Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thanks to the committee for the invitation to appear. It's a great pleasure to be back here in person for the first time in this Parliament.
As many of you know, the Fisheries Council of Canada is the national trade association representing processors across the country. All of them also harvest.
For the topic of the study today, I'd like to say that I have personally worked on climate change policies for three different sectors over the last 20-plus years, to varying degrees at times, and I have looked at mitigation, adaptation and resiliency-directed policies through them. I am pleased that you're conducting this study. It's a big topic, and every little bit helps.
To give context on how hurricane Fiona affected my members, I should first describe a bit of where they operate and how.
My members operate processing plants at wharves, and their harvesting is largely done, though not exclusively, using frozen-at-sea vessels. If the plants receive harvests from frozen-at-sea vessels, the wharves are largely privately owned and are correspondingly large and on deep water. For the plants that rely on smaller vessels and/or independent harvesters, the wharves can be much more vulnerable to extreme weather events, as you've heard from other witnesses.
I'd like to report that my members were graciously only indirectly affected by Fiona. My heart goes out to all those who were much more directly affected. I can only imagine how devastating it can be to have your homes, your businesses or, worse, your loved ones lost because of Fiona.
However, there will be knock-on effects through the supply chain, because harvesting capacity is diminished. This means that processors won't have the same level of product to supply their customers and they could lose shelf space, which is always difficult to get back.
Earlier this week, you heard from Oceans North. While I may not always agree with Dr. Fuller, I would like to say that in her opening remarks, she gave an accurate characterization of the challenges we face with climate change.
With your indulgence, I have some brief comments on broader climate change through the lenses of mitigation, adaptation and resiliency. After that, I welcome your questions.
In terms of mitigation, actions that can be taken across the sector and the coasts will be differentiated based on the circumstances inside and outside our sector. For example, electrification is an effective option for the inshore fleet, but not necessarily for the offshore fleet. Hydrogen might be a more appropriate alternative fuel for offshore vessels.
Within my membership, companies have largely picked the low-hanging fruit, which are the actions that conserve energy and cut costs. The more transformative actions are slower in coming because they require more collaboration and involve considerably more risk and a lot more money. However, the Ocean Supercluster and other efforts are advancing new technologies, such as replacing doors on trawl nets. This could improve fuel efficiency upward of 30%, because it drastically reduces the drag on the vessel.
For adaptation, we are experiencing climate change impacts already on the oceans and our fish resources, and these impacts will only get more pronounced in the decades to come.
DFO has been working with the FAO and allied jurisdictions to better understand these climate impacts on our oceans and the corresponding adaptation strategies. I applaud that collaborative approach. A lot of this relates to how DFO manages our fish resources and the broader ocean ecosystem, but it also includes regulations that govern our sector.
I look forward to ongoing dialogue on these complex issues. A good example is how the fisheries science and management decisions that follow will incorporate climate impacts. It will be paramount to engage the sector as this is done, so that we can understand and buy into it.
Thinking more broadly than just DFO, a national adaptation strategy was released yesterday. I am glad that it is there, but I have to say that its development lacked meaningful engagement with the ocean sector, and particularly the fisheries sector. In fact, with all the attention to the blue economy and oceans, one could have expected that the ocean would have been its own theme in the strategy. Instead, it was mostly implicit, not explicit, across the five themes.
Quite frankly, I was quite disappointed in the process and the draft strategy. I'm still reviewing the final version, but from a quick scan, I didn't see a whole lot that had changed in how oceans or fisheries are considered.
In terms of resiliency, true resiliency is all-encompassing and includes the sector's assets, community infrastructure and, in fact, the global supply chain. You've heard considerable testimony from others on this.
We, individually and collectively, need to consider how and where we build infrastructure. For example, our building codes, our engineering standards for where and how we work and live, need to better incorporate resiliency.
Thank you. I look forward to your questions.