House of Commons Hansard #209 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was nafo.


PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure to table today under Standing Order 36 identical petitions on behalf of the hon. members of Provencher and Nanaimo--Cowichan.

These petitions condemn the use of child pornography and the inadequate application of our child pornography laws by the courts. The petitioners call upon the government to take all necessary steps to protect Canadian children against pedophiles, child pornographers and others who exploit them.

These petitions have been signed by over 1,500 concerned citizens from across Canada, largely from the ridings of Provencher and Portage--Lisgar in Manitoba and Nanaimo--Cowichan in British Columbia.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.


Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition signed by 847 people, in addition to the 1,755 others who have already signed it, calling on the government to pass a motion to use all its diplomatic, political and economic channels to get the case of Kimy Pernia resolved by the Colombian authorities, and to end the massacres of the Colombian people.

At the people's summit held in Quebec City in April 2001, Kimy Pernia, an aboriginal guest from Colombia, condemned the situation of exclusion and violence, of which the members of his community, Embera Katio del Alto Sinu, are victims, particularly at the hands of the death squads, which are paramilitary groups close to the Colombian army.

Upon his return to Colombia, Kimy Pernia was abducted by the paramilitary and has now been missing for one year. This crime against humanity is connected to his coming to Quebec City and taking part in the international forum.

I call on all those who took part in the people's summit to show their solidarity with Kimy Pernia. A march was held in Quebec City on June 1 to obtain his release. His friends and family are very worried and upset by his disappearance.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.


Jerry Pickard Liberal Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, under Standing Order 36, I have several hundred signatures from Essex county in southwestern Ontario.

The petitioners are requesting the Parliament of Canada to ban human embryo research and direct the Canadian Institutes for Health Research to support and fund only promising ethical research that does not involve the destruction of human life.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.


Jerry Pickard Liberal Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by several people. The petitioners ask parliament to repeal Section 13(5) of the Canada Post Corporation Act.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.


Brenda Chamberlain Liberal Guelph—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have several petitions. I presented petitions personally to the minister yesterday. The petition I present today asks the Minister of Justice for a timely review of the Steven Truscott case. As we know, he was 14 at the time when he was sentenced to death. The petitioners want a judicial review of this case and they want it done in a timely fashion.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dave Chatters Canadian Alliance Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, like my colleagues, I would like to present a petition today from my riding. The petitioners were motivated of course by the John Robin Sharpe decision on child pornography.

The petitioners call upon parliament to protect our children by taking all necessary steps to ensure that all materials which promote or glorify pedophilia and sado-masochistic activities involving children are outlawed.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.


Rose-Marie Ur Liberal Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I wish to present a petition on behalf of the constituents living in the towns of Wallaceburg and Dresden in the riding of Lambton--Kent--Middlesex. The petitioners call upon parliament to ask the Minister of Justice to undertake a thorough re-examination of the Truscott case within a reasonable time period and to ensure that justice be restored to Mr. Truscott.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.


Rose-Marie Ur Liberal Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I wish to present a second petition on behalf of the constituents living in the riding of Lambton--Kent--Middlesex. The petitioners call upon parliament to protect the health of seniors and children and to save our environment by banning the disputed gas additive MMT as it creates smog and enhances global warming.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Andy Burton Canadian Alliance Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, under Standing Order 36, I am tabling a petition today from a number of residents of the Queen Charlotte Islands in my riding of Skeena. Similar to numerous petitions tabled recently, this one calls upon parliament to protect our children by taking all necessary steps to ensure that all materials which promote or glorify pedophilia or sado-masochistic activities involving children are outlawed.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.


Charles Hubbard Liberal Miramichi, NB

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have two petitions from my area. The petitioners are concerned about child pornography and they call upon our courts and justice system to be more aggressive in addressing this issue.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.


Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the members of the Anglican Church of Canada who reside in the Anglican diocese of Huron in the province of Ontario, I wish to submit a petition for the case of litigation involving the Mohawk Institute and the Anglican diocese. The petition calls upon parliament to resolve this issue of residential school litigation outside the court system before further ruin is brought upon the diocese of Huron and the Anglican Church of Canada, as $1.5 million has gone to legal fees already with no resolution to the situation.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from a number of citizens of Canada. The petitioners believe that an injustice was done to Steven Truscott, that the case should be re-examined in a timely fashion and that justice should be restored.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy Progressive Conservative South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I present a petition on behalf of the citizens of Canada, mainly from the Guelph area. The petitioners call upon parliament to ask the Minister of Justice to undertake a further re-examination of the Steven Truscott case within a reasonable time period and to ensure that justice be restored to Mr. Truscott.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

If there are no other petitions, I would like to thank all members present in the House for their co-operation. We will now go back to the business before the House prior to tabling petitions.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

June 19th, 2002 / 3:45 p.m.

Burin—St. George's Newfoundland & Labrador


Bill Matthews LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate today in this discussion on the standing committee report on the nose and tail and the Flemish Cap of the Grand Banks and foreign overfishing.

At the outset I want to commend the chair and the members of the committee for doing a fantastic job. They went about hearings and spent a considerable time compiling a report. As other members have said prior to my speaking today, they deliberated long and hard to come up with a report to adequately deal with the very serious problem affecting the livelihoods of many rural communities in Atlantic Canada but specifically rural communities in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I represent a riding in Newfoundland and Labrador, the southwest coast, that has been decimated because of the devastation of our cod stocks. As the member for Cumberland--Colchester said, the moratorium was imposed in 1992 and everyone thought that by now we would have seen a significant rejuvenation and regeneration of our cod stocks, but it has not happened. In all fairness there are a number of reasons for that, but certainly a very important factor has been the flagrant violations by members of NAFO, the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization. There have been flagrant violations year after year.

This year NAFO is celebrating its 25th anniversary. There is an upcoming meeting in Spain in September. What the committee really wanted to do was arm the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the government with a report to give some leverage and some ammunition for trying to deal with this very serious problem. A number of countries that form the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization have been identified as violators for many years.

One of the biggest weaknesses of the NAFO arrangement is known as the objection procedure. NAFO has a scientific council that analyzes and assesses the fish stocks in the NAFO regulatory areas. Each year the council prepares a report for NAFO. It makes recommendations on specific fish stocks as to what the total allowable catch should be or what the health of a certain fish stock is. That scientific council then makes a recommendation of a total allowable catch, but because of this, in my view, very obscene objection procedure, all a country has to do if it disagrees with the advice of the scientific council is register an objection. Then it sets its own total allowable catch and flagrantly overfishes that fish stock. One of the biggest problems with NAFO over the years has been this objection procedure.

Imagine a scientific council, which also involves scientific information from Canada, that makes a recommendation on a particular fish stock. A country completely ignores that recommendation and then catches, in some cases, five, six or ten times the total allowable catch of a particular fish stock. That is one of the biggest problems we have with NAFO.

Meeting after meeting, year after year, countries such as Canada go to NAFO with a delegation. We have a delegation head and commissioners who go to those meetings and review the activities of the NAFO partners. Year after year for the last 25 years there have been significant weaknesses that have been identified and corrective actions have been recommended, but certain countries just continue to violate.

Therefore, in its wisdom, in my view, the committee this year held hearings on this very important issue, the nose and tail and the Flemish Cap of the Grand Banks. In my view the committee produced a tremendous report. The recommendations are very direct and frank and very precise. As one member of the committee, I feel that it is a very useful tool for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and for the Government of Canada to use to try to address this very major problem.

Last year when the Canadian delegation came back from NAFO, its members made some very alarming statements about what was really happening on the nose and tail and the Flemish Cap of the Grand Banks.They talked about Canada being isolated. They talked about countries ignoring the scientific advice of the NAFO scientific council. They talked about the weakness in the observer reports, which my colleague opposite has alluded to. In some cases the observers are actually members of the crew. We can imagine how objective an observer report is when the observer is actually working for the captain. Of course the livelihood of that particular observer as a crew member is dependent on the amount of fish that the vessel catches.We can imagine the impact that would have on an observer reports.

These are the kinds of things that have been happening over the years and these are the kinds of things that the same countries have continually ignored and continually violated. They have refused to address those very important issues. This year past, the Canadian delegation came back in a state of great alarm. As a matter of fact, in front of the standing committee, our head of delegation, Mr. Chamut, who is an assistant deputy minister in the department of fisheries, described the situation and alluded to those alarming facts.

Of course all of that was taken into consideration when the committee did its report and finally decided on the recommendations of the report. Those very important observations from our Canadian delegation were certainly a very critical consideration and a very critical point of the report.

Of course as well we went to Newfoundland and Labrador and heard some very compelling evidence from people who have been long associated with the fishing industry: people who have been top executives with companies, people who are community leaders, and mayors, union people and processors. On and on the lists went. The evidence was very compelling. It certainly had a huge impact on members of the committee, particularly those members of the committee who come from central and western Canada, because of course they were not as conversant with the issues as we were, coming from Atlantic Canada.

Having said that, I want to thank all the members of the committee for their support and for the report. It is very important that everyone in the House realize that this is an all party committee report. It is a unanimous report. There is no minority report. It is unanimous, strong, direct and frank, and in my view it should still serve as a very useful tool for the Government of Canada as it proceeds to address this very important issue.

The committee is recommending establishing custodial management. I think that has been talked about by every speaker to date. If we continue to leave the management and the regulation of these fisheries to the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, it is the strong view of the committee that nothing will change. We have given NAFO so many opportunities in the past to clean up its act, but it has not happened.

We believe that it is time for the Government of Canada to finally take the lead on the issue, to strike a management regime over the nose and tail and Flemish Cap of the Grand Banks and as well, of course, over the fisheries resource that falls within the 200 mile limit. In a lot of cases, as has been alluded to by other members, those fish stocks are the same because they are known as straddling stocks. They swim. Sometimes they are outside the 200 mile limit and at other times they are inside the 200 mile limit. We have to realize that in a large measure we are talking about the same fish.

However, there is something really alarming about all of this. When we shut down the cod fishery and imposed a moratorium, our own fishermen in Newfoundland and Labrador and Atlantic Canada stopped fishing, but foreigners continued to fish outside the 200 mile limit and foreigners continued to take the same fish that we stopped fishing in the name of conservation.

To reiterate the point, just a few weeks ago, one of the largest fish companies in Canada, Fishery Products International, was engaged in a yellowtail flounder fishery, which it does each year. In that yellowtail flounder fishery this year, the bycatch of American plaice was unusually high. Of course it is common practice that when a bycatch level exceeds a certain percentage the fishery shuts down. This year, Fishery Products International, in the name of conservation, stopped harvesting yellowtail flounder prematurely because the bycatch of American plaice was too high. What did that do?

That meant that FPI had to shut down its groundfish operation in the town of Marystown, which employed approximately 600 people. This also had an impact on its groundfish operations in the towns of Fortune and Harbour Breton, which again impacts another 800 to 900 people. A responsible Canadian company shut down its fishery and called in its boats because the bycatch of American plaice was too high, but what is happening outside the 200 mile limit is what is alarming.

American plaice, by the way, is under moratorium by NAFO. What is happening? Our company shuts down and will not fish yellowtail flounder because of the bycatch of American plaice. What is happening outside the 200 mile limit? Certain NAFO countries have a directed fishery for American plaice. That is what is happening. Then there are those people who say we should continue with NAFO and who ask what are we going to have if we do not have NAFO?

In my view, to continue with NAFO will just be a continuous failure. To continue with NAFO will mean more of the same. It will mean that our stocks will never rejuvenate and will never replenish. There has to be a change in the management regime. In my view, the committee in its wisdom has made the proper recommendation: that Canada establish a custodial management regime.

My friend from the Alliance Party, and I apologize for not recognizing his riding, made a very interesting observation in his comments and questions when he talked about it not being the desire of the committee that we push the other countries out. It is the view of the committee that we should look at historic attachment, historic fishing patterns and historic practices and consequently divvy up the fish based on that. That was the member's point. In my view, and I do not mean to speak for all the members of the committee, that is what the members of the committee desire. That is what the members of the committee want done.

We know we cannot go in, flex our muscles and tell other countries that they are out of the zone, that they will not get any of this fish. We have been selling them fish for 400 years. Spain and Portugal have been fishing off our shores for 400 years. We just cannot do that even though they are probably the most flagrant violators and have consistently been so. They do have an historical attachment to the fish and the resource. All we are saying is, let Canada manage the resource, let Canada enforce the zone.

Yes, there are those who will say we cannot afford to do that. I remember a comparable debate a few years ago in the house of assembly in the legislature of Newfoundland. The premier of Newfoundland and Labrador of the day and I used to debate this issue fairly regularly. His common line always was that Newfoundland and Labrador could not afford to have more control and say over its very important fisheries resources off our shores. I consistently said to him, and I thought perhaps I would make some gain with him with a sobering thought, “Mr. Premier, Newfoundland and Labrador cannot afford not to take more control of its fisheries resources off its shores”. I am sorry to say that I have been proven right. Because in regard to what that resource and then the downturn and the decimation of its fish stocks have meant to the economy and the way of life of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, I am sure there will be many books written in years to come.

When I travel the south coast of Newfoundland in the riding I represent, I see what has happened to the communities. I see that many people are no longer there. I look at the ages of the people who are left there. I look at the vacant homes. I look at the businesses that are shut down. If ever there was a compelling story to show that we need more control over our fish resources, to see it all one has to do is travel rural Newfoundland, especially if one is familiar with how it was there.

In the riding I represent we worked 12 months a year at the fishery. We never knew what it was like to have a vacation. We were lucky if the plant shut down on Christmas Eve for three or four days. The boats would sail again on Boxing Day or certainly before New Year's Day to go to the fishing grounds. We did not know what vacations were.

What has happened to the fish stocks has impacted on the people. If one is as familiar with it as I am, it is very disappointing and alarming to go to communities that were so viable. I grew up in one but now there is very little life left in it. It is very disconcerting. The people do not have a lot of faith in anyone or anything any more.

That is the ongoing debate. I say to members that the report is a good one. It was not done lightly. It was done after listening to witnesses, hearing testimony, looking at the historical background. Of course there was the input of many members of the committee who have experienced what I just talked about because of where they grew up and the way life was in the communities they lived in and the way it is today.

I commend all those who participated in the debate. It has been a mature and informed debate. Quite often in the House of Commons members talk about issues for the sake of talking about them, or someone encourages them to make a speech on an issue in which they are really not interested. I have detected here today that everyone who has spoken on the issue have been well informed.

Sometimes parliamentarians and committees of the House are criticized for travelling. Quite often we hear the question, why are they travelling again and spending all that money on air transportation, hotels and other things? If ever there was a solid reason that committees of the House should travel, it is this very issue, the report we are debating today. I am sure members opposite would be only too willing to confess that before they went to Newfoundland and Labrador and heard the testimony of the witnesses at the hearings and familiarized themselves with the issue, they did not fully understand and appreciate the gravity of the situation.

The same thing happens when on occasion as a member of the committee I go to the west coast of Canada. I learn about the problems with the salmon fishery, the hake fishery, and on it goes.

There is a strong justification for members of parliament and committees to travel all over this great country. In that way we become more familiar with other people's problems and we do not always so readily slough them off as complaining about one thing and another. I want to go on the record as saying that because of the travel of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, of the five years I have been on it, it has done some good work and has produced excellent reports. I commend all members for their input into the report.

This is a very serious issue in the province in which I live. It has seriously impacted on the livelihoods of individuals. It has almost broken the economic back of many communities. It is incumbent upon the Government of Canada to take the issue very seriously and to seriously consider the committee's recommendations in the report. The government should show the report to NAFO and say that Canada is serious about dealing with the issue. In my view there is only one way to deal with it and that is to move forward with custodial management.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Burin--St. George's for his remarks. I agree that the committee members work well together.

The town of Burgeo is in the member's riding. As the member said, there is nothing like being out there on the ground with the people who are affected by these issues. I am fortunate enough to have with me the presentation by Allister Hann, the mayor of Burgeo, who stated:

The reason I have chosen to come here today is because of the importance I attach to extension of jurisdiction. Also, your committee...will be able to put a face on a particular town, the town of Burgeo. There are many other Burgeos.... Our towns have made and continue to make the ultimate sacrifice, that is, of dying. This is due in no small part to Canada's mismanagement of our fishery inside 200 miles and total inaction and disregard for the nose, tail and Flemish Cap of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland.

Those are his words, not mine. That is the view of an individual on the ground. It is his point of view that the country is not taking enough action to back them up in terms of this issue.

I will not read all three pages of his presentation into the record. It is available in the minutes and proceedings of the committee. I encourage members to read it so they can feel from the heart how he felt. He concluded by saying “Rural Newfoundland is dying while Canada pussyfoots around. The question is not should Canada, act but when. The answer is now”.

Perhaps the member for Burin--St. George's could talk about the other Burgeos in his constituency and the impact the loss of the fishery is having on those communities. Perhaps he could comment on why it is so very important for the Government of Canada to stand up and take action against the violators of the conservation measures that NAFO itself established. They are member countries and they are violating the conservation measures established by the scientific council of NAFO.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

4:10 p.m.


Bill Matthews Liberal Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, the town of Burgeo highlights the very seriousness of the situation. Mayor Allister Hann summarized it very well.

Burgeo is still a very proud town and a very well managed town. It has faced dire consequences for the last 10 years. People in that town worked for 12 months. A number of deep sea trawlers were attached to the town. A very vibrant workforce that had been working 12 months a year basically has been shut down for the last 10 years because of the moratorium on ground fishing and cod stocks.

The member has asked me about other communities. I look across the coast of Newfoundland and see the towns of Isle aux Morts, Rose Blanche, Ramea which is just off the coast from Burgeo, Gaultois, and the Burin peninsula communities of Fortune and Marystown. Burin had a primary processing plant at one time. Thank god right now we are into secondary processing. Trepassey in St. John's West literally has been shut down and boarded up, a town where people worked 12 months a year. Thousands and thousands of people were fully employed. That is the impact the situation has had on the economies of those towns. It is not a very pretty sight.

My colleague opposite talked about the resource being a world resource. It is a tremendous protein resource for the world that we are talking about here. Someone has to take responsibility for conservation of that very important protein resource on the nose and tail and Flemish Cap, which is known as a nursery area where fish spawn and grow quite readily because of the nutrients and the water temperature.

We have been debating species at risk. We have been debating conservation. We have been talking about environmental issues. However no country in the world, including our own, has risen to deal with this crisis.

It is about time that someone rose to the cause for this very important nursery area, a great protein resource for the world, or it could be if we managed it properly. With proper enforcement and a proper management regime in place, it could be again that which it once was, a great food resource not just for Atlantic Canada or Newfoundland and Labrador, but for the entire world. It is time that someone rose to the occasion.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

4:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John M. Cummins Canadian Alliance Delta—South Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, the committee report is minus a minority report by the opposition and the reason is quite clear.

The committee looked at this issue openly and honestly and examined the issue for what it was. We all agreed that what was unfolding in front of us was a tragedy. We all agreed that we would have to act together to make it very clear not only to the government but to the people of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the people of Canada and the people of the NAFO nations that we were serious about this issue and we felt that something had to be done to deal with this critical problem.

How critical is it? It is bad. Ten years ago when the fishery was shut down, when the cod moratorium was put in place, things were bad and they tell us that things are worse now. We are not in a time of recovery. Is this the only issue? Right from the get-go, no it is not. There are other reasons for it.

One which the committee will be looking at in the fall is the growth in the seal herd. That issue will prove to be quite relevant. People with experience in the fishery on the east coast know that is a severe problem. It is a problem that we are experiencing on the west coast as well. We understand the impact the growing seal populations can have on the fishery.

That certainly is one issue but the other critical issue is the overfishing and lack of concern of NAFO nations that are there ostensibly fishing for species to which they are legally entitled. Just what are they pulling up? We are told that they can be seen catching redfish the size of one's thumb and turbot the size of a Coke bottle. They harvest cod and American plaice, species which are under a moratorium.

That is pretty serious business. It does not bode well for the future of the fishery if we somehow do not get this matter under control. It is unfortunate and I hope the quote that was given was an incorrect one, but the minister said that he is not sure that foreign fishing is primarily to blame for the failure of the east coast cod stocks to bounce back. He suggests that the stocks are having a hard time recovering in part because they were so eroded. We all agree that the fish stocks were eroded but we also are convinced that foreign overfishing is the reason the stocks are not recovering.

The question is how bad is it? The St. John's Telegram under access to information wanted that kind of information. It wanted the department to provide the information it had in its records for the interceptions it had made of foreign vessels that were fishing on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks. It wanted that information so it could get some idea of just how serious the problem was. That request for critical information that we could use to substantiate our charges was denied. Why? That request was denied because some NAFO nations might find it offensive if that information were released to the public.

In a letter to the chair of the committee, the minister said that the Government of Canada's position is that unilateral action would raise international legal concerns and would not be accepted by the international community. What he is saying though in this instance with regard to releasing the details of the catch is that cannot be done because it might upset the very people who are raping the resource and driving the fisheries into extinction if action is not taken.

This is serious business. It is not a political concern in the sense that the committee members were arguing among themselves on political lines. It is anything but that. In our hearings in Newfoundland and Labrador committee members were drawn together by the strength of the scientific evidence that was presented to us that showed in fact that the resource was dwindling.

There are a number of issues that are worth reading into the record. None are as compelling as some of the information that has been released, showing the disregard that some NAFO nations have for the law within the country.

For example, there was an article that appeared in the National Post on Tuesday, June 4. A small twin-engine fisheries patrol aircraft was out patrolling the 200 mile limit and spotted a Russian vessel in Canadian waters. The article stated:

The ship's rear doors are open and its nets are splayed out on deck--a violation of a federal law...

The article goes on to state that Clayton Simms, the fisheries officer, hailed the trawler on the marine radio and said:

“Good morning Captain, this is the Fisheries Officer on-board the Canadian patrol flight.”

A thick Russian voice returns the greeting.

“Your doors must be closed and your trawl must be stowed”, orders Mr. Simms. “Do you understand?”

“Ah, right now I am repairing my fishing gear”, the Russian says.

“But your doors must be closed.” There's a pause. “Thank you for the information” says the Russian.

The Russian trawler continues on its way completely ignoring the fact that he has been given a legitimate order by a federal fisheries officer within Canada's 200 mile limit.

In a recent CBC news report on The National on May 23 the reporter reminds us:

At any one time, there are 50 to 75 ships fishing outside Canada's territorial waters. And there are just two Canadian Fishery officers to make sure these ships obey the international rules set by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, or NAFO.

We have the additional problem right now that our ability to cover the waters outside our 200 mile limit is limited. We do not have the manpower or the vessels to do it.

In talking about that and raising this issue the reporter points out:

Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans says since 1995, the number of charges laid against foreign fishing vessels has increased by almost 500 percent. But the charges may only tell part of the story. CBC News has obtained some of the patrol logs for the Canadian ships that monitor foreign fishing. Those logs cover the years from 1999 to 2001, and they indicate that many more ships may be getting away with illegal fishing than are ever charged. Here are two samples from the logs of ships that weren't charged.

From April, 2000, “We feel very strongly that the vessel is under reporting regulated species, and species under moratorium. There is no way to verify this at sea, but we are certain he is lying.” And from May, 1999, “All European Union vessels cheat to some degree, but the level of misreporting on board this vessel demonstrates that he has no fear of reprisals when he off-loads his catch”.

That is the real issue here: no fear of reprisals.

It goes on to say:

One of the reasons there are few reprisals, if the violation happens outside Canadian waters, there is little Canada can do. It is up to the discretion of the ship's home country to decide what, if anything, it will do about it. Fisheries patrol officers say they see too many ships that have been charged and are still fishing.

That is the nub of the problem. When we talk about the nose and tail of the Flemish Cap we are talking about a vast expanse of ocean approaching 80,000 square miles outside our Canadian limit. It is a huge area. Foreign vessels are operating without any regard for the law set down by NAFO, and without fear of reprisal. It is a wild west show out there. It is pillage at will because the sheriff is not coming to town. That is the way it is. Nobody is in charge. That is why the committee in its collective wisdom decided that Canada must exert custodial management over the fisheries beyond our 200 mile limit.

In March we heard of a well documented case involving a Russian vessel that was brought in to St. John's harbour. Found on that vessel was approximately 40,000 pounds of small cod, a species which is presently under moratorium. At any one time there could be 50 to 75 vessels fishing in those waters. We are almost certain that most of those fishing vessels are fishing with a complete disregard for species under moratorium.

If we want to extrapolate from one vessel with 40,000 pounds of illegal product aboard to 50 to 75 vessels, we are probably talking in the neighbourhood of two million pounds of fish perhaps at any one time that may be caught by that fleet and may be in the holds of that fleet. This could be done 10 times a year. We are talking about 20,000 tonnes of illegally caught fish from the nose and tail of the Grand Banks. That is a lot of cod. I am extrapolating because the department is denying us access to information for fear of embarrassing these NAFO countries. That is not an unreasonable number to catch.

When I talk about those 20,000 tonnes I must also mention the seal issue. I know all the good people in environmental organizations say they do not take much, but I have experience with seals and I know the damage they can do. I have seen the growth in the number of seals and sea lions in the Fraser River in British Columbia where I have fished for over 25 years.

About 25 years ago it was rare for a salmon to have a seal mark on it when it went up river. Now the coast is littered with seals and sea lions, especially in the Straits of Georgia. About 20% of the fish have seal marks on them. The seals do not eat the whole fish but take a bite out of the salmon's belly where the liver is and the rich tasty morsels of the stomach contents, and then let the fish go. I have caught salmon coming into the Fraser River with a bite out of its belly that starts to skin over. Those fish are still trying to make their way up the river.

I have no reason to doubt that seals are seals and that the same thing will happen on the Grand Banks. They will not eat the whole fish, but take a bit out of the belly of a mature cod or other species that may be under moratorium and then let the rest of it go.

There is no question that we have a serious problem on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks. The moment is now upon us and parliament to stand up and say that we are interested in protecting the fisheries resource on Canada's east coast. That is what it is all about. If we were to allow the stocks to continue to erode there would be no recovery. It is that simple. We either take action now, after 10 years, or there will be nothing to take action for. The stocks have decreased over the last 10 years.

How do we go about it? How do we start to take action now? We have some legislation on the books in the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. The committee recommended that we use that and name the NAFO countries. That gives the authority to Canadian enforcement agencies to enforce the law outside our 200 mile limit. We must name those countries and go out and do the job that has to be done.

If we do the job that needs to be done who will object? Will the NAFO nations object? Some might. For example, the European Union has decided that it has to reduce the size of its fishing fleet. It has told Spain that it will have to reduce the size of its fleet. Spain has told the European Union to go and stuff it. It does not intend to do that. The European Union and Canada will have to deal with that if they get their backs up.

Who will object to Canada taking a strong stand on behalf of the fishery? I do not think anybody will. There is a strong feeling in Europe that we must protect this fisheries resource. I am sure that if we do the proper educating of the public in the European community and let them know why Canada is taking the action that it should be taking to protect this fisheries resource we will have the support of the people of the European Union and we will gain the support of other NAFO nations.

We must take this first step. We must say that we intend to stand up for the fisheries resource. Once we have done that I am convinced that receiving that support will not be difficult to achieve. If we do not stand up for the fishery, pretty soon there will be no fishery to stand up for. That is the bottom line.

It is time for Canada to say that it is not doing this just for itself. It is doing this for all of those countries, including Spain and Portugal, who have an historical attachment to the fishery on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks. It is in their best interests as well. The issue we must bring to the Spanish public is that we would be taking custodial management in the best interests of those fishermen in Spain and Portugal who want to obey the law and see the fishery continue to ensure that their sons and daughters have the right to fish on the Grand Banks off Canada's east coast. That is why we must do that.

The members of the fisheries committee stand together on this issue. The committee is now calling on members of parliament to stand together to give the minister the mandate and the backing of the House of Commons. When he goes to the NAFO meetings in the fall he must have the support of the parties to put a strong platform forward for custodial management by Canada over this most important fisheries resource on our east coast.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

4:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his statement, certainly when it comes to the east coast.

I have stood many times in the House of Commons calling for a national shipbuilding policy. One of the reasons for that is not just defence but to make sure we build our ships and have the supply and surveillance ships that we need to go out to the 200 mile limit. We do not have them today. That is why these foreign ships can come in and take over 20,000 pounds of fish.

When those foreign ships come in and start dragging the bottom of the ocean they take the eggs and the baby fish. It is unbelievable what has been happening. This has had such a negative impact on our fishery in Canada.

I had the distinct pleasure of attending a UN meeting in New York with the former minister, Mr. Tobin. However, Mr. Tobin was afraid I would bring up the seal situation at the UN. However his researchers had also looked into it as I had. It is unbelievable what happens to seals when it comes to fishery. Seals can eat hundreds of thousands of tonnes of fish.

I ask my colleague to think about the positive impact a shipbuilding policy would have on all those communities. If we were to put the shipbuilders back to work we could then do the surveillance required and save the fishery as well. It is a two part deal.

I want to know what my colleague thinks about this. At the present time we do not have the surveillance that should be there and we do not have the ships we need to look after the 200 mile limit.

One only has to look at what is happening in P.E.I. and in New Brunswick. My own city is not what one would call a fishery city but I just cooked a shad for my husband before I left to come here. The shads we catch today are a lot smaller than they used to be. There is an urgent need from one end of the country to the other for us to deal with the fishery.

What does my colleague think about this need for us to build our ships here in Canada to look after that 200 mile limit?

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

4:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John M. Cummins Canadian Alliance Delta—South Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that she has struck on a very critical point, that is, our ability to patrol our coastal waters. We simply lost that over the years. We do not have the vessels and the capability to adequately patrol our coastal waters.

I know my friend has long supported the notion that Canada should build those replacement vessels in Canada. I do not think there would be too much argument about that in this place. We need to have a shipbuilding program in this country because we simply need vessels, not just coast guard vessels and fisheries vessels to do these patrols, but naval vessels to maintain our sovereignty off our coast.

The issue today is about the fishery on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks. In that regard we need to commit the resources to policing the nose and tail of the Grand Banks. That means the acquisition of new and additional vessels to allow the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to do the kind of surveillance that it needs to do.

My friend also mentioned the issue of the seals. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to deal with that issue. I know seals are pretty to the folks from the cities. They see the little white pups on the ice and think they are cute. I grant that they are cute and that they have pretty brown eyes but the fact is that they do grow up and eat a lot of fish. They are also wasteful eaters. They do not lick their plate clean. They take a bite and move on to the next one. That is a serious problem. There needs to be a balance in nature. We harvest the fish and rightly so but we should be harvesting the seals.

The issue of the illegal fishing by NAFO nations and the ignoring of the moratorium has to be dealt with. There is no question that it is incumbent on the government to deal with that issue in a timely fashion if we are going to save the fish stocks.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

4:35 p.m.


Rodger Cuzner Liberal Bras D'Or—Cape Breton, NS

Mr. Speaker, sometimes when decisions are made in Ottawa that impact on the everyday life of people, whether it be through HRDC programs or, in this case, the fishery, the people back in my riding of Cape Breton often ask whether the people of Ottawa reach out to the regions of the country and try to understand what is actually happening on the ground.

I want to reiterate what my colleague from Delta--South Richmond stated concerning the study the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans embarked on. Committee members travelled to the east coast and listened to a broad collection of opinions. People were passionate in expressing their opinions. The fishermen, the processors, the buyers and the community leaders all shared those same opinions. When we returned we put the report together and came forward with the recommendations. It was unanimous. There were no dissenting reports offered. We thought it was a great piece of work.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for my colleague. He is a gentleman who has earned a living in the fishery. He has a great understanding of the industry. I have a question for the member. With a revision of the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, will that give us the stick that we need? Will that enable us to move forward toward custodial management? Will it give us some teeth in order to win back control of the resource off the nose and tail of the Grand Banks?

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

4:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John M. Cummins Canadian Alliance Delta—South Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the efforts my friend from Cape Breton made when the committee travelled to the west coast to understand the problems that we are facing there.

With respect to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, my understanding of the act is that a country must be named in the regulations before Canada can take action to arrest a vessel from that country for violations under the Fisheries Act. I believe quite strongly that this is the first step in gaining control over the fishery. Once we have the ability to name those countries, then we have the ability to bring them to heel if they continue to ignore the moratorium and fish undersized species. It is critical that the action be taken. It is not unprecedented. We did it in this country of course in the mid-nineties. It is something that Iceland did a couple of decades ago when it declared its 200 mile limit.

However it is important to remember that we are not doing this strictly in our own self-interest. It is in the interests of all countries that fish the nose and tail of the Grand Banks. Custodial management means preserving the fishery for all countries that have an historical attachment to the fishery off Canada's east coast, on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

4:40 p.m.


Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on the motion by my colleague concerning the 10th report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans entitled “Foreign Overfishing: Its Impacts and Solutions, Conservation on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap” off Newfoundland.

As most of my colleagues who have spoken have said, this is a unanimous report tabled by all of the committee's members. I would like to thank all my colleagues who were on the committee with me for their excellent work, as well as its chair, who is with us at this time.

The objective of the members of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans was a very simple one: to protect the resource off Newfoundland, that is the nose and tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap. We were made aware of the real tragedy that ensued as a result of the loss of this resource, both in Newfoundland and in Quebec, the Gaspé in particular.

I have just been rereading some of the witnesses' statements and would like to quote Richard Cashin, who headed the task force on incomes and adjustment in the Atlantic fishery in 1993.

It is now 2002, and we are still in the same boat. In fact, the situation is worse. In 1993, Mr. Cashin said:

We are dealing... with a famine of biblical scale—a great destruction. the Social and economic consequences of this... destruction are a challenge to be met and a burden [on] the [entire] nation, not just... its victims.

It was a real tragedy because fisheries management, prior to 1992 and the moratorium, was extremely lax. Things were let slide until they realized that the resource was at risk of disappearing. The day this was realized, the decision was made to establish a moratorium, and this totally demolished the economy of Newfoundland and the region I come from, the Gaspé.

My colleagues, particularly those from Newfoundland, have already referred to this. It is a veritable human tragedy, a profound and unfathomable one, that these people have had to live through. The tragedy continues to this day. In Gaspé as in Newfoundland, fishing was people's livelihood and an honourable one. It brought them in a decent income. Since the 1992 moratorium, they are faced with a totally catastrophic economic situation.

We know that since 1992, the federal government has had to create programs to assist these people. These assistance programs only kept the people of Newfoundland and the Gaspé in a state of poverty that continues to worsen today.

When there is a strong economy, based on resources that belong to the people, it is impossible, by way of assistance and support programs, to completely replace the economy of a province or a region like the Gaspé overnight when the resource disappears. Small projects, that last a few weeks, with paltry wages, cannot jump start the economy of a province or a region such as ours.

Basically, what the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans is asking for is quite simple. We made five recommendations, which I believe should have been made back in 1992, and thought of well before the moratorium and well before we reached the catastrophic situation that we experienced in 1992.

It is incomprehensible that today, despite the 1992 moratorium, the federal government is still hesitating to implement real measures to ensure that the resource is protected. Right now, we cannot claim that the resource is being protected.

On the contrary, reports continually point out that the resource is at risk, that it continues to decline and that the fish stocks are not rebuilding themselves. This is what we are being told right now.

Members of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans are asking for something quite simple: that custodial management be implemented for the nose and tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap.

Why implement this type of management? It is quite simple. It is so that the resource can some day rebuild itself, so that some day, the people who traditionally lived off the resource, and who are still waiting to do so, can have some hope of living off the resource again.

Unfortunately, there are people who are still denied the resource and they have very low incomes. In my region, fishers make approximately $20,000 or $22,000 per year. These are people who could be making $100,000, and even more. These people are living on what I would describe as modest incomes, are being kept in poverty.

In the meantime, the federal government is hesitating to take the necessary measures, some proposed by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. Yet, these measures are very simple.

Along with all its other partners, the federal government has set up what is called the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization.

All the stakeholders and witnesses who appeared before our committee said—and we were able to see this for ourselves—that the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization is not working and will never work.

The reason is very simple: member countries set quotas, decide whether or not to implement regulations, and decide, at some point, to give themselves additional quotas, in spite of the fact that the resource is in jeopardy and that scientists, who are paid by NAFO, come and tell them that the resource is in jeopardy and that quotas must be reduced.

These people form a majority within NAFO and vote additional quotas for themselves, in order to support their economy. However, they are supporting their economy while wearing blinkers, because soon the resource will be all gone. Soon, these people will find themselves in the situation that we experienced, that Newfoundland experienced and that the Gaspé experienced.

What is even more serious is that this resource is our resource. As the hon. member mentioned earlier, it is obvious that even though there is a 200 mile zone, groundfish does not stay outside that 200 mile limit. It crosses that limit and, therefore, it becomes our resource. This is what we call straddling stocks. Under the United Nations Fisheries Agreement, we have the right to protect our jurisdiction over the resource within the 200 mile zone, our resource called straddling stocks.

To show how disappointed people are about NAFO, I will quote some of the comments made to us when we were in Newfoundland and in the Atlantic regions, including remarks by the hon. Gerry Reid, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture for Newfoundland and Labrador. Mr. Reid said:

If you want to look at what happened at the last NAFO meeting back in January, it becomes obvious that NAFO is not working for the benefit of Canada, and Newfoundland and Labrador in particular.

We are well aware that NAFO is only working for the benefit of the European Union countries, which represent the majority within this organization, including Spain and Portugal, which are probably the worst offenders when it comes to respecting the resource.

Here is what was said by Jim Morgan, a spokesperson for the Newfoundland and Labrador Rural Rights and Boat Owners Association.

NAFO was an organization that failed desperately in controlling and managing the stocks on the edge of our continental shelf.

It is obvious that NAFO failed “desperately”, as Mr. Morgan, the witness we heard from, said. This is not surprising, because they basically have no interest in enforcing the rules. They have no interest in depriving themselves of a resource that we are leaving for them, giving to them.

We are applying the rules stringently for Newfoundland fishers, and we have police to monitor Gaspé fishers. But we are letting fishers from these countries, NAFO members, deprive us of our resource and, as my father would have said, take the bread right out of our mouth. This is what the present federal government is letting happen and what it is hesitating to change.

I have here in front of me the five recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. These are very simple recommendations which would enable us to protect and safeguard the resources. They would perhaps give us some hope of being able to restore a fishery in Newfoundland, as well as in the Gaspé. These recommendations must be approved by the federal government. This parliament must give the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans the mandate to implement these recommendations.

These recommendations are not difficult to implement. They are simple recommendations. First, custodial management on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks and on the Flemish Cap must be implemented no later than one year following the September 2002 NAFO meeting.

We are not asking the government to do it overnight, because we are well aware that this would be impossible. On the other hand, one year after the September 2002 meeting, that is September 2003, is a possibility. It is not impossible, if government decides this is important and necessary.

Another recommendation is that, as I have said, basically all witnesses felt that NAFO is totally ineffective. The countries themselves are the ones allocated resources, when we know very well they really have no intention of protecting the resource, which is not theirs anyway.

Considering that NAFO is totally inefficient and ineffective, and considering that we bear 40% of the costs—if memory serves, the Canadian government pays very close to $500,000 to NAFO to have its resource stolen from it—let us cease to be a member. Let us withdraw from NAFO, useless and totally ineffective organization that it is.

When an organization is ineffective, when one is a member of an organization that does not function, and when one pays 40% of its costs moreover, I believe it is our duty to withdraw from it and to announce that we are going to take control and decide on our own what to do, that is to say protect the resource and ensure that our fishers, whether from the Gaspé or from Newfoundland, can benefit from this resource which belongs to the community.

The fishers of Newfoundland and the people of Gaspé are not the only ones affected by this groundfish catastrophe which has affected all maritime fishers since 1992, or even earlier. They are not alone. Everyone in Quebec, in the maritimes, and in the rest of Canada is affected.

The resource is not the property of only one province or of certain European countries; it belongs to us all collectively.

I call upon parliament to support the motion submitted to us, so that the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans may be implemented, so that Canada may withdraw from NAFO, and so that custodial management is implemented on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

4:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester, Fisheries; the hon. member for St. John's West, Voisey's Bay; and the hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, Ferry Services.