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Results: 1 - 15 of 7585
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
We're pleased to have officials here to talk with us, finally—through no fault of yours—and to speak with us a bit about an issue that's very important to the members of the committee, and certainly to me as a member of Parliament from Nova Scotia, as it relates to the current status of the lobster fishery.
It's been another difficult spring, with a lot of things going on. It appears pretty obvious, and you've confirmed this, that the catch sizes not only continue to maintain but continue to grow. The problem appears to be related to price or supply and demand, whichever you want to put first. The bottom line is the price that the fishermen are getting. Undoubtedly the processors have similar complaints.
Some would suggest that one part of this puzzle is the whole question of carapace size as it relates to conservation and as it relates to supply. Some of the different LFAs and associations are trying to deal with that issue themselves.
As recently as about three weeks ago, I think it was LFA 26A or B that requested from the director general an immediate increase in order to get at some of that problem. That was turned down, for reasons that I guess made some sense, but it's an indication of how a majority of the fishermen believe a clear answer to the question of price is to get at the issue of supply and quality.
I want to ask for your comments on that, and also on another point. It's been suggested by some in the industry that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has the authority to increase carapace size, taking into consideration a majority position within the industry. The question has been asked, would you consider increasing the carapace size by two millimetres in 2014?
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
So it has to be all of them?
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
It doesn't work that way here.
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
If I can just focus on that point a little bit, Mr. Burns—because it does get at how we're ever going to get some standardization in the 26B region—I believe that more than 90% of fishermen who voted, voted in favour of an increase in carapace size. Where I come from, that's huge. In this place and other democratic organizations, the majority rules.
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Thank you.
I want to get back to the role of DFO. I would agree that it's not this year's crisis, it's not a crisis just for this year, but a crisis that's been here for a bit of time.
But I do think DFO has a role to play, not just in management as it relates to conservation, but also in the whole role of marketing and management in the business model. I say that because DFO does make some important decisions that affect the business model.
My colleague just mentioned all the downloading that's happened over the last couple of years, in terms of picking up the costs of tags, licensing, observers, and increasingly science. These costs are downloaded onto the harvesters. The harvesters even came together as one and asked the minister to give them a year as a transition period, and the department wouldn't hear anything of that.
You're already making decisions that are affecting the business model. Why are you not more involved in the industry's attempt to find answers to the low prices? Whether it be carapace size, or assisting the Lobster Council trying to access a levy, just as the State of Maine collects a levy for its fishery and its lobster fishermen, it seems to me that there's more the Department of Fisheries and Oceans could be doing in a positive, constructive way, as it relates to the current problems of pricing, than it is.
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
They don't have the resources, Kevin. Sorry to interrupt you, but they don't have the resources to carry out what it is they need to do.
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
On that last point, I think what we heard in a very polite way from the Lobster Council was that Agriculture Canada has done absolutely nothing. It has been non-existent; it has not done the job.
I'll ask this question and then continue with my second one.
When the Lobster Council of Canada appeared before us, they suggested a levy—a tax and licensing fee—for lobsters. They talked about having submitted a request for it to DFO.
Is this possible? When you were asked originally about the Lobster Council's being able to initiate a levy, you seemed to say that you hadn't really thought about the possibilities. I'm a bit concerned, because certainly this is something the Lobster Council said they have been pursuing for some time.
Let me leave that question with you, and let me make this point. On the whole question of dealing with the industry, dealing with harvesters and so on, Mr. Burns, you said on a couple of occasions that you are always willing to listen to the industry, whether it be on carapace size or on other measures that can be taken to improve the business model.
I have to say a couple of things. One is that the department wasn't particularly responsive last year. It was an historic fact that the industry as a whole came together and all asked for the same thing: a year for transition in the move to download the cost for tagging and for licensing. They got the cold shoulder. That's point number one.
Number two, they continued to plead their case for an increase in carapace size, which not only is a conservation measure but also a question of improving their market size. As recently as a few weeks ago, with an Area 26B vote of more than 90%, you turned them down.
When you say that you are open to their coming forward, I'm concerned that you be serious about it. What is it going to take, on the economic side and in terms of the downloading of costs? It was a unified position; in terms of one LFA there was a huge majority that supported a particular position. What is it going to take to get an increase in carapace size or to get any of these measures that the industry is saying they want you to bring forward? They want some help.
This is a problem that exists in the Atlantic provinces and in eastern Quebec. DFO needs to be a player in this. The industry would like to see you be more involved, not just on the conservation side but in actually working with the industry to find some solutions to these problems. Your silence is deafening, when it comes to the current situation surrounding price.
So there are two issues. One is on the levy, with the Lobster Council of Canada, and on the fact that Agriculture Canada is nowhere on this; the second is about how serious you are about coming up with some solutions, hand in hand with the industry.
View Megan Leslie Profile
NDP (NS)
View Megan Leslie Profile
2013-06-17 19:49
Thanks very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you very much to all the witnesses for being here and helping us work through this legislation.
I know this legislation and the issue of Sable Island is important to all of you. I also know that you have either read the transcript of our last committee meeting, or you tuned in live, or you read the speeches in the House. I know you're very well acquainted with what we've been discussing both at committee and in the House. I know that you also know that the NDP does have some issues with the legislation. As Mark Butler of the Ecology Action Centre pointed out, we are in a situation where we are having to make a choice. Do we pass this bill and ensure that protection of Sable Island? I guess the other choice is we don't pass it.
We weren't a part of the discussions for the MOU, for example. We weren't a part of making this deal.
I'll start by saying our preference is no exploration on the island, and we have an amendment to that effect. We'll see if it passes. At the very least, I think it's important to define what low-impact exploration is, because there is no definition in the offshore accord act or in the parks act. I was pleased to hear that the province supports that as well.
Minister Preyra, have you any other words of assurance that this is a good way to go for the province? There is a problem here with needing mirror legislation.
View Megan Leslie Profile
NDP (NS)
View Megan Leslie Profile
2013-06-17 19:53
We've had a lot of talk about precedent, and my colleague Ms. Duncan put some pointed questions to Parks Canada about the precedent that this may or may not create. One way that I've been thinking about it is it's not that a park is being created with oil and gas just outside the boundaries, it's that we're creating a park in a gas field, which has a lot of challenges, but is ultimately a good thing.
Mr. Barry, let's just say for argument's sake the bill passes and we create a park so that piece is done. I recognize that you don't represent all industry, but do you think that industry would be open to continue discussions about the one nautical mile limit and possible expansion, or about surface exploration? Do you think that conversation could continue?
View Megan Leslie Profile
NDP (NS)
View Megan Leslie Profile
2013-06-17 19:54
Sorry, but could you explain that a bit? I'm not sure I follow.
View Megan Leslie Profile
NDP (NS)
View Megan Leslie Profile
2013-06-17 19:55
In its entirety?
View Megan Leslie Profile
NDP (NS)
View Megan Leslie Profile
2013-06-17 19:55
Okay. I was actually going to ask about the directional drilling piece to the CNSOPB, because a lot of people are contacting us saying, “What? You're going to support a bill that allows drilling under Sable Island?”
What would you say to Canadians who are concerned about horizontal directional drilling? How do we reassure people? One reassurance is that this is.... How far below did you say it was?
View Megan Leslie Profile
NDP (NS)
View Megan Leslie Profile
2013-06-17 20:36
Thanks very much, Mr. Chair.
Zoe Lucas, it is so nice to hear your voice. It's really great to have you be a part of this. I know you've been following this debate pretty closely. I've said in the House and at committee before that I want to support this bill, that I think it's a very good thing that Sable Island national park will be created, but I won't support this bill at any cost. I've been back and forth a lot with what our position should be, what my position should be, and the position I recommend to the NDP, as the environment critic.
On the whole, I believe this is a bill worth supporting to create these protections. But I have to admit, I breathed a great sigh of relief tonight when you said unequivocally that you support this bill. I love Mark Butler and Chris Miller, and I really respect their work, but I think there's no one I trust more on this issue than you.
I know you already said it, but this is something you think we should support. Is that correct?
View Megan Leslie Profile
NDP (NS)
View Megan Leslie Profile
2013-06-17 20:38
That's a simple answer.
View Megan Leslie Profile
NDP (NS)
View Megan Leslie Profile
2013-06-17 20:39
Thanks.
I share those concerns with the Ecology Action Centre and CPAWS as well.
Mr. Miller and Mr. Butler, I want to turn the rest of my time over to the two of you to talk about what happens next. We are going to vote on this legislation very soon. Assuming it passes, what's next? Zoe has touched on it, with the development and management policy.
What would you prioritize? Let's start with Mark.
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