Evidence of meeting #103 for Fisheries and Oceans in the 44th 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

Annette Gibbons  Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Mario Pelletier  Commissioner, Canadian Coast Guard
Doug Wentzell  Regional Director General, Gulf Region, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Lisa Marie Barron NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

I have one final question, Minister.

If the chiefs are being told that this transition plan for the open-net fish farms to be removed from the water is that they're going to be given renewed licences for two to six years, but there isn't a transition plan currently available for those who are impacted by these farms, can you see how a predetermined date of licences being provided can be contrary to a transition plan?

If those dates are already predetermined, how is a transition plan going to work?

March 21st, 2024 / 4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Diane Lebouthillier Liberal Gaspésie—Les-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

As I said, it is incorrect to say that the fish farms are going to be closed in 2025. I said that last December. At present, we are working on a transition plan that will provide a discussion tool over the next year, and we hope to have a definitive plan in 2025. In the meantime, we are going to have to discuss the renewal of salmon farm licences. The final date is in June 2024. As I said, the fish farms will not be closed in 2025. That is neither realistic nor responsible.

Right now, we also have to discuss the issue of food security. That is why it is important to me that we hold consultations with the industry about fish farming, with the people who are for and the ones who are against, with the indigenous communities that are for and the ones that are against. We will have to look at the data with the politicians and scientists.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Ken McDonald

Thank you, Minister.

We'll now go to Mr. Perkins for five minutes or less, please.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Perkins Conservative South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, Minister.

Liberal fisheries minister number four, whom I defeated in the 2021 election, did a complete moratorium in 2020, as you have done, on the elver fishery. In 2021, how much did poaching decline as a result?

Am I getting extra time?

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Ken McDonald

Your time is your time. You have to make sure—

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Perkins Conservative South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

I can't wait for interpretation for a minute. Come on.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Diane Lebouthillier Liberal Gaspésie—Les-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Perkins, before answering your question, I would like to know whether you have taken the time to speak with your Toronto colleagues about defending the lobster industry, which is very important for eastern Canada.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Perkins Conservative South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

I have limited time. Please answer the question.

Okay, I'll ask the next one.

Fisheries minister number five, your predecessor, closed the fishery 18 days into last year's season. After the 18 days, how much did poaching go down? It's a simple question. Apparently, it didn't go down after fisheries minister number four. How about number five?

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Diane Lebouthillier Liberal Gaspésie—Les-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

What I can say is that 34 arrests were made in the last week and a half.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Perkins Conservative South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

I asked about 2023.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Diane Lebouthillier Liberal Gaspésie—Les-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

I am talking about what has happened since I have been in office. Ms. Murray did a very good job of stopping eel fishing. When I see what is going on at present, I realize that she made an excellent decision.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Perkins Conservative South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

Let's talk about that. There were 68 arrests last year during 120 days of illegal fishing on 300 rivers, with thousands and thousands of harvesters. How many charges were laid?

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Diane Lebouthillier Liberal Gaspésie—Les-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

I am very glad to have gone to Portland, Maine, to meet my colleagues in Portland who have been working on the issue for ten years and determine the best actions to take. I can assure you—

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Perkins Conservative South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

You don't know the answer. The answer is zero.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again. The previous minister, number four, did this. It didn't work. Number five tried to end it by shutting down the legal fishery. It didn't work. Now you are doing the same thing hoping for a different result. It just sounds crazy.

You said in your opening that the legal fishery will stay closed until you have your regulations in place. Two weeks ago, in this committee, your deputy said that will take at least two years. If there is no fisheries minister number seven and you remain in place, is it going to be at least two years before this fishery opens?

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Diane Lebouthillier Liberal Gaspésie—Les-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

I am going to ask the deputy minister to answer that question. However, I want to assure you that the fishery will be open in 2025. There will be regulations.

I hope you are going to defend the lobster industry. Honestly, it is really a shame for the east coast, the Gaspé and the Maritimes. Please, talk to your colleagues, since it creates jobs in the industry.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Perkins Conservative South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

I think what's shameful, Minister, is that you're favouring the poachers over legal harvesters and putting a thousand families out of work, while bragging at the Boston seafood show that somehow you're defending the fishery, when all you're defending is the poachers. Also, the deputy didn't come here to testify. You did. I expect you to answer questions.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Diane Lebouthillier Liberal Gaspésie—Les-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

As I said at the outset and you very clearly understood, we are going to make sure we have a fishery that will be responsible and safe.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Perkins Conservative South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

Mr. Bragdon, I'll turn it over to you, since I can't seem to get any answers out of the minister.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Ken McDonald

You have one minute.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Richard Bragdon Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Minister, I have just one question.

Obviously, one of the primary roles of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is to hear from the stakeholders, the harvesters and those who will be most affected by your decisions. I think the input we've been hearing in studies and at this committee for a long period of time has been very clear. They feel like the government has not been hearing or responding to their direct input and advice.

As one example of that, over the last eight years, this government has hired no less than 400 additional HR employees and roughly only a net of 60 new enforcement officers, according to the conservation and protection program. That is an absolute indictment on the government and is missing the priority. Do you have any answer to that?

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Diane Lebouthillier Liberal Gaspésie—Les-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

What I can tell you is that we have hired 101 new officers so they can handle protection.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Richard Bragdon Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

That's 101 compared to 400 in HR. I don't think that matches the priorities of the harvesters.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Ken McDonald

Your time is up, Mr. Bragdon.

We'll now go to Mr. Morrissey for five minutes or less, please.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bobby Morrissey Liberal Egmont, PE

Welcome, Minister.

I would like to use the French version of “seals”, but I'll stay away from it.

4:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!