Close enough. That's right. My whole career is based on that.
We also have Jonathan Savoy, manager of implementation, also from the Nunavut Planning Commission.
We thank you both for being here.
We also have Brian Clark from the Pacific NorthWest LNG, environmental advisor, and registered professional biologist.
Moreover, we have Chris Wellstood from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, director, marine operations and security, and harbour master. Thank you. It's very apropos for us, as we just returned from Prince Rupert. So we're familiar with the infrastructure to this point. I hope that your presentation will tell us more.
The way this works is that each group will get 10 minutes or less to start and then we will start a round of questioning. We're going to start with the Nunavut Planning Commission. I understand that one of you will be speaking on your behalf for the 10 minutes.
Thank you very much, and thank you, committee members, for inviting us here today. I am the executive director of the Nunavut Planning Commission. I've been with the commission for 12 years. Jonathan Savoy, you've met. Our legal counsel, Shane Hopkins-Utter, is with us as well.
We have given you a written brief, so we're going to just highlight points throughout so we can have a fulsome dialogue. For those who don't know about the commission, the Nunavut Planning Commission is an institute of public government. It was created under the Nunavut Agreement. The NPC has a broad mandate under the Nunavut Agreement and the NUPPAA legislation to develop land use plans that guide and direct resource use and development in the Nunavut settlement area.
The NPC's broad planning policies, objectives, and goals established in 2007 apply to the MPAs in the Nunavut settlement area. The NPC is presently working on the draft Nunavut land use plan, which is before the commissioners, and we continue to approve and implement regional land use plans, the North Baffin regional land use plan—which includes Lancaster Sound—and the Keewatin regional land use plan.
The commission performs conformity determinations on any MPA initiatives proposed in Nunavut. The commission is a member of the Nunavut Marine Council. In the commission's consultation process, we have learned that planning for the use and protection of the marine environment and the marine wildlife is highly important to Inuit and their rights under the Nunavut Agreement.
Inuit want sustainable economic development and want employment opportunities. To clarify our recommendations, recommendation number one is for ongoing research on whether MPAs have positive economic impacts. Inuit want food security, and a strong economy, one that respects our culture and our traditions.
I'd like to thank the standing committee for the opportunity to provide comments on the criteria as set out in the Oceans Act.
I'll now turn to some comments and recommendations on subsection 35(1) of the act.
Paragraph 35(1)(a) makes reference to “commercial and non-commercial” fisheries. We would like to note that Nunavut is currently in a food security crisis. For example, the Inuit health survey reported that nearly 70% of Inuit households in Nunavut are “food insecure”, which is over eight times the national average and among the highest documented food insecurity rates for an indigenous population in a developed country.
Due to large-scale and dramatic changes to the marine environment in the Arctic Ocean, including marine ice, the need to protect subsistence fisheries using available tools, including marine protected areas, is becoming particularly pressing, if not an issue of survival for many Inuit. While current mandate letters helpfully identify the importance of reconciliation with indigenous peoples, mandate letters may change.
The NPC suggests a more permanent commitment to reconciliation. Our second recommendation is to add a distinct reference to indigenous or Inuit subsistence fisheries in the Oceans Act, at paragraph 35(1)(a), as distinct from commercial and non-commercial fisheries. Our third recommendation, as outlined in the brief, is to ensure that Inuit subsistence harvesting is not affected by marine protected areas.
In respect of paragraphs 35(1)(b) and 35(1)(c), it is reasonable for MPAs to provide conservation of endangered or threatened marine species and their habitats as well as unique habitats. Arctic marine mammals rely on both terrestrial and marine habitats. In the Arctic, some unique areas are transitory, but these remain important to protect.
Our fourth recommendation is that the Oceans Act should expressly recognize that many marine mammals in the Arctic rely on the foreshore and marine ice as habitat, meaning that to adequately protect unique areas and endangered or threatened marine species using marine protected areas, there must be complementary protections of the terrestrial and marine ice habitats of those species.
Our fifth recommendation is that marine protected areas established under the Oceans Act should expressly recognize that in the Arctic Ocean, water is often frozen and provides a unique, albeit transitory, habitat. The second sentence of our fifth recommendation should be read as saying that if an MPA is proposed to protect unique marine ice habitat, it should allow human uses at other times.
In respect of paragraph 35(1)(e), the 2015 mandate letter of the reads in part as follows:
|| It is time for a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.
Paragraph (35)(1)(e), which references the mandate of the minister, should not be relied upon alone. Mandate letters are not always released, meaning that MPA processes may be commenced for reasons that are unknown to others. Our sixth recommendation is that the Oceans Act should enshrine reconciliation with Canada's indigenous peoples rather than rely on mandate letters, which may change before an MPA can be established.
I'll now turn to a few comments on the process of establishing marine protected areas.
We note that Canada's strategic plan for biodiversity for 2011 to 2020 outlines a five-point plan.
The first point is to finish what was started. We suggest prioritizing the completion of marine protected areas in the Arctic Ocean to meet the conservation targets that have been set.
The second point is to protect pristine areas. At the current rate of increases in use, many pristine areas in the Arctic will be altered by human activities unless conservation and protection measures are identified and put in place in a timely way.
The third point is to protect areas under pressure. We'd like to note that many areas of Nunavut's marine environment are currently under pressure from climate change.
The fourth point is to advance other effective area-based conservation measures. We note that DFO has issued operational guidance for establishing these other effective area-based conservation measures.
We would like to note that a land use plan prepared by the Nunavut Planning Commission under the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act is a long-term adaptive management approach to resource use and development throughout Nunavut, including in the marine environment. Subject to any revisions that may occur to the current draft plan at the end of the public hearing process, the NPC suggests that any restrictions on use of the marine environment that are in the final plan could be considered an “other effective area-based conservation measure” and counted towards Canada's Aichi biodiversity targets.
This leads to our seventh recommendation, which is that once the Nunavut land use plan is approved, if it meets DFO's criteria for other effective area-based conservation measures, it should be counted towards Canada's Aichi biodiversity targets.
Finally, the fifth point is to establish MPAs faster. We note that a lengthy process of establishing protection measures means that sensitive areas may be largely unprotected while studies and discussions are ongoing, and the precautionary principle may not be implemented in a timely way. Our eighth recommendation is that the Oceans Act should provide for the establishment of non-permanent interim protection measures to allow temporary restrictions for the purposes of studying the effects of imposing marine protected areas.
Finally, I'll note that because the Nunavut Planning Commission's broad planning policies, objectives, and goals are applicable to initiatives and conservation areas, including marine protected areas, and because the NPC will perform a conformity determination of any DFO proposal for an MPA in Nunavut, it is important that the NPC continue to be consulted through a collaborative and ongoing process.
In conclusion, we'd like to thank the committee for the opportunity to comment on the criteria and process for establishing marine protected areas under the Oceans Act. We look forward to any questions you may have.
On behalf of Pacific NorthWest LNG—the acronym is liquefied natural gas—I'd like to thank the committee for this opportunity.
In my past life I was a director of BC Parks and I'm on the board of directors of the Nature Trust of British Columbia, so I appreciate the importance of conservation areas. I also appreciate how hard it is to pick the right ones. You have a big task.
Please accept this short presentation as support for protecting sensitive marine areas while maintaining economic opportunities on the Pacific coast of Canada.
Pacific NorthWest LNG has both provincial and federal approval to construct an LNG facility and associated marine infrastructure within the Port of Prince Rupert. Looking ahead, our main operational requirement is for predictable and efficient marine access to bring in LNG carriers, load them, and get them out again to our Asian partners on a daily basis for the next 40 years or more.
Prince Rupert's location provides us an advantage over other areas in North America because of the shorter distance—but still, that marine access is critical.
Looking back over the last four years of our project, we have learning experience that can inform us on how marine protected areas could be incorporated as part of a regional sustainability plan that would support an effective environmental assessment program.
As for the lessons learned: number one, there is a lack of clear process for integrated coastal planning that leaves proponents to develop strategies in an information vacuum. Where are the no-go zones? What are the thresholds for impacts? The recent panel review of the environmental assessment process suggests the need for regional planning. We agree and believe that those plans need to include sensitive marine habitats while guaranteeing vessel access through Canadian waters.
Number two, we need specific plans for coastal areas of high industrial activity. The Pacific NorthWest project is located in a federal port within an industrial zone, yet there are no accepted activities to streamline environmental assessment processes. We support British Columbia's Chamber of Shipping recommendation that the Oceans Act specify a process for the sustainable development of high-activity coastal areas in particular.
Number three, there is a tremendous lack of scientific examination and resources to set baselines and determine thresholds on the north Pacific coast. The last significant government research in Chatham Sound was in the 1970s. The federal agencies need more funding, but don't overlook the knowledge database of proponents. We and others on the north coast have done a lot of studies over the last four years and have an enormous amount of raw data available for making assessments on fish, marine mammals, and the habitats they use.
On science versus emotions, we also found, and you will experience this too, that some people want to protect things just because they are out their front door, as opposed to looking at the most critical habitat to conserve, the areas that are truly deserving of marine protected area status, through thoughtful evidence-based analysis. You only have 5% or 10%, I understand, and you don't want to waste that; you want to make good use of it.
Finally on the lessons learned on habitat or best management practices, in Chatham Sound the migratory species such as salmon and whales require a more holistic approach, and best management practices within Chatham Sound are potentially more important than protecting specific locations. Sound, pressure, and ships all have some impact, and best management practices in Chatham Sound, I believe, would be more appropriate than protecting specific areas.
On our needs as an industry, we need processes for determining the best marine protected areas. Those processes must be transparent, predictable, and adaptable. Clarity is critical. We want you to lead the way, but we want to be involved at an early stage so we can plan to incorporate marine protected area designations into our design and operations.
On certainty, our project has a 40-year-plus lifeline. It requires $13 billion just to construct the facility. I'm confident that our operations can adapt to emerging issues, but safe and secure shipping routes to international markets must be guaranteed.
Honourable chair and committee members, thank you for inviting the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority to be involved in this very important study focused on marine protected areas.
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is the federal body responsible for overseeing and managing Canada's largest port. The Port of Vancouver is critical to Canada's trade and our trading economy, and 20% of the value of Canada's goods trade moves through the Port of Vancouver. Almost 95% of the port's total volume serves Canadian import and export markets. Overall, the Port of Vancouver handled 135.6 million tonnes of international and domestic cargo in 2016, worth an estimated $202 billion. That's half a billion dollars in goods moving every day that families across Canada rely on for their livelihood.
As a Canada port authority under the Canada Marine Act, we are mandated to facilitate trade while protecting the environment and considering local communities. We are required to provide the marine infrastructure to support Canada's trade. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that future generations of Canadians will enjoy the benefits of trade, improved quality of life, and a healthy and vibrant ecosystem.
Our vision is to be the world's most sustainable port. We support protection of the environment through many different programs and through the work of a team of environmental scientists. For example, our ECHO program, which some of you may be aware of, was launched in 2014 to better understand and manage the impacts of shipping on at-risk whales.
With respect to the creation of marine protected areas, the port authority wants the committee to be aware of some important operational considerations. Shipping is an international industry largely governed by the conventions of the International Maritime Organization, or IMO, for short. Any changes would have to be aligned with and related to IMO or regional regulations.
It's our aim to be a world-leading port and to drive global change, but it has to be done in a way that fits into the international operating model. Otherwise our trading competitiveness could be impacted. The ships calling at the Port of Vancouver currently travel along a designated route that is adopted by the IMO. There are international rules that apply to the way in which ships navigate through designated traffic separation schemes. To ensure safety and environmental protection, all ships visiting the port are navigated by the BC Coast Pilots.
It will be important for the committee to ensure it is gathering all relevant information to fully inform its recommendations on marine protected areas, and for the committee to understand the international regulatory and competitive issues that will have influence. The Association of Canadian Port Authorities would like to be involved in any consultations and future discussions going forward as we can be a resource that can provide a port and commercial shipping operational perspective.
In addition, we know that Parks Canada is attempting to create a national marine conservation area, the Southern Strait of Georgia, which will encompass shipping lanes into the Port of Vancouver. Island anchorages used for vessels visiting the Port of Vancouver are also situated within this proposed area and could be impacted.
An offshore Pacific area of interest for consideration as a marine protected area was announced by DFO recently. This area is off the west coast of Vancouver Island, and we understand that the interim focus of the designation is on contributing to the protection and conservation of the unique sea floor features, in other words, seamounts and hydrothermal vents, and the ecosystems they support.
Since vessels transit through this area on the approach to the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Canadian and U.S. ports, we are interested in understanding whether and how vessel traffic will be taken into consideration in this designation.
The responsibility for Canada's federal marine protected area network is shared among three federal departments and agencies, with mandated responsibilities to establish and manage marine protected areas: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Parks Canada Agency, and Environment Canada. There needs to be cross-departmental coordination on all new policies and programs focused on the protection so that we are clear of any potential ramifications on vessel-related activities in order to remain competitive.
I would like to take this opportunity to commend the government for the introduction of the oceans protection plan, which we believe has the opportunity to position Canada as a world leader in marine safety. The focus on environmental sustainability and responsible commercial use is truly commendable.
My name is Eli, and I'm from Clayoquot on the west coast of Vancouver Island. We're one of 14 Nuu-chah-nulth nations who have been along the west coast of Vancouver Island since time immemorial. I also associate with an organization called the ICCA Consortium. The ICCA Consortium is based in Geneva, Switzerland. It's a global association of indigenous peoples and local communities.
The goal of the ICCA Consortium is to enliven the commitments under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. As you may know, in 1993 the international community made an agreement, a treaty, around the biodiversity crisis that this planet is currently experiencing. It was recognized in subsequent years, particularly in Montreal at the secretariat convention, at a joint meeting with UNESCO in 2010, that there are islands of biological diversity on this earth that coincide with islands of cultural and linguistic diversity. In my territory on the west coast of Vancouver Island, we have one such island or anchor of biodiversity and cultural and linguistic diversity. I work with communities throughout North America to support the ongoing existence of their natural selves. We support the indigenous peoples and the local communities of North America to continue to exist as natural selves in a balanced relationship with ecosystems and biodiversity. This is the work that the ICCA Consortium is forwarding.
In terms of the ocean, we're very interested in the Oceans Act. I want to talk about the Law of the Sea, the joint commons of the oceans. Canada is in a unique position now to be a good role model in the international community. We have to demonstrate leadership in the international community in terms of how we relate to the ocean and the resources in it. In Nuu-chah-nulth we don't think of these things as resources. We think of them as our relatives. We are whale hunters, and we have ongoing relationships with sea mammals and other life forms from the ocean. We want to be able to maintain those relationships over time, so the idea of marine protected areas is interesting to us. We think it's a step in the right direction.
Overall, we need to improve our economic relationship with the ocean. It's not been good. I don't know if anyone would argue with that. The proof is in the pudding, so to speak, in terms of the outcomes of our management relationship with the ocean. But it's not too late. There's still the potential for abundance. Through initiatives like marine protected areas, I think we can balance our economic relationship with the oceans.
In addition to being the regional coordinator for the ICCA Consortium, I also work with the University of Victoria. I'm a political scientist, and I study the evolution of language. I like the word “economy”. It's related to the words “ecosystem” and “ecology”. The word “economy” today has changed in the last 40 years, or so I'm told. I was only born in 1980, so this is not first-hand. Wiser people than me have told me that the word “economy” is used very differently. It has a shared origin with ecology and ecosystem: oikos, the house. Economy is the wise and prudent management of the house.
I look at these marine protected areas, and as a Nuu-chah-nulth person in particular, I know that we have a unique relationship with the ocean. However, I also see that marine protected areas need to be balanced with a healthier conception and practice of “economy”.
For what it's worth, I am privy to Pathway to Canada Target 1, Canada's commitments to the international community, particularly Aichi target 11, which is the 17% and 10% to be under some sort of protected area measure by the year 2020.
I work with a variety of provincial, territorial, and federal governments, as well as indigenous peoples, national indigenous organizations, and other experts, from initiatives like the Great Bear Rainforest, the tribal parks from Vancouver Island, and also other areas across Canada.
The process that's been demonstrated by Parks Canada and Environment Canada is a good role model for us in how we can advance marine protected areas.
It behooves us in the era of reconciliation, in a post-Chilcotin decision legal landscape, to move our language beyond consultation and accommodation. It's a simple twist of phrase, which can allow us to move forward in a more solid way with marine protected areas. The twist of phrase is going from “I will consult you and I will accommodate you”, to “I will work with you in partnership, and I will hold off until we're at a place in our relationship where I can have your consent—that without pressuring you too much, I can have your consent.”
This is the kind of relationship we're ready for as indigenous peoples in Canada. This is the kind of relationship that the ICCA Consortium fosters globally in its variety of engagements internationally.
Thank you very much for the time to present to you, and I look forward to any questions you may have.
Thank you to the panel for being here.
I'm on the other coast, the east coast, but I was born in Vancouver, so I'm on both.
I guess we're all in favour of MPAs to protect the marine life and the tradition that has gone on from time immemorial, as you said, Mr. Enns, but we also spoke about land protection. Although that's probably not part of the MPAs, are we moving fast enough on that front in coordinating both the land and water?
I ask anybody to comment on that. Are we balancing the two, or are we behind on one front or the other?
From the commission's perspective, I don't think we can comment on the portions or the balance. I can tell you that climate change is having an adverse effect. It's changing the ice conditions. As we all know, there are open waters. We have a significant amount of traffic now coming through the Arctic that we never saw before, and it has had controversial impacts, some pro, some con, from communities' perspectives. We see that from the information provided to us through our community consultations.
There's a demographic change. I can't really give you the balanced answer, but clearly there are changes happening. We see a number of new species coming, both marine and on land. We see impacts on our caribou. We now have grizzly bears, grolar bears, and wolverines in different impact areas. We have the Greenland sharks coming up. We have killer whales, whales in areas that we've never had them before.
I'm now located in Iqaluit, but from where I'm from in Cambridge Bay, we never used to see whales there. We never saw grizzly bears. We've never had an invasive or predatorial species on Victoria Island. We do now. We now have polar bears and every kind of whale.
So everything is changing—the multi-year ice, the ice patterns—at a very rapid pace.
I'd like to thank all the witnesses for travelling great distances to get here. You're having to adjust to the time zones. We travelled as a committee last week to the Northwest Territories and out to B.C., and some of us may be still suffering a little jet lag. It's a big country, as we're finding out.
Ms. Ehaloak, in your earlier statements you questioned whether MPAs would have economic impact. When we were in the Northwest Territories, we heard that the indigenous people there weren't necessarily looking for economic gains from the creation of the MPAs. They were looking at protecting their cultures, their food. They simply didn't feel sustained properly on western or other North American food. They needed their muktuk and so on. That was their main reason for the MPAs.
You mentioned economic impact. Is there more of an interest in Nunavut to see economic gain for the local people?
It's a balance. Our demographic cost to be living in Nunavut, where Inuit have lived for thousands and thousands of years, in terms of food security, jobs, and economic opportunities, means that achieving that balance is of the utmost importance to Nunavummiut. That's what we heard in our consultations.
In terms of economic opportunities, I think as Eli defined, it's holistic. It's not just based on jobs. It's based on a healthy community. There's a balance. I can tell you that food security and jobs, and feeding our families....
I wish you had come to Nunavut, because we truly are God's country. You would have seen the poverty in our communities, which is heart-wrenching. People here are saying, and the Inuit are telling you, that they need jobs, they need sustainability, they need food security, but they also need access to traditional foods. Traditional foods sustain our communities for the majority.
This may be off topic, but I just saw on Facebook that in Arctic Bay, for example, it's $26.29 for two litres of milk. To access healthy food, we look to the land. We look to the sea. Traditional harvesting is still an inherent right. It is something that is very well respected with Inuit, as is having a future for our children with the changing times. Achieving a balance with our culture and our economics is the priority.
Yes, the substructure underneath those various jurisdictions that aren't really communicating with each other very well is the Constitution.
For example, in Mi'kmaq country, they're apprehensive about marine protected areas. They have terrestrial protected areas and then they have marine protected areas. They're not communicating with each other. What they're looking at is creating a Mi'kmaq protected area. It will still be an MPA. It will essentially be like putting a blanket over both of them. The marine protected area and the terrestrial protected area need to communicate with each other.
We stood a totem pole up in Fish Lake, in Chilcotin. My uncle Tim Paul carved that totem pole. We're from Nuu-chah-nulth, where the fish are going out to the open ocean. In the Chilcotin the fish come up the Chilcotin River and they spawn there. They're completely interconnected.
What you have available to you is the Constitution, which could create the connective tissue between these disconnected phenomena.
Thank you, Mr. Doherty.
Thank you, Mr. Enns.
Thank you to all of you. This concludes our round of questioning and your presentations here today. I want to thank you.
As was mentioned, you have travelled a long distance, and we truly appreciate that. Towards the end of the year we will have a report tabled that you can see. We're travelling to the east coast this coming fall. I hope you look forward to our report at that time. We thank you again.
Mr. Wellstood, Mr. Clark, Ms. Ehaloak, Mr. Savoy, Mr. Enns, thank you indeed.
We're going to break for five minutes and have an in camera meeting following that. Thank you.
[Proceedings continue in camera]