Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to support Bill C-228, an act to amend the Fisheries Act (closed containment aquaculture).
I am really pleased to support my colleague, the hon. member for Port Moody—Coquitlam, in British Columbia. I had the opportunity to get to know him in 2011 when I was first elected and I can say that he has been working very hard for years, not only on protecting the oceans and animals, such as fish, but also on protecting the environment in general.
This is not the first time he has raised the issue of protecting wild salmon. He previously moved a motion in favour of sustainable seafood.
We should be taking a very different approach, not just to agriculture at some point, but also to how we view seafood.
We currently have a very wide-scale, very commercial approach, which is having very serious repercussions on our ecosystem. I am going to elaborate on some very concrete examples of the direct and serious effects on our ecosystems of the current use of nets directly in the sea.
For example, there may be illnesses and parasites that spread to wild salmon. My colleague spoke at length about the economic importance of wild salmon to British Columbia. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of fecal matter on the seabed, which damages the flora and fauna. Moreover, farmed salmon that escape sometimes rejoin the wild population, which, sadly, can lead to illness or other serious consequences.
For all these reasons, it is important to remember that wild salmon is a national treasure in Canada, which, unfortunately, is threatened by the illnesses and pollution that affect open-net salmon aquaculture.
We must take action now to protect the wild salmon economy. My Conservative colleague spoke extensively about the economics of the salmon aquaculture industry. However, his arguments only referred to that aspect of the issue. We also have to consider wild salmon. If wild salmon begins to disappear from the oceans and coastal waters of British Columbia, we will lose even more jobs. We have to take this into consideration as well. In any event, these jobs will not disappear; they will simply be transferred to closed containment aquaculture operations.
Canada could become a world leader in closed containment technology and create a lot more jobs for Canadians in coastal regions and first nation communities, which is why this bill is so important.
When one has been an MP for some time, like me, entering my sixth year, we sometimes have to ask ourselves exactly what it is we are doing here. We think about it. As the days go by, we wonder what this is all about and what our true goals are for our time here.
When one can speak to an issue like this and introduce a private member's bill as important as this one, it is clear why we are all here. We are here to take positive, concrete action that will make a difference in our communities, not only for the people and employers we represent today, but also for our children and grandchildren.
I am thinking of my daughters and the children they may have one day. I am also thinking of my nephews, who are still young, but who will grow up. When you think about it like that, it is extremely important to regularly reflect on the decisions we make.
Once again, I want to congratulate the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam on his bill, which reminds me why I am here in the first place, and reminds me of the importance of our actions today. This makes up for the more difficult times we have here on a regular basis.
Bill C-228 seeks to strengthen the Fisheries Act by banning open net salmon farming. It is a relatively simple initiative that will have many positive effects. Its provisions require all salmon farms in British Columbia to transition from open net pens to safe closed containment systems on land.
As I have already explained, right now, salmon are being raised in nets in the ocean. I have already talked about all of the negative impacts of this method, which is extremely dangerous. The federal government must step in, because salmon farms are threatening the survival of wild Pacific salmon.
People are worried about their jobs and the transition. It is only natural to have concerns when an economic sector makes a transition. That is why my colleague had the wonderful idea of setting out a transition period. In order to support the transition of the west coast's salmon aquaculture industry to closed containment, the minister has 18 months after the bill is passed to create a transition plan. This will help to ensure a proper transition that is satisfactory and beneficial for everyone, as well as make sure that work continues in this industry.
The concept of closed containment farming is not far-fetched. It did not spring from the imagination of a gaggle of oddball scientists. My colleague talked about this in his speech. On the contrary, closed containment systems already exist. This technology is already being used. My colleague talked about Kuterra in British Columbia, a salmon farming operation. This farm already has the support of a number of organizations and scientists. It is a certified “best choice” according to the Living Oceans Foundation and its SeaChoice program.
This technique is already being used and the technology exists. It is being done in an environmentally-friendly and economically sound manner. Consumers are increasingly asking for environmentally-friendly products. As we have already heard, many fishers and people who profit from the wild salmon fishery want action to preserve our fish stocks, including Pacific salmon.
For all these reasons, these practices are crucial. When you think about it, consumers are asking for higher quality products. To make better quality products, better environmental practices are needed. Closed containment farming could help. The example of Kuterra in British Columbia and the SeaChoice program prove that it is possible to do from an economic and sustainable development standpoint.
We also need to think about what we want to leave for our children. Earlier I was thinking of my nephews and the children they may have later. We want to leave them a healthy, sustainable environment. Yes, we want prosperity, but we must still think about the future. That is why this bill is so important and why we must support it. I hope our colleagues will join us.