Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise tonight in the House to respond to the motion moved by the hon. member for Davenport. I thank him for his continued interest in aquaculture and in all environmental issues.
This issue is a priority for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The program for sustainable aquaculture, announced in 2000, is an investment that will not only allow the aquaculture industry to grow and become a vital component of the Canadian economy, but it will also allow the government to ensure that this growth does not come at the detriment of our aquatic ecosystems.
Aquaculture is an increasingly important activity, in Canada and around the world. It provides numerous social and economic opportunities.
In the last ten years, the department has established a certain number of initiatives to promote the sustainable development of this promising industry. Since the Program for Sustainable Aquaculture was launched, the department has stepped up its efforts to meet its objective.
I would also like to mention that the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans has, in recent years, demonstrated a great deal of interest in the sector, in terms of its effects on the environment, and its future, from both a social and economic standpoint.
A number of studies on aquaculture have been carried out to date. Despite its relative youth, the aquaculture industry has been the subject of a number of rigorous studies and reviews over the past ten years. These studies and reviews have shown that when properly managed, the impact of aquaculture on the environment is minimal.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is carefully considering all of these results in order to ensure that the measures implemented today take into account all that we have learned up to this point.
The aquaculture industry is a viable industry that continues to improve its practices. Despite this positive fact, we must continue to better understand the effects of aquaculture on the environment and take measures to improve the confidence of the public in this industry.
Given the extraordinary opportunities that aquaculture provides us with, we must also take appropriate measures to make the industry more competitive on world markets. To this end, DFO has adopted a detailed action plan to support the sustainable development of aquaculture.
I would now like to talk about some of the key features of this plan.
First, let us address the issue of environmental assessment. The department adopted a series of measures to better regulate the industry and ensure the sustainable development of Canada's aquaculture industry.
As Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, I want to stress the fact that the department has always maintained that it must, on the one hand, make sure the industry has all the tools it needs to play an important part in rural development and, on the other, put in place all the audit and monitoring mechanisms necessary to increase Canadians' confidence in the sustainability of the industry.
With respect to effective monitoring of the industry, the government's role is not only to improve the legislation and regulations pertaining to aquaculture. The department is also trying to find ways to better monitor the activities of the industry on a day-to-day basis.
In cooperation with the provinces, the department is reviewing provincial methods of monitoring aquaculture activities. We want to continue to work in close consultation with the provinces to improve these methods and strengthen them if need be.
Let us talk about cooperation. Since aquaculture and environment issues come under the jurisdiction of both the federal government and the provinces, the department is working closely with provincial and territorial governments. This cooperation is taking place under the auspices of the Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers and is producing very good results.
Thanks to the council, DFO and the provinces can ensure consistent management of the aquaculture industry all over the country. This prevents the duplication of efforts and resources that are saved can serve other important purposes such as research and environmental protection.
In conclusion, given all the work--