FOPO Committee Report
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Mr. Tom Wappel. M.P.
Chair, Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans
House of Commons
Dear Mr. Wappel:
I am pleased to respond on behalf of the Government of Canada to the Report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans on Aquatic Invasive Species tabled in the House of Commons on June 9, 2005.
I would like to thank the Committee for its continued efforts on this issue. The Government has reviewed the report and agrees with the Committee on the importance of continued measures to prevent and control the introduction of aquatic invasive species in the waters of Canada.
The Government recognizes the seriousness of its responsibilities to conserve and protect aquatic resources and the gravity of the threat posed by aquatic invasive species. The initiatives to address invasive species identified in Budget 2005 are evidence of the Government's strong commitment to this issue.
The attached response provides an update on each of SCOFO's recommendations. In the two years since the last Committee report on Aquatic Invasive Species, the Government has made considerable progress on the development and implementation of an Invasive Alien Species Strategy for Canada and the Canadian Action Plan to Address the Threat of Aquatic Invasive Species. Activities are already being undertaken by the Government and its partners under the Strategy and its associated Action Plan to address many of the recommendations contained in the current report. The Committee's recommendations will be taken into consideration as the Government moves forward with further implementation activities.
On behalf of the Government, I would like to thank the members of the Committee for their continued interest in this important matter and for their reminders of the necessity of continuing the Government's actions to protect our aquatic resources from the impacts of invasive species.
GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO THE THIRD REPORT OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE ON FISHERIES AND OCEANS
AQUATIC INVASIVE SPECIES
RECOMMENDATIONS 9 AND 10
The Government of Canada would like to thank the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans (SCOFO) for its latest report concerning Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS). The Government has reviewed the recommendations contained in this report and has provided responses to each recommendation.
The Government of Canada, together with the provinces and territories, is implementing a coordinated Invasive Alien Species Strategy for Canada. Environment Canada (EC) has coordinated the development of the Strategy, in collaboration with other federal departments, provinces, territories, and stakeholders. The Strategy seeks to minimize the risk invasive species pose to the environment, economy, and society through prevention, early detection, rapid response, and management.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has the federal lead for the aquatics portion of the Strategy. DFO and the province of Ontario co-chair the Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers' (CCFAM) Aquatic Invasive Species Task Group, which includes representatives from all provinces. Territorial governments and other federal departments (EC, TC, Parks Canada Agency, Department of National Defence, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and Canada Border Services Agency) provide expert advice. The AIS Task Group developed the Canadian Action Plan to Address the Threat of Aquatic Invasive Species (Canadian Action Plan), which was approved by the CCFAM in September 2004. The goal of the Canadian Action Plan is to minimize further unintentional and unauthorized introductions of AIS through the use of risk management analyses and science-based techniques that inform decision-making and assess and mitigate risks. The Canadian Action Plan identifies the major pathways by which AIS enter Canada and outlines a strategic management framework for minimizing the unintentional introduction and spread of AIS within Canada. All jurisdictions agree that risk assessment, early detection/rapid response, and public outreach are the key elements of any government action designed to prevent and control the spread of invasive species.
SCOFO's recommendations are particularly timely given recent Government initiatives to address invasive alien species. In October 2004, the Speech from the Throne confirmed the Government's commitment to invasive species issues. More recently, under the Security and Prosperity Partnership agreement, Prime Minister Martin, US President Bush and Mexican President Fox committed to work cooperatively to combat the spread of invasive species in both coastal and freshwaters.
Federal Budget 2005 contained commitments to allocate $85M over five years to combat terrestrial and aquatic invasive species. In total, $20M is earmarked for addressing AIS threats, including $10M for the Sea Lamprey Control Program and $10M to begin implementing the Canadian Action Plan.
To implement the Canadian Action Plan, considerable federal-provincial-territorial work is already underway. All governments recognize that this is a long-term initiative and have identified short-term priorities (for implementation by September 2007) and longer term priorities that will be implemented in the next five years or as additional funding becomes available.
- Risk analyses of species of AIS and their pathways of introduction are priority activities identified in the Canadian Action Plan. Scientific risk assessments have already been completed for some species, including Asian carp, and others are currently underway. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency will be contributing their expertise for pathways analysis and plant pest risk assessments to conduct risk assessments of alien aquatic plant species. Further, regulations are being developed to address the threats that various high risk species pose.
- Research is also underway to look at means of preventing introductions, controlling the spread of introduced species, and mitigating the impacts of introductions.
- Targeted monitoring programs are being designed to assess the current state of invasive species in Canada and to detect new introductions.
- Protocols are being developed to provide guidance for early response to detected introductions, with the intent of eradicating or controlling invasive species before they have time to spread.
Ballast water from ships is recognized as one of the primary carriers of AIS entering Canadian waters. TC, as the federal agency responsible for ballast water management and regulation, has been working with other federal departments, the shipping industry, and international agencies such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to develop regulations to control ballast water. These regulations are designed to effectively remove or render harmless the AIS found in ballast water through ballast water exchange. If exchange is not possible, the regulations will require measures to be taken to reduce as much as practicable the likelihood of the introduction of harmful aquatic organisms or pathogens into Canadian waters. On June 11, 2005, the Ballast Water Management Regulations were pre-published in Canada Gazette, Part I for public review and consultation. TC is reviewing the comments received.
The recently funded Oceans Action Plan (Phase I) includes allocations for ballast water and marine pollution regulations. TC will use the $1M investment to fund research and development of ship board technology, and to equip and train TC inspectors to check for compliance with the ballast exchange regulations.
The following Government Response outlines ongoing and planned activities to address the threat of AIS. The Government will continue its work on these and other initiatives in order to conserve and protect Canada's aquatic resources for the benefit of present and future generations of Canadians.
While the Committee acknowledges that the federal government has designated the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans as the minister responsible for coordinating federal actions relating to aquatic invasive species, and that some of the recommendations have been implemented, the Committee continues to recommend that the following remaining actions be taken:
Consolidating and streamlining regulations applicable to aquatic invasive species within a comprehensive set of federal regulations;
The Government agrees with the intent of this recommendation. Federal, provincial and territorial governments have identified aquatic invasive species as a priority issue and recognize that they share responsibility for addressing the threats these species pose to Canadian waters. A consolidated and streamlined approach that respects the regulations, guidelines and frameworks of each jurisdiction is an important component of any strategy for addressing aquatic invasive species in Canada.
Consistent with the framework outlined in the Canadian Action Plan, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is working with other federal departments and provincial and territorial governments to ensure a national policy and legislative framework and develop a consultation strategy for any regulatory amendments. Governments are working cooperatively to clarify existing processes, identify any gaps, and develop mechanisms to address the gaps.
Reducing invasive species introductions from ships by:
- Establishing a national mandatory ballast water management program;
- Requiring ships to have an invasive species management plan that outlines ways to minimize transfers;
- Creating a tracking system for ships in transit to monitor compliance with the ballast water management program; and,
- Including incentives for ship owners to install experimental ballast treatment technology.
The Government agrees with the intent of this recommendation and recognizes the importance of addressing the threat of ballast water as a source of aquatic invasives species introductions. Through the Canadian Marine Advisory Council, the Government has been working with industry and stakeholders to develop an effective regulatory regime that is based on internationally accepted practice, reflects regional disparities, considers the widely differing trades and types of ships coming to our shores, and is harmonized with US regulatory efforts. The Ballast Water Management Regulations meet the objectives of this recommendation. The regulations require that AIS be minimized or removed or rendered harmless from ballast water by exchanging water at sea. The Ballast Water Management Regulations were pre-published in Canada Gazette, Part I for public review and consultation. Transport Canada (TC) is reviewing the comments received.
The Ballast Water Management Regulations also require ships to have a ballast water management plan that ensures ballast water management activities can be performed safely and effectively. The plan requires all ships intending to discharge ballast in waters under Canadian jurisdiction to identify what action will be taken to minimize transfers and gives the choice of ballast exchange, treatment, discharge ashore or not discharging and retaining on board. Plans will be developed by ship operators based upon the IMO's ‘Guidelines for Ballast Water Management and Development of Ballast Water Management Plans', Resolution MEPC.127(53). Ships declaring ‘No Ballast on Board' (NOBOB) entering the Great Lakes are required to comply with the mandatory requirements of the St Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. and the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. to utilize the ‘Best Practices for Ballast Water Management' as published by the Shipping Federation of Canada. Ships declaring NOBOB status are asked to expose residual ballast and sediments to salinity levels that are equivalent to ballast exchange.
Transport Canada continues to work with the Canadian Coast Guard and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) to develop a real-time system that will allow security needs to be met and to monitor compliance with the ballast water management program. TC intends to have an accurate database of ships discharging ballast water into waters under Canadian jurisdiction. At present, a joint boarding program has been initiated with the USCG for ships entering the Great Lakes with NOBOB status and a data management program has been undertaken.
TC continues to work on the possibility of a “Green Ship” program, which could include recognition of innovative ballast water treatment technologies. TC is working with other departments and provincial governments to expedite approvals for ship-owners who install experimental ballast water treatment technologies.
Under the recently approved Oceans Action Plan, TC received funds to address issues related to ballast water and ocean pollution. TC will be funding research and development in collaboration with other departments and agencies to determine which technologies can be effectively fitted on board vessels.
Establishing emergency response centres to react to the threat of invasive species;
The Government agrees with the intent of this recommendation. The federal-provincial AIS Task Group has identified rapid response as a key activity and is examining options for rapid response within available resources. For example, the Task Group is looking at adapting existing models, such as the Canadian Environmental Emergency Teams (EET) model that responds to oil and chemical spills, to detect invasive species and facilitate a rapid response. High risk areas and species need to be identified and pathways monitored. Federal and provincial governments, stakeholders and industry groups will continue to be involved in this process.
In addition, DFO will be conducting targeted research on mitigation methods that can be used to respond rapidly to a newly detected AIS. However, the Government recognizes that once an invasive species has been detected in an aquatic ecosystem it is very difficult and expensive to control or eradicate. Consequently, prevention continues to be the first line of defence against AIS.
Supporting development and implementation of provincial and territorial aquatic invasive species management plans, including early detection, screening and rapid response activities;
The Government agrees with this recommendation and will continue to work collaboratively with federal, provincial, and territorial partners to develop and implement activities that respond to the threat of AIS.
Implementation of the Canadian Action Plan is recognized by all as a multi-jurisdictional responsibility. All jurisdictions are expected to implement activities in accordance with the priorities of their jurisdiction, while ensuring activities are consistent with and support the national framework.
The federal-provincial AIS Task Group identified early detection/rapid response and risk assessment as immediate priorities for action. In June 2005, the AIS Task Group developed a workplan in these key areas and is currently assessing specific activities that may be undertaken in the short-term.
Conducting ecological surveys for early detection of aquatic invasive species and analysis of invasion rates and patterns;
The Government agrees with the intent of this recommendation. Early detection of new invasions is one of the central themes of the Canadian Action Plan. Detection activities will focus on high risk locations and pathways of introduction. The Government will also engage stakeholders through the Invasive Species Partnership Program (ISPP), to allow citizens to become involved in surveys for early detection. Activities will encourage stakeholders to prevent unwanted introductions of invasive species, both aquatic and terrestrial, by increasing their understanding and awareness of invasive species issues and facilitating responsible decision making that minimizes the risk of unwanted introductions. Program initiatives are intended to enable the private sector (industry), non-government organizations, inter-governmental organizations, Aboriginal organizations, education institutions, community groups, landowners, and other levels of government to develop, manage, and implement projects that will achieve the Program goal.
Eligible activities under the Program include the following:
- Developing targeted initiatives that are specific to particular stakeholders, consumers of potentially invasive species, or activities that contribute to their spread;
- Developing information products to help stakeholders, the general public, and technical audiences to identify invasive species;
- Developing educational curricula for secondary schools in partnership with the provinces and stakeholders, including teachers' associations; or
- Developing targeted eradication and control projects with communities to respond to high-profile invaders where management interventions may have a high probability of success, and showcasing those success stories.
The Program will become operational in 2005-2006 and allocate up to $1 million per year to projects that seek to prevent harmful introductions of aquatic and terrestrial invasive alien species. Application Guidelines for the ISPP will be made available through Environment Canada in late fall 2005.
Ensuring that prevention and control measures do not further harm the environment and that they comply with the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act;
The Government agrees with this recommendation. In addition to the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, which contain provisions binding on the Federal Crown to ensure that proposed prevention and control techniques do not cause environmental harm, the Pest Control Products Act requires the review of pest control products to ensure that their use does not cause environmental harm.
Conducting research on high-risk invasion pathways and alternative prevention and control technologies;
The Government agrees with this recommendation. Budget 2005 contained commitments to begin implementing the Canadian Action Plan. Research is one of the central themes of the Canadian Action Plan, and will focus on the following:
- Pathways of introduction;
- Factors affecting species' establishment;
- Ecosystem impacts; and
- Mitigation methods.
The results of this research will provide information to guide the risk analyses of species and pathways and provide advice for preventing and controlling the spread of AIS.
DFO recognizes research on AIS as an important departmental priority. Through its recently completed Science Review, the department identified AIS as one of five key science program activities in support of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. Consequently, internal resources have been re-allocated to support AIS research.
In addition to in-house research, DFO is supporting an Invasion Biology Research Chair, held by Dr. Hugh MacIsaac at the University of Windsor. Together, DFO and the Research Chair developed a Canadian network of researchers. Currently, 31 scientists from government and from 14 universities are working closely in the Research Network to seek funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.
Other federal departments and agencies are also contributing to research on aquatic invasive species controls. For example, the National Research Council, through the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP), is providing advice, science linkages and funding to firms undertaking projects dealing with current invasive species on the East Coast. IRAP has supported trials to find ways to control and mitigate two species of invading tunicates and is working with aquaculture associations in PEI and Nova Scotia to reduce the tunicate's impact on the mussel aquaculture industry. It has also supported trials to find commercial uses for green crab. Funding was also approved by NRC IRAP to address the newly discovered MSX parasite which has caused oyster mortalities in the Bras d'Or Lakes of Cape Breton.
Allocating the necessary funding and resources for rapid response to introductions of aquatic invasive species, and for aquatic invasive species prevention, control, and research.
The Government agrees with the intent of this recommendation. Budget 2005 included allocations in the amount of $85M over five years to address the threats of invasive alien species. A total of $20M is directed toward aquatic invasive species: $10M to augment the Sea Lamprey Control Program and $10M to begin implementing the Canadian Action Plan. In addition, DFO has re-allocated internal resources to support AIS research and to support an Invasive Biology Research Chair.
Funded activities will support the highest priority areas: prevention, early detection and rapid response. Prevention initiatives will include enhancing research and risk assessment capacity for pathways of invasion to facilitate policy and regulatory-based pathway management. Detection activities will focus on establishing a coordinated national surveillance and monitoring network for high risk locations and pathways of introduction. Rapid response activities will focus on developing legal and regulatory authorities, including the supporting policy framework, for the management of aquatic invasive species in cooperation with the provinces and territories.
The Committee recommends that Canada seek a permanent reference to the International Joint Commission to coordinate and harmonize binational efforts for action to counter the threat of aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes basin.
Canada recognizes and values the International Joint Commission's contribution to increasing public awareness and understanding of aquatic invasive alien species in the Great Lakes basin ecosystem.
In its 12th Biennial Report on Great Lakes Water Quality (September 13, 2004), the International Joint Commission proposed five elements for a reference to harmonize and coordinate binational efforts to prevent the introduction of aquatic invasive species into the Great Lakes. Under the “Our Environment Theme” of the October 2004 Speech from the Throne, the Government of Canada committed to addressing invasive species in cooperation with the United States (US) and agencies like the International Joint Commission.
Canada has evaluated the elements proposed by the Commission, and is interested in its potential to assist in addressing invasive species issues with either socio-economic analysis or through public education and outreach. In considering a reference, Canada is interested in a geographic scope that is national rather than Great Lakes-centric.
Canadian officials met with the Secretariat of the US National Invasive Species Council in November 2004 and July 2005 to discuss priorities of mutual interest, including the International Joint Commission's request for a reference. The Government welcomes further dialogue with the US on the scope of a potential reference for the Commission on invasive alien species.
The Committee recommends that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans as the minister responsible for coordinating federal actions relating to aquatic invasive species, in concert with the Minister of Transport, expedite the development and implementation under the Canadian Shipping Act of ballast water management regulations providing for mandatory exchange of ballast water.
The Government supports the principle of this recommendation. DFO and TC work closely together to address ballast water issues. TC is responsible for developing and enforcing ballast water management under the Canada Shipping Act. DFO is responsible for conducting scientific studies and for providing TC with scientific advice to support the development and enforcement of ballast water guidelines and regulations.
In December 2004, DFO conducted a formal peer review of science advice on alternative ballast water exchange zones (ABWEZ) for the Pacific coast, Scotian Shelf and Laurentian Channel. The resulting science advice was presented to TC in January 2005 to help inform regulatory decision-making. In the near future, DFO plans to conduct a similar peer review of science advice on ABWEZs in Newfoundland and the Arctic.
The Canadian Ballast Water Management Regulations were pre-published in the Canada Gazette, Part I for public review and consultation. TC is reviewing the comments received. The proposed regulations prescribe how ships bound for Canadian ports or operating in waters under Canadian jurisdiction must manage their ballast water. Ships will be required to exchange their ballast water prior to entering Canadian waters, at least 200 nautical miles from shore, in waters at least 2000 meters deep, as this is recognized as the most effective means available at this time to control the potential of invasive exotic species being transported in ballast water. For ships coming from beyond Canada's exclusive economic zone that do not travel beyond 200 nautical miles, best management practices (BMPs) are specified in the regulations. These BMPs require such activities as ballast water exchange in designated ABWEZs, or the treatment or retention of ballast water.
The Committee recommends that Canada and the United States under the auspices of the International Joint Commission, harmonize their ballast water treatment and exchange programs.
Canada and the US are already required to harmonize ship source pollution prevention requirements under the provisions of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. As a result, the drafting of the Ballast Water Management Regulations was consistent with this requirement. Transport Canada and the United States Coast Guard continue to work closely on the ballast water file both internationally and within the North American context.
The Committee recommends that as a matter of priority, standards for the treatment of ballast water be developed, implemented and fully enforced.
Both Transport Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada actively participated in the development of standards for the treatment of ballast water under the auspices of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships Ballast Water and Sediments Water, adopted at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in February 2004. The IMO standard for ballast water treatment requires that AIS in ballast water be rendered effectively non-viable. Ratification of the Convention is on Transport Canada's 2006-08 regulatory agenda. For the Convention – and thus the Standards – to come into effect, 35 countries representing 30% of the world's tonnage must ratify it.
Transport Canada uses scientific advice to determine whether the proposed international standards are sufficient to protect waters under Canadian jurisdiction from the risk of aquatic invasive species. Scientists from around the world have agreed that the current standard is acceptable as a long-term goal for ballast water treatment technologies, although no technology has yet proven to be completely compliant with the standard. Research is continuing to develop such technology. The IMO conducted a review of the availability of technologies to meet the IMO standard in July 2005 and concluded that the variety of systems being tested on board ships have the potential to meet the criteria of safety, environmental acceptability and practicability, and therefore it is reasonable to expect that ballast water management technologies and type-approved systems will be available by October 2008.
The Committee recommends that the federal government support research into ship design, risk assessment and ballast water treatment technologies.
The Government agrees with the intent of this recommendation and will continue to support research into ballast water treatment technologies. In fiscal year 2004/05, two potential treatment substances were tested by Environment Canada scientists with support from DFO and funding from TC. These experiments have been informative and will continue.
Under the recently approved Oceans Action Plan, TC received funds to address issues related to ballast water and ocean pollution. TC will be funding research and development in collaboration with other departments and agencies to determine which technologies can be effectively fitted on board vessels.
Risk Assessment will play a vital role in the enforcement and implementation of the Ballast Water Management Regulations. A preliminary risk assessment was conducted on the Great Lakes / St Lawrence River, and it is apparent that data management and collection of biogeographic data for Canada's trading partners will be a key component of understanding the potential risk to Canada's shores. The proposed Guidelines for Risk Assessment, which are under discussion at IMO, will be incorporated into a decision-support system and the risk assessment will be expanded to include all areas of the country.
Pest risk assessments, conducted according to internationally accepted standards, provide the scientific basis on which Canada's plant quarantine program, conducted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), operates to protect terrestrial plant life in Canada. CFIA has committed to contributing expertise for pathways analysis and plant risk assessments for alien aquatic plant species which will similarly provide a scientific foundation for protecting Canada's aquatic ecosystems from aquatic invasive plant species.
The National Research Council's Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) through its network of Industrial Technology Advisors (ITAs) provides technical advice, science linkages and funding to Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to conduct competitive research to solve technical problems and commercialize technology. Nationally, IRAP has clients working in vessel design as well as firms with interests in ballast water treatment. IRAP can provide technical information through its link to the NRC Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (NRC-CISTI), as well as financial assistance to Canadian SMEs developing and testing treatment systems for commercialization.
The Committee recommends that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans use his or her authority to conserve and protect fish and their habitat under section 43 of the Fisheries Act to issue regulations prohibiting the sale and trade of live grass, bighead, silver and black carp in Canada.
The Government agrees with the intent of this recommendation. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is working with other federal departments and provincial and territorial agencies to determine how such a regulation could be developed and implemented.
Under the current regulatory framework, there is no single regulation that enables the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to prohibit the sale and trade of live grass, bighead, silver and black carp in every province and territory. The Fishery (General) Regulations could be used to prohibit the sale and trade of invasive carp in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador, but do not apply in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. As such, a separate regulatory amendment under the provincial fishery regulations would be necessary.
Amendments to the Ontario Fishery Regulations, banning the possession of various live aquatic invasive species, including Asian carp, gobies, and snakeheads were finalized in August 2005, and entered into force in September 2005. Similarly, Manitoba requested amendments to the Manitoba Fishery Regulations to ban a wide range of aquatic invasive species, including invasive carp. These examples are expected to provide a useful model for amendments in other jurisdictions.
The Canadian Action Plan has noted that a national regulatory framework is a key component for addressing most AIS issues. The AIS Task Group has agreed that developing a national regulatory framework is a priority, and specific areas being addressed are harmonizing existing federal, provincial, and territorial legislation and coordinating priorities.
Any proposed regulatory amendments must be scientifically based and effective at controlling AIS; be developed in collaboration with the other federal departments, other governments and key stakeholders; meet jurisdictional needs; and meet existing international obligations in areas such as trade.
Consultations are well underway with all jurisdictions. Provinces and territories have identified competing interests in the development of national regulation around Asian carp. Some jurisdictions have identified concerns about the harmful implications of Asian carp, and others have indicated that these species have beneficial uses such as biological weed control. Other jurisdictions have indicated that these issues are adequately addressed by the federal-provincial Introductions and Transfers Committees and a national regulation cannot be justified.
As such, in September 2005, Fisheries and Oceans Canada conducted a workshop that brought together relevant federal and provincial agencies to discuss existing federal and provincial regulatory mechanisms, gaps, and priorities for national regulatory reform. The outcomes of this workshop are being used to identify key areas for future regulatory reform and to develop a consultation strategy for reform, since the development of any national regulation will have to be undertaken in cooperation with other governments and stakeholders.
The Committee recommends that a central repository of aquatic invasive species research be established to provide easy and effective access to scientific data. Such a repository could be modeled after the Great Lakes fishery database.
The Government agrees with the intent of this recommendation. DFO is in the process of designing a pilot National Aquatic Invasive Species Database and Web Tool. A large number of datasets on invasive species in Canada exist from various sources both inside and outside of DFO. Linking these datasets within one database under a GIS interface would provide an extremely useful tool for DFO and other researchers and decision-makers. Currently designed for DFO's own data, the Department will consult with other data holders to determine their interest in using this web-based tool.
The Committee recommends that the federal government, through the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, provide financial support to the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) to help fund its aquatic invasive species education initiatives in the province of Ontario.
The Committee recommends that the federal government through Environment Canada fund the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters' proposal for a national aquatic invasive species awareness program.
The Government recognizes the contribution of the OFAH in raising public awareness of aquatic invasive species, particularly in the Great Lakes ecosystem, and has supported the efforts of the OFAH in the past. The Government of Canada is committed to working with the OFAH and other stakeholders in its efforts to address aquatic invasive species.
Budget 2005 includes funding to address both terrestrial and aquatic invasive species. Under this funding, up to $1 million annually will be allocated to an Invasive Species Partnership Program to engage Canadians in public education and awareness activities that contribute to the prevention of harmful introductions of both terrestrial and aquatic invasive species. Program initiatives will enable the private sector, non-government organizations, inter-governmental organizations, Aboriginal organizations, education institutions, community groups, landowners, and other levels of government to develop, manage, and implement projects that will achieve the Program goal. The OFAH, along with other interested stakeholders, are encouraged to develop project proposals on invasive species and apply to the Program for a contribution from the Government of Canada.
The Committee recommends that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans as the minister responsible for coordinating federal actions relating to aquatic invasive species, submit a report once a year to Parliament, and that this report be referred to the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans for scrutiny and report to Parliament by the Committee.
The Government supports the principle of this recommendation, but maintains that existing opportunities for reporting are sufficient. Federal departments report annually to Parliament and Canadians through the Reports on Plans and Priorities (RPP) and the Departmental Performance Reports (DPR).
DFO will report on deliverables associated with new and existing funding for AIS, as indicated in the 2005-06 RPP. Planned activities in 2005-06 include the provision of support to regulatory initiatives and management actions designed to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species. This will include research and monitoring to determine pathways of introduction, best practices for minimizing introductions, mitigation measures and ecosystem impacts, as well as continued support for the implementation of the Canadian Action Plan. The Department's progress against these commitments will be reported to Parliament in the DPR for 2005-06, in a section entitled “Preventing and Controlling Aquatic Invasive Species; Preventing and Controlling Aquatic Animal Diseases.”
DFO has been working to clarify and improve reporting in its RPP and DPR. These changes will be incorporated into next year's RPP and DPR. AIS will be reported under “Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture,” consistent with the Department's new Program Activity Architecture.
In addition to these annual reports, the Invasive Alien Species Strategy for Canada contains a commitment by the Government to report on progress made under the Strategy through a Results-based Management and Accountability Framework (RMAF). Similarly, progress made on ballast water as part of the Oceans Action Plan (OAP) will be reported in the OAP RMAF.