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Evidence of meeting #32 for Fisheries and Oceans in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was work.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

David Gillis  Director General, Ecosystems and Oceans Science Sector, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
David Burden  Acting Regional Director General, Central and Arctic Region, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Michelle Wheatley  Regional Director, Science, Central and Arctic Region, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

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

I was just getting going.

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rodney Weston

I noticed that. I was trying to catch you before you did.

Thank you, Mr. Kamp.

Mr. Cleary.

April 2nd, 2012 / 4:40 p.m.

NDP

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

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to our witnesses.

I'm still trying to get my head around this study and the big-picture Canadian perspective on non-invasive species and non-indigenous species.

Mr. Donnelly asked a question earlier about the total amount of Government of Canada funding spent. Did I hear correctly when you said that $8 million is spent on the sea lamprey program and $2 million is for the rest of Canada?

On green crab, for example, we have had a problem in waters off Newfoundland and Labrador. You talked about transformers and these types of words. As a matter of fact, the local newspapers have put green crabs on the front of the local papers, for example, and it's almost as if we have an alien species attacking earth. They make it out to be a little bit more sensational than it should be.

How many species are exclusively attacking the Great Lakes as opposed to any other water bodies on or off Canada's shores?

4:40 p.m.

Director General, Ecosystems and Oceans Science Sector, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Gillis

I'm not sure. We've talked about 182 non-indigenous species in the Great Lakes. Some of those would occur outside the Great Lakes. Maybe some of them are unique, at least within the North American context, in the Great Lakes. But I'm not sure if we have that resolution of data available today. We could maybe follow up.

4:40 p.m.

NDP

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

Is it possible that most of these species in the Great Lakes could be problem species on the west coast, the east coast, and everywhere?

4:40 p.m.

Director General, Ecosystems and Oceans Science Sector, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Gillis

It's possible. Some of the species we have in the Great Lakes, the freshwater species, are invasive in other fresh waters around the world and are causing problems there as well. Zebra mussels are, for sure.

4:40 p.m.

NDP

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

Again, I'm trying to get my head around an estimate of the dollar value and how much damage they're causing. Has the department done any kind of analysis on that? I think the question was asked before, but I'm still not clear on it.

4:40 p.m.

Director General, Ecosystems and Oceans Science Sector, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Gillis

We did mention that we're starting to do some socio-economic work, in addition to the work on ecological risks and damage, to bring a picture of what the socio-economic risks and damage would be. I'm not aware that we're in a position right now to talk about damage across all aquatic invasive species in Canada.

To bring it back to the Great Lakes, David elaborated earlier on the Asian carp. There is a specific piece of work currently under way that will give us a socio-economic risk evaluation associated with Asian carp, which would be in the general direction of your question. But there would need to be further work done on a much more global basis within Canada to talk about the collective impact of all invasive species.

4:45 p.m.

NDP

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

Did I hear you say that there were some studies being done right now or that were going to be done?

4:45 p.m.

Director General, Ecosystems and Oceans Science Sector, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Gillis

They are under way now. They are on the socio-economic consequences of Asian carp were it to become established in the Great Lakes system.

4:45 p.m.

NDP

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

Who is carrying that out? What is the completion date?

4:45 p.m.

Director General, Ecosystems and Oceans Science Sector, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Gillis

It's scheduled to be completed in the fall, and both we and our American partners are doing some work in this area. It's our work that will be completed in the fall. I'm not sure what the schedule is for the American side. It's the companion piece to the ecological risk assessment we were speaking about earlier. The ecological work was done jointly with the Americans. The socio-economic work has been done through a compatible approach, but separately.

4:45 p.m.

NDP

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

Would you say that the results of the study released in the fall would be key to the study this committee is doing right now?

4:45 p.m.

Director General, Ecosystems and Oceans Science Sector, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Gillis

I would expect that they would be of interest.

4:45 p.m.

NDP

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

Maybe, whenever this wraps up, our conclusion should wait until this report is released.

4:45 p.m.

Director General, Ecosystems and Oceans Science Sector, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Gillis

I wouldn't comment on your process.

4:45 p.m.

NDP

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

Would that be your advice, though? I heard you get a little political earlier.

4:45 p.m.

Director General, Ecosystems and Oceans Science Sector, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Gillis

We'll keep you as apprised as we can as to what our deadline is on the socio-economic component of the study.

4:45 p.m.

NDP

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

I was surprised about the $2 million figure for all of Canada for invasive species. I know you were asked earlier about whether or not that's low or if that's enough to carry out all the work that needs to be done.

But it does seem like peanuts. Look at that statement as a question.

4:45 p.m.

Director General, Ecosystems and Oceans Science Sector, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Gillis

Well, I'm not sure what else I could add to what I said earlier. As I say, we have $2 million for the general program for AIS and it's broken up into a number of components. We're able to have all of those components of a national program.

Obviously any program can use more money to make it a bit bigger, but with these resources—setting aside the sea lamprey as a bit of a special case, a long-established management program—we have been able to do the key pieces of work that have been necessary, even in the case of Asian carp, to do the binational risk assessment.

The quality of that work is very, very high, and our partners are very pleased with what we've been able to do. I think we have a program that is making best use of the dollars we have available for it.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rodney Weston

Thank you, Mr. Cleary.

Mr. Sopuck.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Thank you.

I'm interested in returning to the sea lamprey. What is the mortality rate of fish that have been attacked by sea lamprey, and is there a difference between the salmonids versus a thicker-skinned fish like a walleye?

4:45 p.m.

Director General, Ecosystems and Oceans Science Sector, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Gillis

I'm not sure I have that knowledge. In fact, I'm sure I don't.

4:45 p.m.

Regional Director, Science, Central and Arctic Region, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Michelle Wheatley

I think a lot depends on the size of the sea lamprey and the size of the fish that's attacked. I think once it gets through the skin, it doesn't matter how thick is it. Once it's through, it's through. But I don't have the rates.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

I was interested in the comment where you said that when you relaxed the sea lamprey control, the numbers of sea lampreys went up. Do you see an associate increase in scarring in fish and then a decrease once you get back on track with the lamprey control?