Evidence of meeting #78 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 area.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Tom Smith  Executive Director, Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia
Maria Recchia  Executive Director, Fundy North Fishermen's Association
Lois Mitchell  Designated Board Representative, Fundy North Fishermen's Association
Stephen Woodley  Vice-Chair of Science and Biodiversity, World Commission on Protected Areas, International Union for Conservation of Nature
Linda Nowlan  Staff Counsel, West Coast Environmental Law Association

10:35 a.m.

Vice-Chair of Science and Biodiversity, World Commission on Protected Areas, International Union for Conservation of Nature

Dr. Stephen Woodley

No, and we don't have to, I don't think, because categories of protected areas—and these are all established, written down, and agreed to—do allow for indigenous take, both on land and sea. I don't see that as an issue.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Bernadette Jordan Liberal South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

I would like you to give me a bit of clarity on a couple of your comments. You said that industrial activities in MPAs should not be allowed—

10:35 a.m.

Vice-Chair of Science and Biodiversity, World Commission on Protected Areas, International Union for Conservation of Nature

Dr. Stephen Woodley

Environmentally damaging industrial activities, yes.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Bernadette Jordan Liberal South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

Okay. But then you went on to say that a locally based fishery would be acceptable. However, a locally based fishery is a commercial fishery in a lot of cases. I'm just wondering how you marry those two.

10:35 a.m.

Vice-Chair of Science and Biodiversity, World Commission on Protected Areas, International Union for Conservation of Nature

Dr. Stephen Woodley

The IUCN guidance is global, so it needs to be interpreted in a northern developed country. In many cases in the world, the fisheries are local. They just provide for local needs, and that could be the case in Canada. It's all about scale, really. All of these impacts are about scale. If it has a very large scale, it becomes commercial.

We're not talking about commercial fishery, but neither in the IUCN world are we too concerned if somebody is selling a few fish to a neighbouring village.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Bernadette Jordan Liberal South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

Where I come from, the local fishery is a huge exporter.

10:35 a.m.

Vice-Chair of Science and Biodiversity, World Commission on Protected Areas, International Union for Conservation of Nature

Dr. Stephen Woodley

Then it's a commercial fishery.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Bernadette Jordan Liberal South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

Yes, it's a commercial fishery.

I want to just go a bit more to Mr. Donnelly's points on spinoff effects because you used the haddock box as an example. Do you see spinoff effects in the scallop industry? Scallops really don't move. We've talked about bottom trawling and the challenges, but scallops kind of sit on the bottom. The only way they move is through currents, so I don't see a huge spinoff or spillover effect within the scallop industry. Am I wrong?

10:35 a.m.

Vice-Chair of Science and Biodiversity, World Commission on Protected Areas, International Union for Conservation of Nature

Dr. Stephen Woodley

I think so because scallops spawn, and those spawn travel a huge distance before they settle again. In many cases, the scallops that are being fished aren't from there; they're from up current. Actually, it's pretty well demonstrated that these sessile or in-place communities can have huge benefits long distances away.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Bernadette Jordan Liberal South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

We heard from the previous witnesses that there's certain gear that they would like to see banned, but they are still trawlers. The group they represent are trawlers, but there is certain gear in the trawling industry that they would like to see banned. Do you see a gear definition being part of this? Is there a way to allow for a fishery with gear that is maybe more acceptable?

10:40 a.m.

Vice-Chair of Science and Biodiversity, World Commission on Protected Areas, International Union for Conservation of Nature

Dr. Stephen Woodley

Certainly gear is important. It's hard to legislate gear because gear changes very rapidly. If we're talking about certain ways of catching fish, such as longlining, they can be relatively benign and relatively targeted at some fisheries, and they can be relatively destructive in others. If you look at albatross declines in the southern oceans, that's all been from longline fisheries. They've been able to mitigate that with changes in gear. I think your point is extremely well taken that gear is fundamental, but I'm not sure how you would legislate it.

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Bernadette Jordan Liberal South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

My final question to you is about the predator, about allowing for some management of predator species. If we have something that's a no-take zone or a sensitive benthic area or whatever, and there's a species that's causing damage, do you see that as something that we should be able to go in and deal with?

10:40 a.m.

Vice-Chair of Science and Biodiversity, World Commission on Protected Areas, International Union for Conservation of Nature

Dr. Stephen Woodley

There are a lot of examples around that. You can look at the crown-of-thorns starfish on the Great Barrier Reef. There are active controls on crown-of-thorns starfish because of their ecological impact on the Great Barrier Reef. It is true that management actions within protected areas are acceptable, and they occur all around the world.

If you're talking about seal management or something like that, we could get into the details of it, if you would like. I'm not sure if that's your question.

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Bernadette Jordan Liberal South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

That would be one.

10:40 a.m.

Vice-Chair of Science and Biodiversity, World Commission on Protected Areas, International Union for Conservation of Nature

Dr. Stephen Woodley

I actually took part in the seal ZAP, as it was called, the zonal advisory process on grey seals. We were not able to determine that grey seals were having a significant impact on any fishery off coastal Nova Scotia. It's highly speculative that it has an impact on the southern gulf cod population, so where and when you would have to control seals to allow for recovery of southern gulf cod is still a highly complex question, and it wouldn't necessarily impact any MPA.

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Bernadette Jordan Liberal South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

Thank you.

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Scott Simms

Thank you, Ms. Jordan.

Mr. Calkins, please, you have five minutes.

November 23rd, 2017 / 10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I really appreciate the testimony from the witnesses who are here today.

I have a question for you in regard to the comparison that Mr. Woodley made as a former Parks Canada employee, much like I am. I think there's an agreement from Ms. Nowlan as well that we should take a look at the maintenance of the ecological integrity aspect of the MPAs. While in theory I have no problem with that either—I actually stand behind that—I also understand that we can't save or protect large enough tracts of land or large enough tracts of the benthic ocean to allow 100% completely ecological activity to remain in whatever state of balance that actually is.

It's naive to think that homeostasis is a reality, because that's not the reality of the living world. Homeostasis is something that Mother Nature always strives to find but never does. My question, then, getting back to the national parks or the terrestrial comparison between MPAs and national parks or protected areas on land, deals with the aspect of economic activity.

Ms. Nowlan, I think you highlighted the fact that the Great Barrier Reef in Australia provides significant economic activity as a result of being protected. I'm not aware of any formal structures like that in and around Canada's coasts. I stand to be enlightened if that's the case, but I want to talk a bit about economic activity. When we talk about having a national park with ecological activity, we still provide massive tourism opportunities inside our national parks.

Should seal watching or whale-watching or any other type of activity upon the creation of a marine protected area result in a significant wildlife bloom that was thought to be worthy for the tourist industry to pursue, would it be reasonable to ask how your organizations would feel about that?

10:45 a.m.

Vice-Chair of Science and Biodiversity, World Commission on Protected Areas, International Union for Conservation of Nature

Dr. Stephen Woodley

Do you want to answer, Linda?

10:45 a.m.

Staff Counsel, West Coast Environmental Law Association

Linda Nowlan

Sure.

I think I'll take whale-watching as an economic activity. It is more valuable economically than hunting whales, and there are studies that show that. It's much more valuable to keep whales alive and to let people go to see them. It's an industry that's blossoming and blooming around the world. It's not a damaging activity if the right safeguards are in place and if the right distances are kept from the whales that you're watching.

Yes, I think that is definitely the type of activity that would be and should be allowed in marine protected areas. We have Gwaii Haanas in the southern half of Haida Gwaii, which is a national marine conservation area. It's a huge source of economic activity for those islands, and whale-watching and wildlife viewing are definitely a part of that.

I think the reason we don't have any equivalent to the statistics or numbers about places like the Great Barrier Reef park in Australia is that we don't have any huge marine protected areas in Canada that allow a lot of tourism. We just don't have those big areas in place right now.

10:45 a.m.

Vice-Chair of Science and Biodiversity, World Commission on Protected Areas, International Union for Conservation of Nature

Dr. Stephen Woodley

The Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park, jointly run by Canada and Quebec, would probably be the best example. Forty years ago, we thought that beluga whales were a predator on cod and were decreasing cod. We licensed people to shoot belugas. We even bombed belugas from the air as a management tool. We now know that was incorrect. That park now is a global tourist attractor with huge economic opportunities. The village of Tadoussac has gone from being a poor fishing village to being a vibrant tourism community.

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Would it be unreasonable for me to presume that an inshore marine protected area, upon its establishment, could create enough of a fisheries bloom—whether it's benthic species, pelagic species, or whatever the case may be—that it might actually attract seals? I think it's a real possibility. As a matter of fact, I fully expect it. Should we actually put some marine protected areas out there?

Seals are the wolves of the sea. It's no secret. I'm a hunter and former park warden. I know where the guides and outfitters like to set up their camps. They set them up along the park boundary for bighorn sheep. They know they're going to get some spillover from that park. However, I also know that after about 20 years of the change in the management strategy, in zone 429 in Alberta, I can't find an elk anywhere because of the spillover from wolves and other predators that have moved out of the national park and into the forested areas, onto the eastern slopes of Alberta. Whether Alberta has properly managed that is another question, but I see more wolf and cougar tracks than I see elk tracks on most of the eastern slopes of Alberta.

Would your organizations be prepared to come back to this table in 20 years? I can tell you right now that Parks Canada has the ability to cull wolves inside a national park. They don't do it because of the political pressure. Would your organizations be prepared to come back in 20 years and say it's time to kill the seals in this marine protected area, if it were necessary?

10:45 a.m.

Vice-Chair of Science and Biodiversity, World Commission on Protected Areas, International Union for Conservation of Nature

Dr. Stephen Woodley

IUCN is a science-based organization. We develop all of our policies on evidence-based decision-making. If that were the evidence, and I'm not aware if it is, then certainly.

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Scott Simms

Ms. Nowlan, would you like to respond to that?

10:45 a.m.

Staff Counsel, West Coast Environmental Law Association

Linda Nowlan

Yes. For seals it's not an area that I'm really aware of, so I'll just agree with my colleague Stephen Woodley on this. Laws should be based on science—environmental law in particular. It's hard to answer that hypothetical without knowing the science involved 20 years from now.