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Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on

Issue 11 - Evidence

OTTAWA, Tuesday, October 30, 2001

The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries met this day at 7:08 p.m. to examine matters relating to the fishing industry.

Senator Gerald J. Comeau (Chairman) in the Chair.


The Chairman: I call the meeting to order. Tonight, we are continuing with our examination of matters relating to the fishing industry.

Before we introduce our witnesses tonight, I would like to note that in 2000-01 the committee conducted a number of informal meetings to better familiarize committee members with the freshwater and northern fisheries. In geographical terms, the area under consideration roughly corresponds to the Central and Arctic Region - one of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' six administrative regions. This vast region encompasses about 65 per cent of Canada's marine waters and 67 per cent of the country's freshwater. The region is diverse in terms of climate condition, fish species, fish habitat and fishing activity. The Central and Arctic Region include a number of provinces and territories: Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, the Yukon North Slope, and Ontario.

In May 2000, a working group of the committee met with officials of the Freshwater Institute in Winnipeg to learn about the department's activities and programs. Topics discussed at this meeting included: the state of freshwater stocks; fish habitat; climate change; domestic and trans-boundary pollution; the activities of the Coast Guard; small crafts harbours; hydrography; fish stock assessments, and research, including the work undertaken at the Experimental Lakes area in Northwest Ontario; ocean's activities; and exotic species, just to name a few.

Our briefing was most interesting and informative. In fact, partly as a result of our discussions with you on Arctic fisheries and science, the committee decided to visit the northern stakeholders in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories in July, 2000.

I would like to welcome you to the committee tonight. We have witnesses in Burlington, Winnipeg, Calgary and Ottawa. This is the first time that we have welcomed witnesses in four locations for one meeting. Bear with us if we run into some technical snags along the way.

For our recording purposes, we need to be able to identify each speaker, so we ask that individuals identify themselves when the speaker changes - witnesses or senators. This will be good for our record-keeping purposes and I am sure our reporters will be pleased with that arrangement.

I will leave the introductions to that to Dr. Redmond Clarke, Regional Director, Habitat, Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Dr. John Cooley, Regional Director of Science, Department of Fisheries and Oceans: It is my great pleasure to speak to you today about some of the work science staff conduct in our region. I will build on some of the information you received during your visit to the Freshwater Institute in Winnipeg in May of last year.

My colleagues this evening are, from Winnipeg, Dr. Clarke, Regional Director, Habitat, Fisheries and Oceans Management; Dr. Mike Papst, Division Manager, Arctic Research; Mr. Terry Shortt, Division Manager, Environmental Sciences, Winnipeg; and Mr. Robert Fudge, Science Program Coordinator. From Calgary we have Mr. Garry Linsey, Area Director, Prairies Area, Calgary. With you in Ottawa is Mr. Martin Bergmann, Director, Arctic Science Program Development.

I will make a few comments and then invite Dr. Clarke to make some observations on federal-province roles and responsibilities for fisheries managements and fish habitats in the Prairie provinces. We would then be pleased to entertain any questions you might have.

The overall mission for DFO science is to provide timely and reliable scientific information that supports the conservation, management and sustainable utilization of the region's fishery resources, and the protection and conservation of aquatic habitat. I know that is a mouthful and a bit formal, but we are trying to conserve and protect fish and fish habitat. Please note that this is distinct from provincial responsibilities.

In this region, we accomplish much of our work through activities at two major research centres: the Freshwater Institute, Winnipeg, which some of you visited last year; and the Bayfield Institute, the Canada Centre for Inland Waters, Burlington, which is where I am this evening.

The two institutes are home to all but a few of the 200-plus science staff in the region. Our Sea Lamprey Control program, to which I will refer later, is located in Sault Ste. Marie.

Our science programs are as varied as the vast region in which we work. Central and Arctic Region includes Ontario, the three Prairie provinces, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and the North Slope of the Yukon.

This area represents about two-thirds of Canada's landmass, three-quarters of Canada's marine coastline and is home to almost 20 per cent of the world's fresh water.

I would like to highlight activities in four of our research units, reflecting what I understand is your area of interest for today's discussions. Our Arctic Research Division, located at the FWI in Winnipeg, consists of about 40 full-time staff. We undertake work to determine the size and health of particular stocks of fish and marine mammals. The information is used to set harvest limits that are sustainable. We do not do this work alone. A unique co-management system is applied to Arctic fish marine mammal fisheries. Co-management is a joint process that brings together local resource users and government agencies to share management responsibility for local or regional resources. It is important to note that in making management decisions, we incorporate "traditional ecological knowledge" from Canada's Aboriginal communities.

A major focus of our research in the Arctic is on the development and application of new and improved stock assessment methodology. For example, we use DNA profiles in distinguishing discrete stocks of animals and we use satellite tags to record the movements of some individual animals, such as whales.

Of major concern to Canada's Aboriginal communities is the presence of unacceptably high levels of contaminants in animals that might be harvested and consumed. Often, these contaminants originate in other countries and enter Canadian ecosystems as the result of long-range transport through the atmosphere.

We work closely with other federal government departments such as Health Canada, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and Environment Canada, as well as Aboriginal communities to monitor and interpret the significance of our findings. Most of our work involves partnering with other groups. We find that the pooling of both human and monetary resources is an efficient approach to our work. This approach is adopted wherever possible in all our programs, whether they are in the High Arctic or in Hamilton Harbour.

Working in the Arctic presents many challenges to our researchers. Often, study sites are difficult and expensive to access because of their remoteness and the lack of infrastructure, such as roads and airports. It requires that our staff be in the field and away from families for extensive periods, often under less than ideal working conditions. The work is hard, long and, at times, both dangerous and stressful, but we have a committed staff of professionals who are dedicated to the challenge.

One of our recent studies focussed on Greenland Halibut in the Arctic. Our researchers were trying to determine if there was a potential to develop a commercial fishery that could benefit the people of Nunavut. However, as is often the case, other projects were undertaken at the same time to address knowledge gaps in Arctic marine ecology.

Another partnership of note is our recent effort to secure an Arctic icebreaker that could be dedicated to serving the research needs of the Arctic science research community, including government, universities, northern agencies, and international partners. Traditionally, we have multi-tasked Coast Guard icebreakers to undertake science projects. However, the demand for Arctic science is increasing because of issues like Northern energy development and climate change. We are confident that such a vessel would assist Canada in acquiring valuable information for the protection and conservation of its northern resources. In addition, there is a huge international demand for platforms or vessels capable of working safely in the Arctic, and we have numerous potential partners, including universities and other governments, ready to sign on. Overall, there is a shortage of such vessel capabilities among polar nations.

As with the Arctic program, our work in freshwater is varied, and we have many partners that work with us. Recently, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans re-signed a Prairie Science Agreement that focusses on partnering and cooperation of fishery and environmental issues of mutual interest. A similar agreement is in preparation for signing between DFO and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

The value and health of productive freshwater resources cannot be overstated. Since the late 1960s, DFO has operated the world-renowned Experimental Lakes Area, ELA, in Northern Ontario near Kenora. Whole lake ecosystem manipulation studies are undertaken on a series of 58 small lakes set aside under agreement with the Province of Ontario. ELA is a one-of-a-kind facility of which we are extremely proud. By being able to conduct whole lake experiments, scientists are able to undertake studies and obtain results that have greater precision than if the work had been done in a laboratory. Some of the work undertaken in ELA has resulted in significant findings leading to environmental legislation. These studies have included five areas. The first study area is the role of phosphorous in polluting freshwater ecosystems such as lakes Erie and Ontario. This work was instrumental in having phosphorous eliminated from detergents. The second is the impacts of acid rain on Canada's lakes and rivers. This work contributed to a Canada-U.S. agreement on acid rain causing emissions. The third is the study of contaminant problems caused by the creation of reservoirs. The fourth area of study is the damage caused by toxic chemicals to our freshwater resources. The fifth area includes long-term monitoring studies to help us understand how freshwater ecosystems function and react to stresses, such as climate change.

More recently, we have begun to increase our scientific activities in the Prairies as a result of the Prairie Science Agreement, which I mentioned earlier. A good example is our involvement in the Lake Winnipeg Consortium. I am aware that you recently had a discussion on this with Mr. Al Kristofferson.

Regrettably, the stresses on our freshwater ecosystems are many. We are very concerned with the impact that non-native or invasive species like the zebra mussel cause on native species. The problem has been referred to as "biological pollution," and it is no less important than chemical pollution. Often, these so-called exotic species out compete and eliminate native species, resulting in a loss of important biological diversity. For example, the food chain that supports important fisheries on Lake Erie has been dramatically modified as a result of the inadvertent introduction of zebra mussels about is about 15 years ago. Zebra mussels have since found their way into the Mississippi River watershed and can now be found as far south as New Orleans. There is great concern that this invader will find its way into Western Canadian watersheds.

The Great Lakes are particularly vulnerable to invasive species introductions because of frequent discharges of ballast water from ocean-going vessels that might have taken on fresh water as ballast in a port in a different part of the world. The zebra mussel is only one of many invasive species introduced this way. We are working with U.S. agencies to address the problem, but practical solutions are elusive and expensive.

Invasive species contribute to the issue of "species at risk" - those species that are at risk of disappearing locally and possibly even becoming extinct. There are about 27 freshwater species at risk in our region alone, as well as some marine mammals. We are involved in studies that would help to protect these species. At one of our study sites - the Sydenham River in Southern Ontario - there are nine fish species alone that are at risk.

Our Great Lakes science program has also interested in finding ways to enhance and restore fish habitat, track contaminant levels in fish and other aquatic species, understand environmental issues around freshwater aquaculture development, and provide a sound scientific basis for habitat management decisions that are taken.

Perhaps the most high-profile science program in our region is the Sea Lamprey Control program in Sault Ste. Marie. This international program, conducted under the administrative leadership of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, is responsible for keeping populations of the invasive sea lamprey in check. It is not an overstatement to suggest that there would be few, if any, viable fisheries in the Great Lakes without the continuing work of this program and its U.S. counterpart.

I would like to offer my colleague, Dr. Clarke, an opportunity to make a few comments.

Dr. Redmond Clarke, Regional Director of Habitat, Fisheries and Oceans Management, Department of Fisheries and Oceans: In response to your request, senators, I have been asked to provide information about federal-provincial roles and responsibilities, the fisheries management and fish habitats in the Prairie Provinces. I will begin with fisheries management responsibilities.

The Constitution Act, 1867, gave Parliament exclusive legislative authority to make laws respecting sea, coast and inland fisheries. Therefore, the federal government has the responsibility for the protection and conservation of all fisheries, and Parliament can make such laws. In 1868, Parliament enacted the Fisheries Act that provides the legislative authority for the management and regulation of fisheries.

At the same time, sections 109 and 117 of the Constitution Act vested in the provinces the natural resources within their respective boundaries, and section 92 vested in the provinces exclusive jurisdiction of over matters dealing with property and civil rights, and the management of public lands, including inland waters.

Following Confederation, there was uncertainty surrounding the extent to which federal authorities superseded provincial property rights in non-tidal fisheries. This was clarified in 1898 by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which concluded essentially that provincial governments have the sole responsibility to lease and license inland fisheries, to enforce provincial licensing provisions and otherwise determine how the proprietary rights are to be managed.

Over the years, significant delegation of fisheries management administration to provinces has taken place through a range of instruments. Sections 109 and 117 of the Constitution Act did not apply to Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta when they became provinces. However, the Natural Resources Transfer Agreements of 1930 provided the transfer of administration and control of Crown lands and resources to the provincial governments and acknowledged the provinces' proprietary fishing rights. Regulatory control for conservation aspects of fisheries remains with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and is administered and enforced under the Fisheries Act.

However, the provincial governments of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, today remain responsible for the day-to-day management of provincial fisheries. The provinces are responsible for recommending to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans the content of the provincial fisheries regulations enacted under the Fisheries Act. These regulations address conservation and other items under federal legislative control.

The provinces have their own legislation for property aspects of fisheries, such as licensing, and DFO has no day-to-day involvement with fisheries management in these provinces. I will turn now to fish habitat management responsibilities.

There is no specific reference to the conservation and protection of fish habitat in the Constitution Act or in the Natural Resources Transfer Agreements. Day-to-day management of fish habitat was considered to be part of the delegation of fishery management responsibility, but it was not specifically transferred. The Fisheries Act contains specific provisions for the conservation and protection of fish habitat. The main provisions are section 35 that prohibits the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitats, unless authorized by the minister; and section 36 that prohibits the discharge of deleterious substances in waters frequented by fish, except by regulation.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is responsible for the administration of section 35 and other fish habitat protection provisions of the Fisheries Act. The exception is that Environment Canada is responsible for the administration of section 36 of the Fisheries Act.

The Policy for the Management of Fish Habitat, developed by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in 1986, provides the national framework for the administration and enforcement of the fish habitat provisions of the Fisheries Act. I understand that you recently had a presentation on the National Fish Habitat Management program from Mr. Paul Cuillerier of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Provincial governments have other environmental and resource management responsibilities and legislation relevant to and overlapping with the management of fish habitat. Until the early 1990s, responsibility for the day-to-day management of fish habitat was considered part of the delegation of fisheries management responsibilities to inland provinces including Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Then, court decisions on environmental assessment review processes for the Oldman Dam and the Rafferty-Alameda Dam projects indicated that the federal government had a greater role in fish habitat management in the provinces than had previously been undertaken, and confirmed that federal responsibilities for environmental assessments and the conservation and protection of fish habitat.

As a result of the court decisions, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans established a small capability of eight people to deal with its environmental assessment review process responsibilities in the Prairie provinces, and initiated discussions on the delegation of the Fisheries Act fish habitat responsibilities to the provincial governments.

These discussions took several years, but in 1999 the federal cabinet decided to implement a Strengthening Fish Habitat Protection program in the Prairie provinces and elsewhere to help ensure federal consistency in the protection of fish habitat and to provide the capacity.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is currently implementing the cabinet's decision on the Strengthening Fish Habitat Protection program in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. The Fish Habitat Management program in the Prairie Provinces has had a 2001-02 budget of 115 staff and $10.4 million. The program is hiring new biological, enforcement and compliance, engineering, and administrative staff. Sixty per cent of the positions have been staffed permanently, and other positions have been staffed temporarily.

The program is delivered from eight offices, including seven new ones. The offices are in Manitoba at Dauphin and Winnipeg, which was a previously existing office; in Saskatchewan at Prince Albert and Regina; in Alberta at Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge and Peace River.

Close cooperation and harmonizing relationships with the provincial governments is a major requirement for successful implementation of the Strengthening Fish Habitat Protection program in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Ongoing discussions are occurring with each provincial government to develop agreements between the two levels of government in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, and operational protocols for the conservation and protection of fish habitat.

At the request of the provincial governments, the initial emphasis is on the development of operational protocols to ensure effective and efficient program delivery, increase coordination and reduce overlap. The main topics for protocol development are: communications, enforcement and compliance, integrated referral process, data sharing, and discussions on various specific technical issues.

I would like to close by mentioning the Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers' initiative on harmonization. In 1999, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and his provincial counterparts signed the agreement on Interjurisdictional Cooperation with respect to Fisheries and Aquaculture. Following this, the Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers, CCRAM, established an intergovernmental task group on Freshwater Fisheries. They tasked it to develop a national, consensus-based Freshwater Fisheries Strategy.

The task group prepared a draft strategy for consideration at the minister's September 2001 meeting. The main focus areas for the strategy are: fish conservation and fisheries management; fish habitat management; freshwater fisheries science; and legislative and regulatory instruments.

At its meeting in September this year, CCFAM, with the exception of Quebec, agreed on the draft National Freshwater Fisheries Strategy that aims to strengthen conservation, management, rehabilitation and protection of freshwater fisheries and that fish habitat should be a focus of concerted effort. The task group was also directed to consult with key stakeholders to confirm the direction set out in the strategy to identify opportunities to link with other freshwater initiatives such as, introductions and transfers of exotic organisms and protections of species at risk. Finally, the CCFAM endorsed the development of priorities and the finalization of an implementation plan for approval at the 2002 meeting.

As a result of the ministers' initiatives and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans discussions with Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, there will be further clarification, harmonization and enhanced collaboration of federal-provincial roles and responsibilities related to fisheries management and fish habitat management.

Senator Johnson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is good to listen to both the witnesses' presentations after our meetings out west last spring, which were also productive. I am from the Interlake region of Manitoba and I have been involved with the issue and with the consortium in getting that started.

Dr. Cooley in Burlington talked about fish habitat of the Prairie provinces and made a distinction between provincial and federal jurisdiction. How many federal-provincial problems will we have in trying to solve our problems here in terms of jurisdiction? You were distinct in what you said in that respect. How well will we be able to work together?

Dr. Cooley: Senator, I would like to turn your question over to Mr. Garry Linsey, our Area Director of Habitat Management for the Prairies.

Mr. Garry Linsey, Area Director, Prairies Area, Department of Fisheries and Oceans: Mr. Chairman, it has indeed been a challenge to implement the program in the Prairie provinces. The jurisdictional distribution in the Prairie provinces, I believe, is well understood. The provinces have jurisdiction over management of the fisheries. There is also no dispute that management of fish habitat is a federal jurisdiction. We are working well operationally with the provinces to implement our programs.

Senator Johnson: That is good to know, because it took a long time to get the programs up and running in terms of federal and provincial cooperation. There is still some confusion in Manitoba, at least along Lake Winnipeg, as to where federal jurisdiction begins and provincial jurisdiction ends, at least in respect to the work of our consortium.

Are you pleased with the MOU with the provinces and the federal government now in terms of habitat?

Mr. Linsey: Are you directing that question to me, senator?

Senator Johnson: Yes, I am. I know that it was done on September 20.

Mr. Linsey: Dr. Clarke, perhaps you could help me with this response.

Dr. Clarke: Senator, are you referring to the science agreement that was signed by the ministers on September 20?

Senator Johnson: Yes.

Dr. Clarke: I think Dr. Cooley would be more suited to speak to that.

Dr. Cooley: Yes, I am prepared to address that. The Prairie Science Agreement that was signed on September 20 by ministers was actually a re-signing of an agreement that had been signed three years' previous. The original agreement was in effect for three years and the date had run out. At the end of the period, DFO met with the provincial science agencies that were involved. We acknowledged that there had been some growing pains in getting the science agreement off the ground.

We had some successes and some things that we felt needed to be worked on. Every one agreed there was a strong consensus with the three Prairie provinces and us that the agreement was worthwhile. That is why we recommended that our ministers re-sign it. We also increased the scope of the activities.

We added some additional topics of mutual interest where we thought we could benefit by working together. One of those, for example, was species at risk, which I mentioned earlier in my opening remarks.

We have renewed the agreement and we will work even harder to make it work this time around. The agreement is something that we need to have in place. As I mentioned earlier, we are now in the final stages of concluding a similar agreement with the Province of Ontario.

Senator Johnson: My last question relates to the ecological side of the issues. We are dealing with many contaminants including acid rain and toxic chemicals, and, of course, we have zebra mussels. What is the extent of the zebra mussel now in our system? I do not think they are in Lake Winnipeg yet. The research of the consortium will probably determine this in the summer. Am I right or wrong on that? I do not think they are in the lake, but where are they in the rest of our system?

Dr. Cooley: The zebra mussel has not extended out of Ontario, but it is throughout most of the U.S. It extends almost as far west as the Rockies, through some of the tributaries of the Mississippi system - both east and west. There is great concern in places such as Manitoba and further west in the Okanogan Valley that, if the zebra mussel were to arrive, it would cause untold damage and problems as it has done in Lake Erie. That is where it certainly has caused the most damage in Canada.

There are a number of programs in place to alert boaters to the problem. There was an incident about one year ago where a rather alert guard at the Canada-U.S. border crossing at Seattle-B.C. noticed a boat coming across that had zebra mussels on its hull. It just so happened that the guard new about the problem, and it was dealt with. Otherwise, we might have had a situation where the zebra mussel avoided the Prairies and came directly to B.C. waters.

Senator Johnson: Dr. Cooley, is that the most effective way of dealing with zebra mussels? Is being vigilant about them in terms of vessels and that could carry it into other waters? Is there any other way?

Dr. Cooley: I wish I could tell you otherwise, but I am afraid that that is it. There is a saying in science: "Introductions, like extinctions, are forever." Once these invasive species establish themselves, it is virtually impossible to get rid of them. Really, you are faced with developing a control mode.

Another good example of that is, again what I mentioned in my opening remarks, with the sea lamprey. It got into the lakes originally in about 1830 and made it into the upper lakes about 100 years later with the opening of the Welland Canal. Now, we have the Sea Lamprey Control Program between Canada and the U.S. specifically to keep the populations down. Without that program, that one invader would virtually destroy all the large fisheries in the Canadian and U.S. waters of the Great Lakes.

Senator Johnson: Public education would be a huge factor, would it not? Would making people aware of the problem help us?

Dr. Cooley: Yes, once these species are established, then public awareness is extremely important.

Senator Mahovlich: Dr. Cooley, my wife and I used to skate up the Credit River, I believe not too far from Burlington. We have not been able to skate up that river for the past 25 years. I do not know if it is because of the pollutants in that river. What effect has that on the salmon or on the lake trout that used to spawn in the Credit? I used to see them in the river at one of the Mississauga golf courses. Is that river still effective for the spawning of the fish?

Dr. Cooley: Senator, I used to skate on the Humber River. I was trying to be like Frank Mahovlich, at the time, but without much success.

We are not seeing pollutants in the river that prevent it from freezing, but we are seeing a distinct climate change effect. It has become warmer in those areas of Southern Ontario and that is why the river is not freezing up.

The pollutant situation, generally speaking, in the rivers that enter the Great Lakes is much improved from what it was 20 or 30 years ago, thanks to the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, signed in 1972. At that time, the major focus was on phosphorous and the so-called "Lake Erie is dead" issue.

Five or six years later, the agreement was re-signed with a focus on contaminants. By that time, we were finding huge numbers of contaminants such as PCBs and other nasty chemicals in our fish. There was a major effort on both sides of the border to address that. Some 25 years later, we refer to that as a good news and bad news story. The very good news is that the contaminant levels in fish, which are a good indicator of the health of aquatic ecosystems, are dramatically reduced from what they were back then. The bad news is that the levels are not low enough, and there are still more that has to be done.

The unfortunate fact is that some of those contaminants store themselves in the sediments, and they are available for redistribution. Therefore, it will take more time for these ecosystems to so-called "naturally" cleanse themselves of some of these contaminants. We still have fish that go up the Credit River, but most of them are Pacific salmon that have been stocked. After four years, they return and they try to spawn, and that is the end of their lifecycle.

Senator Mahovlich: Thanks for the good news.

In Northern Ontario, around Kirkland Lake, the rivers all flow into the Arctic. I believe Kirkland Lake is as far north as Winnipeg. Does everything flow into the Arctic from that latitude? Do the rivers all flow north into the Arctic?

Dr. Cooley: Yes, that is part of the northern drainage. The divide between the Great Lakes drainage, which flows into the St. Lawrence, and the northern drainage, which flows into the Arctic is, I guess, not far from there. I could not tell you exactly the location because I do not have a map with me.

Senator Mahovlich: Is it true that the rivers that flow into the Arctic would not have the pollution problems that we have in the rivers that flow into the Great Lakes. Am I correct in saying that?

Dr. Cooley: Yes, you are correct. There would still be some pollutants because some of the pollutants we are able to measure in fish in "pristine" areas are as a result of the long-range transport. Some pollutants are carried on the winds from developing countries. We have found levels of contaminants in our fish - contaminants that have been banned for use in Canada. It is a fact of life, I guess. It is just a small world, but we have certainly measured levels of contaminants that have come a long distance. Some of the Aboriginal, or traditional country foods in the Arctic have unacceptably high levels of certain kinds of contaminants that originated hundreds of thousands of kilometres away.

Senator Watt: Most of my questions deal with what is actually happening in the Arctic. Dr. Cooley, to what extent is scientific research being carried out in the Arctic in respect of the food chains that are affected by contaminants?

Dr. Cooley: Senator, that is a very relevant question. Rather than hog this microphone all evening, I will turn that question over to Dr. Papst.

Dr. Michael Papst, Division Manager, Arctic Research, Department of Fisheries and Oceans: That is a very good question. How much research is enough? Sometimes, when we visit communities in the North and tell them that we have found contaminants that originate in banana plantations somewhere in South America, they are not happy with us passing on that sort of information. However, looking at research in the Arctic overall in terms of contaminants, we are getting a good picture of what is happening with some of the important contaminants such as mercury, for example.

In part, that is coming about because communities are being extremely helpful, particularly hunters and fishers, in collecting samples for us so that we can get a good picture. Collectively, from the science community, where we are not addressing the question as well as we could, is in developing a better understanding of what is really important to the people. If we find a certain contaminant level in a part of a beluga whale that is not consumed, or we know that the contaminant risk will be removed because of the way the meat is processed, then we raise the question about how relevant the level of the contaminant is. We have struggled with this issue. We have dealt with elders, particularly in the Western Arctic, and talked a great deal about the need to better understand the use of the animal after it has been harvested and about what influence that should have on the way in which we direct our contaminants programs. We are getting a better handle on it, but it is one of the areas in which we could certainly improve.

The other area of concern in Winnipeg is the occurrence of due contaminants. We have a tendency to think of contaminants as something that happened in the past, such as a pesticide or a PCB. There are other compounds being created now, such as flame retardants for children's clothing that can create risk. We are beginning to detect those in small levels in beluga whales and seals of the Arctic because of this long-range transport that Dr. Cooley talked about. That is another area that we are examining, as a priority, to get at some of what we call "current use contaminants."

I hope that answers your question. It was a long answer, but it is an important topic.

Senator Watt: What are we doing about it, in terms of fact-finding? Is there any way of telling the people that a certain of level of contaminant exists in certain species, such as fish, seals or beluga whales? The beluga, for example, is heavily used by the people. What cautions are forthcoming to the people, if any?

Dr. Papst: Generally, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is responsible for detecting the contaminant in the animals. Our role is to look at the effects that those contaminants have on the viability of the animal stocks. We realize that there are people in the Arctic who consume these country foods. As a policy, we provide our data to Health Canada, to the Nunavut health system, and to the NWT health system. Those agencies use that data to conduct risk assessments. The best examples are in the NWT, where we have recently had some warnings, or health advisories, placed on some fish because of the mercury content. We provided the data to Health Canada, they performed a risk assessment, and then they issued the advisory.

It is often a difficult issue. We have struggled with, for example, levels of mercury in beluga whales in the Western Arctic. In that case, a number of years ago we established a working group that included a number of elders. After they and Health Canada reviewed all the risks, they concluded that it was best to let people know what was in the beluga whales in respect of the mercury, but also to point out that, in their best opinion, the benefits of country foods still outweighed the risk. In that case, there was not an advisory, but that general statement came out. It was their advice that the benefits of country foods still outweighed any risks.

Senator Watt: In your opinion, should Health Canada be involved in the fact-finding that is taking place? Should they be provided with information so that they are able to act on those matters if need be?

Dr. Papst: We try to ensure that the data is available quickly. That issue has been discussed many times with our co-management partners, and we concluded that one of the first steps is to ensure that, when we receive the results of an experiment or of a study, we turn those results over quickly to Health Canada and to the other health agencies. That is the policy of our research at DFO. I cannot really comment on what the other departments do, once we transfer the information.

Senator Watt: I would like to address the issue of conflicts between fish habitat and development that might occur in any given place. Let me use the Mackenzie River development, as an example, where there might be oil and gas considerations. Is there a proper monitoring system in place to ensure that the impact is minimized as much as possible?

I presume that this pipeline will eventually affect the fish habitats within the Mackenzie River development area. Can you give me some information on that? To what extent is your research done in that area? Do you monitor there? Is there some scientific data available that could be provided to the development so they can minimize the impact on the fish habitats?

Dr. Clarke: We have gathered a fair amount of information on the Mackenzie River and the fish and the importance of the fish habitat to those fish. That information is available to the companies that are involved in developments over there. Also, the companies will be collecting their own information and developing environmental assessment statements that we will be reviewing for their completeness and thoroughness. Future monitoring requirements for the industry and for us would be part of our overall considerations.

Dr. Papst: I would add that it is much like our fisheries management operations in the Arctic under co-management. Our co-management arrangement for much of the Arctic is a real advantage in this case. In the case of Mackenzie and for other developments in the Arctic, we already have in place in many communities fisheries monitoring programs that were originally targeted at helping to establish the sustainable harvest levels. Those same programs - we call them community-based programs - turn out to be excellent ways to monitor potential impact. That is one of the other directions we will be using to follow up on development as it occurs in the Arctic.

Senator Watt: I have another question in regard to the beluga. I know Department of Fisheries and Oceans has been heavily involved in terms of the well-being of the beluga. This is mainly in the area of Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait and also within the Ungava Bay. I believe it is also goes up as far as Baffin Island and around that area.

There is a possibility that the species itself will be put under the endangered species legislation. From what I collected as the information last year, the scientific side was not necessarily satisfactory because the study undertaken by Fisheries and Oceans was about five years old. They were trying to apply it, and they did not do any further scientific studies after that. Do you have any knowledge in that field?

Dr. Papst: I think I can answer the question. I am not aware that there would be any concerns about identifying the beluga as a species at risk, not the whole population. There are certain stocks in the Arctic that are thought to be at lower than optimum levels and that they might be listed as threatened. I am not sure which specific stock it is that would have five-year old data. It does not surprise me.

Surveying beluga stocks to get estimates of abundance is an expensive and complicated process. It is often several years between the aerial surveys. It really is not a matter of money. It would not make sense to survey them more often because the quality of the data would not necessarily improve.

The general approach with endangered species would be to work with communities to develop recovery plans. If a species were determined to be threatened or endangered there would be a recovery plan developed for that stock. Part of that recovery process would be improving or getting more current estimates of the population. That would all be part of the process under the endangered species.

The five-year old data would not just be applied in a category given to the animal. There would be a recovery plan and with that recovery plan would come new updated research. That is my understanding of how the process would work.

The Chairman: Before I go to Senator Adams, I want to come back to a question that Senator Watt raised about the impact of oil and gas on the environment in the Arctic. I think that he mentioned the Mackenzie. I want to be absolutely sure.

Who would make the decision on an assessment of the possible impact of an oil and gas leak? Who would make a decision on a go-ahead or stop? Would it be the co-management group or would it be the minister?

I am looking for the ultimate authority here. I imagine Dr. Clarke might know the answer to my question.

Dr. Clarke: I thought you might have asked me that. Thank you, sir.

I am not sure if there is such thing as an ultimate authority. I would assume that it would rest with the federal government; I am not sure which minister it would be. It might be the Minister of Natural Resources or such like.

Certainly, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and our staff have a role to play in assessing the risks to fish and marine mammals and their habitats. Likewise, our co-management partners also have their role to play in assessing the risk. We both would be working through the environmental assessment processes that have been established for the Inuvialuit settlement region and for the Mackenzie Valley pipeline.

My recollection is that the boards established under those processes report to one of the federal ministers. That federal minister would be responsible.

The Chairman: I am assuming that the minister cannot delegate the authority that is vested in him by the Constitution of Canada. He is not empowered to delegate that authority to a local co-management group as such. I am assuming that, but I am trying to determine if there has been any kind of attempt to delegate.

Dr. Clarke: The land claims agreements do give specific responsibilities to the various boards. My recollection - and I apologize for not having the answer right in front of me - is that the boards end up making recommendations to various ministers.

The Chairman: You are absolutely right that the minister can do it if it is done through legislation. It was done through the land claims agreement in certain areas.

Dr. Clarke: I think that is how it works for the environmental assessment process.

Senator Watt: I would imagine before the development gets a green light from whomever provides it, environmental assessments would have to take place within the area that will be impacted. I presume, as well, that the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development would be notified of the extent of the impact in regard to going ahead with the development itself.

At what point do you make a trade off? How do you make the trade off, if there is any?

Dr. Clarke: I think that it is for minister and cabinet to decide if there is a need for a trade off exactly where it will occur. Our role is to provide the best possible advice that we can in terms of our responsibilities to protect fish and fish habitat.

Senator Adams: I address my question to Dr. Papst in Winnipeg. I live in Rankin Inlet, which is straight north from you. I represent all of Nunavut now. It is the territory you are monitoring for the hydrographic services in Hudson Bay.

You mentioned that PCBs, mercury and other things coming through from the river are affecting some of the people. I have heard that it is not only from rivers but also from the air. It is dropping down from the sky. In the cold weather, it hits the lakes and the land. It affects some of the caribou migration.

I want to find out more about the effect of that on the people eating country foods. Bill C-38 came out a couple of years ago, and I talked with the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Health and I said there should be more monitoring of country foods and the people who eat them. Both agreed, but due to monetary problems they could not do it.

We wanted to find out how much it affected the people in the community who are eating the caribou meat and the fish. We use frozen caribou and char. It is not cooked. How much difference is there between raw food and cooked food with these substances? Which is better for your health?

When it is polluted, I do not think it matters whether you cook it or eat it raw. I do not think it makes any difference.

How long will those people be affected by these types of pollution? How much of these pollutants get into their bodies? How long will they live? Do you do that type of monitoring?

Is it necessary to get a sample from the body or even a sample of blood from people who eat that kind of food? We would like to hear a little bit more about this.

Some of the communities have not heard much about this since I heard about it four years or five years ago. People in Broughton Island have had some effects. There were people feeding milk to the kids. They were finding they were eating the PCBs in the whale meat. Do you have some information on that? Does the government have to do more monitoring?

Dr. Papst: That is a good question, senator. Contaminants are probably the issue with which we deal most often when we go into communities. We talk to local hunters and trappers associations, and there is always concern about the contaminant levels. For the most part, the people who advise us on human health tell us it that contaminants are not a risk yet.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans does not do any human testing. Our monitoring is targeted at the animals themselves, and to a lesser extent, to the transport in the environment.

The Northern Contaminants Program is a national program that has been monitoring contaminants in northern foods. I do not have a copy of their report with me tonight, but it is an excellent document. They also produced an excellent summary that was written for use by community people, and it summarizes each of the projects that are going on in the Arctic and have gone on during the last five years.

We distribute the report to school groups when we are working in the Arctic. That kind of information is available. We try to get it out as much as possible as part of our community visits.

Again, I would like to stress that Fisheries and Oceans does not do any testing of humans. We deal strictly with the fish, the beluga and the animals.

Senator Adams: Do you remember doing any samples from caribou or other meat from any other places? I do not know if it is true or not, but I heard that some contaminants drop from the air and fall in the Arctic. Is that true?

Dr. Papst: The long-range transport, by wind and other means, into the Arctic is a major concern. I am not an expert in this particular field, but I think it is far more often that contaminants are carried into the Arctic by wind than by the rivers we were discussing earlier.

We are certainly interested in this area. We do some work in that area. A number of years ago under the Northern Contaminants Program we had a mercury and snow program with a number of schools across the Arctic where science classes collected samples of snow by following a very rigid scientific protocol. We provided all of the vials and the materials for them to do it. We also provided some background materials so that they could understand better the contaminants issue. I think that the results of that study are published in this booklet on the Northern Contaminants Program. That is the way we get the information back to the communities.

With respect to caribou, we do not do the work at Fisheries and Oceans. It has been a while since I looked at this summary of Northern Contaminants Program, but I am quite sure that there were some caribou studies in that summary.

Senator Adams: Dr. Papst, you were talking about some booklets. Which departments gave them out? Were they given to hunters and trappers? Perhaps they were left with nursing stations. I would like to find out a bit more. Perhaps I will look into it when I am in Rankin.

Dr. Papst: It is called the Northern Contaminants Program. My recollection is the publication was produced by Environment Canada, but it may have been Indian and Northern Affairs. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has a number of projects in it.

I had a box full of these little reports, and I would take them with me mostly in the western Arctic where I do my own work. We would pass them out when we were at hunter and trapper committee meetings. I think that they were mailed to hunters and trappers and to nursing stations.

I could find out for you where the publications were sent. I know that we could get more copies of them.

Senator Adams: Thank you, Dr. Papst. Send it to the committee here in Ottawa.

Senator Cook: Thank you for a very enlightening conversation tonight.

My first remark is in the way of an observation. Did I hear you say, in your conversations with Senator Watt, that you will test the food, but there is no testing done to discover the impact on the human population in the North? Did I hear that correctly?

Dr. Papst: Yes, Fisheries and Oceans tests the animals. The real focus of our work is the impact of the contaminant on the animal population because our department is responsible for that. We recognize that particularly in the Arctic the data we collect has immediate relevance to those people who harvest country foods. We provide that data to Health Canada, which has the mandate for human health. They use it as part of their risk assessment process.

We do not test the hunters. We test the hunted animals.

Senator Cook: The results of your testing, ultimately, goes to someone who has the well-being of the people of the North in mind. Would Health Canada test the population?

Dr. Papst: Health Canada does a lot of testing. I am not familiar with their program but they have testing programs looking for contaminants in humans. They take our data and use it as part of a whole risk assessment process that they have. They look at the risks of the concentrations in the food source, and then they make an assessment based on other sampling they do of humans.

Senator Cook: Could I assume that contaminant levels would indicate whether they would go further with their testing?

Dr. Papst: That has been our experience. Their action is often driven by a level that comes close to one of the existing human consumption levels that are published by Health Canada. The other factor that comes into play, however, is community concern - both for Fisheries and Oceans and other departments. Communities sometimes, understandably, will become concerned even when the risk assessment is done, and there appears to be no immediate concern. Yet there is a concern within the community. We often continue monitoring and work with Health Canada to gather more information to try to address the concern, even if no health risks have been indicated.

Mr. Martin Bergmann, Director, Arctic Science Program Development, Fisheries and Oceans Canada: Senator Cook, just to follow up on Dr. Papst's comments, this whole issue of contaminants in northern foods and how it is dealt with on the human side of the equation is a huge question not only here in Canada but internationally. We have international partners with whom we try to compare samples from different parts of the circumpolar communities to address these concerns. The waterways, the Artic Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean are all intertwined. There is always movement of contaminants back and forth.

The Northern Contaminants Program that Dr. Papst mentioned earlier is a program that is run out of the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. They are the stewards of a funding envelope that they then direct to research departments, northern agencies or Health Canada as seed money to apply against different kinds of questions.

As an issue of human health in a particular community of the North or a series of regions in the North is being questioned or is considered a risk, they direct some of their funds within that funding envelope to that department or that agency that has the expertise to collect that information.

For example, if a community were concerned about beluga contaminants, they then have the ability to go to a department or to an outside group and encourage that kind of research to be done. This whole linkage to which Dr. Papst has referred, is that we gather the information from the top of the food chain; another department studies consumption.

However, DIAND, through that Northern Contaminants Program is leading the research. They are posing these questions and working with the departments. They have the ability to move those funds around although they do struggle with the size of that envelope.

Senator Cook: Once you acquire this evidence-based information, I would hope that there would be strong enough linkages within departments to see that the impact is minimal on the population of the North with respect to any contaminants that you might have found.

Who is ultimately responsible for fish habitats in the North?

Mr. Bergmann: That question should go to Dr. Clarke who manages the habitat program.

Dr. Clarke: The Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Senator Cook: Who is responsible for the health of fish?

Dr. Clarke: The Department of Fisheries and Oceans. It is part of our overall stewardship and conservation responsibilities.

The Chairman: I would like to come back to a question asked by Senator Mahovlich earlier to Dr. Cooley on the subject of climate change.

I would like to zero in on the North. During our visits to the northern communities, we understood that the climate change is a great concern to the people in that region. It has been said in the past that the North is like a canary in a mineshaft - it is an early warning system of what would eventually happen in the south.

Concerns about the state of research in the north were brought to our attention when we went to the North in 2000. That year, a joint task force on northern research, established by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, NSERC, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, SSHRC, reported that Canadian research in the region was in a state of crisis. They warned that, if action were not taken, Canada would not be able to meet international science and research obligations or contribute to issues of global importance or meet our basic national obligation to monitor, manage and safeguard northern environment or respond to emerging social issues.

My question then follows from those opening comments. Are we meeting our international science and research obligations? Is what the joint task force is saying accurate?

Dr. Cooley: I will ask Mr. Bergmann to comment on the role that DFO is playing in some of the climate change studies that are ongoing in the Arctic.

It is a very difficult to answer your question as to whether or not what we are doing is enough. You never want to ask a scientist whether he has enough money to do his research. The answer to that question is totally predictable. Of course we could use more dollars in a fruitful way to do more.

The issue of climate change and developing climate change models, however, is more than any one department or country could possibly expect to resolve. This is one of those issues that begs for international cooperation on a global scale. DFO scientists are certainly involved in that in a big way, and both Mr. Bergmann and I regularly attend an annual of the Arctic Oceans Sciences Board - which is a meeting of polar nations to talk about issues like climate change.

There is much being done. Mr. Bergmann, perhaps you would like to add your comments to this particular question.

Mr. Bergmann: Senator Comeau, you have asked a very good question. You are referring to a report by the NSERC task force that was well received in Canada by northerners as well as departments and universities in the south. It has also been shared internationally. It makes some strong comments about Canada's position on Arctic science. The term "crisis" is not a word that can be easily used nowadays. However, it is clear that Arctic science is an area where more investment is definitely required if we are to be in a good position to answer management questions now and into the future when we are dealing with the big global questions such as climate change.

Regarding your point about the Arctic being the "canary in the mineshaft," to the best of the knowledge of the global scientific community that is indeed the case. From every angle you look at this question, the North keeps coming up as being the bell weather for what is really happening. There are a lot of supporting data regarding what the individual issues are, but there is no doubt that there are tremendous changes going on.

The task force clearly states that Canada, at times is not upholding its end of the bargain on international science. That is a tough way of putting it. Canada has a huge amount of real estate in the Arctic. Given our population base and other considerations, we must search for how we should focus on the North vis-à-vis all the other territorial responsibilities from the point of view of science. The task force tries to point out is that there is a real need to build partnerships where we can to deal with the North.

Dr. Cooley made a point about asking a scientist if he has enough money for research and he will always answer that he could use more resources. That depends on the comfort level that you have in making decisions with limited information. With certain issues, you can deal with a level of information and feel confident that your confidence limits are what you want. However, if you are asked tough questions such as to whether you can harvest 10 animals, plus or minus one, or 10 animals, plus or minus 10, are two very different questions to a scientist in terms of the level of information required.

Certainly, internationally, we have seen a lot of interest by our partners to work in the Canadian Arctic and on circumpolar issues because of this awareness that the North is not merely a frozen area on the planet where inputs and outputs do not matter, but it is a dynamic part of the earth. Under a climate change scenario, it is even more dynamic. The inputs and outputs are more important. People realize that it is affecting their lives, not only in the circumpolar communities but elsewhere.

Your question was whether Canada is doing enough international science. All I can tell you will is that we get more phone calls from our international partners about doing joint work with them than we can handle.

The Chairman: I am interested in the transfer of Arctic char eggs to the south for the purposes of aquaculture. If that is outside your jurisdiction, you do not need to answer the question. Are you aware of such eggs being transferred to the south for aquaculture purposes?

Dr. Papst: I should field that question. If you did a bibliography check on my name, you would find it attached to some of the research on Arctic char eggs brought in from two places in the Arctic - one place in northern Labrador in the 1980s, and the Kent Peninsula in the Northwest Territories in the late 1970s. Both of these are research projects that are no longer being conducted by Fisheries and Oceans.

Since that time, in both the Northwest Territories and in Nunavut, the co-management boards and the local communities have made it clear that that is not a line of research that they want to see continued. We have not actively pursued that for a number of years. There were some transfers in the early 1970s and 1980s.

The Chairman: That leads me to a couple of other questions. My understanding is that there are some fish farms now raising Arctic char in the south. I am not familiar with exactly where they are. I read this weekend that there is one starting in Nova Scotia.

I am somewhat surprised that it is happening because these people have to get their eggs and brood stock from somewhere so they can replenish the fish they are raising. If you bring eggs to the south, would it not be considered as introduction of an exotic species? Is it not somewhat similar to what was done on the west coast when Atlantic salmon were introduced there? Would we not be introducing a species that is not native to the south if we did bring in stock raising Arctic char in those areas?

Dr. Papst: Arctic char have both a polar and subpolar distribution. Arctic char raised for the agriculture operations, to which you refer, are being raised from brood stock that exists in the south. The vast majority of them originate from those original spawn takings back in the late 1980s. These stocks are being raised in commercial outlets. The seed stock is coming from that source. Most Arctic communities, for a number of reasons - both economic and cultural - have voiced the opinion that they do not want to see any further transfers from the Arctic.

There is a transfer committee in the Northwest Territories that looks at requests for stocking. I do not think that they have approved anything in terms of transfer of Arctic char for a number of years. In Nunavut, the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board in cooperation with the hunters and trappers committees and the communities have developed a live capture policy that essentially forbids that kind of movement or live capture of animals for those reasons. Such movement and live capture cannot be done for aquaculture or even for research purposes except for very specific reasons.

The Chairman: The char date back to the 1980s, which would mean that there would be considerable interbreeding. I presume that after all these years those poor Arctic char are playing duelling banjos now.

Dr. Papst: It is not quite that bad, but there are issues of inbreeding, yes.

Senator Watt: I am not too sure whether I fully understood you when you were saying that Arctic char eggs were taken from the Arctic to the south in the 1980s. Do you know if Fisheries and Oceans has a policy that allows that to be done? If there is no such policy, should not the federal government act to put some order into it?

Dr. Papst: I have two comments to make. Even in the 1980s there was a requirement to have agreement prior to taking such action. In that period, people agreed to the transfer of those stocks to the south for research into fish culture. At that time, it was considered to be a potential for developing industry in the North as well as in the South.

There are protocols that require you to meet certain disease transfer conditions. Since 1980, both the Northwest Territories and Nunavut have policies regarding transfer. Fisheries and Oceans either participates on the transfer committee, which we do in the NWT, or, we abide by the Nunavut government's live capture recommendation, which is essentially to not allow live capture.

In short, if the decision to move eggs were to be made today, it would rest with the communities.

Senator Watt: If they are going to be transferred into a lake system, which would provide warmer water allowing the fish to grow faster, would that not require an environmental assessment according to the Department of the Environment?

Dr. Papst: Yes, it would.

Senator Watt: In other words, the federal government could step in if one of the provinces is acting in its own interests and transferring those fish somewhere else?

Dr. Papst: Yes.

Senator Watt: I participated in the early stages of the circumpolar cooperations - it was called the Arctic Council. During discussions on whether certain scientific research truly needed to be undertaken at the international level, they preoccupied themselves with making accommodation strictly for political reasons and not so much for scientific purposes. Does Fisheries and Oceans benefit as a result of the Arctic Council in terms of their fact-finding and scientific research that is being undertaken by different Arctic countries?

Mr. Bergmann: The Arctic Council has evolved, as you know, over the last number of years. A series of disciplines has been developed within the Arctic Council to develop certain kinds of research that are conducted in different places. The Arctic Council now consists of the Convention on Arctic Flora and Fauna. It also includes the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment. There is a series of other organizations that have come together or have been born as part of the Arctic Council formation.

Depending on the agency or the university involvement, Canada is represented on many of these committees to help structure international interests in those areas. We benefit very much from the community of knowledge that is formed by those individual groups that belong to the Arctic Council. The two major departments involved in the Arctic Council are DIAND and DFAIT. We link into those departments as required in terms of attending certain meetings that have certain scientific components that we can help the country address.

Senator Watt: I imagine that Canada benefits from the scientific findings, but I am not sure whether the people who live in the Arctic actually benefit from the information that is being circulated. I have some doubts about that. For example, we are talking about the impact on the fish, but we do not seem to really care about the impact on human beings. Maybe the Senate should create a new committee. Perhaps it should be called the human species environmental contaminant committee.

Mr. Bergmann: Senator Watt, you touch on a good point. We are dealing with an ecosystem. It is a very complex mechanism of how various components of the food web interact with each other. There is a real struggle in terms of trying to develop multidisciplinary programs that can cross-link nations and cross-link departments and agencies to collect information about the North where so much information is still required.

The Arctic Council is still fairly new. It is eight years or nine years old, or perhaps even 10 years old. I know that Mary Simon has been very busy on that file. My understanding is that the Artic Council is looking for certain key research issues with which to align themselves in terms of moving forward in their new format of the Arctic Council.

They have created the University of the Arctic as a virtual organization that would allow people in the North to gain post-secondary quality studies and such. It is an evolving body. You are right when you say that it struggles with the dissemination of information - both in Canada and internationally.

Senator Watt: I am talking about the ecosystem. I live in the region that seems to be heavily affected by the climate change, the global warming per se. The vegetation seems to be growing wild in the subarctic. Does it matter what is happening up in the High Arctic?

Not so long ago I was sitting in my living room I heard the temperature was going to be 42 below zero and it was raining. Something is happening. It is a reality.

We are talking about fish habitat, and we seem to be moving in the direction of going through the catch up on things that we did not do before in terms of being concerned about the fish. Climate change is also another big issue that is coming around the corner. It will be affecting all the species that exist in this planet.

We are so far away from having a clear understanding as to what to do. The scientific community seems to be doing the studies but they are not reaching conclusions. Those who live in the Artic are getting a little tired of that. The scientists talk and talk, but there is no action. When they do find a solution, they seem to come short of acting upon it.

Mr. Bergmann: Senator Watt, you raise a very good point. However, one of the struggles is that on a question like climate change, you have to look at variability over a long period of time to assess whether a change is variable, or whether there is an actual change.

Senator Watt: There is an actual change. It is not maybe; it is definite.

Senator Johnson: I had a question regarding international cooperation that hinges on what both you and Senator Watt were talking about, Mr. Chairman. I think that Mr. Bergmann could probably answer this.

I am sure that you are aware of the federal government's "Northern Dimensions of Canada's Foreign Policy" that was adopted in June 2000. Could you enlighten our committee about the major components or aspects of this, particularly in respect to the other issues raised here today both in terms of the Arctic Council and circumpolar cooperation? Is this new policy doing anything at this point? Will it? Is it helping?

Mr. Bergmann: I am familiar with "Northern Dimensions of Canada's Foreign Policy."

Senator Johnson: Is it merely an extension of the current policy?

Mr. Bergmann: Our department contributed some information to that project. I do not have many details with me. In terms international issues, it is a document that we will use to look at mechanisms of improving international information exchange and such. My understanding is that this initiative was led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and is at a stage where there is still much discussion about the policy itself. I would be happy to get more information and provide it to you.

Senator Johnson: There are many arctic areas in the world. Obviously, we are not the only ones with contaminants and all these problems. The whole point of the policy was to try to work together internationally on solving these issues. I have not heard anything about this policy since it was announced. I was curious to know if anything had been done under that policy yet. Has it had any impact internationally in terms of our work with other countries, like Finland, Norway, Iceland, Scandinavia or Russia, all these countries that are part of the northern dimension? It would be great if you were to get back to me on that.

Mr. Bergmann: I will do that.

Senator Adams: Right now around the High Arctic research scientists are studying Mars. Has that been approved by the federal government or the Department of Indian Affairs? How do those people get the right to be there?

I know that they built a science building in the High Arctic. The Americans built it. How do those guys approach it? How does this system work?

Mr. Bergmann: Dr. Papst could probably answer part of this, as well. My understanding is that the NASA program to which you are referring, the Mars Program on Devon Island, did gain approval. The research that the Americans are conducting has gone through the proper channels for permits and licensing. They have had discussions at some level with the Nunavut government. That is my understanding. Natural Resources Canada, through the Polar Continental Shelf Project, is also involved.

I do not have the details. Perhaps Dr. Papst has more knowledge or details about the topic.

Dr. Papst: I know that Nunavut has had an active licensing program that requires community input for any research in Nunavut.

Senator Cook: On a lighter note, and this is an open question, gentlemen, I know that you need a licence to sell fish. Do you need a licence to sell fish eggs. If so, who issues the licence?

Dr. Papst: That is a good question. Fisheries and Oceans would have to approve any transfer of fish under our fish health protection regulations. I am not sure that is really a licence, though.

The Chairman: You can get back to us on that one.

Dr. Clarke: I would say that we usually do not issue licences to sell things. We issue licences to catch things. If it is involves the catching of adult fish to take the eggs, then you would have to have a licence from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans or whatever appropriate jurisdiction.

With regard to the transportation of eggs there might be fish health regulation concerns as well, which would have to be met.

Senator Cook: I do not know which comes first, the chicken or the egg, but you have to catch that fish to get the eggs.

Senator Watt had a question that he put my way. He would like to know which country is presently chairing the Arctic Council?

Mr. Bergmann: I believe it was the Americans until recently. I think that it is being transferred to Finland, but I am not sure. It may still be the Americans, but we can get that information for you as well.

The Chairman: On behalf of the committee, I would like to thank all of you for giving your time this evening. It has been most informative, and we very much appreciate it. We hope that we could come back to you in the future as we go through our program.

You have passed immensely important information to us tonight.

If it is agreeable with members of the committee, we should enter as an exhibit the material provided by the landholding corporation that was given to us last week. Is it agreed that it be filed as exhibit, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Dr. Cooley: On behalf of the DFO officials here this evening I would like to thank your committee for taking the time to speak to us about these topics, which are very close to us. You may have seen Mr. Bergmann arrive with a bag. We have, for each of the senators and some of the people who have been helping out, the much-coveted DFO science T-shirt that we hope you will wear with pride as we do. Once again, thank you very much for your time.

The committee adjourned.

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