Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Prior to this evening I submitted my presentation to the clerk for translation. I trust that you will receive a hard copy of my presentation very soon.
My remarks will be exclusively devoted to the theme of amendments to the federal Fisheries Act.
On behalf of the more than 100,000 Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters members, supporters, subscribers, and our 675 member clubs, the OFAH thanks you for this opportunity to address changes to the Fisheries Act. As mentioned, I'm Terry Quinney, provincial manager of fish and wildlife services for the OFAH.
I'd like to illustrate the OFAH commitment to fisheries conservation with three brief examples from our conservation programs, our fisheries management activities, and our local community-level participation.
First, in partnership with the provincial government's Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Environment Canada, along with Ontario Power Generation, conservation authorities, and many others, we are restoring Atlantic salmon to Lake Ontario and its tributaries. We are rehabilitating cold-water fishery streams through our community stream stewardship program, and we're assisting to prevent harmful invasive species through our invading species awareness program.
We are also working to improve recreational fishing by assisting the efforts of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, participating in Ontario's fisheries management zone advisory councils, and helping to improve the international Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
OFAH member clubs, such as the Thunder Bay Salmon Association on Lake Superior, the Bluewater Anglers of Port Huron on Lake Huron, the Sydenham Sportsmen's Association on Georgian Bay, the Port Colborne & District Conservation Club on Lake Erie, and the Central Lake Ontario Sport Anglers of Brighton on Lake Ontario stock important fish species for the benefit of everyone. Did you know that the annual Salmon Spectacular of Owen Sound, hosted by the Sydenham Sportsmen's Association, attracts more than 55,000 people and results in over $3 million in local economic spinoffs every year?
Next I'd like to identify our key messages to you with regard to changes to the Fisheries Act. We have five key messages.
First, the supply of healthy fish habitat, both freshwater and marine, is critical for our fisheries.
Second, what is known as “free passage of fish”, where appropriate, is also critical to our fisheries.
Third, fisheries supply benefits to Canadians and Canadian society. Government of Canada statistics show that more than three million Canadians participate in recreational angling, resulting in economic benefits exceeding $8 billion annually.
Fourth, conservation is the protection, use, and management of natural resources to supply benefits at optimal sustainable levels for present and future generations of Canadians.
Fifth, an important role for governments—local, provincial, territorial, and federal—is to participate in conservation activities; the Fisheries Act is an example.
For a considerable period of time, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters has been seeking improvements to the protection of fish habitat and the successful passage of fish in Ontario.
Let me illustrate with two examples.
Because we have never been shown evidence that demonstrated the success of the longstanding DFO policy of no net loss of productive capacity associated with the fish habitat protection provisions of the federal Fisheries Act, we have recommended that strong standards be developed by DFO, in association with the Province of Ontario, in association with industry, and in association with organizations such as the OFAH, to ensure the protection of fish habitat.
The Ontario Green Energy and Green Economy Act promotes the development of new energy production projects in Ontario. In fact, we understand that over 40 new hydroelectric facilities will be installed very soon in many parts of our province. We need an effective means to ensure appropriate free passage of fish associated with these new energy projects. So in October 2011 we asked DFO Minister Ashfield directly that strong standards to ensure the protection of fish habitat be developed; that fish passage technologies be supported; that federal regulations to prevent invasive species, such as Asian carp, from entering Canada be completed; and that adequate resourcing be guaranteed to ensure the aims and objectives of a new Fisheries Act are fulfilled.
Now, in May 2012, we appreciate that the Government of Canada has explicitly recognized that Canada's fisheries are important to Canadians and that the government is committing to improve protections associated with our fisheries, including regulations that will prevent harmful aquatic invasive species, such as Asian carp.
We also appreciate that the government has made it clear to us that we share fundamental principles as we collectively move forward, namely, to avoid harm to our fisheries, to protect the productivity of our fisheries, and to improve habitat protection and fish passage.
To assist your deliberations further, I've attached to our presentation a backgrounder as an appendix, which provides further details for you.
With that, I thank you for listening, but I wish to extend an invitation to each of you, if your busy schedules permit you tomorrow, to walk across the street to the Westin Hotel where the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters is hosting the nation's very first National Fish and Wildlife Conservation Congress. Please join us if you can.
Thank you very much.