Evidence of meeting #139 for Fisheries and Oceans in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was stock.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Rowena Orok  Director, Fish Population Science and Acting Director General, Ecosystem Science, National Capital Region, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Darrell Mullowney  Biologist, Shellfish Science, Newfoundland and Labrador Region, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Matthew Hardy  Manager, Fisheries and Ecosystem Sciences Division, Gulf Region, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
David Whorley  Director, Resource Management Operations, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

5:05 p.m.

Manager, Fisheries and Ecosystem Sciences Division, Gulf Region, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Matthew Hardy

I couldn't guess at how frequent they are, but there are certainly a lot of them, I would expect.

5:05 p.m.

Biologist, Shellfish Science, Newfoundland and Labrador Region, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Darrell Mullowney

For the crab, there aren't that many. It's an Arctic type of species, and there are more small animals than big animals.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Yes, that would be my expectation.

Mel, go ahead.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Thank you.

My question will be fairly short, but the answer could be longer or rather hard to find.

The study is on the migration of crab and lobster. How much they migrate is debatable, whether it's migration or a movement in their preferred habitat that they are following. We're looking at the migration of the species. How is that being looked at in how that might relate to a migration of the fishers and the communities they support? Has the department considered any of that? If the species move, the fishers may have to move as well to follow them.

5:10 p.m.

Director, Resource Management Operations, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Whorley

I'm not sure there's any specific work on potential labour market migration that would be driven by movement of stock. You'd start to speculate on that, but I have to say I'm not aware of work that's going on specifically around that kind of labour market movement question.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

How many miles do you think the typical habitat has moved? Has it just expanded, or left for another area?

5:10 p.m.

Director, Resource Management Operations, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Whorley

I think that might be a question for science.

5:10 p.m.

Biologist, Shellfish Science, Newfoundland and Labrador Region, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Darrell Mullowney

The snow crab distribution really has not changed. In fact, if anything, it's probably going slightly south. The northern tip is off Labrador on something called the Makkovik Bank, along 2H and 2J. The fishery has not migrated north. In fact, it has migrated south. The 2H fishery has come down to be predominantly in what's called 2J now. As the stock has shrunk in this area, it's contracted back to the heart of its range, which is south. The biggest part of the stock is in 3LNO, on the Grand Banks, so the biggest biomass is in the south, along with 4T.

As someone who studies this, I wouldn't conclude in any way that the snow crab is moving north.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Ken McDonald

Mr. Arnold, you've gone over your time.

We'll now go back to the government side.

Mr. Finnigan, you have five minutes or less, please.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Pat Finnigan Liberal Miramichi—Grand Lake, NB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Welcome to all of you.

Your graphs were showing a steady increase of the catches and the landing of lobster. In your opinion, among the warming of the waters or the climate, the larger carapace that we've imposed, the enhancement or seeding of lobster larvae and the refuge of artificial protection or reefs—I think we just had a project last fall—what would be the biggest reason why we're seeing this increase?

5:10 p.m.

Manager, Fisheries and Ecosystem Sciences Division, Gulf Region, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Matthew Hardy

I'm not sure if I'm able to answer your question properly and gauge the relative contribution of those different factors. Certainly, habitat has been favourable for lobster. We happen to be in the sweet spot for lobster in Atlantic Canada, and that's why it does so well.

I would say that the changes in carapace size must contribute significantly to the overall abundance that we've seen. Just for a relative comparison, in 1987, the minimum carapace size was 63.5 millimetres. That produced about 5% of females of age and ability to reproduce. At 72 millimetres, that produced 50% mature females. At 76 millimetres, that produced 75% mature females. At 80 millimetres, we're looking at nearly 100% of mature females that are able to reach the fishery and contribute to the fishery and produce eggs.

April 3rd, 2019 / 5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Pat Finnigan Liberal Miramichi—Grand Lake, NB

Thank you.

My other question would be this. As far as managing the resource is concerned, with the owner-operator system that we have on the east coast—and I know there's no lobster on the west coast—would you say that this system is easier because you have a more equal kind of fishing, rather than the quota system on the west coast? As far as management goes, would you say that the east coast system would be easier or harder? Do you have any opinion on that?

5:10 p.m.

Director, Resource Management Operations, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Whorley

I think it's simply different. It's just the different economics of the fishery. I'm not sure that from a management point of view one is harder or easier than the other; they're just different characteristics. I think there's probably a certain amount of economic history there, too, around different kinds of attachment to the fishery.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Pat Finnigan Liberal Miramichi—Grand Lake, NB

As far as managing goes, no new licences have been introduced in the system for some time. If we keep seeing that increase, is there a possibility that new licensees would come in, or would you just increase the amount of allowable catch or the number of season days? What would be the proper management in working with first nations, knowing that they are also a part of the whole?

5:15 p.m.

Director, Resource Management Operations, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Whorley

Again, I would be speculating. That would be one of those challenges that would be nice to have—to be in that kind of a position. In terms of an effort-based fishery, there's no quota to increase; it's just that you'd probably have more productive individual fishing days. In terms of expanding it to new entrants, I don't know, at least at this point. I wouldn't close the door to it for the future, though.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Pat Finnigan Liberal Miramichi—Grand Lake, NB

I remember that back in the day you could buy lobster almost anywhere that you knew had been caught outside the licence. I think the amount of poaching is a lot smaller. Would you say that this also had an influence on the abundance and that we have a better management of that?

5:15 p.m.

Director, Resource Management Operations, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Whorley

Certainly, better enforcement to try to limit the black market exchange has had an effect. We don't have anyone from conservation and protection with us, but I would say there are certainly efforts around that.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Pat Finnigan Liberal Miramichi—Grand Lake, NB

Would you say that your relationship with organizations such as MFU and others, and maybe also with first nations, has improved on that front? They're also looking after the resource.

5:15 p.m.

Director, Resource Management Operations, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Whorley

You have a good point there. I think some of the best stewards of the fishery are the people who actually fish it. I think that's a very strong point. Between that and efforts around enforcement, I think the efforts to try to keep black market exchanges down are useful. Certainly having industry as a steward.... People who actually have eyes on the water are a really valuable resource.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Ken McDonald

Thank you, Mr. Finnigan.

We'll finish up with the NDP. We have Mr. Johns for three minutes or less, please.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Obviously, down in areas 41, 38 and 37, you're out doing a lot with the Americans. Maybe you can talk a bit about shared research, shared assessments, and shared monitoring and enforcement. I would like to learn a bit about that.

I also wanted to learn about area 1 and the share of indigenous licence holders. Obviously it's Maine, and the north; it's a predominantly indigenous area. Is the share of licensing predominantly indigenous when it comes to the species that are being fished there?

5:15 p.m.

Manager, Fisheries and Ecosystem Sciences Division, Gulf Region, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Matthew Hardy

Do you want to deal with the indigenous...?

5:15 p.m.

Director, Resource Management Operations, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Whorley

I'm not sure, off the top of my head, what the licence split-out was there. Maybe the quick thing to do here is to just follow up with the committee, and I can provide you with that.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

That would be great. It would be good to learn about that. Thanks.

Sorry, Mr. Hardy, I'll let you go back to the part about the U.S.

5:15 p.m.

Manager, Fisheries and Ecosystem Sciences Division, Gulf Region, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Matthew Hardy

You'll excuse me. I'm less familiar with the Maritimes region and all the different projects, but there are transboundary committees; there are a series of different collaborations that go on. We exchange information with our Newark counterparts on recruitment indices, landing indices. There are informal discussions and formal discussions through different committees and exchanges. Many of our scientists publish jointly with our American counterparts, so I would qualify the level of scientific exchange between the Canadian scientists and the American scientists as quite good.