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Evidence of meeting #40 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 regulations.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Sarah Bailey  Research Scientist, Central and Arctic Region, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatics Sciences, Burlington, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Nick Mandrak  Research Scientist, Central and Arctic Region, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatics Sciences, Burlington, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Becky Cudmore  Senior Science Advisor, Central and Arctic Region, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatics Sciences, Burlington, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

4:20 p.m.

Senior Science Advisor, Central and Arctic Region, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatics Sciences, Burlington, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Becky Cudmore

I appreciate the question, and for snakeheads, it's an interesting case study. You cannot import snakeheads into the United States. They have a federal law that prohibits import. We are importing them into British Columbia.

Dr. Mandrak and I have seen them for sale in markets in British Columbia, and we have bought one live and taken it to the hotel. We knew it was going to be a matter of time before it showed up in the wild, and it did.

I couldn't agree more. We do need regulations in order to prohibit only our highest-risk species. We wouldn't need to prohibit everything, only the highest-risk species for import, and DFO is developing regulations in order to be able to do that.

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Is there much of a problem in bringing these fish in to be used as bait and that type of thing? Is that much of a problem?

4:20 p.m.

Senior Science Advisor, Central and Arctic Region, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatics Sciences, Burlington, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Becky Cudmore

I'll let Dr. Mandrak speak to that.

4:20 p.m.

Research Scientist, Central and Arctic Region, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatics Sciences, Burlington, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Nick Mandrak

Thank you for the question.

I actually recently supervised a Ph.D. student who looked at the very issue of bait and the extent to which it is a problem in contributing to the AIS problem. The problem is not the import, because the import of bait into Canada is banned, and it seems that's generally upheld. There are probably some minor exceptions regionally, where there are recreational fisheries near large populations of American fishermen.

We found that in Ontario, where we did our primary study, there is an occurrence of AIS in the bait trade. We found them in very low numbers. For example, we did a study where we looked at 17,000 fishes bought from 50 different bait shops in southern Ontario. We found only a handful of aquatic invasive species that are illegal in the trade.

So if you go and you buy your bait, getting an invasive species in that bait is a rare event. However, that event, the buying of bait, occurs over four million times a year. This is a low-probability event that has a high probability of actually happening.

But that's not the end of it. That's sort of the—

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Is there any kind of invasive species used for bait itself?

4:20 p.m.

Research Scientist, Central and Arctic Region, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatics Sciences, Burlington, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Nick Mandrak

Round goby are not targeted for use, but anglers would tolerate their use. As I mentioned, you buy the bait that has, let's say, round goby in it. We predict that round goby are found in one out of every 400 sales of bait.

If you then extrapolate to the four million events, there are quite a few round gobies—

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

And then that becomes a serious problem.

4:20 p.m.

Research Scientist, Central and Arctic Region, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatics Sciences, Burlington, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Nick Mandrak

Well, it depends on what the anglers do with it at the end, right? If they use all of their bait, or if they don't use all of their bait and they destroy the rest of it, that's not a problem. The problem is when they actually release that bait into the wild.

Why do anglers do that? Quite often it's because they think they're doing the right thing. They don't want to kill a living organism. They release it into the wild.

However, you were talking about outreach earlier; over the past decade, I would say there's been a lot of outreach, particularly targeting anglers, to prevent this behaviour from happening. A couple of decades ago, when I was a graduate student, we actually did a study on the prevalence of anglers releasing bait. It was about 30% to 35%. Most of them did it because they thought they were doing a good thing for the environment. We've gone from that down to, in recent years, about 19%.

We think it's largely because of this outreach that is happening that anglers are becoming more aware.

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

That's good to hear.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rodney Weston

Thank you, Mr. MacAulay—

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

So if the education program is working, then, that's where you think we should go?

I think I'm near the end of my line.

4:20 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rodney Weston

I think you're right. Thank you.

Mr. Toone.

May 30th, 2012 / 4:25 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you for the presentation. I'd like to follow up a bit on where Bryan Hayes was going with his question about what's next.

I'm interested in the part of your mandate that is to help prevent the introduction and the establishment of invasive species. Environment Canada, in the recent budget, cut the invasive alien species partnership program. It's gone. So how do we do that outreach? There seem to be now barriers to that outreach.

I'll name a few groups that no longer have funding regarding invasive species: the Conseil québécois sur les espèces exotiques envahissantes, the Magdalen Islands priority intervention zone committee, the Great Lakes United invasive plant watch network, the Ontario Invasive Plant Council. We've cut them all off.

We have some research, and I understand that you're able to facilitate the prevention or at least the establishment of invasive species, but we're also cutting back on the very partners that could help us in controlling those invasive species.

What is next? We don't seem to have those connections anymore. How are we getting those boots on the ground?

4:25 p.m.

Senior Science Advisor, Central and Arctic Region, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatics Sciences, Burlington, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Becky Cudmore

Thank you. I appreciate that question and can understand the issues there.

Each department is required to do an operational review and align their resources to priority areas. For DFO, the protection of native species for the Great Lakes is a priority. Working on prevention of the establishment of aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes aligns with that mandate. For DFO, working with our partners is absolutely essential. That is how we've always done our work and how we plan to continue to do our work.

For Environment Canada, I can't really comment on the decisions made there. For DFO, we do want to continue to work with our partners. We can't do the work we've done, the good work we've done, without them.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

I appreciate that, but I'm still perplexed. It's not clear where that connection is now going to be made. Some of the information you had translated to Environment Canada. There's a lot of overlap. It's not a completely distinct organization. When people require assistance regarding invasive species, they will go to Environment Canada based on the information you provided. You're now still in a position to provide some of that information, but I don't understand—who are these partners? Now that we've cut all this funding since March, who are we going to specifically? Who's assisting us?

4:25 p.m.

Senior Science Advisor, Central and Arctic Region, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatics Sciences, Burlington, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Becky Cudmore

For the Great Lakes, we would work with the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, the Province of Ontario, and the state and federal agencies in the U.S. Those are our main partners on the waters of the Great Lakes.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Is it fair to say that we've now dumped this onto the provinces? It's up to them now to fix this problem. The federal government is pulling back.

4:25 p.m.

Senior Science Advisor, Central and Arctic Region, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatics Sciences, Burlington, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Becky Cudmore

I think that given our continued ongoing funding with aquatic invasive species, to my knowledge, to date there have been no cuts. With this new additional funding with respect to Asian carp specifically, we would not be considering downloading anything onto them.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

But you mentioned a moment ago that we don't know what we're doing with that additional funding. I might add that it's additional funding in a context where there have been cutbacks just about everywhere else. So you may be getting a little bit more, but the net result is that there's actually less than there was previously. Again, are we just dumping this onto the province? Is that what's going on here?

4:25 p.m.

Senior Science Advisor, Central and Arctic Region, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatics Sciences, Burlington, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Becky Cudmore

No, I would say that's not the plan at all. It's to continue to work with them as a strong partnership, and to leverage each other's best information, best use of resources, and expertise.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

I'll go back to the groups that no longer receive funding. The Magdalen Islands priority intervention zone committee is not a provincial government organization. Are we still working with them, or have we just cut them off?

4:25 p.m.

Senior Science Advisor, Central and Arctic Region, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatics Sciences, Burlington, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Becky Cudmore

Outside of the Great Lakes, we have the ability through our partnerships to leverage education and outreach beyond the Great Lakes with small community groups.

I'm not sure I can answer your question.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Let's bring it back to the Great Lakes then. There's the Ontario Invasive Plant Council.

4:25 p.m.

Senior Science Advisor, Central and Arctic Region, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatics Sciences, Burlington, Department of Fisheries and Oceans