Thank you, Chair, and good morning.
I welcome this opportunity to speak today on the important study that your committee is planning on undertaking on the issue of hunting and trapping.
As a party to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Canada is committed to the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources. Within Canada, provinces and territories are generally responsible for wildlife management, including regulation and management of the hunting of big and small game species, and of trapping. The federal government is responsible for conservation and management of migratory birds.
Hunting and trapping continue to represent economic benefits to Canadian communities. Hunting, fishing, and trapping activities contribute approximately $14 billion to the Canadian economy each year. For example, about 70,000 people are directly employed by the Canadian fur trade. Approximately 60,000 active trappers in Canada, including 25,000 aboriginal people, are undertaking trapping activities. Hunting and trapping activities are particularly important to communities which may have limited employment opportunities, particularly aboriginal and remote communities.
In 1997 Canada reinforced its commitment to a sustainable and economically viable fur trade by signing the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards with Russia and the United States. The agreement outlines science-based standards for the trapping industry and applies to trapping for pest control, conservation, fur, and food. Over the past decade, approximately three million federal dollars have been invested in humane trapping standards related to research and testing of traps, and Canada has earned a reputation of being a leader in this field.
The importance of non-commercial trapping, hunting, and nature activities in general to the national economy and individual Canadians' quality of life is described in the 2012 Canadian nature survey which the commissioner just mentioned, which was undertaken on behalf of Canada's federal, provincial, and territorial government departments responsible for biodiversity. The nature survey found that approximately 8% of Canadians—that's 2.1 million adults—participate in hunting and trapping activities for non-commercial use, which on a per-capita basis is higher than the number in the United States. On average, each individual participating in these activities spends about $996 per year with a total Canadian adult direct spending on hunting and trapping of $1.8 billion per year.
The nature survey also found that Canadian adults who participated in nature conservation activities were three times more likely to participate in hunting, trapping, or fishing than those who did not participate in nature conservation. Of these 2.1 million Canadians who hunt and trap, approximately 175,000 purchase migratory game bird hunting permits to hunt waterfowl which, as mentioned, is an area of federal responsibility. Management of the hunting of migratory birds and elimination of commercial harvest were an important impetus to establishing the 1916 Migratory Birds Convention with the United States. Since that time, Canada and the United States have leveraged contributions and support of the hunting communities to manage harvest levels and to establish conservation programs such as the North American waterfowl management plan.
Since the establishment of the plan, over 8 million hectares of wetland and associated uplands have been permanently secured in Canada, while an additional 41 million hectares have been directly influenced through stewardship activities.
The success of the plan is due in large part to the contribution and support of the hunting communities in Canada, the U.S. and now in Mexico, which have been instrumental in securing habitats for waterfowl. This includes the active engagement of organizations such as Ducks Unlimited Canada and Delta Waterfowl Foundation.
Hunters and trappers play an important direct role in wildlife management. For example, special conservation measures, including spring hunts enacted for overabundant greater snow geese, halted and reversed the decline of their populations in Canada since the late 1990s. Hunters similarly played an important role in reversing the decline in the Atlantic population of Canada geese in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In response to hunter concerns about the sharp drop in Atlantic population Canada geese, wildlife managers completely closed the hunting season for this population until 1999. As a result of those restrictions, the Atlantic population of Canada geese has recovered and stabilized, and in fact, all hunting restrictions on the species were lifted in Canada in 2002. The harvest continues to be managed carefully, even though the population is now restored.
Trappers, anglers, and hunters represent some of Canada's most dedicated conservationists, contributing billions of dollars over the years to conservation projects across Canada through the purchase of tags, licences, and stamps in addition to countless hours spent in conservation efforts. For example, Canadian waterfowl hunters contribute to habitat conservation through the purchase of a Canadian wildlife habitat conservation stamp. Since 1984, hunters have provided over $50 million to fund habitat conservation projects through Wildlife Habitat Canada, which is the recipient of the stamp revenue.
The hunting and angling advisory panel was established in 2012 to provide inclusive and broad-based advice on a range of policies, programs, activities, and emerging issues related to conservation, hunting, trapping, and angling. In their recent presentation to federal, provincial, and territorial ministers, members of the panel articulated five issues where cooperation among jurisdictions would be important, some of which may be important for the study you are embarking on. The panel recommended pursuing reciprocal suspensions of hunting, angling, and trapping privileges; addressing chronic wasting disease; addressing invasive alien species; pursuing a national economic study on hunting, fishing, and trapping activities; and considering alternate sources of funding, such as excise taxes which are used in the United States to supplement current programs for fish and wildlife management in Canada.
Canada has a strong wildlife management system, one that is based on sound science. For Environment Canada this means recognizing the importance of monitoring and research relating to migratory bird populations to ensure that management decisions, including the establishment of harvest levels, regulations, and wildlife management, are responsible and consider the sustainability of the resource.
The recognition of the importance of wildlife conservation was recently confirmed through investment in the national conservation plan, a $252 million investment to conserve and restore Canada's natural environment for present and future generations. The national conservation plan, including its new national wetland conservation fund, builds on and complements long-standing partnership programs, such as the North American waterfowl management plan mentioned earlier.
In closing, pressures on wildlife continue to mount, with important decisions needing to be made about how to most appropriately manage the landscape in a way that is supportive of a strong economy while also supporting the needs of wildlife. Hunting and trapping is a way of life for many Canadians and is an important aspect of conservation in our country. Continued investment in efforts to support responsible hunting and trapping and recognizing the many values of this investment is crucial to all of us.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.