Thank you, Mr. Chair, and welcome to the Minister and departmental officials for being with us this morning.
The supplementary estimates (C) 2017-18 request $488,563 in new funding for the fisheries and aquaculture clean technology adoption program, which provides funding to assist Canada's fisheries and aquaculture industries to improve their environmental performance.
As the minister knows, the best way to improve the environmental performance of fish farms is to get them out of the water and onto land. The Namgis First Nation is going to court this week, seeking a judicial review of Fisheries and Oceans Canada policy that doesn't mandate testing for piscine orthoreovirus before the scheduled transfer of Atlantic smolts to Marine Harvest's open net salmon farm in the Namgis territory, and an injunction preventing the minister from issuing a licence permitting the transfer of the smolts.
Chief Don Svanvik states:
We have made every attempt to engage Canada in good faith on their PRV policy and the transfer of Atlantic salmon into our territory, but it refused to consult with us. Namgis has no other option to protect wild salmon, our title and rights and ultimately who we are as people but to ask the Court to intervene to prevent the serious, irreversible harm being visited upon us by Canada and Marine Harvest.
Minister, will any of the allocated money be used to help transition farms out of first nation territories and onto land?
Moreover, when it comes to RAS, the train is leaving the station, and B.C. is not on it, and Canada is not on it. We have no strategy. Land-based closed containment aquaculture represents an opportunity for Canada, and B.C. in particular, to play a leading role in an emerging market. However, the opportunity is highly time sensitive.
Several commercial scale Atlantic salmon land-based closed containment projects are already under way. The U.S. has six facilities in development, which will produce more than 200,000 tonnes. Other countries are following its lead: Norway, Scotland, Denmark, Poland, South Africa, Switzerland, China, and France. Here in Canada we have three facilities: Kuterra, Canaqua, and Sustainable Blue. Between the three facilities, they're producing almost 1,000 tonnes. The U.S. plans to produce 20 times that.
B.C. is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the trend toward safe closed containment. The growth path for this industry could be greatly accelerated if appropriate incentives were put in place and regulations.
I'll leave it at that, and ask for your comments, Minister.