First, let me thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts on the scientific rationale for both the uses and the design of marine protected areas as conservation tools for marine ecosystems and species, as well as the human services that those species and ecosystems support.
I've been studying, publishing, and advising on marine protected areas—which I'll refer to as MPAs from here on—since the late 1980s. For eight years, I co-chaired the science advisory team for California's Marine Life Protection Act, which created a network of marine protected areas along the entire 1,300-kilometre coast of California, and it also created the largest science-based network of MPAs in the world. That process also contributed to the creation of design criteria for MPA networks, many of which are currently being proposed for networks on both the east and the west coasts of Canada.
I currently sit on the U.S. Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee.
While I appreciate the opportunity to convey the rationale for protected areas, I want to keep this as brief as possible so that we have plenty of time for questions. I also understand that the presentation I am going to give tomorrow at the Oceans20 MPA workshop will be made available to you as well, and it goes into greater detail on some of the aspects of this testimony.
There are two types of MPAs that have emerged over the past decade: really large MPAs, in the order of hundreds of thousands of square kilometres, which are located in very remote places with very little human activity; and then networks of smaller marine protected areas that are embedded along working coastlines and seascapes. While those networks of MPAs are smaller in overall area, they provide greater conservation value because they occur where people are using the ocean, and they foster a higher likelihood of contributing to the sustainability of coastal fisheries. Therefore, my comments are all going to be focused on this idea of networks of protected areas.
These networks of protected areas offer unique opportunities for the conservation of Canada's marine biodiversity and the ecosystems that maintain that biodiversity. That's because, like protected areas on land, they protect entire ecosystems—in many cases multiple ecosystems—rather than just a particular species. By encompassing an entire ecosystem—say, an estuary, a kelp forest, a deep rocky reef—they protect not only the species that inhabit that ecosystem, but also the important interactions among those species, and then the productivity and the services that marine ecosystems generate.
Those ecosystems interact with each another in two fundamental ways. The first is by the movement of organisms between ecosystems. For example, many fish species that live in deeper offshore habitats will migrate up into shallower ecosystems to spawn, or their young will use those shallower ecosystems as critical nursery habitat from which they will eventually come down and replenish adult populations.
The other is the movement of energy and nutrients from one ecosystem to another. For example, winter storms will dislodge kelp plants. Those kelp plants, and the energy and nutrients associated with them, will be carried either to onshore ecosystems or to offshore ecosystems, where they will fuel the productivity of those ecosystems as well.
By including multiple ecosystems in a given MPA, you protect not only the species that inhabit those ecosystems, but also the critical interactions between ecosystems.
However, MPAs differ from protected areas on land in one fundamental way. When land animals and plants reproduce, the young remain near their parents in the population that created them. They create self-replenishing populations. That means that you can maintain a self-replenishing population within a protected area on land, but it contributes very little to the conservation of those populations beyond the boundaries of that protected area.
In strong contrast, the young that are produced by most marine species are carried tens to hundreds of kilometres away from their parents by ocean currents. That has two fundamental implications for the use and design of marine protected areas. First, it means that the populations within a protected area are reliant on the young that are delivered to them, but produced somewhere other than that protected area. The implication is that if you space these protected areas from one another by the distance that those larvae travel, that means that the young produced in one protected area can help to ensure the replenishment of populations in another protected area.
Importantly, at the same time, they also replenish the populations in between those protected areas. They replenish fished populations as well. As a consequence, the conservation value of a marine protected area extends well beyond the boundaries of any one protected area. The area over which the young that are created in a marine protected area contribute to the replenishment of other populations is determined by just how far those larvae are carried by ocean currents.
If you take one large marine protected area and parse it into smaller areas along the coastline separated by that distance that the young disperse, what you've done is blanket the entire coast with young that are produced by those protected populations in the marine protected areas. You not only increase the area of conservation, but you also increase the replenishment of fish populations by distributing protected areas along the coast in a network.
By encompassing multiple ecosystems within each MPA, thereby protecting the interaction between ecosystems, and by spacing those protected areas at the distance that young disperse, you actually create one of the most robust conservation designs for marine protected areas. This is why this idea of networks is proposed for both the east and west coasts of Canada.
I hope these comments have helped clarify the scientific rationale for why the idea of networks of protected areas is so popular.
Again, thanks for the opportunity to try to explain that.
Thank you, Mr. Chair and members, for this opportunity to speak to you today. I've been following your proceedings with some interest.
By way of background, Woodfibre LNG is an LNG project located on the shores of Howe Sound within the boundaries of the municipality of Squamish. We are on a site called Swiyat by the Squamish Nation peoples, whose traditional lands encompass the entire Howe Sound area.
The word “woodfibre” in Woodfibre LNG comes from the fact that we're on 86 hectares that was home to an old pulp mill that shut down in 2006. In fact, there was a town there with 1,000 people, a bowling alley, and a baseball diamond. Essentially, there was industrial activity for almost 100 years.
We purchased the land in 2015 because it was a good fit for an LNG facility: it was private property, had a deepwater port with no dredging required, and was zoned as industrial in the official community plan. We have an existing gas pipeline that passes right through the site, and the BC Hydro 500kv line and 138kv line also pass right through our site, which allows us to run this facility on electric drives. Very few LNG facilities run on electric drives. This means about 80% fewer GHG emissions, and more than 90% lower NOx and SOx emissions, plus it will make us one of the greenest LNG facilities in the world.
We have our federal and provincial EA approvals. I should say that the federal EA approval was probably the second one done by the current government, and the first oil and gas facility approved by the new government under its five principles. We also have a legally binding environmental certificate from the Squamish Nation, quite possibly the first independent indigenous environmental assessment process in Canada, which is something we're quite proud of.
We're modestly sized. We'll export about 2.1 million tonnes per year. This makes us about a tenth of the size of the big ones up north that you hear about, in Prince Rupert and Kitimat. That means we'll send about 40 vessels a year, one every 10 days, or 80 transits.
By comparison, you might be aware of the Nuka “West Coast Spill Response Study” of 2013 that estimated that about 11,000 ships moved past the Neah Bay buoy—that is, opposite Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island—and about 10,000 ship movements past Point Roberts, the small spit of land just south of where I live in the Lower Mainland that is part of the United States. More than half of these ships are container, cargo, or bulk cargo vessels.
The LNG vessels that will be arriving at our facility will be powered by LNG. It should be noted that World Wildlife Fund Canada commissioned a study for the north and found that, by using LNG vessels instead of heavy fuel or bunker fuel in marine vessels, you can reduce pollutants by 97% and GHGs by 25%. Of course, there would be a much less significant impact from a fuel spill, given that gas dissipates.
We're also currently in the TERMPOL process with Transport Canada. This is the technical review process of marine terminal systems and transhipment sites. We've undergone the three environmental assessment processes, but the TERMPOL is an additional voluntary process that helps fine-tune our operations in shipping from site to the open ocean. Other than some additional safety measures we can take—the use of additional tugs and inclusion of two pilots on-board the ships—much of how we get to the open ocean is strictly regulated. We don't have a lot of choice about how fast we go or when we have to be tethered to tugs.
It's in this context that I present to you some of our thoughts as a smaller industrial player on the west coast regarding marine protected areas from a perspective of what I think is a progressive company, given our approach to things like electrification and Squamish Nation.
The big question for a company like ours, when it's doing this type of investment—we will be investing well over a billion dollars in Canada, and that's a small LNG facility—is around certainty and political risk. Every time governments and regulators make moves to alter the landscape or change the deal, it creates uncertainty, which is possibly bad for business. Unfortunately, as Canadians, we get somewhat of a reputation, particularly in Asia where I spend a lot of time, about our ability to build things here.
Having said that, I don't want to say that we are in conflict with an effective marine protected area; rather, we would call for a clearer, and perhaps quicker, process. The reason for this is that it creates the certainty these investors are looking for. When investors see green on a map when it comes to land use, they don't go there. It's pretty straightforward. When the use of the land is uncertain, and in this case the use of the ocean, this is when money becomes shy.
Based on my experience, we should consider a few things when considering MPAs—again from our perspective.
The recently announced oceans protection plan should be integrated with the rollout of MPAs. Evidence-based decision-making and a renewed focus on reducing environmental and safety risks are critical when considering the creation of these areas, we believe.
If we can effectively implement the OPP, does it take pressure off some marine environments? Does it change what levels of protection an area might have?
If we have world-class marine environmental protection, can more adaptive approaches for a marine-protected area be considered? Here I would like to acknowledge—I'm not sure I'm allowed to say members of Parliament's names—Randeep Sarai, who has been a real leader on the west coast in bringing together communities, organizations, and indigenous people to have this kind of conversation.
Secondly, MPA creation must not take place in isolation. It must be integrated with other processes. When we have only one perspective in use planning, whether it's land use or marine, we create unnecessary conflict in society. When we consider a protected area, we must, of course, consider environmental issues but also other things such as indigenous use, commercial fishing, recreational use, and industrial and transportation uses.
Thirdly, in regard to adaptive management, from what I've read, this term has come up at this committee before. It's something that we think is quite important. The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority has an enhancing cetacean habitat and observation, or ECHO, program. As part of this program, they are examining ways to minimize, for example, the noise from vessels. Something as simple as keeping the propeller clean has one of the largest impacts. By doing this type of science, by understanding these types of things, we can adapt what industry does to perhaps allow greater interaction between possible marine protected areas and industry. I appreciate what the other speaker said in terms of these networks, but perhaps alongside industry it's something that should be embraced.
Finally, on indigenous zoning, maybe that's the wrong word, but we're very proud that we play a small part in how the Squamish Nation is moving forward with regulating their traditional lands. They have a very effective land use plan, called “Xay Temixw”. I might say that wrong, but it means “sacred land”. It's very effective, and they want to move from the land use plan and expand to the marine environment. As part of our agreement with them, we are helping to fund that. The advantage of this is that it's upfront use planning and it helps us have certainty.
When we first came to build the Woodfibre LNG site, we had access to their land use plan, and it was pretty easy to say, “Oh, that site is not a sensitive area; we can possibly go there and have a conversation.” It wasn't going to be a no. That meant a big deal in terms of our having some upfront certainty. Using this approach, indigenous zoning, if you will, and the combination of science and traditional use and planning can provide greater certainty and reduce future conflicts.
Let me close with this: according to the when he launched the oceans protection plan, maritime trade is 250,000 jobs and $25 billion of our economy. The reality is that maritime trade will only grow as our population grows. There will not be fewer ships, there will be more. There will not be fewer commercial vessels or fewer recreational vessels, there will be more. Our reliance on the sea as a source of food will only grow. Marine protected areas are important, but they need to be reflective of the needs of all.
I have three responses.
The first comment you made was that only strict no-take reserves were considered in California. That clearly is not true. You can see that is the case as soon as you look at a map of the network of protected areas. If you look at the maps, there are red protected areas, which are the no-take areas, what are called “marine reserves”. Then there are large blue areas that are called “marine conservation areas”. In fact, some of those marine conservation areas were made specifically to allow recreational fishing but prevent commercial fishing. Others allow both recreational and commercial fishing, as long as they were perceived not to impact the integrity of the ecosystem.
A classic example of that is salmon fishing. If you look at the network off California, the reserves were inshore. Then they were extended offshore by these conservation areas that would allow the take of salmon where there was perceived to be little effect on the rest of the ecosystem from removing salmon within those areas. So clearly, that's not true.
However, with regard to his comment about the amount of fishing area removed by the MPAs, where the recreational fishing in California is greatest, as you can imagine, is off southern California. Unfortunately, off southern California is also the least amount of rocky reef habitat relative to central, north–central, and northern California. In southern California, for the protection of those productive rocky reef ecosystems, there was greater conflict because there was simply less data available on whether to fish or to put into protection.
However, when he says that 40% value, I think he is focused on that southern California area. It's clearly not true. Along the 1,300 kilometres of California, there's no way that 40% of the recreational area was taken out of commission. The—
Thank you to both of our witnesses for providing your testimony today.
Dr. Carr, perhaps I could start with you. You've been studying MPAs, protected areas, for a long time, since the 1980s—you said for almost 30 years—so you have a wealth of knowledge. You talked about two types: very large protected areas and a network of smaller protected areas.
This committee has been studying this for a while. We've travelled up north in Canada and on the west coast, and intend to travel to the east coast. One thing I've noticed so far from our interactions with the communities is the lack of process and how critical the process is in establishing MPAs.
I think, Byng, you mentioned the inclusion of industry and stakeholders, and how important that is.
Dr. Carr, could you talk about what you would recommend for Canada and this government, with often-conflicting mandates, to consider in implementing a proper process?
I think that's why we have politicians.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Byng Giraud: There have been a few questions that have danced around this idea of duelling scientists, and whose certainty.... Fundamentally, business wants to know where it can and can't go. Business would like to go everywhere it can, but business recognizes that it can't, so if there are certain places that need to be designated, we would like to know that sooner rather than later.
Obviously, science has to be involved in this and there has to be a public process, but at the end of the day, no matter what you do—we all know this—you can blame this business, and 15% of people will say you didn't do enough and 15% will say you did too much. The rest of the people will muddle through, and you will have to make a decision.
It's nice to say it's science-based, but let's be honest. It has already been said by the members here that we have been doing the sciences and that, fundamentally, decisions need to be made by you. From an industry perspective, dragging it out forever is not good for us. It's going on for a long time is maybe the worst thing. Yes and no is better.
That's a brilliant question. I'm glad you asked it.
I am not a fan of the target of a percentage of protected areas. That has largely been based out of political reasons for countries to move forward in this process, in this development of protected areas.
In the State of California, there was no target percentage that a protected area, as a network, was meant to achieve. Rather, as you alluded to, it was based out of this sort of grassroots, from the ground up. We know that each MPA needs to include multiple ecosystems. We know they need to include a certain area of each of those ecosystems. We know that we want them spaced a certain distance from one another. Whatever per cent that created was not a consideration. It was about the integrity of the system and the consideration of protecting representative ecosystems.
In fact, it goes back to my earlier comment that you see some countries, including the United States, where these massive protected areas have been created out in remote areas of the world with little impact on human activities, so it's pretty politically easy to achieve. In doing so, you can reach your target for your country pretty quickly, but those are not, I would argue, going to be as consequential as what we're talking about, where you're trying to embed a conservation tool into a working coastline like you have on both coasts of Canada—or on all three coasts of Canada, I should say.