An Act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act


Dominic LeBlanc  Liberal


Report stage (House), as of Dec. 11, 2017

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-55.


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

This enactment amends the Oceans Act to, among other things,

(a) clarify the responsibility of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to establish a national network of marine protected areas;

(b) empower the Minister to designate marine protected areas by order and prohibit certain activities in those areas;

(c) provide that, within five years after the day on which the order of the Minister designating a marine protected area comes into force, the Minister is to make a recommendation to the Governor in Council to make regulations to replace that order or is to repeal it;

(d) provide that the Governor in Council and Minister cannot use the lack of scientific certainty regarding the risks posed by any activity as a reason to postpone or refrain from exercising their powers or performing their duties and functions under subsection 35(3) or 35.‍1(2);

(e) update and strengthen the powers of enforcement officers;

(f) update the Act’s offence provisions, in particular to increase the amount of fines and to provide that ships may be subject to the offence provisions; and

(g) create new offences for a person or ship that engages in prohibited activities within a marine protected area designated by an order or that contravenes certain orders.

This enactment also makes amendments to the Canada Petroleum Resources Act to, among other things,

(a) expand the Governor in Council’s authority to prohibit an interest owner from commencing or continuing a work or activity in a marine protected area that is designated under the Oceans Act;

(b) empower the competent Minister under the Canada Petroleum Resources Act to cancel an interest that is located in a marine protected area that is designated under the Oceans Act or in an area of the sea that may be so designated; and

(c) provide for compensation to the interest owner for the cancellation or surrender of such an interest.


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.


Oct. 17, 2017 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-55, An Act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act

March 1st, 2018 / 4:40 p.m.
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Robert Lamirande Director General, Indigenous Affairs and Reconciliation, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

I would also like to acknowledge our presence on the unceded territory of the Algonquin peoples.

I would like to thank the chair, vice-chairs, and committee members for the invitation to speak to you today to support your study of Bill C-262 and for the opportunity to elaborate on the suite of programs, policies, and legislative initiatives under the purview of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard that have made and will continue to make advances toward reconciliation with the indigenous peoples of Canada.

I am Robert Lamirande, the director of indigenous affairs and reconciliation directorate at Fisheries and Oceans Canada. I would like to introduce my colleague, Marc Sanderson, acting director general, national strategies of the Canadian Coast Guard.

My directorate is responsible for providing policy advice on indigenous fishing and other matters toward advancing reconciliation with indigenous peoples; negotiating and implementing program, treaty, and other constructive agreements on Fisheries and Oceans management; promoting fisheries related economic opportunities through programming to support indigenous capacity to fish safely and effectively; and building relationships and partnerships with indigenous communities through effective engagements, which we do hand in hand with the national strategies directorate of the Canadian Coast Guard.

We do this work because the sustainable use of the fishery resource, the protection of fish and fish habitat, the conservation and management of our oceans, and the safety of those on the water are a priority for the department—a priority held in common with indigenous communities.

And because Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard have presence in many coastal and rural communities across Canada, we have worked hard with indigenous communities and groups to collaborate and partner on all aspects of our operations. These relationships are comprehensive, complex and dynamic. They are adaptive to the capacity of each indigenous community or group to participate in economic opportunities and in co-management.

We are now on a clearer path to a renewed, nation-to-nation, crown-Inuit, and government-to-government relationship, one that builds on the relationships and partnerships developed over the past decades. These relationships with indigenous communities are the touchpoints through which we will collaborate to articulate what reconciliation means in the context of Minister LeBlanc's portfolio.

This includes those changes to programs, policies, and laws necessary to demonstrate that we are moving to reconciliation with indigenous peoples. This commitment to reconciliation is guided by the principles respecting the Government of Canada's relationship with indigenous peoples. These principles, as you know, are themselves guided by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples.

I want to highlight for you how Fisheries and Oceans Canada has worked in collaboration and in partnership with many indigenous communities. Through the innovative and successful Atlantic and Pacific integrated commercial fisheries initiatives, Fisheries and Oceans Canada provides commercial fisheries access, business management capacity, and training needed to build self-sustaining, indigenous-owned and operated commercial fishing enterprises.

Through the aboriginal fisheries strategy and the aboriginal aquatic resource and oceans management programs, Fisheries and Oceans Canada helps indigenous groups acquire the scientific and technical capacity, means, and training to meaningfully participate in fisheries, oceans, and habitat collaborative management, including employing aboriginal fisheries guardians.

Budget 2017, a year ago, has taken these programs a major step forward, investing over $250 million over five years and $62 million ongoing annually. This includes ongoing funding for the Atlantic and Pacific integrated fisheries initiatives and northern expansion through a new northern integrated commercial fisheries initiative.

As we embark on the renewal of these programs, we are also undertaking a review to see where and how these programs can be strengthened in collaboration with the National Indigenous Fisheries Institute, a technical organization established in May 2017 whose board is made up of experts from national and regional indigenous organizations. The institute is enabling the co-development, co-design, and co-delivery of our indigenous programs.

However, working collaboratively and in partnership with indigenous communities is not focused solely on fisheries.

The Oceans Protection Plan, for example, is enabling indigenous communities and groups to meaningfully participate and partner in Canada's marine safety system, from waterways management to emergency preparedness and response.

We are working with indigenous communities and partners to create a new indigenous chapter of the Coast Guard Auxiliary in British Columbia. And discussions with other indigenous communities are exploring opportunities to establish additional auxiliary units in the Arctic and in British Columbia to bolster responses to emergencies and pollution incidents.

A national strategy on abandoned and wrecked vessels will build an inventory of the problem vessels, and a risk assessment methodology. Indigenous communities will be invited to participate in these assessments and to help prioritize interventions.

Through engagement with indigenous communities in British Columbia, the Canadian Coast Guard has launched an environmental response officer recruitment program. We are also nearing completion of a process to recruit Inuit students for a new rescue boat station in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut.

Ongoing training programs across the country will provide participants with the knowledge, skills, and hands-on experience to enable them to play a greater role in marine safety in their communities in a safe and effective manner.

As you know, reconciliation also means self-determination of indigenous communities often but not exclusively through negotiation and implementation of treaties. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is participating in over 40 active rights reconciliation self-government negotiations with indigenous communities on fisheries and oceans matters.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is also making systemic changes to better enable collaborative partnerships with indigenous peoples, and we have done so through important proposed legislative changes: Bill C-55, An act to amend the Oceans Act ; Bill C-64, An act respecting wrecks, abandoned, dilapidated or hazardous vessels; and Bill C-68, An act to amend the Fisheries Act. Proposed amendments to the Oceans Act will strengthen, among other things, the ability to designate marine protected areas on an interim basis and, as with all marine protected area designations, partnering with indigenous communities is the foundation for the successful protection of these unique aquatic ecosystems.

The proposed Wrecked, abandoned or hazardous vessels act, under the Minister of Transport, with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, would enable, among other things, agreements with a government, council, or other entity authorized to act on behalf of an indigenous group to exercise the powers and perform certain duties or functions of the minister.

The proposed amendments to the Fisheries Act and the programs enabled by these changes include certain amendments specifically aimed at advancing reconciliation, including new tools to enhance opportunities for partnering with indigenous peoples in the conservation and protection of fish, fish habitats, and shorelines; and amended provisions to enable agreements with indigenous governing bodies and any body, including a co-management body, established under a land claims agreement, to further the purpose of the act. Such agreements could enable the declaration of the law of an indigenous governing body, including a bylaw, to be equivalent in effect to a regulation under the Fisheries Act.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard have advanced and will continue to advance reconciliation through concrete changes to programs, operational practices, and legislative frameworks that give voice to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. As we move forward we will seize on the relationships and partnerships we have with indigenous communities to articulate renewed nation-to-nation relationships with indigenous peoples within the mandates of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard.

Thank you.

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

February 13th, 2018 / 4:35 p.m.
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Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a real privilege to speak to Bill C-68 and its amendment to the Fisheries Act, especially given the opportunity I have had for the past two years to serve on the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.

I want to take a moment to salute all of my colleagues on that committee, because all of them have demonstrated deep concern for the health of our fisheries and the communities that rely on them. We could have different views on what should be done or how it should be done, but the collegial approach to our deliberations has produced recommendations that will stand the test of time. In fact, all of them in one way or another are reflected in this legislation.

I also particularly want to salute our friend and colleague, the hon. member for Cariboo—Prince George, who may be watching, bored to tears, as he is on the mend from a significant health scare. We certainly look forward to getting him back into the saddle again.

A year ago this month, our committee tabled in the House its sixth report, titled “Review of Changes Made in 2012 to the Fisheries Act: Enhancing the Protection of Fish and Fish Habitat and the Management of Canadian Fisheries”. The study was prompted by ongoing concern from a broad range of stakeholders about decisions made by the previous government that, to many, had the effect of stripping habitat protections from 98% of Canada's lakes, rivers, and streams.

Coincidentally, the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, on which I also sit, examined the changes the previous government had made to the Navigable Waters Protection Act. Again, most stakeholders reacted to those changes with concern, in the belief that various works could have taken place without environmental reviews.

Throughout these studies, efforts were made to understand the reasons behind the changes made by the Harper government. We felt it was important to ensure that, where appropriate, measures that improved processes while preserving safeguards were maintained in the interest of modernizing the oldest legislation in Canada.

However, our review did shed light on a couple of critical issues.

One of the notable changes made to the act in 2012 was that of focusing its protections on the productivity of fish that are part of a commercial, recreational, or aboriginal fishery, or fish that support such a fishery, rather than on all fish and fish habitat, as was previously the case.

In addition, prior to the 2012 legislative changes, the act contained prohibitions against killing fish by any means other than fishing, and against carrying on any work or undertaking that results in the harmful alteration, disruption, or destruction of fish habitat, a prohibition commonly known as HADD. In 2012, those two provisions were replaced with a single new prohibition against carrying on “any work, undertaking or activity that results in serious harm to fish that are part of a commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fishery”.

As a term, “serious harm” struck many as being very subjective. The committee heard from witnesses who said that it created confusion, leading to uneven application of the regulations at best, or at worst possibly allowing damaging activities to take place.

The 2012 amendments to the Fisheries Act removed the protection for fish habitat from subsection 35(1). Witnesses submitted that this amendment shifted the focus from fish habitat protection to fisheries protection, which offered substantially less attention to fish habitat. Many believed that applying the term “serious harm” only to fish could allow the disruption and non-permanent alteration of habitat.

According to Dr. Kristi Miller-Saunders, a research scientist at Fisheries and Oceans Canada's Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo, B.C., the requirement for the death of fish to be deemed “serious harm” created a problem. Dr. Miller-Saunders noted that fish that are stressed in one environment could become physiologically compromised but might not immediately die within the habitat where the initial stress took place. Their compromised state could leave them unable to adapt or thrive as they move to new habitats, disconnecting the original stress from the weakening or death of fish.

Dr. Miller-Saunders noted that the 2012 changes might not protect fish stocks that were once abundant but became degraded to the point that they were unable to support a commercial, recreational, or aboriginal fishery. In essence, the fear was that once a stock was no longer useful to humans, it might be left on its own, unprotected.

Our committee heard a great deal about the degradation of the DFO's ability to do the necessary science and to monitor compliance with protection regulations. Thus, when the time came to make changes, yes, indeed a lot of the science would not necessarily have been there.

The hon. member for Beauséjour, Canada's fisheries minister, reported that the number of fish habitat protection officers had been reduced from 63 to 16 in the previous government's final years. He noted that from 2010 to 2015, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' budget was cut by $35 million, which led to the loss of almost 1,100 positions, including over 300 scientists.

Remediating that situation started two years ago, with the government's initiative to hire 135 scientists to boost the DFO's capacity, and the allocation of an additional $197 million to the department in budget 2016.

Let us go now to Bill C-68 itself. After extensive consultations, and with the standing committee's recommendations, this legislation establishes new criteria for decision-making, one of the key ones being an increased reliance on scientific information, but information bolstered by the traditional knowledge of our indigenous peoples and the experience of our fishing communities. This decision-making would look beyond the commercial factors that appeared to dominate the previous government's approach, to include the social and cultural impacts of the choices we make.

Clearly, this means that we have to talk among ourselves more often: scientists, academics, advocacy organizations, and the people whose livelihood and quality of life depend on our fisheries.

Just as we have to have broad-based processes above the waterline, we have to maintain care and concern beneath the water, care and concern beyond the commercial considerations, to entire ecosystems. Every fish, every plant needs to matter.

A potent tool at the disposal of the DFO and the minister in their decision-making is the application of the precautionary principle, understanding that we may never know conclusively what is behind an emerging situation in the ecosystem, and appreciating that an emergency usually cannot wait for the science to lead us to the fine points of a response. The precautionary principle mandates action.

The government's response, even before Bill C-68, was Bill C-55, which would give the minister the authority to designate interim marine protected areas, allowing time for science to reconcile evidence that we have a potential crisis on our hands.

Of course, Bill C-68 itself would restore protections that were perceived to have been either lost or seriously weakened by the changes in 2012. No longer will we focus on the subjective matter of “serious harm to fish”. No longer will our care and concern extend only to fish that are useful to humans. No longer will we be uncertain about how and where habitats will be protected.

Prohibitions are restored against causing the death of fish other than by fishing, and the harmful alteration, disruption, or destruction of fish habitat. In our standing committee's study, we often heard that we simply cannot consider the impact of each individual project or activity but have to consider the cumulative effects of industrial activities, public works, and recreational projects such as private docks on fish, their habitat, and the freedom to navigate.

At the same time, our committee considered the need to avoid causing undue delay to important municipal works, for example by requiring full environmental reviews for repairs to existing infrastructure. Bill C-68 introduces measures that allow the minister to issue permits for designated project types and to establish standards and codes of practice to provide proponents with more certainty in the planning, scheduling, and implementation of their projects.

I have selected only the issues that stood out in the notes I took at our standing committee's hearings, but many other important and positive aspects of Bill C-68 will undoubtedly be covered by my colleagues as this debate continues.

There is a lot to celebrate in this legislation, and as much as I am privileged to have made a contribution to its creation, I believe that once the process is done, this whole House will be justifiably proud of its passage, because so many of us care so much about the future of our lakes, rivers, streams, and oceans, and all the creatures and people they serve.

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

February 13th, 2018 / 12:35 p.m.
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Karen Ludwig Liberal New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge.

It is a privilege for me to speak in the House on two important elements of the proposed Fisheries Act amendments. Both of these new elements would support conservation of marine biodiversity, and address threats to the conservation and protection of our marine resources and the proper management and control of our fisheries in a nimble and flexible way.

To develop our proposed amendments to the Fisheries Act, we closely considered recommendations from the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, and we consulted broadly with Canadians, partners, indigenous groups, and stakeholders. In parallel to this important work, we have been advancing efforts to achieve Canada's marine conservation targets, surpassing our government's commitment to protecting 5% of our marine areas by 2017, and moving forward to protect 10% by 2010.

The first of the new proposals under the amended Fisheries Act that I will speak about today responds directly to a need that we identified as part of our marine conservation targets engagement session, while simultaneously contributing to the modernization of the Fisheries Act.

Our government announced on December 21, 2017 that we have conserved 7.75% of Canada's marine space. We worked very closely with our partners at Parks Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada, provincial, territorial, and indigenous governments, and other indigenous partners and stakeholders to achieve this significant marine conservation milestone.

We continue to do so, as work under our ambitious five-point plan to meet the marine conservation targets continues. This plan includes, one, completing marine protected area establishment processes that were already under way before Canada established its interim 5% target and reaffirmed its 10% objective; two, protecting large offshore areas; three, protecting areas under pressure; four, pursuing legislative amendments that are now known as Bill C-55; and five, most relevant to the discussion at hand, advancing other effective area-based conservation measures.

The term “other effective area-based conservation measures” may sound complicated, and even hard to say, but the concept is simple. It is well recognized and used in international forums. The term refers to managed areas other than marine protected areas that offer real protection to marine biodiversity.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans developed rigorous science-based criteria for identifying these areas and have used these criteria to evaluate existing fisheries area closures for their contributions to marine biodiversity conservation. Fisheries and Oceans managers and scientists also adhere closely to these criteria when establishing new fisheries area closures that contribute to biodiversity conservation. Using this approach, I proudly recognize the current 51 fisheries area closures as marine refuges that play an important role in conserving Canada's precious marine biodiversity from coast to coast to coast.

Canada's marine refuges include the recently announced offshore Pacific seamounts and vents closure, which protects hydrothermal vents and rare and regionally unique seamounts on Canada's west coast. Off the coast of Nova Scotia, the Emerald basin and Sambro bank sponge conservation areas protect globally unique concentrations of species of glass sponge, known as “Russian hat” sponges.

In Canada's eastern Arctic, the Disko Fan conservation area protects overwintering habitat for narwhal and concentrations of corals. The coral species found there include the bamboo coral, which is one of the slowest-growing and longest-lived coral species in Canada, and which has not been found anywhere else in the world to date.

This is a small sampling of the marine refuges that help to safeguard our unique and valuable marine ecosystems on all three of Canada's oceans.

Currently, marine refuges are established through licence conditions and variation orders made under the Fisheries Act. These tools have an important place in fisheries management, but although they can be for long-term periods, they are not specifically designed to address long-term biodiversity objectives. As we have engaged with our partners and stakeholders on our approach to meeting Canada's marine conservation targets, they have raised this concern, and we have listened.

Under the amended Fisheries Act, a new authority has been proposed, which would allow for regulations to be put in place to restrict specified fishing activities for the purposes of conserving and protecting marine biodiversity. This regulatory tool will be complementary to our marine protected area tool under the Oceans Act legislation. Both tools are used to protect important species, habitats, and features. The main difference between the two tools is that the new regulatory authority under the Fisheries Act would be used in cases where fishing activities pose a specific threat to the important elements of biodiversity that have been identified in an area; whereas a marine protected area under the Oceans Act can be applied to a variety of human uses as needed.

The new proposed authority would provide us with additional flexibility to develop prohibitions that are tailor made to address the protection needs of a particular area. The government would apply this new regulation-making authority to our existing marine refuges, and in doing so would replace the current approach of outlining these fishing-related prohibitions or restrictions in licence conditions and variation orders.

This new approach would secure the biodiversity protections afforded by these marine refuges over the long term. These regulations could also be developed for any new marine refuges moving forward. We take our 2020 marine conservation commitment seriously, but this new regulatory tool would do much more than help us to meet our 10% target.

Marine refuges established under this authority would support our broader marine conservation work, ensuring that our oceans continue to be rich in marine biodiversity and support sustainable use for future generations of Canadians. Marine refuges will play an important role in the marine protected networks which are being developed on all three of Canada's coasts. Their establishment will also support implementation of the policy for managing the impacts of fishing on sensitive benthic areas over the long term.

This targeted regulatory tool to establish marine refuges for the purpose of biodiversity protection would help to modernize the Fisheries Act. It would make it very clear which management measures are contributing to long-term biodiversity protection and, in doing so, would enhance transparency and effectiveness of fisheries management.

I would now like to talk about the purpose of another proposed provision that could be used, among other things, to enhance biodiversity protection. This other amendment would enable my staff to respond quickly and effectively to urgent and unexpected threats to the conservation and protection of fish that may arise in our oceans and put some of our most treasured marine life in jeopardy.

Top of mind for me and many Canadians, when we think about our ocean conservation needs, is the unexpected movement of the North Atlantic right whale population into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the unexpected and unprecedented losses of that endangered species that have occurred over the past year. A new proposed tool under the Fisheries Act would allow the minister to put in place targeted short-term fisheries management measures quickly and effectively to respond to urgent threats such as those being faced by the North Atlantic right whale.

When a threat to the conservation and protection of fish arises during the fishing season, we currently issue amendments to the licence conditions and make variation orders. However, just as these tools are ill suited to addressing long-term biodiversity objectives, they are also not designed to be put in place for immediate actions to address all urgent and unanticipated threats. These tools are meant to address issues related to the sustainable use and proper management of fisheries resources. Also, the process to implement a change in licence condition is burdensome, often takes time, and variation orders are limited in scope by the regulations.

Changes to the act would allow us to introduce targeted restrictions to fishing activity in urgent situations. Some of the threats that the North Atlantic right whale faced in 2017 are examples of urgent issues that could be addressed by this tool.

I will conclude by saying that the new proposed tools under the amended Fisheries Act would allow us to respond effectively and flexibly to our long-term marine conservation needs, as well as to unexpected, short term, and urgent threats. These are two pieces of the broader Fisheries Act amendments that I have the pleasure to support today. This is a concrete way to incorporate modern safeguards into a strengthened Fisheries Act.

February 6th, 2018 / 10:40 a.m.
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Assistant Deputy Minister, Aquatic Ecosystems Sector, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Philippe Morel

Sure. The process to establish an MPA starts with the EBSAs, or ecologically and biologically significant areas. After that, it may lead to an area of interest.

Under the Oceans Act, the process now is to wait to implement some protection, from the moment the areas of interest are announced until the regulatory process, which usually takes seven to ten years.

What the proposed amendments in Bill C-55 will do is to enable the minister to freeze the footprint for a certain period, likely when the area of interest is announced. It will freeze the footprint during the consultation that will lead to the regulatory process. It's a process that will make sure that no harm or additional activity takes place in the area that is designed to meet some conservation objective, so it's really about the protection. It's not limiting the consultation. It's not changing the consultation. It's just freezing the footprint while the regulatory process happens.

February 6th, 2018 / 10:40 a.m.
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Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Can you quickly differentiate between an area of interest and the new authorities under Bill C-55 for the interim MPAs?

February 6th, 2018 / 9:50 a.m.
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Philippe Morel Assistant Deputy Minister, Aquatic Ecosystems Sector, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Thank you very much.

Good morning. You'll have to excuse Mr. MacDonald, who has to leave around 10:15 or 10:20 to act in support of the minister.

Good morning and thank you for inviting us today. We appreciate the opportunity to come back before you and support your interest in the government's efforts to protect the three oceans.

We have made significant progress since I was here last April, and we thank you for the hard work that you put into Bill C-55 , and look forward to your MPA study report.

When I was here on April 4 last year, I outlined DFO's approach to meeting our target, as mandated by the Prime Minister in 2016. Our five-point plan has been the driving force behind our collective achievement, and I would like to take the time today to share them with you.

Since 2015, we have moved from 0.9% of protection of the coastal and marine areas to 7.75% as of December 21, 2017. The success brings us well beyond our target of 5% by the end of 2017.

The breakdown of that 7.75% protection of marine and coastal area is as follows: 11 Oceans Act marine protected areas; three national marine conservation areas; 51 marine refuges, also referred to as “other effective area-based conservation measures”, or other measures; and a suite of areas protected by the provinces.

Through hard work since 2015, we have established the following increases in marine protection. DFO has added a total of 5.12% through three new ocean MPAs: Anguniaqvia Niqiqyuam in the Northwest Territories, in November 2016; the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs in B.C., in February 2017; St. Anns Bank in June 2017; and 51 marine refuges, or 4.78% were added.

In addition to the work by DFO to establish Oceans Act MPAs and marine refuges, other protected areas have been established by Parks Canada. I'm referring here to the Tallurutiup Imanga, or Lancaster Sound, national marine conservation area established by Environment and Climate Change Canada, and also provincial governments.

The federal MPAs and marine refuges are found across our bioregions, and we are guided by science-based decision-making in identifying areas of our oceans that require protection due to their significance. This achievement would not have been possible without the hard work of our regional counterparts, provinces and territories, and indigenous partners and stakeholders who have worked with us to identify areas of protection.

With the current protection in place, there are an additional 129,000 square kilometres of protection to be put in place to reach 10% by 2020. Our approach of achieving the final amount is to continue to advance the five-point plan and utilize other ongoing activities.

To achieve our interim target of 5%, we worked to designate areas already under way and identify existing and establish new other measures.

In 2018, we will continue work to designate previously identified areas by finalizing the proposed Laurentian Channel and Banc des Américains marine protected areas, or MPAs.

Work has already begun to protect large offshore areas such as the Offshore Pacific Area of Interest, which was announced in May 2017, as well as additional areas possibly in the High Arctic and Labrador Sea.

Within this area of interest, the Offshore Pacific Seamounts and Vents marine refuge, which is more than 82,000 km2 and represents 1.4% of protected oceans, was announced to quickly protect the most sensitive areas. Upon designation of the Large Pacific Offshore MPA, this marine refuge will be included within that area.

Our focus is also on the development of MPA networks in five priority bioregions. These networks will identify areas in need of protection by 2020, and those that will be prioritized for future protection.

We are also continuing to identify existing "other measures" and establish new other ones using the science-based guidance and criteria developed by DFO.

Thus far, to identify "other measures", an inventory of more than 1,000 existing fisheries area closures has been assessed against our five criteria.

First, the measure must be spatially defined with a clear geographic location. Second, the measure must have a conservation or stock management objective. Third, the measure must contain at least two ecological components of interest, which are habitat and species of regional importance that uses that habitat. Fourth, the measure must be long-term, either in legislation, regulation or clearly intended to be in place for at least 25 years. Fifth, the ecological components must be effectively conserved, with no human activities that are incompatible with the conservation objectives.

Our criteria were developed based on science and in consultation with the provinces, territories, indigenous groups, conservation organizations, scientists, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

The location, management approaches, and size of future measures will be determined in consultation with our partners and stakeholders.

This week in Montreal, Canada is hosting an international workshop on other measures for the Convention on Biological Diversity. This is an opportunity for Canada to align these criteria and guidance with international processes.

Lastly, as you are aware, Bill C-55, an Act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, is proceeding through the legislative process. Once Bill C-55 comes into effect, interim protection MPAs may be established in an area where more time is needed to consult with stakeholders and gather science to finalize a long-term protection approach.

In addition to following our five-point plan, other concurrent initiatives that will contribute to our efforts to identify and establish MPAs and other measures to support co-governance efforts with indigenous people will be pursued.

DFO's approach to establishing MPAs and other measures is aligned with the whole-of-government reconciliation agenda. For example, DFO is working with other federal departments on a whole-of-government approach to Inuit impact and benefit agreements for federal MPAs. Our department is also working with these partners to identify and coordinate federal government contributions to the development of ongoing management of MPAs in the Arctic consistent with the emerging Arctic policy framework.

As we work toward and beyond the 10% objective, extensive scientific peer-reviewed processes will continue to provide the foundation of our decision-making. We continue to improve coordination with indigenous peoples and the use of local knowledge to inform broader understanding of marine protection.

As well, consultation and engagement continues to remain a core principle as we rely on provinces and territories, indigenous organizations, and other stakeholders to identify and establish protections. DFO sees this as a collaborative effort that needs everyone on board to ensure that the protections established are meaningful and effective.

As I mentioned before, DFO is conscious that protecting our oceans is a long-term but necessary investment in renewing our marine natural capital to support future generations and a balanced ecosystem. We are laying the foundation to advance broader ocean management to better manage our ocean resources for an ecologically and economically sustainable future.

Thank you once again for the opportunity to provide an overview of our progress to date and our approach moving forward with MPA establishment in Canada.

I look forward to your questions.

January 30th, 2018 / 9:05 a.m.
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National Director, Oceans Program, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society

Sabine Jessen

Thank you, and good morning, everyone.

I'm really pleased to be here today representing the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, also known as CPAWS. We're a national grassroots conservation charity, with 13 chapters across the country and a national office in Ottawa. We've worked for over 50 years to conserve Canada's public land and oceans, using the best available science to protect ecologically important areas for generations to come.

We have supported the establishment of many MPAs in Canada, including Gwaii Haanas, the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound glass sponge reefs, and St. Anns Bank. We were also involved in the passage of the NMCA Act. While we celebrate these successes, we also continue to advocate for effective protection of other sites, such as the Laurentian Channel, Scott Islands, and the Southern Strait of Georgia. We work with communities, indigenous people, scientists, other stakeholders, and decision-makers to find science-based solutions and to practise respectful advocacy.

Our 13 chapters are embedded in their local communities. We attend community events. We work with passionate community volunteers to inform and to engage the public in MPA planning and design processes. We work to give a voice to the public and to provide a platform for Canadians to share their views with decision-makers.

I have personally worked on MPAs for over 30 years and have been involved in all aspects of their establishment, from identifying candidate sites through to developing final management plans, and supporting monitoring and enforcement of sites once established. I have represented the conservation sector on numerous advisory committees for individual sites and have worked collaboratively on a variety of ocean policy issues.

MPAs are a tried and tested marine conservation tool. According to the Convention on Biological Diversity and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, MPAs provide for the in situ conservation of biodiversity. A wealth of scientific evidence demonstrates that strongly protected MPAs protect vulnerable species, and help ecosystems and populations to recover and rebuild, and to produce more, larger, and more diverse communities of fish and other marine species. They can also produce benefits for fisheries, but only when they are well managed and strongly protected.

A recent global analysis of MPAs led by Dr. Graham Edgar demonstrated that the most effective MPAs are fully protected no-take areas that are well-enforced, large, mature, and isolated. The authors found that 59% of the MPAs they studied had only one or two of these features and showed no difference in biomass or diversity from fished areas. Numerous studies show that partially protected areas provide only limited benefits. They may help to prevent future degradation of marine ecosystems, but they are unlikely to support the recovery of populations.

CPAWS has also conducted reviews of Canadian MPAs, and we have found that less than 0.1% of our ocean is fully protected. This undermines their ability to provide the ecological and economic benefits that we're looking for.

Although there is an increasing body of science on best practices for MPA design and management, there are currently no protection standards for MPAs in Canada. Levels of protection can vary considerably, from fully protected no-take areas to partially protected multiple-use areas, to paper parks with little or no regulation of activities.

I'm currently here in Washington, DC, working with the IUCN to develop a set of international standards for MPAs that will be shared with IUCN member countries, including Canada, as well as with the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The lack of protection standards for MPAs in Canada is a significant challenge to their designation and effectiveness. As a result, every single activity must be negotiated for each MPA, even when they may be in direct contravention of the conservation objectives for that MPA. This has affected the consultation process. It has dragged it out. It has increased conflict, and it has resulted in very lengthy designation processes for MPAs in Canada.

We support the recommendations by several scientists and conservationists who have testified to you and called for MPA protection standards. As I mentioned, protection measures in Canada's MPAs vary considerably. In St. Anns Bank, for example, there are measures to fully protect ecosystems from fishing in over 75% of the area, and all of it is protected from oil and gas. However, in the proposed Laurentian Channel MPA, the current proposal is that oil and gas activities would be permitted in 80% of the area.

Scientific studies, as was mentioned, have clearly shown that MPAs with weak protection will not result in conservation or economic benefits. Based on the evidence, we believe that protection standards should prohibit bottom trawling, oil and gas activities, and deep-sea mining. All MPAs should be managed to ecological integrity and include mandatory and significant no-take areas.

Over the past year we have seen tremendous effort by the government to meet its marine conservation targets, including proposed amendments under Bill C-55 to the Oceans Act to establish interim protection for sites while they are being considered. Without these measures, harmful activities continue to damage ecosystems while the MPA is being developed. While freezing the footprint may prevent damage from new activities, it would not stop damage from existing activities, even when they have been scientifically proven to pose significant threats to known ecological values. For example, during the designation process of the glass sponge reefs MPA in B.C., scientists observed increasing damage from bottom-contact fishing gears, like prawn traps and long lines. The reefs are thousands of years old and may take hundreds of years to recover from damage, if they ever do. The glass sponge reefs were known to be at risk for 15 years before they were designated as an MPA. The longer an MPA consultation process takes, the more species and ecosystems remain at risk.

Over the past decade we've seen a global push to establish MPAs. Countries like the United Kingdom, the United States, Mexico, Chile, and Palau have embraced large, effective MPAs. After years of slow progress, Canada is running to catch up to meet the international targets while we lag behind many countries in the world in MPA coverage. Most of our MPAs are small, and current protection standards have been weak.

Over the past two years Canada has increased protection from 1% to 7%, according to DFO numbers. We would point out, however, that this number also includes a large number of existing and new fisheries closures recently announced as “other measures”, rather than as MPAs, and less than 1% of these areas are fully protected, no-take areas. It's worth remembering that even if we protect 10% of Canada's oceans from all extractive activities, 90% still remains open to business. However, in in order to get there, Canada's pace and standards must change significantly if we are to protect our ocean ecosystems, and species like the southern resident killer whales on the B.C. coast and the north Atlantic right whales that rely on those healthy ecosystems.

The government's amendments to the Oceans Act are a good start, and we are pleased that your committee has added “ecological integrity” as a criterion for the establishment of MPAs. After years of advocating for these improvements, CPAWS is also pleased to see interim protections also incorporated and measures to support the prohibition of oil and gas activities. We're very pleased that Minister LeBlanc has announced his intention to establish a ministerial advisory panel on protection standards for MPAs.

We are just beginning to catch up with the international community. Canada has an upcoming opportunity to demonstrate global leadership in ocean conservation during its presidency of the G-7. We urge the government to encourage G7 nations to adopt the 2016 IUCN resolution passed by 100 countries at the World Conservation Congress in Hawaii that calls for the protection of 30% of ocean territories by 2030. Not only would this make good ecological sense, it would also make good economic sense. In its report on MPA economics, management, and policy, the OECD cites a recent global study by Bander et al, published in 2015, which calculated the total ecosystem service benefits of 10% coverage by MPAs at between $600 billion to $900 billion U.S., and found that the benefits of expanding no-take areas to 10% and 30% exceeded any costs.

With some improvements to Canada's MPA legislation, stronger protections, and more protected areas, we can ensure that Canada will be an international leader, and that Canadians will benefit from healthy and productive oceans for generations to come.

Thank you again for this opportunity. I'm happy to answer any questions you have.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

December 11th, 2017 / 3:10 p.m.
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Scott Simms Liberal Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame, NL

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 12th report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans in relation to Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act.

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

December 7th, 2017 / noon
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The Chair Liberal Scott Simms

It is so ordered.

Ladies and gentleman, we have completed Bill C-55.

I know you have to go; however, I beg the committee's forgiveness on this. We need to go in camera to accept a subcommittee report, so I'm going to suspend for a couple of minutes to accept the report.

December 7th, 2017 / 11:55 a.m.
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Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Chair, we propose having annual reports in which the minister will report to Parliament specific details of the MPA designations in respect of the designation, reasons, and possible additional measures required to make sure conservation reasons are respected. With respect to this amendment, Mr. Chair, we are requesting That Bill C-55 be amended by adding after line 21 on page 21 the following new clause:

17.1 Section 52 of the Act is replaced by the following: 52(1) The Minister shall, as soon as feasible after the end of each fiscal year, prepare and cause to be laid before both Houses of Parliament a report on the administration and enforcement of the provisions of this Act for that year. (2) The annual report shall include the following: (a) the marine protected areas designated during the relevant reporting period; (b) the extent to which, in the opinion of the Minister, the conservation reasons stated for each designated marine protected area have been respected; and (c) any further measures which, in the opinion of the Minister, are required to be taken in relation to each designated marine protected area in order to ensure that the conservation reasons stated for it are respected.

Mr. Chair, I offer to the committee and to those who are listening that this is again in the spirit of transparency and accountability to ensure that, from this process we are entering into, we are achieving the results that are desired and that if there are any other measures that are required, that the department and the minister report before the House to provide those details.

December 7th, 2017 / 11:50 a.m.
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Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Chair, again, going back to the testimony that we've heard time and again, with conflicting testimony with respect to potential closures and the testimony we heard that fishermen can just move to other areas, this amendment recognizes a need to respect interests held by licensed commercial fishermen when the waters they fish are included in an MPA. As such, if and when the creation of an MPA displaces fishermen holding licences to fish waters of the MPA, those fishermen ought to be entitled to compensation through a predefined process, with a limited period for the fishermen and the minister to negotiate the terms of compensation.

We are suggesting that Bill C-55, in clause 13, be amended by adding after line 24 on page 12 the following:

39.51(1) The Minister may enter into negotiations with any licensed commercial fisherman, in respect of any designated marine protected area, for a determination of any compensation that may be granted to the licensed commercial fisherman for the loss of all or part of their livelihood to the extent that the loss can be established to have been incurred as a result of the designation of the marine protected area and all such loss is recoverable with costs in proceedings brought or taken with respect to that loss in any court of competent jurisdiction. (2) For the purposes of subsection (1), the Minister shall send a notice to the licensed commercial fisherman informing them of the Minister's intent to enter into negotiations with them within the period specified in the notice. (3) The Minister may, by order, cancel the negotiations if the licensed commercial fisherman does not enter into negotiations with the Minister within the period specified in the notice or if, in the opinion of the Minister, the compensation to be granted to the licensed commercial fisherman for the loss incurred has not been determined within a reasonable time during the negotiations. (4) The Minister shall, in the order, specify the amount of the compensation to be granted to the licensed commercial fisherman in respect of the loss incurred.

We believe this is a fair and reasonable request and amendment to Bill C-55, given that we have heard testimony from all sides that there are concerns and that there could be some displacement in terms of livelihoods and fisheries.

With respect to this amendment, we believe that we've also covered the department and the minister on this, because the onus will also be on the fishermen and the stakeholders to provide and to enter in good faith into negotiations with the ministry and the department.

Thank you.

December 7th, 2017 / 11:50 a.m.
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Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

This goes to examples of seizures of fish that perhaps go to waste. This amendment targets release of seized fish, and seeks to ensure that the fish or other perishables are not allowed to spoil or go to waste unnecessarily.

Clause 12 would be amended by replacing line 14 on page 12. It currently reads:

(3.1) The enforcement officer who seizes any fish as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Fisheries Act may, at the time of the seizure, return to the water any fish that they believe to be alive.

We are suggesting that Bill C-55, in clause 12, be amended by replacing line 14 on page 12 with the following:

“believe to be alive and shall take reasonable measures to avoid unnecessary loss or waste of fish or any other perishable things seized.

December 7th, 2017 / 11:45 a.m.
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Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

This amendment proposes the addition of language reflecting that information must be requested and ordered before it is provided.

The amendment is that Bill C-55, in clause 10, be amended by replacing line 19 on page 6 with the following:

(b) on request or order of the enforcement officer, provide the officer with informa-

Under the title “Assistance“, on page 6, paragraph (1.3) says that the “owner or the person in charge of the place, and every person found in the place shall”, and paragraph (b) reads:

(b) provide the enforcement officer with any information or any book, record, electronic data or other document, and access to any data, that are reasonably required for that purpose.

We are suggesting that on request or order of the enforcement officer, provide the officer with any information or any book, record, electronic data, or other document. That's all.

December 7th, 2017 / 11:45 a.m.
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Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Chair, we'll try to move this forward as quickly as possible.

This amendment is linked to section 39.1(1) which allows an officer who is verifying compliance to examine the thing and take samples free of charge. The proposed addition of “without creating undue hardship to the entity of inspection” seeks to provide some certainty that samples taken free of charge are not of significant monetary or sentimental value. For example, an officer could not take three tonnes of lobster, which were seized recently, or fishing gear.

The amendment would be that Bill C-55, in clause 10, be amended by replacing line 3 on page 6 with the following:

ficer considers appropriate, without creating undue hardship to the entity involved in the inspection.

So the entire (1.1) on page 6, under the heading “Disposition of samples”, would read with our amendment, if carried, “An enforcement officer may dispose of a sample taken under paragraph (1)(b) in a manner that the officer considers appropriate, without creating undue hardship to the entity involved in the inspection.”

December 7th, 2017 / 11:40 a.m.
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Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Chair, this amendment is solely to ensure that if DFO requires copies of documents, log books, or electronic data, the owner of such data, meaning the fishers or the organizations, shall be reimbursed for any costs incurred in trying to prove that they have not committed any offence under this act.

All we're asking is that Bill C-55 in clause 10 be amended by replacing line 38 on page 5 with the following:

record, electronic data or other document, and the owner of the copying equipment shall be reimbursed for the copying costs.

We heard through testimony that during investigations, DFO may enter an organization or a business, and proceed with using that organization's equipment to fulfill their own investigation, and in some cases, the owners, the organizations, incurred costs. We wish to protect stakeholders. If they are being investigated, and DFO enters their premises, any costs incurred shall be borne by DFO, not by the stakeholders.