Evidence of meeting #74 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 going.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Kevin Stringer  Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Jeff MacDonald  Director General, Oceans and Fisheries Policy, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

9:35 a.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Is there any time left?

9:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Scott Simms

You have 30 seconds.

9:35 a.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Oh, good.

Quickly, in the regulations that follow, what clarity can we expect to see through the regulations that are developed to back this up?

9:35 a.m.

Director General, Oceans and Fisheries Policy, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Jeff MacDonald

I'll go back to the point you were asking about earlier concerning coordination. This is one reason the interim protection MPA is subject to the Statutory Instruments Act. We work closely with other departments and agencies, not just federally but also with provincial and municipal authorities and Indigenous governments, because they too can authorize activities in the marine environment. The idea of freezing the footprint is really to identify, in the area under question, what is actually taking place.

We will obviously work on that and identify it, but there is a final formal process through the gazetting whereby we say, “This is what we know is permitted.” Prior to the interim protection's being applied, there's an opportunity for that last chance to say that we may have missed something, and so we know that this is also an ongoing activity.

9:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Scott Simms

Thank you, Mr. MacDonald.

Mr. Donnelly is next, for three minutes, please.

9:35 a.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

On the topic of first nations co-management, the federal government's commitments to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and working in true nation-to-nation relationships with Canada's Indigenous peoples, consistent with the Canadian Constitution, should be reflected in the Oceans Act. Marine protected areas are an opportunity to advance reconciliation. Bill C-55, however, fails to include specific provisions to accomplish this.

There are already successful examples in Canada of co-management that the government can look to for guidance and inspiration, for example, the co-management agreement between the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada over Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, or Parks Canada's co-operative management model in the Arctic.

Is the government considering including in Bill C-55 recognition of indigenous governance rights and co-governance models, appropriate recognition of indigenous protected and conserved areas, and—I think you've spoken to this—the delegation of monitoring and enforcement authority to indigenous guardians?

9:40 a.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Kevin Stringer

I'll jump in.

There are three things to mention. First, Jeff spoke to the final point about working with indigenous communities in terms of guardians, monitoring, and enforcement. We see that as a really useful tool. Second, the Oceans Act, at section 2.1, is one of the first pieces of federal legislation to include a section that says “nothing in this Act shall...abrogate or derogate from...aboriginal...rights”. That piece is there. Third, moving forward on managing oceans with indigenous communities is a huge initiative, and one that we continue to work on. You mentioned the Haida. We are working with the Haida and hopeful of advancing discussions with them.

We're working with others on the west coast as well. To be candid, 15 years ago, we used to talk about fisheries. We're now talking about fisheries and oceans and the management of ocean spaces. There is no question that indigenous communities are partners in that regard and stewards with us. We are working on new initiatives to be able to do that. The west coast, the Arctic, and the east coast are all a bit different, but all have some of the same principles and we are seeking to make advances there.

9:40 a.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

You spoke to two out of the three. What about the indigenous-identified protected areas?

9:40 a.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Kevin Stringer

There's work under way on indigenous-identified protected areas, led by Parks Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada and working with indigenous groups. It's going to be a very interesting new area. We have all the tools we talked about: the national marine conservation areas, the Oceans Act MPAs, and the wildlife areas from Environment and Climate Change Canada. We have other effective area-based measures, and we will have indigenous protected areas. That is an element that is still being developed as a concept but is hugely important.

Some of the protected areas we're looking at, regardless of whether they end up being an IPA or not, are about protecting an area in the north for walrus haulout. It's protection from other activities that are taking place for traditional harvesting. Work is under way on that. It's an exciting new concept and one that will be part of the overall protected network. Regardless of whether it counts towards the 5% and 10%, it will be an important initiative, and we're moving forward on it with colleagues and government.

9:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Scott Simms

Thank you, Mr. Stringer. Thank you, Mr. Donnelly.

We have a bit of time left. We're doing committee business and we have an hour to do it, which is quite a bit of time. If you would like to keep this going, not that I want to prolong the agony by any stretch of the imagination, I'm looking for quick questions and anything you want to clear up. I'm not going to use the time. I just want you to ask one quick question and get a quick answer, if you could. We'll do it by party. I see Mr. Arnold, Mr. Donnelly, Mr. Morrissey, and if we have time, we'll come back to Mr. Doherty. I'll get to you, Mr. Doherty. Don't worry.

Mr. Arnold, go ahead.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair, for the indulgence here.

The recent announcements on the west coast—by my calculations, and I may be slightly off—actually account for 35% of the 5% target for 2017. Because of the area involved, that one announcement accounts for 35% of the 5% target. Even by 2010 at 10%, that will still be 17% of the entire goal tied up in one identified area.

How does that speak to biodiversity that may be as or more important than other areas that need to be protected? How much more of that area is going to be locked up on the west coast, disproportionate to the rest of the country?

9:45 a.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Kevin Stringer

That was a significant closure. It protected 11 seamounts, and it's 1.44% of the 5.22%, which is what we're currently at. If you looked at our five-point plan to get to the 10%, it is absolutely considered as part of that. The next phase is going to be largely about marine protected area networks and ensuring that we have the connectivity, duplication, and the right things protected in all the different areas. That is where we're going to need to be engaging effectively with environmental, indigenous, and fisheries groups, etc.

We have protections that make up the 5% on the west coast, on the east coast, and in the Arctic. We all know Lancaster Sound was 1.9%. Then there was 1.44% for the west coast, plus Hecate Strait was a small amount—that was a fairly recent announcement. On the east coast, there's St. Anns Bank. There are fisheries closures that we talked about here that we know are on their way. We have made sure and will make sure that we have a genuine balance, and that we are protecting things we've identified through the science as needing protection.

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Scott Simms

Thank you, Mr. Stringer.

Mr. Donnelly, very quickly.

9:45 a.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I am going to switch to enforcement for a second.

There was a report in 2014 that I was going to mention. It said that around the world, MPAs can't be distinguished from other areas if you don't have the basic threshold for management. It went on to say that they lack staffing and funding to accomplish the effective monitoring and enforcement. Funding and staffing were found to be the biggest predictors of conservation outcomes.

Mr. Stringer, you mentioned that last year 1,000 hours, and this year 1,500 hours have gone to enforcement so far. Will the government be expanding the number of resources required to enforce and protect and monitor these MPAs, and how are you looking at doing that? Those 1,500 hours seem pretty inadequate to cover 5% of our oceans.

9:45 a.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Kevin Stringer

That's for MPAs in particular, not other effective area-based measures. We'd have to look at that together.

We are looking at that. We are taking the enforcement and monitoring of it seriously. One of the objectives that we would take at the time, once we freeze the footprint, is to ensure that we have an appropriate management plan, monitoring plan, and enforcement plan. That goes as part of the regulatory process going forward.

As I said, internationally and domestically, that is becoming more and more the focus. As people are starting to meet their targets, people are now saying, “Okay, so you've identified it. How do we make sure we have the enforcement?”

Canada is going to make sure we are at the forefront of making sure they are effectively enforced.

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Scott Simms

Thank you, Mr. Stringer.

Mr. Morrissey.

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

Bobby Morrissey Liberal Egmont, PE

Thank you, Chair.

I would like to start by making a comment. As a marine country, let's put things in perspective. We're talking about fishers having access to 95% of the marine resource in this large country.

The east coast fisheries, primarily the most lucrative ones, crab and lobster, are recognized internationally as marine sustainable because of the extensive work done by DFO and fishery communities on the sustainability of those two fisheries. That depends a lot on the extensive science of DFO, something the former government didn't pay a lot of attention to.

We recognize the science and the ability of maintaining those lucrative fisheries going forward. Could you comment on that, and how the marine certifiability of those two fisheries would factor into any decision-making on marine protected areas?

9:45 a.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Kevin Stringer

Again, it speaks to the broad set of conservation tools that we have.

One of the most important things that we advertise to the world is that Canada's lucrative fisheries, Canada's most important fisheries, are certified by the MSC. We're very proud of that. We work closely with the fisheries groups. It is an industry-led process, but one that we support with our management tools, with our science, etc.

All of that work contributes to where we apply protection, where there are MPAs, where there are other effective area-based measures, and where there are closures. No doubt our work on MPAs and protected areas also contributes to our ability to achieve certification or help industry to achieve certification. It really is a significant piece. I think over 75% of our landed value is “certified” by MSC, and we have more percentage than I think any other country in the world. Our industry has a good record on that.

9:50 a.m.

Liberal

Bobby Morrissey Liberal Egmont, PE

Thank you.

9:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Scott Simms

Thank you, Mr. Morrissey and Mr. Stringer.

Mr. Doherty, to end.

November 2nd, 2017 / 9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Stringer, I'm going to rattle off a few names for you to begin with.

You've mentioned that there will be fisheries closures coming up. If we're going to be partisan here, I'll take a shot as well, thanks to Mr. Morrissey's comment about a previous government. It is shameful that our colleagues across the way are throwing softballs at you, and the minister previously, when there are going to be fishery closures in their neck of the woods, job losses, and potentially economic losses.

George Zinck, president of the Prospect Area Full-Time Fishermen’s Association in Nova Scotia is talking about the MPAs. They're not clear about the the process. At the Cape Breton Snow Crab Fishermen's Association, Basil MacLean and Bill MacDonald are worried.

There is Peter Connors, president, Eastern Shore Fisherman's Protective Association is worried about the MPAs. We also have Ian MacPherson, executive director of the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association; Leonard LeBlanc and Veronika Brzeski, Cape Breton Fish Harvester Association; Jim McIsaac, Canadian Independent Fish Harvester's Federation; Keith Colwell, Nova Scotia fisheries minister; Andrea Paul, chief of Pictou Landing First Nation; and Gord MacDonald, fisherman in Nova Scotia, and the list goes on. There are concerns from fishermen who are going to be impacted from here. If they're not going to stand up for the fishers in their neck of the woods....

Mr. Stringer, when you say there are going to be fisheries closures and your message to them is, “Well, there are going to be fisheries closures here, but you can just go to the next site”, we know there are costs associated with that. They may need a bigger boat. They may need different gear.

It is unacceptable that we have so much concern with stakeholders. I see that the parliamentary secretary has handed a note for you to follow. This is unacceptable that this consultation.... You have messages from stakeholders that you've said are key stakeholders in the process. Our first nations on the west coast, the premier of the Northwest Territories, are all saying the same. The consultations are a sham. They're all saying the same.

If our colleagues across the way won't stand up for them, we're going to. What do you have to say to the fishers who are worried about their livelihoods—and those families who are worried—and the economy, and the jobs that they're going to lose?

9:50 a.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Kevin Stringer

Our job is to ensure that we're providing the appropriate protection where it's required, so that we can grow biodiversity so that there are more fish. The world will need more fish, and our objective and our job is to make sure that there is a robust commercial and recreational fishery that is supported by MPAs.

It has been a busy two years. We have sought to meet the target. We have engaged extensively, and we hear you that people are nervous about it. We do talk to them regularly. We will need them as we go forward as partners in this, and we are committed to making sure that we continue to work with them on those things. They too are expressing to us concerns about the ocean and what we're doing in the ocean. They expect us to move forward on oceans protection as well. We need to make sure that as we go forward from 5% to 10%—it took us two years to get to 5% and we have three years to get to 10%—that we're working closely with them, so that when you're engaging with them, you're hearing different things than you're telling us you're hearing so far.

We need to do that.

9:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Scott Simms

Thank you, Mr. Stringer.

Thank you, colleagues.

We appreciate your time, Mr. Morel, Mr. Stringer, Mr. MacDonald. You've been very generous with your time, and we appreciate that. We bid you a good day in this wonderful Ottawa weather.

Colleagues, take a few minutes, and when I see that we're ready to go again, we'll be in camera.

[Proceedings continue in camera]