House of Commons Hansard #34 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was artists.


Newfoundland and Labrador Fishery Rebuilding ActPrivate Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission B.C.


Randy Kamp ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Madam Speaker, in just a few minutes we will have opportunity to disagree with my colleague on many of the points he made in his eloquent presentation.

What he did not flesh out well enough for us is the number of reviews that have already taken place since 1992 into the collapse of the cod stocks. He only referred to one. I took part in that study. However, there were at least a dozen, some from the provinces, from the federal government, from the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council and one from the Auditor General's Office. There is a long list.

What does the member think spending millions of dollars would do that these other studies have not done? The follow-up question would be, why is the province of Newfoundland not supporting his call for a commission of inquiry into the matter?

Newfoundland and Labrador Fishery Rebuilding ActPrivate Members' Business

1:45 p.m.


Ryan Cleary NDP St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Madam Speaker, I would be interested to hear exactly which points in my speech the hon. member disagreed with.

As for why the Progressive Conservative Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has not called for an inquiry, I suggest that the hon. Conservative member across the way ask the Minister of Fisheries.

The government has to make a decision as to whether there will be an inquiry and the decision has to come not just from the federal Conservative government but also from the provincial government of my home province. The federal Government of Canada looks after harvesting. The provincial government looks after processing. The federal government looks after fishing boats. My home province looks after fishing plants. The bottom line is that the management at the federal and provincial levels of government has not worked. Maybe it is the fact that both levels of government do not want to admit that the management has not worked.

Newfoundland and Labrador Fishery Rebuilding ActPrivate Members' Business

1:45 p.m.


Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Madam Speaker, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans asked why we should spend millions of dollars on an inquiry. His province is spending millions of dollars on an inquiry into a salmon run that failed miserably.

My hon. colleague from Newfoundland is absolutely correct. I was the NDP fisheries critic for over 13 years. I asked for a national federal inquiry into the practices and policies of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. In the period 1998 to 2000 the Hutchings and Myers report came out, which the hon. parliamentary secretary should know, and those two scientists indicated that there was science manipulation at the very highest levels within DFO when it came to the collapse of the cod stocks. The government of the day was warned that the cod stocks were in trouble and it ignored that warning.

That is just one tiny element of why we need to get to the bottom of the serious mismanagement of the fisheries and oceans in this country. I would like my hon. colleague to comment on that, please.

Newfoundland and Labrador Fishery Rebuilding ActPrivate Members' Business

1:45 p.m.


Ryan Cleary NDP St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Madam Speaker, the question has been asked as to how many reports have been written in the past looking into the Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries.

Newfoundland and Labrador Fishery Rebuilding ActPrivate Members' Business

1:45 p.m.


Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

How many have been ignored?

Newfoundland and Labrador Fishery Rebuilding ActPrivate Members' Business

1:50 p.m.


Ryan Cleary NDP St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Madam Speaker, that is a very good question. How many reports into the fishery have been ignored? There are untold numbers. There is an inquiry going on into the disappearance of salmon stocks in B.C.'s Fraser River. The last I heard, that inquiry has a price tag of roughly $25 million.

The point I want to make is that we have not had a ground fishery since 1992, going back 19 years. There are experts who say if it was a healthy resource there could have been an annual harvest of 400,000 tonnes going back 19 years and every year into the future. How many untold hundreds of millions of dollars would that be worth?

In terms of the question about why we need another inquiry, we need an inquiry specifically into why the management of this fishery has failed. Why has it failed? I challenge the member opposite to show me the report that shows the way forward, that shows all the problems with the management of the fisheries in the past. That report does not exist. The only way to get a report is to have an inquiry into the Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries.

Newfoundland and Labrador Fishery Rebuilding ActPrivate Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission B.C.


Randy Kamp ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to participate in the debate on Bill C-308.

I thank my colleague for his comments on this. I know he has an interest in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is a province I love as well, having spent a fair bit of time there in my current capacity. I am pleased to see that he appears to have abandoned any notions of his musings in earlier years of separation from Confederation.

I agree with him when he talks about the importance of the fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador, but I do want to say up front that we are not going to support the bill.

The bill is premised on several assumptions, false assumptions in large part, that I would like to address.

The first of these is that there has been no recovery of fish stocks since the 1990s and that this has led to more than 80,000 people leaving Newfoundland and Labrador. This is not quite true.

The decline of fish stocks is blamed on several factors, including: inaccurate scientific data and projections; environmental factors, including temperature shifts in the ocean; predation; and poor fisheries management, including overfishing. This is why the collapse of the Atlantic ground fisheries and related fisheries management practices have already been thoroughly reviewed.

There have been at least 12 different reports or studies published on the topic over the past 18 years. For example, the latest report, released in September of this year by the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council, made several recommendations for a long-term strategic approach to the sustainability of eastern Canadian groundfish fisheries. As a result of these numerous reports and studies, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has implemented modern fisheries management policies. The department is committed to continued conservation and rebuilding efforts and to perfecting its practices to ensure the conservation of groundfish stocks in the Atlantic.

The number of registered harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador has declined; about this, the member is correct. It is notable that many of those who remained transitioned their enterprises to more lucrative shellfish species, like snow crab, shrimp, and lobster. In fact, Newfoundland and Labrador has increased its relative importance in Canada's commercial harvesting industry. In 1990 the province accounted for 20% of the total value of commercial landings in Canada. Today that share has increased to 30%. Since 1990, the average annual growth in the value of Newfoundland and Labrador commercial landings has been higher than that of any other province.

Second, on reading the bill one might be led to believe that there had been a lack of organized efforts to rebuild Newfoundland and Labrador's fisheries or to restore the province's economic base. Let me set the record straight. In the past 20 years, the government has invested over $4 billion to assist the industry and help affected communities adjust to the changes in the resource base. This included $2.5 billion in income replacement, over $600 million in training and counselling, and $1 billion on licence retirement, economic diversification, stock rebuilding, et cetera. In addition, allocation of various shellfish species was also provided to facilitate the diversification of the industry.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada worked with the province of Newfoundland and Labrador in an intentional and systematic way to address these challenges. For example, shortly after the announcement of the second moratorium on the harvesting of southern and northern gulf stocks of Atlantic cod, the Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador formed the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Action Team for Cod Rebuilding. The action team was mandated to develop a stock rebuilding and long-term management strategy for the four major cod stocks adjacent to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. These efforts resulted in the release of the federal-provincial strategy for the rebuilding of Atlantic cod stocks.

In terms of international fisheries management practices, to which my colleague referred, the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, NAFO, has made significant improvements in fisheries management, science, and enforcement. These improvements have been validated by the recently released NAFO performance review, which included the input of external experts. I encourage my colleague to read it.

Some improvements noted in the NAFO performance review were in key areas such as stock management, science advice, protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems and enforcement measures. I also want to mention that NAFO scientists have become world leaders in the provision of science advice on vulnerable marine ecosystems. NAFO has taken key steps to strengthen enforcement measures leading to improvement in compliance.

For example, since 2006, it has reached new definitions of a range of serious infringements. There has been the development of provisions for immediate recall to port for major infractions and clearer directions to NAFO members on penalties to be employed by flag states for serious infringements. As a result of these changes and thanks largely to Canadian-led enforcement efforts, infractions in NAFO areas have been significantly, even dramatically reduced.

Bill C-308 mistakenly accuses NAFO of failing to rebuild migratory fish stocks. I should point out that NAFO is responsible for the management of straddling stocks, not migratory species. Rebuilding straddling stocks has now been identified as one of the main objectives of NAFO which is reflected in the new convention which was ratified by the Government of Canada in December 2009.

Over the past several years, NAFO, led by Canada, has implemented a number of innovative rebuilding plans for the recovery of moratorius stocks and to rebuild fragile stocks. These plans are based on scientific advice and the precautionary approach. They include conservation plans and rebuilding strategies for American plaice and cod.

In 2009 NAFO reopened two key stocks, 3M cod and 3LN red fish, that were under moratorium for over a decade. Recovery of other stocks is proving successful and some may be eligible for reopening in the next few years.

In the bill, my colleague from St. John's South—Mount Pearl identifies fisheries as:

--a renewable resource which can, with revitalized conservation and management practices, be rebuilt for the benefit of present and future generations and contribute towards the economic growth of rural Newfoundland and Labrador and all of Canada.

That is exactly what we have done.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada, on behalf of the Government of Canada, is responsible for developing and implementing policies and programs in support of Canada's scientific, ecological, social and economic interests in oceans and fresh waters. In working toward these outcomes, the department is guided by the principles of sound scientific knowledge and effective management.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada's approach to fisheries management has changed significantly over the last two decades. The sustainable fisheries framework introduced in April 2009 has introduced policies that provide the basis for ensuring Canadian fisheries are conducted in a manner that supports conservation and sustainable use of our fisheries resources.

I encourage my colleague to become familiar with this framework. He will find it incorporates existing fisheries management policies with new and evolving policies and provides planning and monitoring tools. These policies will promote the continued sustainability of stocks upon which commercial fisheries depend. As other stocks grow, emerging commercial fisheries will be managed in a way that is sustainable.

As these actions demonstrate, this government continues to take action to rebuild the Atlantic fisheries and no inquiry is necessary.

Newfoundland and Labrador Fishery Rebuilding ActPrivate Members' Business

2 p.m.


Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to private member's Bill C-308 put forward by the member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl. I support this piece of legislation, as does the Liberal Party of Canada.

Nearly two years after the first commercial fishing moratorium was introduced, there has still been no substantial recovery of fish stocks off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. The collapse of the fishery has had devastating effects on communities in rural Newfoundland because this had been the largest fishery in Canada and the focal point of the local economy.

The recent signs of possible recovery are hopeful but that only makes it more important that we do everything in our power as a nation to prevent this from happening again. It is important that we really understand what we need to do differently to ensure the health of our fish stocks.

The Liberal Party supports this long overdue federal inquiry into the collapse and mismanagement of fish stocks off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The parliamentary secretary talked about the many inquires that have been held into this regrettable situation. I want to point out that the result that Canadians need has not been achieved. We have not fully understood how the Government of Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans made the decisions that led to the absolute collapse of such an important fish stock. It is urgent that we understand that. We are seeing a repeat of this kind of crash with other fish stock.

As the member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl mentioned, the parliamentary committee on fisheries has been studying for many months the collapse of the snow crab stock. I had the privilege of being on that committee for a year. We learned to our surprise and shock that the department had not been implementing the precautionary principle in its management of the snow crab in 2009, and we are now hearing that the precautionary principle was not being implemented as a clear framework.

The precautionary principle is something people have understood since the 1980s. We had an earth summit in the early 1990s. We had a world summit on sustainable development in 2002. The precautionary principle surely is a baseline approach for managing these important renewable natural resources, but it has not been a baseline approach in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. An inquiry is an important tool in order to do a better job and get a better result.

It is not just on the east coast of Canada that we are having challenges with sustainable management of important fisheries. We have our challenges on the west coast as well, and I will point to the salmon fishery as a prime example.

The Fraser River sockeye salmon stock collapsed in 2010. The numbers came in at one-tenth the number expected by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. There was an outcry from people asking why our fisheries were being mismanaged, not just to the extent that we were having crashes, but to the extent that we did not even know why we were having crashes. Fortunately, the Cohen inquiry is looking into the disaster in the Pacific salmon fishery. We need that same kind of attention and that same kind of lens on the fisheries of Newfoundland and Labrador.

That is not to say that an inquiry is enough. Other things need to be done as well, and one of those things is the adequate funding of fishery science. Instead, a hatchet is being taken to the budget of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, cutting $57 million this year alone. That means research scientists along with budgets for international co-operation projects to identify what is happening with the salmon when they go outside Canadian jurisdiction will be cut.

It means boats will be tied up in harbours, DFO research vessels will be tied up in harbours, unable to afford the gas to go out and find out what is happening. It means that funding for the POST listening system, which is an innovative way of tracking small salmon smolts on the west coast of Canada to identify where they are disappearing and helping us understand why they are disappearing, is woefully inadequate for what is necessary to actually track these smolts as they go out into the ocean. It remains a black box, a mystery, why, year after year, other than for a few anomaly years, we are having decline in our precious stocks of Pacific salmon.

Pacific salmon, like cod on the east coast, is an iconic species for Canadians. It has been the basis for the economies of coastal communities. It has been the basis for the culture of Canadian aboriginal peoples. It has been part of their identity, their celebration. It has been central to the Pacific coast. Our salmon stocks are disappearing and we do not even know why. Yet, we are cutting the budgets of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans which is charged with the responsibility of protecting salmon and other important stocks. This is shocking. That is the kind of thing that I expect an inquiry into the fisheries in Newfoundland and Labrador to shed a light on, so that all Canadians can support having conservation as a number one principle. The degree to which conservation was not held as a fundamental principle by the previous fisheries minister was highlighted in the snow crab process.

I would disagree in this small point with the member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl when he said it is not about laying blame. Actually, I disagree with that. We had a Conservative fisheries minister who deliberately and knowingly ignored the advice of her fisheries scientists who said that there was a very strong risk of a collapse of the snow crab stocks if the quotas were not reduced. That minister ignored the advice of her scientists and took the advice of lobbyists who said, “No, don't worry. Be happy. Keep the quota where it's been”.

We cannot allow that kind of interference in our fisheries management, not on the east coast and not on the west coast. We cannot allow these kinds of cuts to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans when we are losing these iconic stocks and we have not even understood why.

Permit me a quick aside about the aquaculture review that the fisheries committee was undertaking.

Recently, the management of the aquaculture industry and potential impacts on wild salmon has been transferred to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The regulation of that important industry so that it does not affect our wild fish stocks is a very important role of Department of Fisheries and Oceans. It needs to do a better job than the province was doing in the past. How can we expect the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to do its job, to understand the science of the aquaculture industry and the wild fisheries in those interactions? How can we expect it to do that with these massive cuts to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans?

I support, and the Liberal Party supports, this inquiry because we need more, not less, transparency and more, not less, accountability and more, not less, science so that we can protect our wild fisheries this year, the next decade, and into the future as our legacy to our children

Newfoundland and Labrador Fishery Rebuilding ActPrivate Members' Business

2:10 p.m.


Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Newfoundland and Labrador for his intervention. I also thank the people of Newfoundland and Labrador for allowing Canada to join Newfoundland and Labrador in 1949.

I would say that what salmon is to British Columbians, what pickerel and bass are to central Canadians, what Arctic char is to northern Canada, cod fish is to Newfoundland and Labrador. It is a symbol of heritage. It is a symbol of the people. In fact, many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can trace their ancestry to people who have fished the great seas in the past for their livelihood.

With Remembrance Week coming up, it would be fair to say that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have not only fed the world, they have also fed many great soldiers, airmen, airwomen and sailors not only in Canada but our Allies in other countries throughout the war effort as well. Many a soldier ate bully beef as well as salt cod.

We also know that trade between the Caribbean and Newfoundland and Labrador ran from cod to rum. I thought that was a balanced trade deal.

However, I believe the reason why the Conservatives do not want an inquiry is because they do not want to know the truth. They do not want to know the facts.

I was on the fisheries and oceans committee for over 13 years. We studied all aspects of the fisheries in this country to death to come up with reports, of which 95% were unanimous, meaning members of the Reform, Alliance, the PC Party, the Bloc Québécois, NDP, Liberals and the Conservatives at the time supported those recommendations, only to have them fall flat on the desk of the minister of the day.

In 1998, I asked for a full judicial inquiry into the practices and policies of the management of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for Canada.

Hutchings and Myers are the best oceanographic and fishery scientists in Canada and the world. They said very clearly in their report when they came to Parliament Hill that in their opinion science had been manipulated at the highest levels when it came to the cod crisis in this country. What party was in government at the time that happened? It was the Conservative Party of Canada. Those are the facts.

In my mind, it was the Kirby report of 1982, which formulated the companies of Fisheries Products International and National Seas, that started the over aggressive fishing of those stocks which caused the downfall of the outports of not only Newfoundland and Labrador but also the provinces of P.E.I., New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

People anywhere who believe that the management of Canadian fisheries is any good at all are fooling themselves. We and the Conservatives know that is not the case. I can quote numerous interventions wherein Progressive Conservatives, Reformers and members of the Alliance were slamming the Liberal Party for the mismanagement of the fisheries in Canada. They were good at it too.

I remember a certain John Cummins of British Columbia who was probably one of the most vocal critics of fisheries management in this country. He did a fantastic job at it because he was a commercial fisherman. Even his own party did not like some of his criticisms. However, he was not only standing up and fighting for the fishermen of his province but also for their way of life. On some parts I obviously disagreed with him but I could not knock his passion and desire to stand up for the men and women whose livelihoods were made from the sea.

Right now both the provincial and federal governments are concentrating on oil resources, the so-called non-renewable resources of this country, the petro-economy. Time and again I have asked, what will happen when oil and gas resources are gone? No response is forthcoming. There is only silence on that side.

If the fisheries are managed correctly and properly, seven generations down the road will be able to access a renewable, natural, healthy, vibrant food-based resource, not just for the people of Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador but for the entire world.

Why, in the life of any parliamentarian, would we not want to do everything possible, everything within our power, be it federally, provincially or municipally, including opposition members, to ensure the sanctity and the survival of that renewable resource?

I have tremendous respect for my good friend and hon. colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. He is one of the nicest people I have ever met, but he quotes from and talks about the FRCC report. I have worked for a long time with the FRCC. Its members are fantastic fishermen, scientists, environmentalists, et cetera. However, what did the government just do to the FRCC? It cut its funding to the point where it no longer will exist.

One second the Conservatives will quote its report and hand it up as a litmus of sound management and advice and then cut its funding. Why do they do that? How many scientists now within DFO across this country are about to lose their jobs? When we heard the parliamentary secretary speak, I felt like buying a fishing boat. I felt like quitting my job, selling everything and going out fishing because, according to them, I am going to be well off. That is what Crosbie said in 1992. I remember when Pierre Pettigrew introduced the TAGS program so people would get five years of employment subsidy and payment subsidies and retraining so those who were left in the fishery would be well off. The folks were told not to worry, that they would be given bit of money, with a few shackles here, and they could train to be barbers. We had five barbers one time train for one small town of a couple of hundred people. That turned out really well. The fact is that it failed.

What did Premier Dunderdale say the day after she was elected? She said that they would need to deal with the fishery and reduce the number of fishermen and plant workers in the province. Not necessarily like that, but she said words similar to that. It is funny that she never spoke like that during the campaign. She only spoke like that after the campaign.

I am not blaming anyone here. It was not the Conservatives alone that mismanaged the fisheries. It was the federal Governments of Canada, the provincial governments, the fishing industry, the international fleets and NAFO. Everyone is partially to blame for this, including, I may say, the opposition, at times pushing for extra resources to help people get through the bad times, to get their EI, et cetera. We are all responsible for the downturn in the fishery. It is also our job to hold them to their fire, not just the Conservatives but the Liberals and previous governments before that. It is not a question of pinning one blame against the other. That is easy to do.

However, an inquiry would get everything out in the open and find out where the problems were, what the government and others have been doing to this point and where the road map to the future leads. That is Canada's national shame and the world looks at us saying that we had one of the world's largest, abundant, prolific protein fish stocks on the planet and now it is minuscule compared to what it used to be. Over 20 years and more, it is still the way it was in 1992. That is the shame.

I just want to thank my hon. colleague from St. John's, Newfoundland, for bringing this forward. I ask the government to reconsider, call for the inquiry, get the facts on the table and truly help the good people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Newfoundland and Labrador Fishery Rebuilding ActPrivate Members' Business

2:15 p.m.


Patricia Davidson Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-308, the Newfoundland and Labrador Fishery Rebuilding Act.

It was cod that first brought Europeans to Newfoundland. It was catching, salting, drying and marketing of cod that prompted the first settlements in this region. The fishery has been active for hundreds of years in Newfoundland and Labrador. It was and remains an integral part of its culture and life.

The cod catch peaked in 1968 at 810,000 tonnes. However, as we know, the industry collapsed in the early 1990s. Several factors have been cited as causing the collapse, overfishing, lack of foresight and environmental factors among them. As a result, a two-year moratorium on the northern cod fishery was announced July 2, 1992, by the Honourable John Crosbie, then Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. By 1993, six cod populations had collapsed, forcing a complete moratorium on fishing. Populations had decreased by at least 75% in all stocks, by 90% in three of the six stocks and by 99% in the case of northern cod, previously the largest cod fishery in the world.

There have been numerous reports and studies on this subject. Dr. Leslie Harris published the influential 1990 “Independent Review of the State of the Northern Cod Stocks”, the “Report of the Northern Cod Review Panel”, and the 2004 “A Policy Framework for the Management of Fisheries on Canada’s Atlantic Coast”. In 1993, the Task Force on Incomes and Adjustments in the Atlantic Fishery published “Charting a New Course: Towards the Fishery of the Future”, also known as the Cashin report.

The Fisheries Resource Conservation Council produced “A Groundfish Conservation Framework for Atlantic Canada”. In 2001 it published “The Management of Fisheries on Canada's Atlantic Coast: A Discussion Document on Policy Direction and Principles”, and in 2003 it published “Preserving the Independence of the Inshore Fleet in Canada's Atlantic Fisheries”. Since 2003, the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council alone has published more than 50 reports on stock conditions, conservation and just about every aspect of the fishery, including “Towards Recovered and Sustainable Groundfish Fisheries in Eastern Canada”, which was released just last month.

Let us not overlook the work of our own House committees, starting with the 2002 “Report on Foreign Overfishing: Its Impacts and Solutions” from the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. In 2005 the committee produced the “Report on Northern Cod: A Failure of Canadian Fisheries Management” and in 2009 its report on “Amendments to the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization Convention”, not mention the House committee's other regular reports.

We cannot forget the work of Senate committees, including the 2003 report “Straddling Fish Stocks in the Northwest Atlantic” and the 2005 “Interim Report on Canada's New and Evolving Policy Framework for Managing Fisheries and Oceans”.

All of this is to say that this issue has been studied in considerable depth. The federal government has worked with Atlantic provinces on projects for regional economic development and fisheries adjustments since the collapse. I would like to specifically mention the 2003 federal and provincial all-party committee report that presented alternatives to full closure of the cod fisheries. The report, entitled “Stability, Sustainability and Prosperity: Charting a Future for Northern and Gulf Cod Stocks”, presented solutions such as reducing the seal population, improving fisheries science, implementing sustainable fishing practices and improved enforcement of fisheries management regulations.

We are well aware of major factors in the groundfish decline. Environmental conditions, predator-prey relations and excessive harvesting have all been identified as causes of stock declines.

Fishing levels were set above conservation standards, fishers caught more than they were allocated and some fishers used unsustainable fishing practices. The government and industry learned from these crises and since the moratorium have dramatically changed fisheries management practices, science research and international practices.

Canada is not alone in working on these issues. Countries that are members of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, including Norway, Iceland, Russia, Japan, the European Union, the United States and South Korea, among others, have made the rebuilding of fish stocks one of the primary objectives. This is reflected in the new convention as well as within the shared scientific and management activities member countries undertake to ensure stocks are managed under the precautionary approach and that sensitive habitat for fish stocks is adequately protected.

In line with the Newfoundland and Labrador provincial priority for the recovery of cod and American plaice stocks, it was encouraging to see the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization adopt new rebuilding plans for these species on the Grand Banks. These plans are in line with our precautionary approach to fisheries management.

Rebuilding plans can only be successful if all countries involved work together with measures such as these and continue to apply enforcement measures to keep bycatches to the lowest possible level.

Despite the fact that shellfish have dominated the Atlantic fishing industry in terms of value and effort since the collapse of most groundfish species in the 1990s, cod still holds a place of pre-eminence among those who rely on the fishery for their livelihood as a species upon which the Atlantic fishery was built.

The cod fishery is at the core of the cultural roots of many coastal rural communities in Atlantic Canada and Quebec. This is the reason why conservation and rebuilding of Atlantic cod stocks is a government priority and there are indications that some code stocks are beginning to recover, such as cod on the eastern Scotian shelf and the Flemish Cap.

We are taking action on the priorities of Canadians who work hard and play by the rules and we have steered our country through the worst global economic recession since the 1930s. We seek to promote a strong quality of life in all communities, cities, towns and rural communities, to respect and preserve the culture and values of rural Canada and help ensure the success of traditional industries like the fisheries.

Consider our actions in the past: providing to fish harvesters the same lifetime capital gains exemption enjoyed by farmers and small business owners; in supporting small coastal communities through regulatory initiatives in support of the aquaculture sector; and through investments in small craft harbours.

The global economy remains fragile and Canadians remain concerned about their jobs and their children's future. Government is making the necessary investments to protect Canadians and create jobs now, while laying a strong foundation for long-term economic growth.

The benefits of fishery decisions made today may not accrue until a number of years in the future. Those who bear the brunt of the immediate costs may not be those who will realize the future benefits of our work today. This is why the government believes the best way forward is to manage the recovery of fish stocks through a comprehensive, integrated and Atlantic-wide approach that will build on the unprecedented collaboration of all parties to date.

Given the studies, reports and initiatives I have just mentioned and given the changes implemented as well as continuing progress since the moratorium, a judicial inquiry, as proposed in Bill C-308, would be a costly and duplicative exercise. An inquiry would divert funds and resources away from the ongoing efforts to strengthen Canada's fisheries and the Canadian economy.

Newfoundland and Labrador Fishery Rebuilding ActPrivate Members' Business

2:25 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine. He may begin his comments, but I will have to interrupt him shortly.

Newfoundland and Labrador Fishery Rebuilding ActPrivate Members' Business

2:25 p.m.


Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Madam Speaker, I will do my best to be very brief.

I rise in the House today in support of my colleague from St. John's South—Mount Pearl and his bill, Bill C-308.

Like my colleague, I represent a riding that relies on fisheries for its livelihood. Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine is made up of two regions that rely on fishing. Particularly in the islands, the fisheries form the bedrock of this community's culture.

The short title of the bill is the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery rebuilding act. I am impressed by the focus for the bill, which is on rebuilding.

In the bill's terms of reference, it commits to conducting an inquiry:

—without seeking to find fault on the part of any individual, community or organization, and with the overall aim of respecting conservation, rebuilding and sustainability of all fish stock and encouraging broad cooperation among stakeholders.

Rather than ascribing blame to any group or individual for the gradual collapse of one vital fishery after another, Bill C-308 focuses instead on how the federal government can take responsibility for the mismanagement of the east coast fisheries.

It requires the government to hold an inquiry into the reasons why the fisheries have collapsed and how the stakeholders can work together to rebuild the Newfoundland fisheries.

Newfoundland and Labrador Fishery Rebuilding ActPrivate Members' Business

2:30 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I must interrupt the hon. member. He will have eight and a half minutes when the bill returns on the order paper.

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired, and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

It being 2:30 p.m., the House stands adjourned until next Monday at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2:30 p.m.)