Welcome to meeting number 57 of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans as we continue our study of marine protected areas.
We have four witnesses today. We'll have one round with two of them, then we'll suspend for a few minutes and then go to our other two.
With us for the first round we have Dr. Dan Laffoley, marine vice-chair, World Commission on Protected Areas, who is with the International Union for Conservation of Nature; and Dr. Daniel Pauly, principal investigator for Sea Around Us at the University of British Columbia.
Welcome to our witnesses. You will each be allowed 10 minutes to speak. I will try to keep to that schedule, because we always have a lot to cover and it's very important that we maintain the flow of the meeting so we can cover as much ground as possible. After your testimony there will be questions from the committee.
Without further ado, since I see Dr. Laffoley's name on top, we'll ask him to start for 10 minutes.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I was just explaining the nature of the IUCN in the global conservation network.
The World Commission on Protected Areas is the premier global network of protected area professionals, creating and providing leadership and guidance on protected areas.
I lead on marine protected area or MPA issues at the commission and I am providing evidence today on MPAs on behalf of the commission. I've been in a leadership role on MPAs for more than 30 years in the U.K., Europe, and globally.
I think it's worth my starting my evidence by talking about what a marine protected area is. At IUCN we have defined a marine protected area. It is a clearly defined geographical space recognized, dedicated, and managed through legal or other effective means to achieve the long-term conservation of nature, with associated ecosystem services and cultural values. This is equivalent to the definition being used by the Convention on Biological Diversity. The IUCN definition is globally recognized and agreed to.
I want to emphasize that the definition of a protected area is the same on land as it is in the sea, and the conservation expectations are the same. Put simply, a marine protected area is an area of sea especially dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biodiversity and of natural and associated cultural resources, managed through legal and other effective means.
Marine protected areas come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and at IUCN, in our guidance we recognize five types, ranging from areas that are strictly protected through to areas that have multiple use and are based on the principles of sustainable use.
In terms of governance—the ways in which protected areas are managed—we recognize four types. They can be managed by governments, by indigenous or local communities, privately, or with mixed governance.
The commonality for all types of protected areas is that they're managed with the long-term conservation of nature at its heart, and where there is a conflict, nature is always the first priority.
What are the benefits of marine protected areas? The benefits are: the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems; helping reverse global and local declines in fish populations and productivity by protecting critical breeding, nursery, and feeding habitats; raising the profile of an area for marine tourism and broadening local economic options; providing opportunities for education, training, heritage, and culture; and providing broad benefits as sites for reference concerning the status of the marine environment.
For conservation alone there are many things marine protected areas do, from maintaining and restoring the structure of ecosystems and their functionality; protecting and maintaining the abundance of key species in communities; protecting habitats from physical damage from fishing; maintaining genetic integrity, ecological functions, and resilience; to acting as an insurance to mitigate any detrimental effects, especially in adjacent areas.
In short, marine protected areas are a key, proven tool for the conservation of nature. They can act as reference ecosystems so that we understand the impact of activities, and they can form part of fisheries management to protect key sites and spawning areas. If we want to know the true potential of the marine environment and how impacted areas compare with what we might call “natural”, then marine protected areas lie at the core of that approach.
We need marine protected areas because current management systems are failing; they're failing to maintain productivity, biological biodiversity, and ecosystems. Global fish catches have been in consistent decline, and marine protected areas are recognized globally as one of the only tools that can help to protect important habitats and representative samples of marine life and to assist in restoring the productivity of oceans.
In terms of progress with marine protected areas, Canada along with most other countries made a clear commitment to meeting international targets for the environment back in 2010. This was under the Convention on Biological Diversity. One of those targets is specifically about marine protected areas. It's called target 11. It says that by 2020 at least 10% of coastal and marine areas, especially areas important for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are to be conserved using protected areas and other effective area-based measures.
When we look at how well countries have done in protecting the environment in this way, around 5.3% of the global ocean is protected. If you look at the jurisdictional area of countries, it rises to 13.2%, and probably by the end of the year about 21 million square kilometres will be under marine protected areas and, for the first time, the area of ocean protected will be larger than the area of land protected.
There are 21 countries that have protected more than 100,000 square kilometres. These include the U.S.A., Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, South Africa, Chile, and Indonesia. In this respect it is fantastic to see the renewed commitment of Canada to meet the 10% MPA goal by 2020. Canada currently has protected 50,000 square kilometres in MPAs and ranks at the moment 33rd in the world in terms of area.
In terms of how MPAs relate to fisheries, I've just talked about the target under the Convention on Biological Diversity for MPAs, but there are another 19 targets of equal importance, and there is one target that particularly relates to fisheries, which is target 6. This is the target that countries have signed on to so as to ensure that species are managed and harvested sustainably and that fisheries have no adverse impact on threatened species and vulnerable ecosystems.
There is a very clear international framework in place, and there is clearly a crossover between very strong, comprehensive fisheries measures under target 6 and the protected area measures that are under target 11 of the convention. The problem is that target 11, which is the marine protected area target, is very well reported on and focused on, while target 6 on fisheries is not so well reported.
We have a good body of evidence on the way we make marine protected areas successful. Strictly protected and fully protected marine protected areas have been shown in hundreds of papers in the scientific literature to increase the abundance, biomass, and diversity of fish invertebrate populations. We also know that the benefits accrued relate to a series of different factors and that full protection, alongside good enforcement and management, older marine protected areas, and larger and isolated ones, give the greatest benefits.
What I would present is the illustrated version of the same thing.
The first thing I would like to show is that the world catch is declining. It's declining, as you see in my first graph—you can also see it in French—because we fish too much. It is especially declining when you take account of everything that is not in official statistics.
The reported catch is the catch officially reported by agencies such as the DFO to the FAO. The actual catch of the world is higher, because lots of things are not counted by official agencies: the discarded fish, the fish taken by aboriginal communities—for example, in Canada that is not reported to the FAO—and lots of illegal catch that is made, which an agency such as FAO or DFO could not acknowledge exists. As a university, we can take account of it. The real catch of the world is much higher—about 50% higher—and is declining.
Why is it declining? It's because we fish too much. There are different ways you can say that, but the cumulative power of engines in the world's fleet is increasing at a rate that we can qualify as crazy. You can see it. It's particularly the case in Asia; subsidized fleets are increasing very rapidly.
The result of this is that the footprint of fisheries, which was already substantial in the fifties when the effects of the war were beginning to be repaired, has enormously increased. Compare the slide showing what happened in the fifties with the slide showing what happens now. The footprint of fisheries is immense. It's worldwide.
Why? What has happened? What has happened is that fisheries have expanded. Fisheries always expand; they cannot stay in place. Why can't they stay in place? It's because they are too powerful for the natural productivity of the resource. They have to expand because they essentially deplete what they have.
Canada's fleet offers a good example of this. I was a student in Germany at the time and came with a German research vessel, a converted factory vessel that was fishing between 500 metres and one kilometre deep. Canada had 500 years to maintain a successful fishery to about a 100-metre depth when fishing for fish cod in the Atlantic provinces. The trawlers that I was in and that were operating in the seventies went to one and a half kilometres of depth to dig the fish out.
The depth was a refuge; it was a marine protected area at the time. The fish were protected by distance, they were protected by the cold, they were protected by ice. The fish were protected from us by nature itself. Progress in fisheries is, then, overcoming these protections.
The fisheries expanded; that is, the percentage of the natural production of the ocean that is used by fisheries. If you use a 30%, 20%, or 10% threshold, you can see that it expanded in the seventies by about one million kilometres per year. That's about half the expanse of the Amazon every year. Fisheries expand.
Marine protected areas are therefore not really something foreign that comes from outer space, from aliens. This is the flip side of this expansion. We expand areas that before had protected the fish because we couldn't get at them. They now become available, and we have to re-establish marine protected areas.
The concept of marine protected areas had already been discovered about a hundred years ago, but these areas grew very slowly because we have difficulty conceiving of fish as wildlife that needs protection. We view the ocean essentially as a larder, a place where we just get food.
The idea grew very slowly, and these areas' growth became a bit more rapid, by 5% per year. But at 5% per year, given the low baseline, we were not going to reach any of the goals that Dan Laffoley mentioned. We were in a situation like the one shown in my brief.
In the North Atlantic, you can see in green the areas that were protected. Yes, it's a joke. There is nothing that can be seen with the pixel size we used. There are marine protected areas here and there, including in Canada, but they're minuscule. The ocean was essentially not protected anymore.
This has changed since President Bush, of all people, created a large marine protected area around the northwestern Hawaiian island, and this was the first big marine reserve. It was made bigger by President Obama, and heads of state being who they are said, “I want one, too.”
Then New Zealand came into the picture. France came into the picture, then Russia, and there is now a trend towards large marine protected areas. However, they are only within the exclusive economic zone of countries. Because they are inside the EZ of countries and because there is no legal framework for creating marine reserves in the open ocean—no country has the right to do so in the area beyond their EZ—this creation of marine reserves is essentially limited.
There will be a point at which the uninhabited islands are all marine reserves, and then we will have protected a good part of the Pacific but none of the Atlantic, none of the fishing grounds in the northern hemisphere that need to be protected.
You can see that lots of these marine protected areas, the dark blue things, the big ones, are being created in the southern hemisphere.
In Canada, though Dan Laffoley said that we are 33rd in the world, we actually don't have any significant marine reserves that we can brag about. Canada has been a laggard. I have been in Canada for 22 years and have heard talk and more talk. Marine reserves are not being created in Canada, and we are becoming a laggard compared with other countries.
They are very cheap to make, actually, the big ones. However, you get the same push-back from people who don't want them, either small or big ones, so you might as well create a big one. It's much cheaper. We have shown that in our paper.
The take-home message is that marine reserves effectively protect marine biodiversity for the simple reason that these reserves are the equivalent of a world in which we don't fish, and a world in which we don't fish is a world that has created the diversity that we see. That's the flip side of it.
At present, at the rate that Canada is creating marine reserves right now, it will not meet its commitment. It will not meet the 10% commitment by 2020.
The time has come to go from talk to some action.
Thank you to our guests for being here.
I wish I had more than seven minutes. I'm sure my colleagues will definitely use their time as well.
Dr. Laffoley, you mentioned genetic integrity as one of the goals of marine protected areas. How do we square that, though, with the impact of climate change?
We see an incursion of species that used to be located in one part of the ocean, and now we're finding them in places where they didn't used to belong.
I guess I have two questions.
Is there an aspect of a marine protected areas that could do something about that, or conversely, are there some beneficial impacts of climate change and the spread of some species into other parts of the ocean?
I think there's a really interesting relationship here. The use of the environment is also dependent on the protection of the environment, and we're actually well out of balance.
Dr. Pauly has also described the expansion of fisheries, but as I touched on towards the end of my evidence, the existing problems that we've been dealing with in the relationship of the fisheries to the health of the environment and pollution are now being met by more wholesale changes resulting from climate change. The oceans are tending towards more acidic conditions, are holding less oxygen, and getting warmer. That pushes us still further out of balance. If we want to maintain the benefits that we see from fishing, we also need to protect a reasonable proportion.
As I've explained in my evidence, and as Dr. Pauly explained as well, we are out of balance with that and we need to play catch-up. A number of countries, as I've described, are already doing this, and Canada has made commitments to be on the way to doing this as well.
Thank you to our witnesses for providing testimony on this important subject.
I want to start by mentioning the purpose of what we're doing here. We're examining the criteria and process being used to identify and establish marine protected areas, or MPAs, with the objective of ensuring that the criteria and processes are aligned to achieve, for example, the intended benefits of MPAs.
Dr. Laffoley, perhaps I could start with you. You defined what an MPA is. You also talked about key proven tools for the conservation of nature. I'm wondering if you could send us evidence or studies of that. Maybe you could send your top five or ten studies to provide this committee with key evidence that these MPAs are key proven tools. You also mentioned that there's a good body of evidence on how we can protect MPAs. You referenced hundreds of studies. Perhaps you could send us your key proven tools for the conservation of nature and maybe your top ten studies on how to best protect MPAs. I think the committee would appreciate that input.
As well, you talked about MPAs reversing declines of fisheries populations. You also talked about protecting the abundances of key species that these tools or MPAs are useful for. Could you elaborate a little bit more on those two things—how they reverse declines and how they protect abundance?
Thank you very much, Mr. Sopuck.
Briefly, I'll tell you who we are.
The B.C. Wildlife Federation is a province-wide voluntary conservation organization representing all British Columbians whose aims are to protect, enhance, and promote the wise use of the environment for the benefit of present and future generations. We have 50,000 members in 110 clubs, and certainly we're passionate about conserving and protecting the province's fish, wildlife, and habitat. As an organization, we try to lead in conservation and wise use. Conservation sustainability is a priority of our organization.
In terms of natural resource management, we have a number of principles that we turn our minds to with respect to marine, terrestrial, and aquatic resources. I think natural capital is best conserved by protecting and enhancing existing habitats, and this rule applies to marine, freshwater, and terrestrial habitats.
In a handout that I understand will be distributed to you later, I have provided the marine protected area definition under subsection 35(1) of the Oceans Act. A marine protected area is an area of sea that forms part of Canada's internal waters, territorial sea of Canada, or exclusive economic zone and “has been designated under this section for special protection for one or more of the following reasons”. Those reasons are protection of marine fish, mammals, and habitats, and conservation of unique habitats. I refer to this because it is the instrument that is used by DFO in marine protected areas. There are many other pieces of legislation, federal and provincial, that are used to support marine protected areas, but this is the one that is focused on in terms of design.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has a number of marine protected area classifications, and I would suggest that marine protected areas should be designed based on the conservation outcomes, rather than to fit classifications and percentage targets. I think percentage targets are aspirational, but the purpose of marine protected areas is to protect those resource outcomes and should be designed with that in mind, rather than to fit classifications.
In terms of marine protected areas, in British Columbia there are four different areas under consideration: the offshore area; the northern shelf, which is covered by PNCIMA; the southern shelf; and the Strait of Georgia. There are a variety of protected areas in each one of these, but the northern shelf has been a focus of a coordinated effort through PNCIMA to establish a marine protected area network.
The B.C. Wildlife Federation supports the establishment of marine protected areas as an area-based measure to protect natural resources, with the following conditions: they are science based; they're effective in achieving conservation outcomes; they're established in consultation with other levels of government, first nations, industry, and the public; and, clearly, they need to be monitored and enforced, adaptive, and used in combination with other management tools. Marine protected areas in themselves don't need other management support and will not be effective in isolation. Finally, there needs to be clear governance accountability and reporting around marine protected areas.
In terms of the current context, the Canada-British Columbia marine protected area network strategy was released in 2014. It's a very good document that sets out the vision.
Certainly, there was an announcement made by the in June that 5% of marine coastal areas would be protected by 2017 and 10% by 2020. This year, the Pacific north coast integrated management area plan was endorsed by federal and provincial governments and first nations. Then a day later, a new Hecate Strait/Queen Charlotte Sound glass sponge reefs marine protected area was established and announced unilaterally by the federal government. I think the context around this is the question of whether marine protected areas are being driven rapidly by percentage targets, and have they sufficient scientific, community, and financial support to make them operate effectively in the longer term. It's our hope that we do not have a number of marine protected areas established and the boundaries put in place, and then have the focus of conservation and marine resources move on, leaving areas that have not had sufficient time, effort, and resources put into their establishment for them to be effective. Certainly, that's a fear of ours.
There are a number of goals for a network of marine protected areas on the Pacific coast of Canada and for PNCIMA, including the protection and maintenance of biodiversity, ecological representation, and special features; and the conservation and protection of fishery resources and their habitats. The other four goals are related to recreation, community and economic stability, cultural heritage, archeological research and resources, and scientific research. I think there is a fairly good policy framework in terms of protection of marine resources, but there is a lot of work to do in the other areas. The question is, how do you move this forward in a coordinated fashion so that you meet these goals, or do you stage implementation?
The marine protected area network planning for the B.C. Northern Shelf has a number of steps that are focused on having network action plans finalized into one option by March 2019. I think the planning principles and the network objectives at a high level have been established. The design guidelines for these areas are basically a checklist. The conservation priorities are basically a question: is a marine protected area the best solution? The design strategies have not been finalized. Recent papers by the Canadian Scientific Advisory Secretariat, which did a pilot ecosystem risk assessment for the Pacific north coast integrated management area by Murray, Mach, and Miriam O, basically said that they looked at this on a cumulative basis and that their analysis should not be used for policy recommendations. Clearly, there is much work to be done on the ecological end of this, let alone on the other planning objectives.
In the spirit of our sesquicentennial, I will give my presentation in my mother tongue.
Thank you for the opportunity to appear on behalf of the Maritime Fishermen's Union.
Our organization represents inshore fishers and communities along the east coast of New Brunswick, and a significant number of owner-operators in Nova Scotia. Our 1,243 members support themselves and contribute to their respective communities.
I would like to address the main points in the mandate letter of the , as well as a few paragraphs in the mandate letter of the . I would also like to offer the inshore fishery's perspective on the objectives in the strategic framework for marine protected areas.
My presentation will also reflect the holistic approach to the fishery that the MFU has consistently taken in order to ensure the prosperity of coastal communities in the Maritimes.
As our colleagues from the Canadian Independent Fish Harvesters stated last November, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is currently focused on the conservation and protection of marine species, but we feel the department's perspective is not broad enough for communities with a sustainable economy. As the stewards of the fishery, we feel a broader perspective is essential.
Each of the ministerial mandate letters talks about consulting and including communities as part of the processes concerned. However, we do not believe that this has been done so far.
To begin with, the mandate letter for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans talks about such subjects as following up with stakeholders in a spirit of collaboration. I can tell you that the industry has not seen this spirit of collaboration yet and we are skeptical about the follow-up to the processes that have been introduced.
At this point, I would like to refer to a paragraph in the mandate letter for the , which speaks of the need to “review Canada's environmental assessment processes to regain public trust.” Your government promotes the values of inclusion, honesty and hard work, and considers collaborative planning to be one of its guiding principles. That is why, at this point, I would like to raise the following concerns in the interest of improving the consultation process on marine protected areas.
The mission of this standing committee should be to conduct a committed and thorough review of the consultative process for marine protected areas. Too often we have heard the concerns of industry stakeholders and our members about what constitutes a marine protected area. What exactly does that mean to many people?
We believe the next step must be to clearly communicate the geographic boundaries of potential marine protected areas as well as the impacts on current fishing practices in these areas. People participating in the inshore fishery must have the opportunity to demonstrate the non-adverse effects of their fishing practices on the marine habitat.
During fishery advisory board discussions to date—lobster, crab, herring—, stakeholders have expressed their serious concerns about whether a marine protected area places restrictions on fishing gear, and departmental representatives could not provide clear information. Consider for example crab fishing area 19, which was raised during discussions through a supporting document.
We would also like reassurance that establishing a marine protected area will not have unexpected negative impacts on our way of life.
The industry must also be persuaded that the consultative process takes into account the economic, social and environmental impacts of identifying marine protected areas.
In closing, we believe it is important for the traditional uses of ocean resources to be respected and for consideration to be given to the values of resource users, such as the members of the Maritime Fishermen's Union, which I represent.
We strongly believe that the objectives of marine protected areas can be achieved, but there must be a true consultation process that does not consist of simply sending a few documents to associations and stakeholders, and holding a few question-and-answer periods during inshore fishery advisory board meetings.
I believe that this forum is an excellent opportunity to consider proposals for a thorough consultation process with the goal of encouraging a spirit of cooperation on the part of the inshore fishing industry.
Our focus is on process and ensuring that our membership can continue their fishing practices.
I'd like to further refer to certain elements of mandate letters. There is often talk about the consultation process, but once again as we stated earlier, it is very limited in the scope of presentation, and we have noted that it's very limited in terms of coordination between the department officers and managers. Nobody gets the same story.
There are often buzzwords in those documents that some of the members of the industry see, and talk about how it must be done quickly. This recurs very often. We understand that this concept is lacking in the gulf area. We understand that, but the creed of the MFU is to protect coastal communities and encourage fisheries that have very limited impact on the ecosystem and other species.
With this, I would like to thank you for your time.
What we need to build on is to focus more on where we're at now, what needs to be done, how they communicate this clearly without raising a panic within the membership and the coastal communities, and to say, “Okay, if we're doing this, we're doing this for the benefit directly of the habitat, the resource, and it's targeted at reducing certain fishing practices”.
What was done in regard to the sponges, for example, even though it was presented in a very blitzed way, seems to have been a targeted benefit. As I stated earlier, when we address questions of marine habitat and resource protection in communities, we always have very overarching concerns about— and I'll say it again—oil and gas exploration, for example. Our members, for example, when they read in a general assembly, well, if they want a marine protected area, why don't we put everything close to oil and gas exploration? That's how the members in their houses understand what should be done.
So if our government wants to be very clear, you have to meet the leadership of these communities and tell them exactly what the targets are, because the fishermen, with incomprehension, with all due respect, feel targeted.
Thank you to our guests.
I'll probably be fairly quick.
Mr. Richard, you mentioned the consultation process and the fact that there was very little or no consultation leading up to it, but in the same statement you said these agreements—and we've heard them—were signed in 2010 and, as you said, they were left dormant with no activity, nothing happening. After signing a commitment to meet a target by 2020, there was nothing done for five years.
Now that process has started. As you've said, the tomb was opened and the paperwork was dusted off and this is something we should move on because it was an agreement that was signed to meet these targets. Part to the consultation process would be to meet with groups or individuals and it may not be the group or individual whom somebody knows who was consulted or whatever, and the fact that even you're here today as a witness is part of that consultation, and we would hope that would continue.
Going forward—and both of you can probably answer this to some degree—if an area gets assigned as an MPA and everyone knows what the rules are, do you think there's enough monitoring or enough enforcement in place for us to be able to enforce what can and can't take place in that area? It's great to say, meet the targets, but at the end of the day, if we meet the targets, can we do the proper management, the proper monitoring of those areas, and the proper enforcement to make sure things that are allowed to happen are happening, and the things that are not allowed to happen, don't happen?