Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for Wetaskiwin.
I appreciate this opportunity to provide the House with an overview of the role our government plays in ensuring the ongoing sustainability of our waterways and oceans, while facilitating the responsible resource development that is creating jobs in communities across this great country.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada is committed to safeguarding Canada's healthy and productive aquatic ecosystems, which provide sustainable resources to Canadians. DFO's programs and policies contribute to the conservation, protection and sustainability of Canada's aquatic resources. DFO's efforts are guided by three important pieces of legislation, the Oceans Act, the Fisheries Act and the Species at Risk Act, which together give us the tools we need for effective management of our oceans and inland waters.
This effective stewardship is important to Canadians. Our country is blessed with an abundant supply of natural aquatic resources contributing to the social, environmental and economic well-being of Canadians. By sustaining productive ecosystems, our government is focused on supporting commercial, recreational and aboriginal fishing, thereby helping to maintain economic prosperity for current and future generations.
Under the Oceans Act, we manage Canada's three oceans and the largest coastline in the world. Under the act, we are protecting ecologically and biologically important resources through marine protected areas.
Working together with governments and stakeholders, Canada has adopted an integrated approach to managing ocean activities. Integrated oceans management is a modern approach to managing Canada's ocean resources. It is a collaborative way of making decisions on how Canada's marine resources can best be developed and protected. This approach manages activities to ensure a healthy marine environment and takes into account all ocean users.
In 2012, our government made important changes to the Fisheries Act to ensure the productivity and long-term sustainability of our fisheries, an industry that supports millions of jobs and contributed over $10 billion to the Canadian economy in 2010. Today, this revised legislation is yielding real results. The fisheries protection provisions of the act provide new tools to better protect Canada's commercial, recreational and aboriginal fisheries and the ecosystem that supports them. These fisheries are the backbone of many rural and coastal communities.
Our changes make penalties tougher to punish those who actually break the law by causing serious harm to fisheries, and require individuals to report violations. In addition, we will now be able to identify ecologically significant areas that require additional protection.
In short, the fisheries protection program better positions Canada to regulate real threats to fish and the habitats that support Canada's recreational, commercial and aboriginal fisheries.
DFO continues to work with its provincial, municipal, industrial and various other stakeholder partners to do their part where it is best suited to do so. This approach is based on clear concepts that are well rooted in science. Our government is committed to focusing on protection of fisheries and their habitat, while managing routine, everyday activities that are known to affect the productivity of Canada's fisheries.
Under the third legislation, the Species at Risk Act, DFO works with partners to monitor the status of aquatic species at risk to prevent further declines in their numbers and set conservation objectives based on the best available science.
Given the variety and geographic distribution of protected species, the Species at Risk Act has the potential to involve many Canadians. Under SARA, Fisheries and Oceans Canada produces recovery strategies and action plans for aquatic species listed as “endangered” or “threatened”.
These recovery strategies and action plans detail the specific steps that need to be taken to protect identified species. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is determined to work with the communities and people in these areas to ensure that strategies and plans are practical, effective and in keeping with the sound fisheries management approach.
DFO also works with provinces, territories and other partners to prevent aquatic invasive species from entering Canada's waterways, where they can cause harm to natural ecosystems in lakes, rivers and oceans and pose significant threats to Canadian fisheries. Invasive species can radically alter habitat, rendering it inhospitable for native species.
Canada has 20% of the world's fresh water and one of the longest coastlines, thereby placing it at high risk from invasive species. Our government committed to fighting the spread of invasive species and remediating the impact of the species already in Canada. Communities from coast to coast rely on fishing, which must be protected from invasive species.
Our government is working to prevent new introductions through research, monitoring and the development of regulations. The most effective approach to dealing with these invasive species involves managing the pathways through which invasive species enter and spread through Canadian waters. For aquatic species, these pathways are shipping, recreational and commercial boating, the use of live bait, unauthorized introductions, and canals and water diversions.
DFO incorporates environmental, economic and social factors in decision making regarding invasive species. DFO is committed to working co-operatively with all stakeholders and using science-based techniques to assess and manage the risk of aquatic invasive species.
Prevention of harmful new invasions is a key priority as it is the most cost effective way to deal with the problem. Once species are established, the task becomes far more complex and costly.
Our government is taking action. For example, DFO works closely with the Province of Ontario and our American partners on the issue of Asian carp. Our government is investing $17.5 million over five years on prevention, early warning, rapid response and management activities.
Just as our efforts to contain aquatic invasive species will rely on scientific research, strong fishery science remains the backbone of every fish management decision we make as a government. We will continue to protect our ecosystems and fisheries through modern and scientifically-based methods.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada conducts research to learn how to prevent, mitigate or adapt to a broad range of impacts on Canada's aquatic ecosystems. This research informs planning for activities such as shipping, energy development and mining projects in Canada's north. DFO's fishery officers monitor and enforce compliance with federal legislation and regulations designed to protect Canada's aquatic ecosystems and the fisheries they sustain, and the Coast Guard responds to all reports of marine pollution incidents in Canadian waters.
Our government's actions and decisions are based on sound science, research and engagement with stakeholders from across Canada to ensure long-term benefits for all Canadians.
Our government is focused on the responsible management of Canada's underwater resources and ecosystems. We have taken real action to protect the environment and create jobs in coastal communities, and we will continue to do so.