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Results: 1 - 15 of 45
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2015-04-23 11:07
Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here today.
With me are members of the DFO senior management team, which includes: Matthew King, deputy minister; Jody Thomas, Canadian Coast Guard commissioner; Kevin Stringer, senior assistant deputy minister of ecosystems and fisheries management; Tom Rosser, senior assistant deputy minister of strategic policy; and Trevor Swerdfager, assistant deputy minister of ecosystems and oceans, science sector. Our chief financial officer, Marty Muldoon, is with us again.
I want to begin by reiterating the point I've made at past committee appearances that our government has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to protecting mariners, managing Canada's fisheries, and safeguarding our waters.
Today I'll provide members with a brief overview of DFO's 2015-16 main estimates before speaking to the recently tabled budget and what it means for my department.
I'm also here to speak to Bill S-3, amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. Illegal, unreported, unregulated fishing is a scourge that threatens our oceans and takes money away from fishermen. I hope that the committee will see fit to pass this important bill.
In regard to the main estimates, my department's request for this fiscal year amounts to $1.9 billion. This figure represents a net increase of $283.9 million over last year. This increase is mainly due to funding for the renewal of the Canadian Coast Guard fleet, including both vessels and helicopters, funding to renew the Atlantic and Pacific integrated commercial fisheries initiatives, and additional investments in small craft harbours across the country.
As you are aware, budget 2015 was recently tabled. We committed to getting real results for Canadians and these investments will protect our environment, ensure the sustainability of our fisheries, and support our government's priorities of creating jobs and promoting economic growth.
Under economic action plan 2015, I'm pleased to report that both the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard will be delivering a number of important investments to Canadians.
These include $5.7 million over five years to help secure new market access for Canadian seal products, and $30.8 million over five years to enhance marine transportation safety in the Arctic and further strengthen incident prevention preparedness and response south of 60°. Over the next five years, $34 million will be used to continue to support year-round meteorological and navigational warning services that will support northern communities and safe marine navigation in the Arctic.
Budget 2015 also includes $75 million over three years to continue to support the implementation of the Species At Risk Act to protect Canada's diverse species and secure the necessary actions for their recovery. In addition, $2 million is earmarked for the Pacific Salmon Foundation to support the Salish Sea marine survival project.
I'm also pleased to report than an additional $10 million annually, over the next three years, will be used to extend the recreational fisheries conservation partnership program, which will help support an already robust and successful initiative.
More good news for Canadian fishermen comes from increasing the lifetime capital gains exemption to $1 million for owners of a fishing business, which will allow owners to maintain more of their capital upon disposition of their fishing property. This will make a real difference for our hard-working fishermen by allowing them to keep more of their hard-earned money.
Finally, recognizing the important role of small businesses in Canada as job creators, the government is further encouraging small business growth by reducing the small business tax rate to 9% by 2019.
As you can see, these investments continue to demonstrate our government's ongoing commitment to marine safety, to supporting responsible resource development, to protecting Canada's marine environment, and creating jobs and economic growth.
We're committed to ensuring that our fishermen are able to get delicious Canadian seafood on plates around the world. We have embarked on the most ambitious trade agenda in Canadian history and those in the seafood industry stand to benefit greatly. For example, Canada embarked on a historic trade agreement with the European Union. This was not only a game changer for Canadian businesses but a watershed moment for our fish and seafood industry in particular.
Canada is the world's seventh-largest exporter of fish and seafood products. The European Union is the world's largest importer and the demand from this market will only continue to grow. By opening up new markets in the EU and improving access for fish and seafood, CETA, as well as our trade agreement with South Korea, will result in job creation, higher wages, and greater long-term prosperity for our fishing industry.
As the government we're continuing to look to the future on how we can unlock even more international markets for Canadian businesses. Of course, unprecedented access to global markets is a moot point if we're not making significant and strategic investments here at home. As you know, this past November, Prime Minister Harper announced significant federal funding for DFO and coast guard infrastructure projects. Over the next two years, we will invest an additional $288 million in a vast network of more than 1,000 small craft harbours across the country.
With respect to the Canadian Coast Guard, over the next two years an additional $183 million will be authorized for repair, life extension, and procurement of vessels and small craft. This funding is in addition to our unprecedented investment in the coast guard's fleet renewal program. The coast guard vessels and small craft benefiting from these new funds will support activities linked to search and rescue, gathering scientific data, responding to maritime incidents, and assisting conservation and protection officers.
In addition to this work, Fisheries and Oceans is also responsible for the stewardship of a number of laboratories and other federally owned assets. Over the next two years we will allocate an additional $80 million in 195 projects to upgrade science facilities, Atlantic salmon fishways, lighthouses, search and rescue stations, and federally owned buildings across the country. These infrastructure investments will help support the continued delivery of quality services and support the science and research that represents the foundation of our work.
In Canada we take pride in knowing that our fisheries and aquaculture operations are sustainably managed. This is the case for all species, but I'd like to note in particular our commitment to the conservation and protection of wild salmon. Our scientists are actively monitoring salmon populations in key indexed rivers to better inform our management decisions. We've also implemented more stringent measures for recreational salmon fishing in some locations in support with this rigorous enforcement effort. On the west coast we're seeing the benefits of this work with improved returns of some important salmon stocks. With Atlantic salmon on the east coast however there are still concerns, particularly in the southern region.
I'm personally committed to this issue, which is why last December I announced the establishment of a new ministerial advisory committee on Atlantic salmon. The committee is made up of key stakeholders, who will provide me with recommendations on the future direction of conservation. Last month I attended the committee's inaugural meeting in Halifax, along with experts from across the Maritimes and Quebec. Together they will examine conservation and enforcement measures, as well as predation issues. They will also develop a strategy that addresses international fishing in areas for advancing science. I'm pleased to report that this work is already coming to fruition. After just two meetings I asked the advisory committee to submit a set of interim recommendations that could be acted upon immediately. Based on these recommendations, I recently announced new conservation measures for Atlantic salmon recreational angling throughout the gulf region. All of these management measures were supported by key stakeholders and further demonstrate how we are listening to the concerns of local fishing and conservation groups.
Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing is another area where we're taking decisive action. Canada, of course, has been a leader in global efforts to deter this type of fishing. We know that strong governance of the high seas through regional management fisheries organizations is integral to reducing illegal fishing and protecting the interests of legitimate fishing. Bill S-3, which is before you for consideration, proposes some amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act in order to fully implement the international port state measures agreement. As you're aware, this bill proposes amendments that, if accepted, will broaden enforcement authorities and strengthen prohibitions against the importation of illegally acquired fish and marine plants.
Canada already has a robust regime in place to control access of foreign fishing vessels to Canadian waters, but we know that more needs to be done on a global scale, and that's why passage of Bill S-3 is important to our government.
I urge the committee members to improve the amendments proposed in Bill S-3. Again, the sustainability of our fisheries is a top priority for us. Together with our partners we're committed to improving the way fisheries and aquaculture are managed through science-based reforms, stakeholder and aboriginal engagement, and better access to export markets for Canadian fish and seafood. We're also committed to renewing Canadian Coast Guard assets and its services to Canadians to ensure a safe and efficient navigation and bolster our already robust response to maritime incidents. Going forward we'll continue to ensure Canada's natural resources are developed sustainably and responsibly through strong regulatory frameworks, sound science, and strategic investment.
Over the last year you've discussed and considered many important policies and issues facing our fish and seafood industry at this committee. As we look ahead, I want to thank the committee for your hard work and your assured commitment to Canadians.
I will now ask Mr. Muldoon to explain the estimates.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2015-04-23 11:18
Thank you for that question.
The aquaculture activities regulations provide more clarity and more consistency and transparency to aquaculture. They bring greater oversight, which includes the obligation to report all drug and pesticide use at aquaculture facilities. They also require immediate notification if there is any wild fish mortality.
They do not allow aquaculture operators to use any drugs they are currently not using; they do not approve any types of new drugs. These drugs are regulated by Health Canada. They do not allow for any new substance to be added to treatment regimes.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2015-04-23 11:21
I can assure you we are working with first nations.
DFO consults widely, not just with first nations but with all fishermen, when it comes to species management and developing fishing plans. At the end of the day our decision is guided mostly by science, so we share that science with the different groups. It's not just for herring; it's for every species. We do a tremendous amount of consultation, and obviously we don't always agree at the end of the day.
In this particular case, the science showed that we could open the fishery, and they gave us a number for the quota we could safely fish without hurting the growth of the stock. We actually took a more conservative approach and went to only half that amount of quota.
As I said, we don't always agree, but our decisions are based on science.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2015-04-23 11:24
Thank you.
What I can tell you is that the science for 2015 was presented to the northern shrimp advisory committee on March 4, and consultations were held with them. The science was better than was originally expected.
What is really good news is that the price of shrimp is predicted to be up again, to as much as $1.40 a pound. I remember not that long ago, in my early days in this portfolio, when they were negotiating from 35 cents a pound, so it's quite significant.
On the LIFO policy—
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2015-04-23 11:26
On the last part of the question, I did meet with the all-party committee yesterday on the northern shrimp. They had requested a meeting with me so that they could present a report on the economic impact of the LIFO policy. I've said nothing to them about the LIFO policy. I listened to them, asked some questions, received the report, and will be reviewing the report.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2015-04-23 11:27
Well, I just have to correct you. There is no reduction in the budget. The reduction that you see in the budget is the result of a project that was completed, and that was the removal of the fuel from the Zalinski off the coast of British Columbia. That project was completed.
What we have done over the last three years is add $183 million to that budget to build our world-class system.
But I will ask the commissioner of the coast guard to respond to that.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2015-04-23 11:31
The difference that you see for the species at risk is because it was a sunsetter, but that has been renewed in the budget. It will be $75 million over three years to carry out the species at risk program, and most of that of course is with Environment Canada.
On the fleet renewal, in the past while we have accepted nine new midshore patrol vessels. We have accepted two hovercrafts. We have five new lifeboats; these are 47-foot lifeboats. There are three other specialty vessels, three nearshore vessels, and of course many small boats and barges.
As you're aware, the Prime Minister made an announcement of more than $5 billion in federal government assets, so part of that funding goes to procuring more vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2015-04-23 11:35
Okay, well there are a number of questions in there.
I will just respond to the Pacific Salmon Foundation. They currently have a research project where they're going to study sea survival of wild Atlantic salmon. I don't have to tell you how important wild Atlantic salmon is to British Columbians. There are several partners in that project and with the $2 million in the budget the federal government will become a partner.
As you know we support the wild salmon fishery in British Columbia in a number of different ways. One is through supporting the education of schoolchildren and supporting hatcheries. We support hatcheries to the tune of $26 million. That combined with an additional investment in the recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program will do a lot of good work in B.C., on top of the work we have already done. The current budget has $30 million for the recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program, which is on top of what we have already spent.
I will ask the commissioner of the coast guard to speak to the science because the science will be invested in our world-class tanker safety system, which is part of what the coast guard does. I'll ask Jody to respond to that.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2015-04-23 11:37
If I could add as well, some of that science will inform decisions taken with regard to what the coast guard does in responding to incidents.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2015-04-23 11:39
I'll ask Trevor to comment on that.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2015-04-23 11:52
I'm going to ask the commissioner to respond to that, but I just want to say for this committee's information that all MPs were offered a briefing with the coast guard. Very few took the opportunity to sit down with the coast guard and listen to the facts of what actually happened in the Marathassa spill.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2015-04-23 11:54
To date, of the $25 million that had been committed previous to this budget, $16 million had been committed to more than 280 projects across the country, varying from smaller to larger projects and from one partner to multiple partners in projects. All this funding is leveraging more funding and is a tremendous investment in our fisheries habitat.
It's well received by all the groups. We see more groups are forming because they see the opportunity to do something with fishways, and I have to commend you, Mr. Sopuck, for the work you have done and the support you've given for this program, because it is turning out to be very much a success.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2015-04-23 11:56
When the committee was formed I had a discussion with them, and they requested that action be taken sooner rather than later. I asked the committee if they were comfortable with bringing forward an interim report, which they did. We have implemented the recommendations in that interim report.
The committee is meeting in Newfoundland today I believe and they have one more meeting in Quebec. They're hearing from a number of groups and individuals. We're moving to the catch and release fishery in the gulf region. We have made some other changes as well as extending the bass fishery because they see bass as predators of salmon of course.
I look forward to their final report sometime over the next few months, so we can make further changes, because one of the things that we want to ensure is that anglers are not the only group that will be addressed. It's just one small piece of the puzzle.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2015-04-23 11:58
As you know, as a government we've been rock solid in our support for the Canadian seal hunt. We continue to tell the truth about sealing and the affects that the seal population has on our marine ecosystems. We have science that certainly supports that.
The situation we have with the European Union is, of course, we said their ban on Canadian seal products was unfair. However, at the end of the day products from the indigenous seal hunt will find their way to European markets. This funding will help develop those markets, but will also help to develop new seal products as well, not just for the indigenous seal hunt but for all sealers.
We hope to develop new products and find markets for those new products.
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