Good morning, and thank you for the opportunity to speak to your committee today.
My name is Paul Barnes. I am director of Atlantic Canada and Arctic for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, which is also known as CAPP. CAPP is an association of oil and gas companies that are involved in exploration, development, and production of oil and gas in Canada. We have almost a hundred members from coast to coast.
The standing committee's study into the Oceans Act's marine protected areas is important to our association and our members with interests in Canada's offshore oil and gas industry. Our association and I personally have been active participants in various stakeholder advisory committees related to designating marine protected areas in Newfoundland and Labrador, in Nova Scotia, and in the Beaufort Sea area of the Northwest Territories. We have also provided input, both verbally and in writing, to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on the Oceans Act amendments related specifically to MPAs.
I'd like to reinforce our industry's commitment to high standards for marine safety and the protection of our environment as we continue to develop Canada's offshore resources and seek to ship more of Canada's energy to new markets around the world. Protecting Canada's oceans is, of course, top of mind. At the same time, we believe we must do so in a way that finds the right balance between protecting the environment and economic development.
With respect to the economic contribution of our industry, the Oceans Act itself recognizes that the oceans and their resources offer significant opportunities for economic diversification and the generation of wealth for the benefit of all Canadians, particularly for coastal communities. The act also talks about the integrated management of oceans and marine resources. CAPP is, of course, supportive of this legislation and of the policy intent as well.
We have in this country a thriving offshore oil and gas industry, with most of the activity occurring in Atlantic Canada. We have five producing oil and natural gas projects and another, off of Newfoundland, set to begin production later this year. Significant ongoing exploration activity continues.
In Atlantic Canada, the industry has brought substantial benefits to the region. We employ over 9,000 people directly and thousands more indirectly. We support over 600 supply and service companies, and the capital spending by our industry in Atlantic Canada since the mid-1990s totals over $40 billion. We also have oil and gas interests in northern Canada, in the Beaufort Sea area, and in the British Columbia offshore area, and we have interests in the offshore areas of Nunavut. It's therefore imperative that the marine protected area planning process, as outlined in the Oceans Act, consider economic activity in Canada's oceans, while at the same time working to achieve conservation objectives.
Our association supports environmental protection and conservation that is grounded in government decision-making based on science, facts, and evidence. We recently participated in the Laurentian Channel MPA designation process in Newfoundland, and we strongly support the model of information sharing and working collaboratively. I wish to commend DFO for its management and oversight, particularly of that process and of many other processes that I've been involved with for designating MPAs.
The Laurentian Channel MPA was unique. It was a multi-stakeholder process that included participation of provincial and federal governments, resource user groups, environmental groups, indigenous groups, academia, and others. The process was very effective, inclusive, and very transparent, and it followed a very rigorous, scientific risk-assessment approach based on identified and agreed-upon conservation objectives.
We stand by the process, and of course the end result is an MPA proposal that is balanced, evidence-based, and science-based, which establishes two basic management zones that provide various levels of protection within the whole MPA area, offering the most stringent protection in areas that need it the most. For example, that MPA allows oil and gas activity in certain areas where there is no harm to fish or marine mammals and restricts it in others where there's some degree of risk.
We recognize that the Government of Canada has set some strong targets on protecting Canada's oceans: 5% by 2017 and 10% by 2020. Achieving these targets will, of course, require ongoing dialogue and sharing of information. We also recognize that the amendments proposed to the Oceans Act, which were announced in June of this year along with related amendments to the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, would help Canada meet these targets by creating the authority to designate interim protection MPAs and clarify enforcement powers.
CAPP, as an association, generally supports these amendments, as they would allow oil and natural gas companies to be compensated if their licences are impacted in areas under interim designation as MPAs. The amendments also allow for planned activity to continue in proposed MPAs.
We would caution, however, that the ability, within the legislation, to extinguish development rights signals some investment risk for Canadian offshore development and opens some questions about Canada's investment environment and competitiveness.
In summary, in addition to achieving environmental protection targets, we must ensure that Canada maintains a positive investment environment in order for the offshore petroleum industry to remain competitive and keep delivering economic benefits to all Canadians.
Again, I'd like to thank the committee for the opportunity to speak today.
Good morning, everyone.
My name is Todd Russell, and I'm here representing the British Columbia Shellfish Growers' Association as a member of their board. I'm also the general manager of a shellfish aquaculture company called Island Scallops here in British Columbia. I'm also a member of various regional marine area planning partnership committees as well as some of the recently created marine protected area stakeholder advisory committees.
In becoming educated recently on the proposed plan to create a network of MPAs and getting involved with the process, I've learned that there is a lot of work being done to limit the social, economic, and environmental impacts of the MPAs. This work will be paramount to the success of achieving the intended benefits of MPAs.
Many of the intended marine protected areas in the proposed network will have minimal impact on the vast majority of current shellfish aquaculture growing areas in B.C. That being said, there's enormous potential for shellfish growth in the north Vancouver Island, central, and north coast regions. The opportunity for expansion into these areas would give economic opportunities to many struggling first nations communities throughout the coast, and it is why the impacts of these MPAs need to be looked at in relation to their effects on shellfish aquaculture.
Shellfish aquaculture can take many forms, from cultivating wild stocks on beaches, to using raft and longline equipment, to hanging hatchery, to purchasing seed and a variety of grow equipment.
Most forms of shellfish farming represent a net gain to the overall health of the surrounding ecosystems they are a part of. They're filter feeders, first and foremost, and they work to improve overall water quality. They are also broadcast spawners and send billions of larvae out into the water column to be the base of the food chain for a variety of species. The grow-out equipment itself provides a 3-D artificial reef in mid-water that becomes a home for an amazing abundance of species that provide both food resources and a haven from predators for a variety of juvenile fish species.
The negatives associated with shellfish farming are really only the loss of gear from storm events or bad farm management, which can result in things like plastic trays, etc., washing up on nearby shorelines. Both the industry and DFO have worked hard to eliminate the use of things like polystyrene on rafts to minimize the environmental impact of these shellfish farms.
The implementation of where to put potential aquaculture sites should not boil down to simply isolating a large area to put all of these activities in, or to exclude them, but should involve identifying smaller, suitable sites throughout the coast to allow more reasonable and sustainably sized farms to be situated where they can be most productive financially and beneficial to the ecosystem at the same time. Many of the sand and gravel beaches surrounding first nations communities have been farmed as clam gardens for thousands of years and need very little work to provide low-capital employment opportunities for members of these communities. To exclude shellfish aquaculture in an MPA such as this would not benefit anyone.
DFO has been really improving its relationship with the shellfish community in British Columbia since it took over management of aquaculture from the province a number of years ago. Through industry advisory committees, it has listened to growers and provided feedback from its own perspective to enable a good working relationship that is improving year to year to the benefit of everyone involved.
I am a member of the Marine Plan Partnership for the North Pacific Coast, a group called MaPP. It's a co-led process between 17 first nations and the government of the Province of British Columbia, to develop and implement plans for marine uses on B.C.'s north coast now and into the future. The MaPP initiative is also notable for the diversity of stakeholders involved and the number of marine uses, activities, and values addressed.
Funding for this partnership is provided by an organization called Tides Canada in conjunction with generous donations from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. This group, relying on scientific research done by other privately funded organizations such as the Hakai Institute, is making well planned out and cohesive area plans for the entire north coast region, which will be used as a valuable tool by provincial, regional, and municipal governments, and first nations and industry stakeholders alike.
The only group missing at the table in these meetings is DFO, which declined an invitation to participate. I highlighted my positive experiences with DFO to not come off as too critical, but I think it is unfortunate that DFO will not participate in the MaPP process.
Now, with the MPA stakeholder committees having been created in B.C., all of the same players who are involved with the MaPP process are now being asked to participate with DFO in the MPA process. I think a simple allocation of one token person from DFO to reciprocally participate, even in an observational manner, would be a great gesture to those involved in the process. They can report back on what has been learned on a regional scale without the expense of DFO having to duplicate the research itself.
One of my other recommendations for the MPAs is to not only protect but also enhance them as well. The salmon enhancement program has been a great success, and if there are special species of concerns in a particular MPA, there is no reason why these species cannot be reproduced in a hatchery setting and reintroduced into the wild, dramatically improving the time for an area to rehabilitate. You can protect an area forever, but if there's not a sufficient breeding population of the species that you're protecting, no amount of time will bring them back without some form of enhancement.
Some of these enhancement activities should include enhancement of seaweed species such as kelp and eelgrass in areas where they've been wiped out. These seaweeds provide an essential role in water quality, a haven from predation, and a food source in the ecosystem. Although there are a lot of budgetary constraints for the federal government to pull off some of these activities, they could start as pilot projects in conjunction with some of the well-funded NGOs and could provide a lot of useful scientific data and gainful employment for people in remote communities without many employment opportunities.
To close, as a shellfish farmer, I hope that the MPAs do not look at shellfish and aquaculture negatively in an area but see that, properly managed, they can be a positive benefit. With all the stakeholder groups working together, we can make sure these MPAs meet their target of environmental protection while minimizing the social, economic, and environmental impact of the people who depend on the oceans for their livelihood.
Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thanks to the committee for inviting me to speak.
I am a long-time fisherman from the west coast of Vancouver Island. My son and I own a longline groundfish vessel together that we fish in the integrated groundfish fishery. I have over 50 years of working on the water in a variety of fisheries, and I am a past vice-president of the Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters. I represent the longline fishery in a variety of forums in B.C., and I represent the commercial fishing industry on the West Coast Aquatic Management board, mandated under the Oceans Act in 2001.
I have been working for the Area A crab fishery as an executive director since 2009, and I am presently the acting executive director of a coast-wide crab association. When I first started working for Area A, I told them I was going to focus my efforts on integrated marine planning, which at that time was just starting to ramp up through the PNCIMA process—the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area, which encompasses the area in which these fishermen work: the Hecate Strait, Haida Gwaii, and Queen Charlotte Sound.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has a mandate under the Oceans Act to facilitate and enable co-operative relationships among agencies, other governments, and stakeholders, including first nation and coastal communities, in developing an integrated marine planning process. I had already spent 10 years of my life working on building an aquatic management board on the west coast of Vancouver Island during the 1990s, which was mandated under the Oceans Act, to integrate marine governance with four levels of government for the west coast of Vancouver Island.
I believed, and I still do, that the only way to properly manage ocean space is by co-operatively organizing all the relevant governments and their agencies and stakeholders into this type of process in the north coast. The need to integrate fisheries into this type of process in the north coast had become critical, with the rising potential for significantly increased freighter traffic, wind and other alternative power generation being contemplated, the aspirations of first nations in the region to develop their own coastal and ocean marine plans, and a rising interest in developing protected areas, not only to protect unique habitats but also to provide exclusive opportunities for first nation food, social, and ceremonial fisheries, one of the stated objectives of the Canadian marine protected areas strategy. We were also seeing significant changes to the marine environment that pointed to climate change and associated ocean acidification impacts, which, research is now showing, have significant negative impacts on shellfish and other sea life.
The Area A crab industry, working closely with the Commercial Fishing Caucus, which was set up specifically to focus on marine planning by all the fishing interests in the region, spent a considerable amount of time supporting the initial PNCIMA process. The PNCIMA process was providing capacity for proper engagement of many interests that otherwise would not have had the capacity to engage, through an $8.5-million Moore Foundation grant in partnership with DFO.
The previous government, in 2013, killed the Moore grant, citing concerns about American ENGOs influencing Canadian government policy, particularly around the Northern Gateway proposal. When this occurred, the building momentum around integrated marine planning in the north coast of B.C., from our perspective in the crab industry, all but disappeared.
Out of the ashes of that exercise came the use of that money to support the provincial government and 18 first nations in the region in developing their own truncated planning process—the marine planning process commonly referred to as MaPP, which a previous speaker referenced. I call it “truncated” because the federal government specifically refused to participate and, by withholding its mandate, very seriously undermined the opportunity for integrated marine planning. Area A Crab and the Commercial Fishing Caucus continued to participate in MaPP, while other fishing interests withdrew, citing the lack of federal involvement, which manages fisheries, as the rationale for their withdrawal.
Area A and the remaining CFC partners took the position that we were better off supporting those elements of marine planning in MaPP that were important to fisheries, such as foreshore infrastructure and coastal community economic and social agendas, which were under the mandate of the provincial government. We also objected to the use of this planning process to zone marine protected areas under IUCN designations, because the IUCN designations specifically speak to fisheries management curtailment, and this planning process had no mandate, due to the absence of the federal government, to mandate these types of potential fisheries as closed areas. Our advice on this matter was noted but ignored, and these plans to this day continue to identify significant ocean areas as potential IUCN 1b areas, which means that, if gazetted, they would be closed to all fisheries except first nations food, social, and ceremonial fisheries. Many of these potential IUCN-designated areas include some of the most productive fishing areas in the north coast region.
After careful consideration of the workshop proceedings summarizing the input of scientists from around the world, it became clear that, in areas of the world where well-managed fisheries exist, MPAs are of little use, and in those jurisdictions, the establishment of MPAs has serious negative economic consequences to the existing fisheries while providing little conservation benefit.
In areas of the world where there is little or no fisheries management structure and where the species of fish in some of these areas are of a sedentary nature, MPAs have been shown to be useful.
In B.C., the commercial fishing industry was supportive, for instance, of establishing rockfish conservation areas, because it was obvious to those of us who fished these species—and I was one of them—that these more sedentary species would benefit from being in protected areas.
Ironically, in this latest debate around what is considered to be a worthwhile closed-area protection, these areas are not considered by the ENGO community or by the present review process looking at existing closed areas as part of the overall percentage of spatial protection to be worthwhile for inclusion because they do not fit the IUCN criteria which. From our perspective as fishermen, this is a ridiculous stance to take.
With respect to the Dungeness crab fishery, these animals live in an open-ended fluid environment. The early larvae life cycle lives in the water column and travel hundreds, if not thousands, of miles on ocean currents. The second life cycle, the megalopa life cycle, is also highly mobile in the water column. It is only when the animals settle and stay on the bottom that they become more sedentary, but even then they have been known to travel great distances as adults in search of food sources.
Species like Dungeness crab would be very difficult to protect unless very large MPAs were created, and even then, the question is, protect for what purpose? The same question needs to be asked for a majority of pelagic ocean species that are presently being fished sustainably through proven fisheries management methodologies.
The management of Dungeness crab is done by season, size, and sex restrictions, through effort and licence controls. This method of management has been successful in maintaining healthy biomass populations of Dungeness crab for over 100 years along their Pacific ranges from California to Alaska.
The Area A fleet is further managed through tracking of all trap hauls through camera and GPS technology; its actual ocean footprint has been tracked right down to the individual trap for the last 17 years. Why jeopardize the viability of well-managed fisheries to pursue conservation goals that are unlikely to be effectively achieved through an MPA approach?
This is a major issue for the crab fishery, as the use of MPAs to lock out sand habitats as one type of unique habitat to limit human activity and maintain pristine environments is now on the table as a possible part of the MPA network design for the north coast bioregion. One area in the Hecate Strait being contemplated as an IUCN 1b designation has, in some years, contained significant crab catches. The potential negative consequences of locking out that area will create serious economic hardship for this fleet.
That being said, the Government of Canada has committed to five and ten per cent MPA protection in its EEZ within the next three years. We know that this is a political commitment that will be acted upon. Considering the facts I have just presented, the present terms of reference for designing and implementing these MPAs are, in our estimation, inadequate, considering the risks involved to the long-term economic and social viability of the fishery, with very little conservation benefit for us.
We are being told that we will be consulted and be allowed to give advice to a tripartite government structure consisting of federal, provincial, and first nations governments. There is no commitment to collaborative decision-making in relation to this file despite the 's mandate letter which commits to this type of process. There are no conflict resolution principles within the terms of reference yet, yet it was obvious from the science workshop in Vancouver that the inclusion of structural adjustment funds to compensate for lost opportunity of traditional users of the resource was a critical component of the planning process.
The Australian example of providing structural adjustment at the end of the process of creating the Great Barrier Reef protected area was a glaring example of how not to design MPAs, yet the Canadian OAP has no terms of reference at the outset of the planning process to cover the conflict resolution, mitigation, and compensation components of this planning exercise.
The MPA strategy is being treated as a one-off process, not integrated in a meaningful way within an overarching integrated ecosystem-based governance structure. It is, in fact, ignoring the existing combined governance bodies that were set up to manage bioregions. On the west coast of Vancouver Island, DFO has deliberately sidelined the aquatic management board in the region, which was specifically set up to oversee the management of the ocean space within its mandate, and is setting up a separate consultative process that is bypassing this board altogether.
In conclusion, integrated marine planning is very important to maintaining the future health of Canada's marine areas. MPAs are only one tool of many that may be needed to achieve these planning objectives. In our research into this situation with respect to the development of MPAs, the commercial industry, in partnership with the ENGO community, hosted a major science workshop on MPAs two years ago in Vancouver.
There is growing evidence that MPAs are being oversold for their benefits, and it is well known in the field of marine planning that one of the major mistakes in this relatively new field is to treat marine plans as mirror images of terrestrial plans. Unlike terrestrial areas, marine areas are not static. They are highly variable and much more mobile than the terrestrial environment, and we need to take that into account when contemplating the possibility of locking out large areas of ocean space from human use.
We see the need for much more responsive and structured terms of reference for including the affected commercial industries in the MPA planning process. There is too much at stake for this industry to simply be part of a very loose consultative process that, at the end of the day, could very well see major negative economic consequences for our fishery.
At the same time, we must be mindful of the issues associated with climate change and what they will mean for our coastal communities and fishing industries as we deal with a rapidly changing environment.
We are more than willing to be constructive partners in designing a comprehensive and inclusive integrated marine planning process and to contribute the knowledge that fishermen have of the marine environment into the process in a meaningful way.
Good morning, and thank you to the committee for the opportunity to present here this morning. My name is Dwan Street. I speak to you this morning on behalf of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union, a local of Unifor Newfoundland and Labrador. Our union represents nearly 15,000 working women and men throughout the province.
The majority of our members are employed in fish harvesting or in fish processing plants. Our members reside in coastal communities around our province, in rural areas where the fishery is the lifeblood of the community and where the socio-economic well-being and survival of communities and entire regions depend on the resources within our oceans.
Our fish harvesting members, the independent inshore owner-operator fleet, are the greatest stewards of the ocean. Their survival is dependent on the harvesting of a vast number of species in our adjacent waters. They recognize that a healthy marine ecosystem will return dividends to our communities for generations to come and will provide good jobs in the beautiful coastal communities in which we reside. As I've often heard growing up in a fishing family in a community that depends on the ocean for its own survival, if you take care of the fish, the fish will take care of you. In Newfoundland and Labrador, there are many examples of fish harvester-driven initiatives to protect the biodiversity in our oceans. The Eastport Marine Protected Area, for example, is one that came to fruition when a group of our members wanted to address a decline in their lobster catches.
In 1995, these harvesters formed the Eastport Peninsula Lobster Protection Committee. Two areas were voluntarily closed. Fish harvesters gathered data and worked collaboratively with government, community groups, academics, and scientists. In 2005, under the Oceans Act, the Eastport Marine Protected Area became a reality. The lobster science program in this area is ongoing still. It provides valuable input to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and this is just one of our success stories. This type of collaborative approach, one that takes into account the traditional and local ecological knowledge and experience of fish harvesters and engages harvesters throughout the process, is crucial if we are to approach marine protection in a way that will benefit our ecosystem and our communities for generations. Protection of the biodiversity in our waters is necessary, and we applaud the current government's commitment to protect our oceans. We believe, however, that there are areas that need improvement.
Marine protected areas must have a purpose, and there must be demonstrable evidence to support the view that by closing an area we will achieve results. It must be done in a thorough, evidence-based manner that takes into account not only scientific data but the storied experiences of those who have worked on the ocean and know the ecosystem: fish harvesters. As with any form of spatial management of a mobile living thing, we run the risk of drawing lines that come with uncertainty. We must not be boxed in by aggressive timelines for the sake of meeting milestones; rather, we must take the time to ensure that we do it right and achieve the intended outcomes. Our members, for example, have long advocated for closures that will protect fish during vulnerable life stages. Such closures would include measures such as prohibiting fishing on known traditional areas of pre-spawning aggregations, seasonal closures, and gear restrictions.
We must also ensure that there's an element of flexibility in MPA planning. The marine ecosystem is dynamic. There must be a method of evaluation, and room for adjustment as changes occur. We cannot draw lines that are rigid and permanent; we must be able to re-evaluate and leave room for improvements. We are also aware that there will often be closures affecting our members that are full fishing closures. We've worked hard with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to ensure that these closures come with minimal negative impacts upon harvesters. When areas are closed to fishing activity, it's important that the socio-economic impact of these closures be analyzed, and the analysis must take into account historic fishing activity and reliance upon species.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, we are currently undergoing an ecosystem shift that is bringing a resurgence of species that harvesters have not relied on for decades. We must ensure that the traditional, historic fishing patterns and the knowledge that come with them are taken into account, so as to not limit future opportunities.
The conservation goals of marine protected areas can be compromised when closures are not applied evenly across sectors. We share the ocean with other fishing sectors and with other industries in the same ocean real estate.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the oil and gas industry is a major player in our marine environment. We are experiencing a record amount of seismic activity in our waters, and the effects of this with respect to our fish stocks are unknown.
Our organization has been clear and consistent in our position: that there is no logic to prohibiting a fish harvester from dropping a hook while at the same time leaving the door open for a drill rig or a seismic vessel to undertake activities in the same areas using processes that are destructive and disruptive to the marine ecosystem.
We have worked hard, in collaboration with the federal government, on the Laurentian Channel MPA. Our members have provided input and understand the importance of that particular closure to ensuring the protection of the biodiversity that exists in this rich area. The news that oil and gas activity will be permitted in 88% of the Laurentian Channel MPA has been very frustrating for our members.
A healthy marine ecosystem is essential to the sustainability of coastal Newfoundland and Labrador. Many of these coastal communities have existed for centuries, and almost all were founded because of the fishery. Ensuring that our valuable marine resources are protected and managed sustainably and responsibly is paramount. To do so properly, consultation must not only occur but it must be meaningful. It must be open and transparent, and it must take into account the voices of those who stand to be most affected.
Our members take pride in sustainability and want to see the ocean's biodiversity flourish around their communities. As we undergo our current transition, as we see shellfish stocks decline and groundfish species come back, our members want to be at the forefront in finding ways to ensure that conservation and sustainability remain key components of our fishery. To achieve that goal, however, we must work together and must be confident that our voices are being heard and that the endless wealth of knowledge that can be obtained only through generations of working on the sea is applied. We must ensure that conservation of our marine environment is not compromised by concessions given to deep-pocketed multinational corporations.
The livelihood of fish harvesters and the survival of our coastal communities depend on the health of our oceans. We want to be equal partners in the efforts to protect the marine ecosystem, but in order to be equal, we need to have our concerns heard and reflected in the implementation of marine protected area planning going forward.
Thank you. I look forward to answering your questions.