Good morning, everybody, and welcome. I call this meeting to order.
We are continuing with our study of the Oceans Act's marine protected areas pursuant to Standing Order 108(2). Our guests this morning are from the west coast.
We thank you for joining us this morning in coming from away.
We have with us the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia and Mr. Robert Lewis-Manning, who is the president.
Also, we have with us the Prince Rupert Port Authority, with Mr. Don Krusel, president and chief executive officer.
Normally the way we do this is that you have 10 minutes each for your opening remarks, and I should say 10 minutes or less. We're always happy to take less. I don't know what that means, but nevertheless.... Then, of course, we go to our rounds of questions. We have 90 minutes—we probably won't use all of it—for some questioning.
Starting first, Mr. Lewis-Manning, please, for 10 minutes or less.
Good morning, Mr. Chair and members of the committee.
I'm pleased to join you for a brief discussion this morning about the key role of the Oceans Act and marine protected areas in the management and protection of Canada's coastal environment and how our industry integrates into that management approach to support both protection and trade.
Overall, I hope you appreciate that there is an increasing need for coastal management that is transparent, predictable, and adaptable. While significant progress is being made by all stakeholders involved in coastal protection, there are several aspects where modest investments in resources and changes in approach would yield significant benefits. To be sure, effective coastal management that will generate results requires an integrated approach, bringing together the range of relevant stakeholders to collaborate and develop practical and actionable plans. To this end, we are pleased to see recent investments in oceans science and the various commitments of the oceans protection plan.
My comments, of course, are provided from the perspective of commercial marine transportation and international trade more generally. The Chamber of Shipping represents the interests of shipowners, agents, and service providers responsible for Canadian international trade and domestic trade on Canada's west coast. This includes everything from people in ferries and cruise ships to bulk commodities for export to Asia such as grain, and containerized traffic for imports and exports through our major ports in the western region.
Protection of coastal environment goes hand-in-hand with the ability to earn trust of Canadians and our customers. Furthermore, the ability to protect our coastal environment smartly will also ensure the continued competitiveness of our trading gateways at a time when competitive pressures are increasing.
I have personally been involved with conservation initiatives on all three of Canada's coasts and the Great Lakes. I have experience in planning and managing various aspects of risk on our coasts and in enforcing Canada's pollution regulations more broadly, in my previous role in the government.
With a current focus on western Canada, we are actively involved in several conservation initiatives, both under the Oceans Act but also under legislation and programming of Environment and Climate Change Canada and Parks Canada. Each process is unique, having different biodiversity challenges, conservation objectives, and engaged and affected stakeholders. Our sector is now represented on the national species at risk advisory committee for the first time ever.
The preamble of the Oceans Act refers to Canada's promotion of integrated management of oceans and marine resources. We believe that this intent is the right intent, as integrated planning and management of our coastal waters should provide the best opportunity to protect and recover our pristine ecosystems while also managing sustainable human activities, including commercial shipping.
The Oceans Act expands on this intent in part II and establishes principles for developing and implementing Canada's oceans management strategy, including the principle of sustainable development, that is, development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
It is from this departure point that there appears to be some vagueness as to how to respect the principle of sustainable management. From our perspective, there does not appear to be a clear process or legislative or regulatory tool that appropriately addresses integrated coastal planning and management in areas of high human activity.
The outcome of this gap is the increased potential to poorly understand the environmental changes occurring in an ecosystem until such time as they reach a critical level and then, in response to such a predicament, implementing measures to address a threat that may lack substantive consideration and could have unintended consequences. Likewise, a lack of deliberate spatial planning means that a change in activity, including industrial activity like ours, is largely not measured or understood holistically.
Interestingly, one of the best examples of integrated planning exists in many of Canada's ports, where the pressures of sustainable development and stakeholder concerns associated with vessel operations has resulted in holistic approaches to examining risk and impact, and mitigating such impact in order to achieve safety, sustainability and conservation objectives.
A lack of integrated planning and subsequent management of areas with high human activity could result in a missed opportunity to improve a specific regional ecosystem, provide predictability for regulated human activity, such as commercial transportation, and find innovative strategies to manage such development.
For example, there are several aspects of risk planning that should be integrated. These include risk planning to determine coastal pilotage requirements, route planning that considers vessel manoeuvring characteristics, and spill response and preparedness planning, to name just a few.
We believe that the oceans protection plan will include several new planning initiatives that will seek to better manage vessel movements, anchoring operations, and aspects of vessel operations where indigenous and coastal communities have indicated concerns.
None of this would come as a surprise to federal officials. Indeed, they have been striving towards a more integrated approach to coastal management, and efforts such as the Pacific north coast integrated management area attempt to leverage a more holistic approach. It is hoped that the oceans protection plan will further integrate existing and future coastal management strategies.
We suggest that some of the current challenges could be addressed relatively quickly and without significant debate.
First, amend section 35 of the Oceans Act to include an additional reason for establishing a marine protected area, namely for the conservation, protection, and sustainable development of coastal areas with high human activity, including marine transportation to support domestic and international trade. By including this, areas of high human activity could receive appropriate scientific examination and resources, including benchmarking for cumulative impacts such that changes over time could be measured and addressed through integrated and adaptive planning. This integrated approach could also establish recognized marine trading corridors, concentrating integrated planning in marine corridors essential to Canada's trading gateways. The current systems approach may or may not address such areas, so it would be helpful to explicitly include such a reason in order to provide formal marine spatial planning for areas of high human activity.
Second, once an initial area has been identified as a candidate for a marine protected area, designate it early and then subsequently initiate integrated planning. Integrated planning should not happen in a vacuum that results in lengthy delays, but should be an iterative process where stakeholders are committed to common objectives. These objectives can be tailored to the specific area's protection needs.
Third, ensure the right federal departments are integrated in the planning process from the beginning. Certain previous initiatives were less effective and failed to identify the potential stakeholder needs early, resulting in subsequent challenges when draft regulations were published. This is both inefficient and ineffective.
Fourth, strongly consider several of the recommendations of the recent report by the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development concerning federal protected areas and conservation objectives. For example, recommendation 35 of the committee's report refers to needed investments in infrastructure as it pertains to conservation. There are several aspects to sustainable use of our coastal waters that relate directly to infrastructure. This could include port reception facilities, data networks, vessel management systems, radar coverage, remote surveillance, acoustic measurement, and many other important technologies for mitigating risk to coastal waters.
Finally, I would like to emphasize that we need to carefully manage expectations and be mindful of the level of effort required to properly fulfill our international biodiversity targets and additional coastal protection measures. While there might be a propensity to progress all conservation initiatives simultaneously, there needs to be some degree of prioritization such that stakeholders can also be adequately prepared to engage with thoughtful, evidence-based input.
In a similar light, Canada's supply chain is facing increasing competition from the United States, and we must be focused on developing sophisticated solutions to sustainability challenges rather than simply imposing constraints to trade. We believe with solid integrated marine spatial planning and clear objectives, Canada can continue to sustainably grow its international trade and protect our coastal ecosystems.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you today.
Thank you, and good morning.
On behalf of the Prince Rupert Port Authority, I'd like to thank the chair and committee members for the invitation to appear here today.
The Port of Prince Rupert is one of Canada's most valuable assets in relation to this country's international trade agenda. Today, we are the third-largest trade gateway by value, after Vancouver and Montreal. Perhaps most importantly, the Port of Prince Rupert offers Canada the greatest potential for the expansion of our trade with Asia-Pacific economies because of our uncongested transportation corridors and the availability of large tracts of industrial lands at tidewater within our jurisdiction.
Every year approximately $40 billion of trade moves through the Prince Rupert corridor. It represents every aspect of Canadian trade, and therefore every aspect of the Canadian economy, from the export of over six million tonnes of agrifoods from our prairies to one million tonnes of forest products from northern Alberta and British Columbia, nearly one million tonnes of biomass products, over six million tonnes of energy-related commodities, and nearly eight million tonnes of high-value consumer and industrial products moving to and from central Canada’s heartland.
Over the last 10 years, the Port of Prince Rupert has been one of the fastest-growing port gateways in North America, mainly as a result of the extraordinary success our container or intermodal business has had. We anticipate this level of growth to continue into the foreseeable future. We are currently developing the planning model that could see the Prince Rupert trade corridor grow to a capacity of over 140 million tonnes of trade a year, which will rival the current size of Port Metro Vancouver.
It is important to recognize that because Canada is a trading nation, its national economy can only grow and prosper if its ports' gateways, which are its connections to international markets, are allowed to also grow and prosper. That is why we at the Port of Prince Rupert spend so much of our investment in time and resources on protecting the cultural, social, and marine and terrestrial environments that we work in. We recognize that sustainable growth in the volume of trade moving through our port is about both economic prosperity and ecological diversity.
We have been engaged in marine planning activities, including membership on the steering committee of PNCIMA, or the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area, and we understand and support the environmental and social objectives of such initiatives. We will continue to be involved with the development of marine protected areas in the Northern Shelf Bioregion.
We do this in order to ensure that support can be provided to the protection of ecological and biological marine areas of significance while at the same time safeguarding maritime access for large commercial vessels trading billions of dollars of Canadian commodities and goods, at both current and future expansion levels.
Commercial access for Canadian trade needs to incorporate speed, reliability, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. Consideration to provide mariners with options to maximize safety through navigational flexibility is also important.
As DFO has stated in its testimony before this committee, shipping is permitted in most of the marine protected areas unless there is some direct impact. Where there is an established need to halt shipping in any marine protected area, it is done through voluntary and negotiated compliance with the shipping industry.
However, we would like to suggest that a more proactive and enhanced approach be considered. We would suggest that the overall process for establishing future marine protected areas begin with an objective of designating and protecting safe shipping routes through large coastal areas—shipping routes that serve as the economic arteries of the Canadian trading economy.
The designation of these safe shipping routes would take into account environmental and social values, as well as quantified navigational risk measures. The designation of such routes may facilitate the ability to guide investment priorities related to advancing greater maritime safety and enviro-mitigation measures, many of which have been identified in the federal government's oceans protection plan.
The Port of Prince Rupert has completed significant work within its jurisdiction with regard to quantifying the risk of a shipping incident, with the goal of identifying the most meaningful policies and procedures that would prevent vessel-related incidents from occurring.
This quantification has also revealed that the Port of Prince Rupert is arguably the safest established port on the west coast of North America, due primarily to its short and direct access to open ocean; the broad, deep, and sheltered approaches to the port; the existence of established navigational technology and harbour policies and procedures; and finally, the relatively low commercial and recreational marine traffic within the area, compared to other gateways on the coast.
Risk of incident, as well as the ability to meaningfully reduce such risk elements, needs to be established as an important benchmark in these conversations. Canada has many areas of rich marine ecology. It also has a number of critical strategic marine trade lanes that support the economic lifeblood of Canada. Both of these resources are of national significance and importance, and deserve to be protected for the benefit of future generations.
Thank you for your attention.
Certainly. Thank you for the great question.
There has been no mal-intent. I think that, over time, we are seeing a merging of the traditional regulator, Transport Canada, and the department that has been responsible for ecosystem-based management. The two have very different philosophies.
On the regulator side, for example, Transport Canada is accustomed to identifying a challenge within the industry, finding a solution globally, and then implementing a solution nationally. It's usually for a very specific issue, like air emissions or pollution control, something of that matter, whereas the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Coast Guard have traditionally looked at ecosystem approaches. Both of those skill sets are necessary, and now they need to be merged. Both of those departments need to understand and have similar experiences.
That's beginning to happen. We are starting to see some cross-pollination among the important departments—and I include Environment and Climate Change Canada as well. It's a critical one but, guess what, it hasn't really worked in our sector very much in the past. We need to help that department know our industry and understand it, and at the same time build that experience.
I think there are some examples in the past where it hasn't happened as well as it could have. Some of the processes are so lengthy, and a lot changes in a decade. Technology changes; our understanding of the environment we operate in changes; and the industry changes drastically, as well, over five to 10 years.
It's beginning. You can start to see the early stages of that integrated approach. One example that has recently come to light is Scott Islands: all the right intentions, all the right objectives, but not necessarily all the right stakeholders involved from the beginning. Now it's pre-published, and the real work is just beginning—again—because there needs to be a more fulsome dialogue about what solutions are realistic and important.