

Dec. 6, 2016 Failed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.

Fisheries ActPrivate Members’ Business

December 6th, 2016 / 6:05 p.m.
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Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Pursuant to an order made on Thursday, December 1, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-228 under private members' business.

The House resumed from December 2 consideration of the motion that Bill C-228, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act (closed containment aquaculture), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

FisheriesPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

December 6th, 2016 / 10:05 a.m.
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NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table another petition calling on the government to support my private member's bill, Bill C-228, to help save west coast wild salmon.

The petitioners know that Canada could become a world leader while protecting wild salmon. They are asking the government to stand up for the more than 9,000 family-supporting jobs, cultural communities, cultural traditions, and complex ecosystems that depend on healthy west coast wild salmon populations.

Fisheries ActPrivate Members' Business

December 2nd, 2016 / 2:05 p.m.
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NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government got a couple of things wrong in its response to my bill, so I am happy to correct the record and give members something to think about before the vote.

The parliamentary secretary said that we have no evidence that the environment is sacrificed to pursue the economic development of British Columbia's aquaculture industry. That is simply not true. Earlier this year, the government's own departmental scientists confirmed the existence of heart and skeletal muscle inflammation, HSMI, in farmed salmon. The Cohen Commission and numerous studies, including a study published in October in Marine Policy, concluded that there is a risk to wild salmon due to the transfer of sea lice and disease.

The government also said that closed containment is unproved technology. Again, this is not the case. In B.C., Kuterra, owned by the 'Namgis First Nation, produces 400 tons of closed containment salmon each year, which is antibiotic-free, hormone-free, and non-GMO. In Nova Scotia, Sustainable Blue will produce 100 tons of closed containment salmon this year and up to 150 tons or more next year. In Washington State, Domsea Farms has been producing land-based freshwater coho salmon for 37 years. These salmon are now available in 124 Overwaitea stores throughout western Canada. In Denmark, Danish Salmon has closed containment facilities capable of producing 2,000 tons of salmon annually, and Langsand Laks is supplying customers with weekly harvests year round and is planning a 30,000-ton closed containment salmon south of Miami in Florida.

The parliamentary secretary said he agrees with the spirit and intent of my bill, which is good news. However, it is not good enough. If the government is serious about protecting west coast wild salmon and respecting Justice Cohen's concerns and recommendations, then the Liberals should vote yes to Bill C-228.

Study after study for more than 15 years has come to the same conclusion.

In 2001, the Leggatt Inquiry into salmon farming in B.C. concluded:

Removing the net cages from B.C. waters and replacing them with a closed-loop containment system which prevents waste from being discharged into the environment will resolve most of these problems.

The industry has invested substantially in net-cage technology and must be given time to convert its operations. But we feel that this process must begin immediately and that conversion be subject to a regulated time-table. Farms in salmon migration routes or other sensitive areas should be converted to closed containment systems as a first priority and all salmon farms should be converted within three years.

That was 15 years ago.

In 2003, the report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans recommended that the department prohibit the development of finfish aquaculture near or in major salmon-bearing rivers. The report went on to recommend that the department work with industry to develop closed-loop aquaculture systems for finfish aquaculture and that this be the only system permitted in Canada. This was 13 years ago.

The B.C. legislative Special Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture, in 2005 to 2007, recommended that a rapid transition to ocean-based closed containment begin immediately and that industry transition to this technology within the subsequent two years. The report also said:

It is our expectation that ocean-based closed containment technologies developed in BC will be licensed and sold around the world as consumers demand more sustainable aquaculture practices. This sustainable solution includes a barrier between farmed fish and the marine environment.

That was almost a decade ago.

Finally, the Cohen Commission, in the most comprehensive review of Pacific salmon management in Canada, concluded:

...the potential harm posed to Fraser River sockeye salmon from salmon farms is serious or irreversible. Disease transfer occurs between wild and farmed fish, and I am satisfied that salmon farms along the sockeye migration route have the potential to introduce exotic diseases and to exacerbate endemic diseases that could have a negative impact on Fraser River sockeye.

This is science-based, commercially viable, common-sense legislation that is long overdue.

I hope I can count on all members of the House to do the right thing and vote in favour of Bill C-228. Let us move this legislation to committee so we can look at ways to implement the solution that study after study has recommended but Canada has failed to enact.

Fisheries ActPrivate Members' Business

December 2nd, 2016 / 1:55 p.m.
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NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam for bringing this important bill to this place. I am very happy to speak to it and express my strong support for it.

As others have mentioned, the bill proposes to move open-net salmon aquaculture pens to safe, closed containment systems over a five-year period. This will have significant beneficial impacts on the survival of west coast salmon and Pacific ecosystems in general.

The five species of Pacific salmon are a keystone of aquatic ecosystems in British Columbia. Salmon mature in the open Pacific then migrate hundreds of kilometres inland to spawn.

I want to mention, even though it has already been mentioned today, that the sponsor of this bill has swum the length of the Fraser River twice, 1,400 kilometres each time. He knows what the salmon have to go through. Admittedly, he has only done it downstream, so he has not fought the currents all the way. However, it is still an impressive feat and a real testament to his efforts to save wild salmon.

As the salmon fight those currents, they are bringing rich nutrients from the ocean into the interior rivers, lakes, and forests. One simply has to witness the spectacle of wildlife around a salmon spawning ground to understand the significance of this. Hundreds, sometimes thousands, of bald eagles gather at the spawning sites to feast on the spent spawners, moving from river to river as the different spawning events unfold throughout the summer, fall, and winter.

These eagles comes from all over western North America, from Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Alberta, and Northwest Territories. The salmon runs are an essential part of their winter survival, as well as the survival of a myriad of other species, including bear, waterfowl, and others that rely on salmon, including the orcas that feed on them as they come back out of the ocean through the narrows of Johnstone Strait and other places on the coast.

The young salmon swim downstream to the Pacific, usually spending time in the rich estuaries of the river mouths, which act as nurseries. Estuaries in B.C. have been prime locations for industrial activity: port facilities on the tidal flats of the Fraser estuary, logsorts up and down the coast, and recently a new proposal for an LNG port on one of the most important ellgrass beds at the mouth of the Skeena.

First nations have also relied on salmon for millennia. For many indigenous communities across British Columbia and Yukon, salmon are the centrepiece of their food supply throughout the year, and have always been central to their culture. They were an abundant, predictable, and easily preserved resource.

In my riding, first nations have travelled each year to significant concentration sites, such as Okanagan Falls and south of the border at Kettle Falls. In the Okanagan Nation, or Syilx culture, salmon, or Ntytikxw , is one of the four food chiefs, along with Skimxist, bear; Speetlum, bitterroot; and Seeya, Saskatoon berry.

However, salmon populations have suffered greatly over the past century. Heavy fishing in the early 1900s significantly reduced many stocks. Clear-cut logging along streams degraded spawning habitat. Hydroelectric dams have wiped out 20 salmon stocks in British Columbia, most of them on the Columbia River. Climate change threatens to diminish stocks further, as spring freshets come earlier and weaker, and summer droughts become longer, drier, and hotter. Salmon die in warm, oxygen-poor waters.

When I was young, there were few salmon that returned each year to the Okanagan River to spawn. Although the Okanagan was one of the last two viable sockeye runs in the Columbia River system, only about 5,000 fish came back each fall. Chinook salmon were even more endangered. One population estimate of the Okanagan spawning population from about a decade ago was only seven individuals.

Some years ago, serious efforts began to restore the sockeye populations of the Okanagan. In the last decade, these efforts have been spearheaded by the Okanagan Nation Alliance. Through its efforts to rebuild the spawning channels of the Okanagan River, sockeye now number in the hundreds of thousands in good years.

Last year, a half million sockeye entered the Columbia destined for the Okanagan, all but 10,000 died in the warm-water pools below the 11 dams they had to deal with on their way upstream. This year was cooler and wetter, and the return was good.

It is clear that salmon populations on the Pacific coast of Canada face a multitude of challenges, and any addition to these cumulative stressors could tip populations over the edge, sending them into decline and local extinction.

Bill C-228 would remove one of those challenges, a significant one. We know that open-net salmon farms have impacts on wild salmon populations, through disease, parasites, pollution, and escapement. Remember, these are Atlantic salmon in these pens and when they escape and try to spawn in the local rivers, it is a serious problem for wild salmon populations. We know that the aquatic ecosystems of British Columbia and much of the terrestrial ecosystems around spawning rivers are being degraded because of this situation. We know there is a problem, and we know the answer. We know what we have to do. We simply have to have the political will to fix the problem.

In the past, when we have faced similar situations, we have been successful. In the 1960s and 1970s, we discovered that DDT was causing dramatic declines in the populations of birds of prey around the world. Eagles and falcons were disappearing. We knew the cause. It was DDT, so we banned that pesticide, even though it was costly in the short term for the agricultural industry. I know that impact. I grew up on a small apple orchard and saw what my father had to do in buying new equipment to deal with the new pesticides that replaced DDT. However, we fixed the problem, and have seen eagle and falcon populations rebound in spectacular fashion over the past 40 years. The agriculture industry has not only survived but has flourished.

We can do the same for wild salmon. The bill calls for a shift from open-net salmon farms to closed containment systems. That is the right thing to do. We can still have a successful salmon farming industry on the Pacific coast, one that is based on sound environmental principles, and one that could command higher prices for its product because of those principles. Canada can become a world leader in closed containment systems as the world makes this shift.

I urge every member of the House to support Bill C-228 and save our wild salmon.

Fisheries ActPrivate Members' Business

December 2nd, 2016 / 1:45 p.m.
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NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, my riding of Kootenay—Columbia is located in the Rocky Mountains. For 10 years I was manager of visitor services with provincial parks for the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island and I know how important a healthy wild salmon population is to the economy, the environment, and, indeed the way of life that people enjoy on the coast.

I also spent a bit of time as a teacher and I know that, apparently, people need to hear things at least three times before they really start to remember and understand them, so some of the facts that members will hear today they will have heard once or twice, but for probably a third time as well.

I am pleased to rise in the House today to support my NDP colleague from Port Moody—Coquitlam and his private member's bill, Bill C-228. I want to thank the member for his many years of work as a champion for west coast wild salmon, the oceans, and coastal communities. I was proud to run under the 2015 federal NDP platform that included a commitment to transitioning salmon farms to closed containment and it is my sincere hope that the members of the House will take action to support what is clearly science-based policy and protect this important resource.

Wild salmon play a vital ecological, cultural, and economic role on Canada's west coast. They feed species at risk, such as orca whales, eagles, bears, and other large mammals, and carry essential nutrients deep into coastal forests during their spawning cycles up rivers and creeks. Wild salmon is an important food source for coastal communities and an integral part of west coast first nations' economy, diet, and culture.

West coast wild salmon is a key economic driver in the region, supporting a $102-million commercial fishery, a $326-million recreational fishery, and over 9,000 family-supporting jobs in coastal and first nations communities. Wild salmon is also an important contributor to the $783-million west coast wilderness tourism industry, which employs 26,000 people full time and roughly 40,000 people in total.

Coastal communities, cultural traditions, and complex ecosystems depend on a healthy west coast wild salmon population. Unfortunately, west coast wild salmon are under threat from sea lice, pollutants, and diseases coming from open net-cage fish farms. In British Columbia, the Fraser River salmon run historically topped over 100 million fish. Now, a run of 20 million to 30 million is considered exceptional. In 2009, only 1.4 million Fraser River sockeye returned to spawn. The NDP was a consistent supporter of the resulting judicial inquiry and of the important recommendations that came out of the Cohen commission.

It is important to note, though, that the devastating downward trend in our wild salmon population has continued, with indicators showing this year's salmon run to be just as low as the one that triggered the inquiry in 2009. Who is the major culprit? Open net fish farms have spread diseases and parasites to wild salmon populations; damaged ecosystems with feces and waste feed; and can kill whales, two in the last three weeks tangled in nets, and other marine mammals. Escaped farm salmon continue to end up in the wild population, further contributing to these problems.

Earlier this year, Dr. Kristi Miller of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans confirmed the presence of heart and skeletal muscle inflammation, or HSMI for short, in salmon samples collected from a B.C. fish farm located on the Johnstone Strait. The presence of this deadly salmon disease further raises the alarm that action must be taken.

Open net farms are located on essential wild salmon migration routes, including the Discovery Islands. If HSMI disease were to spread to wild salmon, already under threat from other diseases, including sea lice, the impact on the salmon population could be catastrophic. The Cohen commission recommended that the federal government apply the precautionary principle in relation to protecting wild salmon. The implementation of this principle means that when science demonstrates the existence of more than a minimal risk to our wild salmon population, the government is required to take action to protect it.

The Liberal government has claimed to be committed to the precautionary principle and protecting the wild salmon economy, but rather than take action to encourage closed containment fish farms, even in light of the overwhelming evidence pointing to the harms that they cause, the federal government has extended the duration of open net salmon farm licences from one year to six years.

The government also continues to allow diseased salmon to be transferred into farms on the west coast. At the same time, the Liberals have further allowed the destruction of wild salmon habitat by approving Site C hydro dam and Pacific NorthWest liquid natural gas developments.

Norway, Chile, and Scotland have all seen the negative impacts of open net farms on their wild salmon fisheries, leading to declining wild populations and collapses. We are now seeing the same potential problems in British Columbia. We need to learn from these examples and take action now to protect Canadian wild salmon.

Bill C-228 is part of the answer. This bill strengthens the Fisheries Act by requiring west coast fish farms to transition from open net pens to safe closed containment systems within five years. It also requires the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard to develop, table, and implement a plan to facilitate the transition of the west coast salmon farming industry to closed containment—and this does need to be a transition—within 18 months of the bill receiving royal assent.

This is sound, science-based policy that has received widespread support from stakeholders. Professor Rick Routledge of Simon Fraser University has said, “the scientific evidence that has emerged over the past several years clearly shows that aquaculture-related parasites and viruses pose far more than minimal risk to Fraser sockeye, and to other wild Pacific salmon more generally.” He goes on to say, “The only way that I can see to safeguard this globally significant natural treasure from this very real threat is to require a rapid transition to closed-containment, land based facilities.”

Closed containment farming systems place a barrier between wild and farmed salmon, effectively eliminating some of the most negative impacts of open net salmon farming, and significantly reducing others. A transition to closed containment technology has many benefits for the wild salmon economy, including removing the threat of disease and parasites, reducing the need for antibiotics and chemical treatments in fish farming, allowing farmed salmon to grow to market weight faster, and commanding a premium price for an environmentally sustainable product, providing greater operational control to minimize investment risk and losses, and ultimately protecting our marine ecosystems.

These systems are already finding success in salmon production across Canada, led by Kuterra in B.C., and Sustainable Blue in Nova Scotia. There are also more than 70 licensed closed containment fin fish farms in British Columbia growing salmon, tilapia, crayfish, and trout.

As Aaron Hill of the Watershed Watch Salmon Society notes, “Closed containment aquaculture protects wild salmon from harmful viruses and parasites that can be spread by salmon farms. We shouldn't have to trade off the health of our wild salmon for aquaculture jobs, and if Bill C-228 passes, we won't have to. Moving to closed containment salmon farming is a no-brainer.”

I could not agree more. We can protect our environment and our jobs with this safe, reliable, proven technology. Bill C-228 provides us with a historic opportunity to protect wild salmon and the wild salmon economy. As our nation's federal representatives, we in this House have a responsibility to pursue a long-term vision for Canada's natural heritage.

As Andrew Wright of The Willow Grove Foundation has said, “Closed containment holds the promise of creating a diversified enduring rural economy with no environmental impacts. It allows wild and farmed salmon economies and ecosystems to thrive.”

Canada can become a world leader in closed-containment technology, providing jobs for first nations and our rural and coastal communities, while also taking a science-based approach to protecting our environment. I strongly urge all members of this House to support Bill C-228, and to protect the national treasure that is wild salmon for generations to come.

Fisheries ActPrivate Members' Business

December 2nd, 2016 / 1:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-228, an act to amend the Fisheries Act in regards to closed containment of finfish aquaculture and provide my thoughts, my comments, and my background on a few points on the bill.

I appreciate the efforts the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam has made on behalf of wild salmon over a number of years. However, he is not the only one in the House who has taken up helping wild salmon. This member has also been working for wild salmon for nearly 20 years. I am guessing there are members of the House from Atlantic Canada who have also put in some time on behalf of wild salmon on that side of the country.

I have had the privilege of being an active conservationist in streams, lakes, and rivers, where we could go today and see the ongoing benefits of the work done. Just before I returned to this fall sitting of Parliament, I spent some time working with DFO staff, first nations members, and conservation club members, some of whom had travelled from distant communities. We spent some time in hip waders and gum boots, slugging through muck and silt to the mouth of the Salmon River. There we worked with burlap fencing, sandbags, shovels, and sweat to rechannel the lower portion of the river into a singular channel that would be deep enough for migrating Chinook salmon to reach their spawning grounds.

For years this river delta has been filling in with silt to a point that it spread out in multiple small fingers, none of them deep enough for the fish to leave the lake and continue the last few miles to their spawning beds. These fish, nearing the end of a spawning migration of hundreds of miles, had only a few miles to go. Without the blood, sweat and blisters of the DFO staff, first nations, and volunteers working together, those fish would not have reached their spawning beds and not have been able to complete their mating ritual and produce the next generation of wild salmon.

Now members might wonder how this has relevance to Bill C-228, which speaks to salmon aquaculture. Well the silt that had filled in the Salmon River Delta is allegedly from years of logging and farming practices along the river's course. Although these practices may be the cause of the siltation and restricting the ability of salmon to access their historic spawning channels, government is not planning to shut down or remove the farmers and loggers from their ability to continue to farm or harvest timber.

What is being done instead is that farming and logging practices are being improved. Farmers are being encouraged to build exclusion fencing to keep livestock out of the river. They are being encouraged to replant riparian areas and stabilize stream banks so that not only do the salmon benefit but the farmers benefit when they do not lose more land being washed downstream during next year's spring freshet.

Through collaborative efforts, changes are being made. Farming and other activities that drive our economy are able to continue so people have jobs and jobs pay taxes, and taxes pay for schools and hospitals. That is why it is relevant.

Bill C-228 would force government and aquaculture farmers to completely move or change their current practices. Bill C-228 would force government to compensate these fish farmers for their losses and provide employment insurance for displaced workers.

Rather than provide incentives and encourage improvement in practices, Bill C-228 would virtually eliminate a viable, job-creating, revenue-generating farming sector right out of the province and probably right out of the country. Representatives of the salmon farming sector have indicated that the expense of moving and changing their operations to closed containment would leave them little option. Increased operating costs would necessitate that they reduce their costs, especially transportation of goods to market. This would mean industry would move to markets in the U.S., in New York, Los Angeles and overseas to Asia, virtually destroying jobs and income in Canada.

While there are risks and possible causes for wild salmon decline, I believe those risks are better managed or mitigated through collaborative programs where fishermen, farmers, and industry can work together to improve situations that may be impacting our wild salmon.

Another point I would like to touch on in this bill is that it only refers to salmon aquaculture in Canadian waters off the Pacific coast. I wonder what our Atlantic colleagues in the House would have to say about the implications of Bill C-228 expanding to the Atlantic coast. I find it interesting that we have heard little from those Atlantic members on this. I wonder if they are even paying attention.

Bill C-228 also states that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans must:

Within 18 months...prepare, table in Parliament and implement a plan for transition to the use of closed containment facilities setting out, among other things, specific support measures for corporations and workers in the finfish aquaculture sector affected by this transition in order to protect the jobs and financial security of those workers, including training and income support through the employment insurance system.

While I believe we need to support workers who may have lost their jobs through reasons beyond their control, I do not believe we should pass a bill that would, for a start, kill jobs, that would drive revenue-generating business out of Canada, and then have taxpayers compensate those businesses and workers that are impacted. Bill C-228 says nothing about the continued viability of the businesses or the long-term stability of the remote communities they support.

I recognize the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam for his efforts for wild salmon, but the proposals of Bill C-228 are under-developed and under-defined. They seek to tear down the barn before a new barn can be built. While there is a chance this bill could see amendment at the committee stage, that cannot be assured.

I recognize that there are concerns and issues with our wild salmon on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and that these issues need to be addressed and managed. However, Bill C-228 would fail to promote co-operation of employees, commerce, and government for the improvement of operations on a collaborative basis. Bill C-228 would fail to consider the practicalities of the transition and adaptation of a sector that provides 6,000 long-term jobs, many of which are in our coastal communities. Bill C-228 would add to the tax burden borne by hard-working Canadians.

While I have expressed my own commitment and concern for wild salmon and admit that there is much to be learned, the issues I have just listed prevent me from supporting Bill C-228. What I could support is a collaborative approach to the issues and a collaborative plan to manage our wild salmon and our aquaculture sector.

The House resumed from November 1 consideration of the motion that Bill C-228, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act (closed containment aquaculture), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

FisheriesPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

December 2nd, 2016 / 12:10 p.m.
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NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table petition e-463, which was initiated by Alexander Morton and was signed by more than 7,000 Canadians.

The petitioners are concerned about the threat from disease, pollutants, and sea lice originating in open-net salmon farms. They are calling on the government to protect west coast wild salmon and to support Bill C-228, my private member's bill, that would transition harmful salmon farms to safe, reliable closed containment systems.

FisheriesPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

November 28th, 2016 / 3:10 p.m.
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NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table a petition for my home province of British Columbia. Petitioners are calling on the government to help save wild salmon by supporting my bill, Bill C-228, which transitions harmful open net salmon farms in British Columbia to safe, reliable, closed-containment systems.

FisheriesPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

November 23rd, 2016 / 3:15 p.m.
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NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, as support for my private member's bill continues to grow right across the country, today I am pleased to table a petition from the prairie provinces calling for the adoption of my bill, Bill C-228. The petitioners are asking the government to show leadership and embrace the innovation and technology that will help save wild salmon and make Canada a world leader in sustainable aquaculture.

Fisheries and OceansAdjournment Proceedings

November 15th, 2016 / 7:30 p.m.
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NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government should do the right thing: immediately return to the one year licence regime; respect Justice Cohen's recommendations; and commit to protecting wild salmon by supporting my private member's bill, Bill C-228 to transition west coast open net salmon farms to safe closed containment systems within five years.

Instead, the government is choosing to simply disregard science and first nations concerns. There was no first nations consultation or agreement to extend these salmon farm licences. Of particular note was the lack of consultation with the Musgamagw Dzawada'enuxw Tribal Council, who have approximately one-third of B.C.'s salmon farms in their territory.

Will the government commit to immediately consult with the Musgamagw Dzawada'enuxw Tribal Council and other first nations whose right to a wild salmon fishery is being threatened by open net salmon farms?

Fisheries ActPrivate Members' Business

November 1st, 2016 / 6:25 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I will start off by complimenting the member for taking the initiative to ensure that we have the debate we are having here this afternoon. I can tell the member that the government's caucus, particularly my colleagues from British Columbia, take this issue very seriously.

I have had an opportunity to have discussions on this issue, which I believe goes outside the province of British Columbia, but I recognize the sensitivity to B.C. in particular. My colleagues, who are quite opinionated on the issue, want to make sure that the government gets it right, and that is something this government is committed to doing.

It is not quite as simple as some might try to make it appear. The issue of fisheries is something that a land-locked province can still care about, as well as our oceans and the industry here in Canada. At the end of the day, we want to make sure that the wild salmon is protected and that we do whatever we can do as a national government.

The parliamentary secretary to the minister made a couple of statements, one of which I will repeat in the House, because it is in budget 2016. The Government of Canada has invested $197 million over the next five years to improve fisheries and aquaculture science and to inform the development of regulations, which will contribute to further improvements to the environmental performance of this sector. This is really important for us to recognize, because the Conservative member made reference to it in his speech.

When we talk about our fisheries industry, whether it is wild or farmed, we have to make sure that not only is it good for Canada's economy but it is also good for our environment. As a government, not only are we talking about that, but we are also walking the talk on it. This is why we have seen a substantial investment in the area of science.

We have heard members in the House talk about the importance of regulation, and we do have some of the most stringent, robust regulation in the world, I would argue, dealing with this specific issue. It is absolutely critical that we do have that regulation. It is ongoing and monitored, because there is always room to improve. As the Prime Minister likes to say often, there is always the opportunity to do better, and this is a government that is committed to doing just that. In listening to the debate this evening, I believe that there are ideas that have flowed through thus far that will allow for more thought on this very important issue.

There is a lot of information on the Internet in regard to this issue. One of the websites I went to was the Watershed Watch Salmon Society. It comments on some basic facts of the salmon farming industry in British Columbia.

For example, one farm can hold 500,000 to 750,000 fish in an area the size of four football fields. The biomass of farmed salmon at one farm site can equal 2,400 tonnes, which equals 480 Indian bull elephants. B.C. has approximately 137 salmon farm tenures with about 85 farm activities at any one time. This information is coming right from the website, which also indicates that 84 tenures are on eastern Vancouver Island and the mainland coast, 48 on western Vancouver Island, and six are on the central coast. I bring this up because I think it is important that we recognize just how strong the industry really is.

Many years ago when I was first elected in the province of Manitoba, the whole concept of aquafarming was pretty much foreign. We did not really hear too much about that in the public arena because it was just starting. Over the last 10 or 15 years we have seen significant growth in the area. Some countries have really pushed the envelope within the industry.

I can appreciate the need for us to look at the industry here in Canada and realize that it has fantastic potential with respect to growth. The industry has quadrupled in size over the years. It is an industry that not only the Government of Canada or the Province of British Columbia is following, but many of my strong-willed Atlantic colleagues would tell us that there is a healthy, vibrant industry in Atlantic Canada as well and they want to see that industry continue to grow. My colleagues, no matter what region of the country they represent, recognize that we need to foster and encourage that growth but we also need to be sensitive to the environment. We want to make sure that the wild fishery is not negatively impacted.

The essence of Bill C-228, put forward by the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam, would be to impose requirements on the industry for the use of a technology that has not yet been proven to be commercially viable, and we need to be concerned about that. If we are concerned about the jobs and how the industry impacts many communities, particularly communities on the Pacific coast of British Columbia, we should not be overly quick to impose something on that industry that could virtually shut it down in a short period of time.

The responsible thing to do is what the federal government has committed to do and that is to invest the financial resources in the industry to allow the proper science to take place so that the industry as a whole can be protected.

Our indigenous communities have played a positive role in the development of this industry. They are not only providing the workforce in many ways but they are also spearheading growth within that industry. This growth is coming in good part from strong leadership within the indigenous community. We need to be sensitive to that.

Innovation and technology are two areas in which this government has been exceptionally proactive with respect to budgetary commitments. Maybe at some point in time we will see that difference, which will make what is being proposed in the legislation that much more commercially viable.

From what we have detected and from what the fisheries standing committee has provided and the expert witnesses have put on the record, today's science clearly indicates that as long as we continue to develop strong rules and regulations, ensure that they are followed and respected, and continue to have an industry that is developing and understands its important role, then we should continue to allow that industry to grow and prosper.

I would emphasize that we are not putting the industry's needs ahead of the environment. When we look at the industry we see it is a complement to the overall community, whether it be society as a whole or the economy. The responsible thing will be done.

Fisheries ActPrivate Members' Business

November 1st, 2016 / 6:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to support Bill C-228, an act to amend the Fisheries Act (closed containment aquaculture).

I am really pleased to support my colleague, the hon. member for Port Moody—Coquitlam, in British Columbia. I had the opportunity to get to know him in 2011 when I was first elected and I can say that he has been working very hard for years, not only on protecting the oceans and animals, such as fish, but also on protecting the environment in general.

This is not the first time he has raised the issue of protecting wild salmon. He previously moved a motion in favour of sustainable seafood.

We should be taking a very different approach, not just to agriculture at some point, but also to how we view seafood.

We currently have a very wide-scale, very commercial approach, which is having very serious repercussions on our ecosystem. I am going to elaborate on some very concrete examples of the direct and serious effects on our ecosystems of the current use of nets directly in the sea.

For example, there may be illnesses and parasites that spread to wild salmon. My colleague spoke at length about the economic importance of wild salmon to British Columbia. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of fecal matter on the seabed, which damages the flora and fauna. Moreover, farmed salmon that escape sometimes rejoin the wild population, which, sadly, can lead to illness or other serious consequences.

For all these reasons, it is important to remember that wild salmon is a national treasure in Canada, which, unfortunately, is threatened by the illnesses and pollution that affect open-net salmon aquaculture.

We must take action now to protect the wild salmon economy. My Conservative colleague spoke extensively about the economics of the salmon aquaculture industry. However, his arguments only referred to that aspect of the issue. We also have to consider wild salmon. If wild salmon begins to disappear from the oceans and coastal waters of British Columbia, we will lose even more jobs. We have to take this into consideration as well. In any event, these jobs will not disappear; they will simply be transferred to closed containment aquaculture operations.

Canada could become a world leader in closed containment technology and create a lot more jobs for Canadians in coastal regions and first nation communities, which is why this bill is so important.

When one has been an MP for some time, like me, entering my sixth year, we sometimes have to ask ourselves exactly what it is we are doing here. We think about it. As the days go by, we wonder what this is all about and what our true goals are for our time here.

When one can speak to an issue like this and introduce a private member's bill as important as this one, it is clear why we are all here. We are here to take positive, concrete action that will make a difference in our communities, not only for the people and employers we represent today, but also for our children and grandchildren.

I am thinking of my daughters and the children they may have one day. I am also thinking of my nephews, who are still young, but who will grow up. When you think about it like that, it is extremely important to regularly reflect on the decisions we make.

Once again, I want to congratulate the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam on his bill, which reminds me why I am here in the first place, and reminds me of the importance of our actions today. This makes up for the more difficult times we have here on a regular basis.

Bill C-228 seeks to strengthen the Fisheries Act by banning open net salmon farming. It is a relatively simple initiative that will have many positive effects. Its provisions require all salmon farms in British Columbia to transition from open net pens to safe closed containment systems on land.

As I have already explained, right now, salmon are being raised in nets in the ocean. I have already talked about all of the negative impacts of this method, which is extremely dangerous. The federal government must step in, because salmon farms are threatening the survival of wild Pacific salmon.

People are worried about their jobs and the transition. It is only natural to have concerns when an economic sector makes a transition. That is why my colleague had the wonderful idea of setting out a transition period. In order to support the transition of the west coast's salmon aquaculture industry to closed containment, the minister has 18 months after the bill is passed to create a transition plan. This will help to ensure a proper transition that is satisfactory and beneficial for everyone, as well as make sure that work continues in this industry.

The concept of closed containment farming is not far-fetched. It did not spring from the imagination of a gaggle of oddball scientists. My colleague talked about this in his speech. On the contrary, closed containment systems already exist. This technology is already being used. My colleague talked about Kuterra in British Columbia, a salmon farming operation. This farm already has the support of a number of organizations and scientists. It is a certified “best choice” according to the Living Oceans Foundation and its SeaChoice program.

This technique is already being used and the technology exists. It is being done in an environmentally-friendly and economically sound manner. Consumers are increasingly asking for environmentally-friendly products. As we have already heard, many fishers and people who profit from the wild salmon fishery want action to preserve our fish stocks, including Pacific salmon.

For all these reasons, these practices are crucial. When you think about it, consumers are asking for higher quality products. To make better quality products, better environmental practices are needed. Closed containment farming could help. The example of Kuterra in British Columbia and the SeaChoice program prove that it is possible to do from an economic and sustainable development standpoint.

We also need to think about what we want to leave for our children. Earlier I was thinking of my nephews and the children they may have later. We want to leave them a healthy, sustainable environment. Yes, we want prosperity, but we must still think about the future. That is why this bill is so important and why we must support it. I hope our colleagues will join us.

Fisheries ActPrivate Members' Business

November 1st, 2016 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to speak to private member's bill, Bill C-228, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act.

First, I would like to commend the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam for having his bill debated at second reading. I know how tirelessly he has campaigned and worked on this. I know how much work goes into getting these bills to the floor of the House, and I would like to recognize his efforts.

Second, I would like to acknowledge the natural beauty of the rivers and lakes in my riding of Cariboo—Prince George, which are chock full of some of the finest fish on the west coast. From salmon to trout to char, Arctic grayling, dolly varden, Rocky Mountain whitefish, and even lean cod, we have it all in the Cariboo.

The fisheries are an important economic driver in the northern regions of our country, but they are struggling. A recent article in the Prince Rupert Northern View spoke of salmon being caught in Prince Rupert and shipped to Vancouver or China to be processed. The demand for same day catch or fresh-to-plate fish is high.

Demand for Canadian products is always high. While this is a good opportunity for Canadian producers and our Canadian economy, it does mean that it is putting jobs at risk.

Bill C-228 would ban finfish aquaculture in Pacific waters unless it were carried out in a closed containment facility. It would require that within 18 months cabinet conclude a transition plan for current licence holders, including specific support measures for corporations and workers affected or impacted by these changes. It also mandates that companies would have five years to phase out open-net pens.

British Columbia is Canada's largest producer of farmed salmon. Farmed salmon is B.C.'s largest aquaculture export. The wild and farmed salmon industries provide important economic activity for the province and for communities where families depend on the fishing industry to put food on their table.

Ninety per cent of all direct and indirect jobs in rural, coastal, and first nations communities are supported by fisheries. As a matter of fact, 78% of farmed salmon production comes from traditional territory. Nineteen first nations have joint ventures and partnership agreements in place with salmon producers. The salmon farming sector has become a significant economic driver and source of jobs for first nations communities, who provide an estimated 30% of the workforce in this industry.

If Bill C-228 were to be adopted, it would come at a significant financial and economic cost to our aquaculture industry, and a loss to those communities. This is an issue that has been studied at the fisheries and oceans committee numerous times over the years. Its most recent report was completed in 2013.

Unsurprisingly, the committee witnesses expressed a number of views on the matter of net-pen aquaculture. They pointed out that mandating closed containment and banning net-pen aquaculture without closed containment being economically viable could have a drastic effect on employment, especially in our rural coastal communities who have already been suffering from the lack of significant growth in salmon aquaculture production in recent years.

However, I do not just have economic concerns with this bill. It is worth knowing that environmental impacts are not unique to open net-pen aquaculture production. Closed containment aquaculture carries its own set of environmental impacts that, given the state of the industry, have been and are not well studied. The carbon footprint generated by a closed containment facility drawing in electricity, pumping in water, filtering waste, among other actions, is hugely significant.

Growing British Columbia's production in salmon in closed containment facilities at the current stocking density would require 4.16 billion litres of water just to fill the tanks. That is roughly equal to the water used by 135 million people, and if that were not enough, the current production in Canada alone would require 28,000 Canadian football fields, or 33,719 acres, or 159 square kilometres of land to grow fish in appropriate densities in land-based systems.

When it comes to this closed-pen aquaculture, and the environmental impacts in particular, more studies are needed.

The Conservative Party supports aquaculture development that is both economically sound and environmentally responsible. As it is written, Bill C-228 does not meet these thresholds. In fact, it was the previous government under Stephen Harper that put in place stringent regulations to protect Canada's aquatic species, both farm and wild, from disease. We worked with our provincial partners and developed some of the most stringent regulations in this industry.

A number of important changes have been made to environmental management regimes, including the relocation of poorly sited farms, new farm siting requirements, and the adjustment of stocking, harvesting, and sea lice treatment schedules in order to account for wild salmon migration seasons.

Conservatives made significant investments, which included more than $465 million per year on salmon alone, of which $20 million was directly related to activities to support sustainable management of sockeye, such as fisheries science, protection of fisheries habitat, salmon enhancement, and catch and monitoring enforcement. Finally, prior to the 2015 election, Conservatives renewed the sustainable aquaculture program, which would continue to improve the regulatory framework for the sector, support science, and require public reporting.

On the west coast, Abbotsford has a state-of-the-art health facility. It is called the Animal Health Centre. It is one of only three in North America and is probably the only institution in North America with two veterinarian pathologists certified by the American College of Veterinary Pathologists, who work exclusively with fish. That is on the west coast, in Abbotsford.

While Bill C-228 may have received ringing endorsements from Captain Kirk himself, it just doesn't make sense, certainly not from an economic standpoint and certainly not for those whose livelihoods depend on a sustainable aquaculture sector to put food on the table for their families. With more and more uncertainty in our forestry and resource sectors, and with the Trudeau government increasing taxes at every opportunity, communities like those in my riding of Cariboo—Prince George or those just north of us, like Prince Rupert, do not need more uncertainty.

If Bill C-228 were to be adopted, it would essentially be moving aquaculture away from small towns and into larger cities, where they are closer to resources and transportation hubs. I can say from first-hand experience that when jobs are slashed, communities are left without a lifeline. No amount of subsidization can make up for this fact. That is why I am unable to support Bill C-228 today.

It is the aquaculture industry that supports 4,900 direct, full-time jobs in this vast country, with salaries paid out to the tune of $106.2 million each year, which is 30% higher than other industries. If we want to include indirect jobs in that figure, we can add another 9,600. The industry contributes $500 million to the B.C. economy alone.

Bill C-228 would have a direct and immediate impact on our rural coastal communities. If we were to move it, based on the number of currently operating marine farms, conversion to land-based systems would result in an estimated lost investment in farm equipment of approximately $500 million. Capital investment in land-based systems for equivalent current provincial production can be roughly estimated to exceed $1 billion in capital investments alone based on the above figures.

Siting facilities close to urban centres would increase this estimate significantly. We know the price of real estate in the Lower Mainland is among the highest in Canada. We are not quite sure where we would find the amount of land needed to move these facilities.

Bill C-228 would put full-time, well-paying jobs in jeopardy during a time when we are faced with economic uncertainty and layoffs in many sectors across this country. I am not saying there are not benefits to closed-pen aquaculture. What I am saying is that more studies need to be conducted in terms of the impact of closed-containment aquaculture on our coastal communities, which need these jobs the most. Unilaterally banning finfish aquaculture unless it is carried out in closed containment is not the answer, and until the practice can be carried out in an economically and environmentally sound manner, I will be unable to support this bill.

With that, I again want to commend my hon. colleague for putting forth this bill and for the work he has done on it. Unfortunately, it has missed the mark.