Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam for his interest on this file, and also for the great work he is doing on the fisheries and oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard committee.
I will start by saying that I can assure the member that the Government of Canada is committed to protecting the health of Canada's wild and farmed fish from aquatic animal diseases.
The Department of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard is working with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to complete all aspects of the national aquatic animal health program in order to prevent the introduction and propagation of aquatic animal diseases in Canada.
Under the Health of Animals Act and its regulations, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is responsible for regulating and administering the program. Our department supports the CFIA by carrying out diagnostics and research and providing scientific advice.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency uses a risk-based disease management approach. It tests for diseases that are known to seriously impact wild fish. These diseases are listed by the World Organisation for Animal Health. We also focus on species deemed susceptible to the listed diseases.
Our government has also implemented the Pacific aquaculture regulations. These regulations are a key component of the strong regulatory system in place for aquaculture in B.C., one of the most rigorous in the world, to ensure that the aquaculture industry is safe and healthy, and to ensure the sustainable use of our marine resources.
In British Columbia, the minister regularly monitors the aquaculture industry to ascertain compliance with permit conditions and the Pacific Aquaculture Regulations.
For example, the DFO Fish Health Audit and Surveillance program monitors the health of farmed salmon, mainly by taking samples of farmed fish in order to identify known and emerging illnesses. DFO veterinarians and animal health specialists conduct more than 100 assessments of fish health and look for the presence of sea lice.
The conditions of aquaculture permits require the permit holder to keep up-to-date files on the health of the fish at their facility in order to minimize the potential propagation of pathogens when infectious diseases are suspected or diagnosed.
DFO continues to apply the best available science to adapt and improve its Fish Health Audit and Surveillance Program. For example, under the Strategic Salmon Health Initiative, the minister conducted research, in collaboration with the Pacific Salmon Foundation and Genome BC, to better understand microbes present in wild and farmed salmon in British Columbia.
The research conducted under this initiative revealed new information relating to matters raised on the appeals in the case referred to by the member. Our department needs more time to analyze and determine if this information affects the crown's position in this case. This is why an adjournment has been sought with the consent of all parties.
Canadian seafood is known for its excellent quality, and we built that reputation by protecting our wild and farmed aquatic animals against potentially serious infectious diseases. We take that responsibility very seriously, and that is why we are going to invest an additional $197.1 million in ocean and freshwater scientific research over the next five years.
We are investing in people, technology, and partnerships to ensure that we have the scientific evidence to answer questions that are relevant to Canadians today and in the future. This investment will bring real benefits to Canadians by helping us make more informed decisions about our oceans, waterways, and fisheries, including aquaculture.