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Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on

Issue 13 - Evidence

OTTAWA, Tuesday, November 20, 2001

The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries met this day at 7:06 p.m. to examine matters relating to the fishing industry.

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


The Chairman: Honourable senators, I call the meeting to order.

In July 2000, in keeping with the committee's mandate and desire to visit Canada's regions, a working group of committees travelled to Nunavut and the Northwest Territories to learn more about their fisheries. Accompanying committee members were Dr. Arthur Hanson and Mr. Geoffrey Holland, who had just been appointed Canada's ocean ambassadors and who had been asked by Minister Dhaliwal to develop a list of potential candidates to form the new Minister's Advisory Council on Oceans.

Mr. Holland is a former Senior Science Administrator with DFO and a former head of the International Oceanographic Commission. Dr. Hanson is a senior scientist and former President of the International Institute for Sustainable Development and a former Director of the Dalhousie University School for Resource and Environmental Studies.

I welcome our witnesses this evening. This is an opportune time for these witnesses to appear before us, given that we will soon examine the area of fish habitat and habitat in general. They may be able to direct us in the area of oceans, which will be helpful to us in our future studies.

Mr. Holland, please proceed with your comments and then we will have questions.

Mr. Geoffrey L. Holland, Consultant, 2WE Associates Consulting Ltd.: This is an opportunity for us to recount some of the things we found out during an extensive tour of Canada, where we visited more than 350 people over two very hectic months. We will be willing to share some of our interactions with Canadians later on.

I will ask Mr. Hanson to take over now.

Dr. Arthur J. Hanson, International Institute for Sustainable Development: We had three purposes. The first was to find candidates for our Minister's Advisory Council on Oceans, which has now been set up. We had close to 120 candidates identified and from that group we have eight members for the council. Geoff and I are serving ex officio in our role as ministerial ocean ambassadors.

The second purpose, which I think is particularly relevant this evening, is that we were mandated to seek the views of Canadians in a variety of sectors concerning ocean use and management. We sent a copy of that 56-page report of our findings to you.

It was fascinating and we both felt privileged to have had this opportunity. We met with over 300 Canadians. The areas we travelled to are indicated on the map that is being projected on the wall. We entitled this presentation this evening, "From Sea to Sea to Sea" because we went to all three of our major ocean spaces.

We learned that, wherever you travel in Canada, people have many different perspectives, which is true in the oceans sector as in every other sector, and that there are 1,000 stories to tell. We will not be able to tell anywhere close to that number tonight. I say that in all seriousness because there are many local initiatives and different aspects being pursued in different parts of the country. It is important that we capture some of that. Habitats and the economic circumstances are different in the three ocean spaces that we visited.

In part, our effort was also designed to raise awareness of the Oceans Act, which was enacted in the early part of 1997. It is quite a unique piece of legislation, and is the only oceans act anywhere in the world. The United States has recently developed a new piece of legislation that you might want to inquire about. However, its Oceans Act is still more or less in its early stages. I will return to that topic later in our discussion.

As you can see from the map, we tried to visit most parts of the country. We extend our apologies to anybody from Saskatchewan because that was the one area we were unable to visit. We went to Calgary to learn about oil and gas issues. I live in Manitoba and I always remind people that Manitoba is also one of our Maritime provinces because we have a shoreline on Hudson Bay. I never let people forget that.

We considered issues from the perspective of DFO's five regions. We had the full cooperation of the staff in doing so. We tried to focus on areas where we felt we might find evidence of integrated ocean planning and management. We spoke with people from major and smaller ports, oil and gas sector and fisheries and aquaculture. We spoke also with people interested in protected areas, with people in Aboriginal communities and other coastal communities and we tried to engage in discussion with people from the high-tech sectors as well.

We had the good fortune - and we much appreciated the opportunity - to join in your travels during the committee's visits to the Arctic at the same time. I travelled to the Western Arctic and Mr. Holland was able to go to Nunavut. This was helpful.

I will mention a few points about our findings. In our report, we have presented the views of individuals and of groups. The expressions are not necessarily our personal opinions about our findings. We tried to be fairly faithful in reporting what we heard. Even though we met with many people, we recognize that we probably did not get a full representation of what is really a broad set of perspectives about oceans.

We tried, as much as possible, not to simply talk to people who are "experts" on the oceans - academics et cetera - but to talk to people who make their living from the oceans, who live on the oceans and who often could be characterized as having a love of the oceans. That point was strongly endorsed in Nova Scotia by a person in the fishing industry who said those are the sorts of people to whom we should be talking.

Our findings covered a number of different areas, but the next area, which Mr. Holland will discuss, deals with the knowledge that is absolutely essential for proceeding on anything related to ocean management.

Mr. Holland: One thing that emerged loud and clear from all sectors of the ocean community was: knowledge and information are basic requirements for good management. In respect to the oceans, lack of knowledge and information is more severe than for most terrestrial ecosystems or management situations. The knowledge that we are talking about is not only sourced from government labs and agencies, but also from academia, industry and traditional knowledge in the coastal and native communities.

When you consider the size of Canada's coastline, which is arguably the longest in the world, we have one-half as much of Canada's land mass offshore - under our jurisdiction within the 200-mile extended economic zone. The only way that we can tackle the need for knowledge and information within the national context and the global issues of oceans that impact on our national coastal and ocean areas is to cooperate with all sources of knowledge within Canada and the international community.

We have to learn to make the most effective use of what we have. We have to set priorities so that we are able to tackle the sensitive and needy areas of our coastal zone first. We must make decisions that leave the less vulnerable parts of our marine environment for later times.

There must be a better framework for a dialogue between and amongst sources of knowledge and users of knowledge. This covers a large area and will be quite expensive, so we must make the best use of what we have available to us.

Dr. Hanson: The Oceans Act is based on three concepts: integrated management, sustainable development and the precautionary approach. At least for the first two of these, we would like to give some perspectives on what we heard and what we believe to be the current situation. I will start with a discussion of the integrated management side and then Mr. Holland and I will both speak to sustainable development.

Integrated management links back to taking an ecological approach, or a cross-sector approach, in dealing with the impacts of one sector on another. It is not easy to do this in practice, and it is certainly something that we are just at the beginning stages of learning - it is beginning to happen. We found interesting examples. On the West Coast, in Clayoquot Sound, interesting things are happening. On the East Coast there are several cases involving activities off the Scotian Shelf that relate to the whole set of issues surrounding oil and gas development, to different ways of pursuing fisheries and the need for protected areas. Other interesting cases are the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Gulf of Maine. In the North, there will be great need for integrated management in the Beaufort Sea, in certain areas of Nunavut and, certainly, if there is oil and gas development, in the areas of the Western Arctic.

Interesting experiments are occurring, but stalls occur. People develop a sense of trust in working relationships. That is difficult because every one gives something up to pursue a common greater good. When the effort stalls, perhaps for bureaucratic or other reasons, there is fear that all will fall apart. People become upset and there is fear that government follow-up is often inadequate for the new needs of integrated management.

We would like to underline that as an important message. When you think about integrated management, habitat becomes an important part of the integrating aspect of it. One habitat is the ocean space, but another habitat, on the West Coast for example, includes everything from the top of the mountain down to the sea. We must link forestry and fisheries and so on.

The Oceans Act is an enabling piece of legislation. That should be underlined. It should facilitate and catalyze the integrated management approach. Yet, people are only discovering how to use it in this way. The capacity and understanding of how to engage stakeholders for integrated management is still at an early stage. However, the experiments are happening.

An important part of this is, throughout the country, we found that local people were seizing opportunities and they were not waiting for government to act first. A good example of this is Clayoquot Sound, where there were head-on collisions between the different sectors. They are now putting most of that behind them because they have learned to cooperate and they are anxious to get on with creating sustainable livelihoods for greater wealth within the community. That area presents an interesting opportunity.

Now, we have to ask: can government and industry follow up adequately to foster that kind of opportunity to create even greater opportunities?

There is a considerable amount of goodwill for exploring new directions on all three coasts. However, the take-home message we received from many people is that the initiatives have to be brought to the implementation stage or people will lose faith in integrated approaches. The bottom line is that many of the existing initiatives are still highly experimental and could be characterized as fragile.

Here in the South, we all have much to learn from what has happened in the North in relation to land claim settlements. In both the case of Nunavut and some of the older land claim settlements, such as the Inuvialuit, a new strength exists. I am sure, senators, that you must have sensed this in your travels there. There is strength in having good principles with which to negotiate so that management bodies such as the fish and game boards, et cetera can be developed.

Many of these come back to habitat issues in managing what the people of the North call it "the land" and we call "the land and the sea." They perceive the frozen lands, the ice floes and the water as one. They are all part of the land and the habitat that is so important to their well-being.

As we move forward, we think there are many good experiments in place. We should be highlighting these and, in some cases, celebrating these as success stories, or potential success stories.

I will turn the floor over to Dr. Holland to begin our discussion on sustainable development.

Dr. Holland: The oceans will be developed further; there is no doubt about that. Some development will follow the more traditional lines. Even the oil and gas industry is becoming more a traditional development than it would have been 30 years ago. It is becoming commonplace.

The fisheries will be with us always, hopefully, and aquaculture is coming up. There are also new developments such as pharmaceuticals from the sea and the use of sea water for distilling fresh water. The latter is likely not a problem for Canada, but in the Middle East some countries derive more than one-half of their fresh water from the sea with distillation plants.

In Canada, we will probably increase our port development and our coastal transportation, with subsequent impacts on the coastal zone. However, we have to consider these in a sustainable way. There will be controversy over some new developments because of their impacts and conflicts.

On the West Coast, there is a moratorium on oil and gas, which was put in place many years ago because of fisheries concerns. With the downturn of the economy there will be pressures to lift that moratorium, we are sure. We heard rumours about the concerns of environmentalists on one side of this and about the economic concerns on the other side. There are even conflicts between the two halves of living resources - the wild fisheries and aquaculture. There are also concerns about coastal development and the impact it will have on shellfish and the overall health of the coastal waters. Sustainable development means exactly what it says: we must leave behind an environment and resources that are appropriate for generations to come, which are at least equivalent to what we currently have.

There is also a place for high-technology in the oceans. As we develop more of these activities in the coastal and marine areas, we will need the technology to go along with them. We will need the ability to lay fibre optic cables to undersea research stations. This is being discussed under the innovation funding of the government. We might be monitoring the tectonic plate off the West Coast, for example.

Ecotourism is a huge, growing industry in some areas - we have all heard of whale watching. Can we manage to sustain the environment that supports the ecotourism industry?

Dr. Hanson: We have a vast open space, we think. It is interesting to consider any of our three coasts using an overlay method of different activities. Most dramatic is the map of Nova Scotia. Using the overlay method, you would see all the oil lease sites, then you would see the cable sites, then you would see the fishing zones, and then, you would try to find space for all the different kinds of protected areas that are needed. At that point, you would throw up your hands and say that it was impossible, or you could try to do something about it.

This all relates to habitat, of course. We find that the habitat of the sea is one thing, but if we think about where the sources of marine pollution are, we also have to think about the watersheds and the fact that most of the pollution comes from land-based sources. We have a rather complicated pathway ahead.

The sense we have, after these discussions with so many people, is that it will worsen, probably faster than we think, because many of these technologies are advancing rapidly and the capacity to do anything about it is, perhaps, moving along more slowly because that creates a need for institutional change, and so forth.

Realizing the full potential of ocean sustainable development will be difficult. It requires much better conflict resolution and decision making to address a full range of concerns and to bring together the understandings of stakeholders. These are easy things to say, but they are difficult to carry out in practice. If we do not do these things, the economic and social benefits that could be derived from the ocean will be circumscribed in various ways. I am sure you can appreciate this, given your past work in aquaculture, which is currently an area of intense conflict.

To achieve sustainable development will require many new investment mechanisms, about which we heard a great deal. We heard that people do not want to repeat the mistakes of fisheries of the past. They seek new things: new approaches that, in some cases, involve community trust approaches to fisheries; investment in protected areas in various ways, not necessarily only through the federal government, and, as Mr. Holland has alluded to, in some of the high-technology areas, a massive investment in technology for sustainable purposes such as fibre optic devices.

There is also the important matter of the resolution of rights and responsibilities. This is an issue for Aboriginals in the coastal zone. It is a complex issue, but equally, we heard much about the need for better zoning so that people have a better sense of where they can do certain things and where they cannot. This is complicated. It is essential that we work this out better than we did in the past.

What is the appropriate knowledge of sustainable development and who should have access to it? We found that if one is talking about even the indicators of sustainable development, it is not clear what those indicators ought to be. In terms of access, there are considerable complaints that there is not a full and easy access to the available knowledge base that is required for reaching decisions. This is complicated because of the numerous stakeholders and different levels of government. Municipal governments have a great information need, for example.

I will turn now to the Oceans Act, about which some people have expressed considerable concern. They perceive it as a new source of uncertainty and potential regulation. As an aside, I read the report from the House of Commons fisheries committee, which just completed a review of the Oceans Act. One of the conclusions was that the act should have more regulations attached to it. To me, the question is: why would you take an enabling piece of legislation and weigh it down with regulations? It is not the Fisheries Act, after all. There are interesting points about what kind of activities should be done under the Oceans Act and in what order.

Some people fear that the Oceans Act, because it has a focus on marine protected areas, will have the potential for excluding some existing or future uses of the oceans in certain areas. We also found exactly the opposite view. Other people view the Oceans Act as a mechanism to foster opportunity to provide a better guarantee of sustainable activities, to reduce conflicts and to optimize use.

Unfortunately, though, in the majority of cases, even of people who live in ocean parts of the country, the act is still not well understood. For some people, it is not even well known. A lot of work has to be done to develop various aspects of the Oceans Act and to create a sense that it will not be used in such a way as to harm large numbers of the current ocean users.

Mr. Holland: We heard many comments on the state of our oceans, not just about catastrophic pollution from spillage, but about chronic pollution from sewage outputs and tank washings from industrial sources, et cetera. The comments also covered the full range of types of pollution. We heard that cottages around Îles-de-la-Madeleine were polluting lagoons because of bad septic systems. In Victoria, the perennial question is whether the Strait of Juan de Fuca has enough dynamics and mixing to take care of Victoria's pollution. In some areas such as Placentia Bay it was the increased tanker traffic and so on that was a problem.

In the Arctic, one thing that impressed both Art and me was not the danger of global warming and climate change, but the actual happening of global warming and climate change. In Iqaluit, for example, I heard that in the last seven years there had been five instances of thunderstorms - four were in the last two years, and three were in the last two weeks that we were there. Thunderstorms are common enough, but in a semi-arid place like the Arctic, a thunderstorm could have catastrophic effects on the fairly delicate permafrost. That environment is not accustomed to thunderstorms.

We also heard about the loss of ice. In Ottawa, we think that less ice is a good thing. However, in the North, ice is an important part of the environment and the ecological base. Without the ice, polar bears would not survive in their present state. Many seal populations use the ice for calving. If the ice disappears, do we lose the seals? Can the Inuit continue to hunt in the winter if the sea ice will not bear their weight? Climate change in the Arctic over the next 10 to 15 years will be a major problem.

We have all heard of fish declines. We must have adequate knowledge of the environmental conditions to amend our fish management techniques and algorithms to take account of environmental conditions so that they are more robust and more believable.

We have much to cover if we are to have accurate state of the ocean reports. For example, we do not even know the symmetry of the Arctic Ocean to within 100 metres, in many areas. One hydrographer said, "But you know, we know the back of the moon to within one metre."

There is a requirement for a ministerial comprehensive national report. This would cover the state of the oceans environmentally and how we are to implement the Oceans Act in terms of improving or understanding the state of our oceans.

Dr. Hanson: We also heard that people perceived the oceans from a security perspective. This was particularly relevant from a traditional security perspective in the Arctic where currently there is no requirement for ships moving throughout the Arctic to provide their designated course. That is quite remarkable.

We also heard from individuals in the military and in the Coast Guard about serious examples of ships appearing suddenly and without any rational explanation for being there. The ship could be anything from an old rust bucket to a Russian ice-breaker tourist ship. Some end up visiting sites that are sacred to the people - archaeologically significant sites - and there is no real regulation along the coastline. That is one kind of security issue.

We heard much about what we could typify as environmental security. The feeling is that there is inadequate monitoring, from a public health perspective, of shellfish closures that sometimes take place, not because there is necessarily a red tide, but because they are not well enough monitored and they are just automatically shut down and then there is no livelihood from potential shellfish harvest.

Another, as the chair of this committee would know well, is the ship-whale collisions issue in the Gulf of Maine and the Bay of Fundy area. It is a serious problem and one for which we can envision solutions being developed locally. The one that surprised us most was the widespread fear of oil spills. We heard from people in the tourism industry and in the fishing community who genuinely fear that one day they will wake up to find their livelihood no longer exists because of an oil spill. Whether that is fully justified, the fear is definitely there.

Finally, there is much discussion - and I hope some questions will emerge on this area - about marine protected areas. The sense is that they could give us a little bit more protection if there are areas where fish will be safe and they will be a source of regeneration. It is certainly no secret, compared with our still inadequately protected areas on land, we are back at the beginning of the 20th century in relation to the marine areas. With national protected areas, we are literally at that stage.

There is a great deal of discussion about representative marine areas. There would have to be more than 20 of these to fully represent the marine areas of Canada. For all the reasons that we want to protect areas, at the present time this is totally inadequate.

I would like to turn to some conclusions. One important and significant conclusion is that the land and sea are still being treated as if they were separate management entities. It is only now that we are beginning to have leadership initiatives on how to link them. Concerning the Mackenzie River system, the Fraser River Basin, the Strait of Georgia region, the issues surrounding the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes, we must determine how they all connect and what kind of pollutants enter these systems.

I would like to take one little example that will appeal to those from Manitoba. It is a place that we do not think of as an ocean province, but it is. We have water coming across the Prairies, in the Assiniboine River and others, from the Rockies. We have water coming up from the United States through the Red River - 70 per cent of the water in the Red River comes from the U.S. - and from Northwestern Ontario. All of the water varies in quality as it enters Lake Winnipeg and then flows into Hudson Bay.

We have some obligations, actually, and there is a meeting later this month called the "Global Plan of Action for Land-based Sources of Marine Pollution" which is being convened by Canada in Montreal. We have signed agreements that we have to be careful about what we put into the sea from the land base. Do we know what is going into that lake system from all these rivers? What is it doing to the ecology of Hudson Bay? We have no clue. We have a great deal of learning to do and we have to find new ways to think about things. That is just one example of many.

The point is that, as has already been stated, the investment in ocean knowledge acquisition and the dissemination of that information is insufficient at the present time. We still have many fragmented, non-harmonized, inconsistent policies that really are frustrating modern ocean development and sustainable use.

Continuing on, we also heard from many people about the need for participatory methods; community and full management approaches and partnerships involving industry, government and community. We also have some good working models in place, particularly in the North where we have the land settlement agreements, and elsewhere in the country where we have integrated management efforts that are underway.

To reiterate what was said earlier, new investment approaches are being identified, and this may prove useful for the longer term.

Mr. Holland: Ocean management requires dedicated funding but probably more than anything, it requires people - and not just government people. We have to motivate ocean communities. Governments can provide seed money and facilitation by putting the necessary frameworks in place, but we have to motivate the ocean communities to achieve ocean management.

Ocean observation and research is expensive, and we have a small tax base. We need international cooperation, and we must take advantage of the various sources of data, whether that is traditional or academic knowledge or from research institutes.

Canada does not act on its oceans issues in a vacuum. We require partnership with other countries. We must address our international obligations, whether that is the UN Fisheries Agreement that has just come into force or the UN Law of the Sea convention, which hopefully Canada will sign in the next year or so, or international agreements on land-based sources or persistent organic pollutants. We must act in concert with the international community.

Canada has been the envy of many countries in the world because of its Oceans Act. However, only a small part of that act has been realized thus far. The chairman referred to that earlier when we were talking. We have a long way to go with implementation, but at least we have the legislation in place. It is a crucial time now because people are beginning to wonder when the Oceans Act will be implemented. We know that there is a document before cabinet dealing with the implementation of the act. This is a good time now to examine what the government is doing.

Ocean use and management will grow more complex. It is a huge and difficult task. However, we have to act because foreclosure will occur if we do not integrate our management process.

We must report fully, accurately and regularly on the state of the ocean and by so doing we will be able to take our national reporting into the international community as an example. Reporting should not only be in the context of the environment, but also in the context of how we respond to social, economic and other factors that influence our use of the oceans. As I alluded to before, it would be a good thing if the minister were tasked with giving an annual state of the oceans report in the House.

Dr. Hanson: I will conclude with one short observation. For the future, dealing with Canada's oceans is something that requires strategies that are from the grass roots to global levels. The oceans is a global commons, but action to manage it and to use the habitats wisely, always comes back to the grass roots level - the activities that people do on the ground. That is the challenge that faces us now.

At the global level, Mr. Holland and I will both be in Paris for preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, which is a one-week session to consider the role of oceans, integrated management and how much progress has been achieved worldwide on these subjects. We will be there early next month as part of the Canadian group. We will want to tell many stories about what Canada is and is not doing. In September 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development there will be a chance to reframe the global perspective on the oceans. The challenge for us in Canada, because we have so much of it and so many interesting things that are just beginning, is to determine whether we will be a leader or a follower in the reality of what is happening on the ground, whether in Nunavut or Clayoquot Sound or the Scotian Shelf or any of the other interesting and lovely ocean areas of our country.

We are happy that we could make this presentation and we look forward to your questions.

The Chairman: We are delighted that you were able to appear before us this evening to make your presentation.

Before I go to questions I have one quick clarification question. I believe you noted in your opening comments that Canada was unique in that it is the only country in the world to have an oceans act. Did I hear that correctly?

Dr. Hanson: That is not quite correct. There are other countries, such as the United States, that have put in place something called an oceans act. The Americans, basically, just set up an oceans commission to investigate the state of the oceans in the United States and how the U.S. should be moving on its use of the oceans. In a way, we are ahead of them.

Certain other countries such as Australia and New Zealand have policies. When we get people from two countries like Australia and Canada coming together, there is good interaction on oceans. The Australians tell us that they have some interesting policies, but they wish they had an oceans act. The Canadian response is that we have an interesting Oceans Act, but we wish we had policies. There is a lot of looking over each other's shoulders. If you go to the European countries, you will not find an oceans act, but you will find all sorts of legislation that attempt to address oceans.

The other thing that is important to mention is that coming out of the Rio conventions and the Agenda 21 of the Rio Earth Summit was one of the most important pieces of legislation in Canada, which actually embraces and tries to take those ideas forward in a domestic piece of legislation.

The Chairman: It is a comprehensive framework document. The Oceans Act was signed by former President Clinton in 2000, and it was a narrower piece of legislation, even though it is called the Oceans Act.

Dr. Hanson: Yes. It is also important to note that the United States has had legislation in place for a long time that addresses some of the concerns that we try to address in our Oceans Act. For example, there is the 1972 Coastal Zone Management Act, which was a far-sighted piece of legislation in the United States. Its actual experience, in some ways, is more in-depth than ours.

Senator Johnson: Congratulations to you both on your appointments. I know a lot about Mr. Hanson's work, and I have learned more about Mr. Holland's work. We have had an excellent presentation today. You have covered many of the areas of concern.

It is a continuing work in progress, and I do not think we have even scratched the surface. We are at the tip of the iceberg in terms of the work we have to do.

You touched upon pollution from land to sea, about which I am concerned. Whether you are talking about pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, tanker traffic or animal waste, all lakes, rivers and streams run into the ocean. Everything that comes out of the sky ends up in the water. In this integrated, complex and fragile system in which we live, it is a struggle. Our own Lake Winnipeg - a prairie ocean - is struggling, as well. I live on that ocean and I am concerned every day that I walk its shores.

The North is not pristine either, despite what many Canadians think. Aquatic life is at risk, and water is the issue of this century, in my opinion. Where does your work take us? We all have had a taste and a bit of knowledge about the problems, but do we not have to be aggressive in our actions, our regulations and our legislation? Why is it taking so long? Will you, as our ambassadors, be vocal and emphatic about what we must do with our natural habitats that cannot be remade?

Look at Belize and the racket going on there over fortresses and attempts to build the dam on the river - a dam that will destroy a habitat that can never be replaced. We cannot continue to do these things. There must be alternatives to lack of appropriate action. Certainly we could do better and save that habitat.

It is the same with the oceans. I agree with you that we have to work together internationally. The water of the world is shared by everybody. Will you be aggressive about this? Will we hear from you, as our ambassadors? What will be some of your concrete, "in-your-face" suggestions to our government? How can you integrate all the models needed to truly wake us up, as a people and a nation, internationally and nationally?

I feel you have power right now and I know you are attending many conferences. I am putting hope and faith in you because the situation is critical. I want to know what you will promise to do. Will you take out tugboats as Iceland had to do? Consider what was done in respect of the 200-mile limit. It requires that kind of action. May I have your response?

Mr. Holland: Senator, I would love to say that we have our armour and our white horse right outside the door and we will gallop off to the rescue. However, this is still new. We are still jousting with the department over what it thinks ocean ambassadors do and what we feel we can do. We have been ocean ambassadors now for about one year.

Certainly, we felt good about our first task, which was very intensive. We spoke to many Canadians and we thought we brought back a lot of intelligence, in both senses of the word, to the department and to the minister. Are we being used enough? No, I do not think we are. Is that our fault or the minister's fault? I am not sure.

We both feel deeply about what must be done. We both have been around a long time, and we know that it is a hugely complex task. You cannot rattle the cage and cure Canada's oceans problems tomorrow. Integrated management will evolve over 15 years. I am hopeful that we can return to your committee in a year to tell you what progress has been made.

I will pass it over to Dr. Hanson now. I would love to commit myself more, but it is still early days.

Dr. Hanson: Thanks for those waffle words, Mr. Holland. The waffle is there because of the delicate balance between wanting to be shrill, at times, about these issues, and the need to highlight where there is real progress being made and to foster that progress. There is a need for both. There is a need to bring a greater understanding to all Canadians.

As an example, Mr. Paul Kennedy, host of the program, IDEAS, on CBC, is putting together a series. We have been jokingly saying that he should be the third ocean ambassador because he has travelled the country, armed with information from us and from others, to put together a whole series of programs that will be aired in December. There will be some extremely good material. He has done his work extremely thoroughly.

I am hopeful that Mr. Kennedy's program will bring out some of these messages of urgency and need. It is not the only thing that is being done, but it will hit at some influential people. Those programs will be picked up by the schools and by people who think about these issues.

Concerning the pollution side, in particular, if you want to determine the "state of the world" as some of the best experts have put it, this is not very pleasant reading but it is a report called "A Sea of Troubles" put out by the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection.

In general, the issue is that people are coming to the table with many preconceptions about what must be done. One of the important things that we have to do in this role is to give people thoughts and directions about what is good about the things that people are doing to hurdle some of the really significant problems.

We saw these things in our travels, and in some cases we followed up on them. For example, I spent a week in Clayoquot Sound this spring to follow up on just how people are making things better. That is only Clayoquot Sound. How do you take that information and make it relevant to people in Nova Scotia, or vice versa, who are trying to do the same sorts of things on a somewhat different scale in the Bay of Fundy?

We see ourselves playing a potentially significant role that will be somewhat catalytic, a glue that helps to bring and hold some of these things together. We must keep reminding people about what it will take to advance from where we are now to a better state in respect to the oceans.

There was a conference in British Columbia, organized by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, to try to bring a collection of people from Canada and internationally to examine some aspects. We are harping on certain themes, such as if we do not have a state of the oceans report and if we cannot accurately say to the Canadian people that, good or bad, this is what it is like out in our oceans and our coastal zones, we have no real basis for proceeding with any of it. It will be one assertion compared with another assertion, both going in entirely different directions. The same people may be involved but with different perceptions about how good or bad things are.

That is one of the things that must be done now. That is not something that should be done five years from now. That should have been done, perhaps, five years ago. That is one thing that surely is important.

Marine protected areas are emerging as an area where there is a great need for attention as to what is really required and what is the real value. This would encompass not just those elements under the Oceans Act, but this whole suite of things that people are talking about for habitat protection. There is a great deal of controversy over whether they should be going forward and on what scale. We are hopeful that we can help with those dialogues and discussions.

Despite all the information that is available publicly through various media sources, there is still not enough real sense of appreciation on the part of lawmakers and professionals from many other sectors about the true value of the oceans in our overall way of life. If we start into discussions on things such as climate change, there is not a full appreciation of just how much of our life is mediated by what happens in the oceans.

Senator Johnson: That was to be my follow-up, before my colleagues asked their questions.

What did you come away with from your dialogue? I think you have just answered the question. To what extent do those people understand just how serious the situation is in terms of their lives?

I become frustrated when I see what happens in my own province. There are not enough laws and regulations, not that they alone will solve the problem. However, they will make people think about what they do before they do it instead of trying to fix it after the fact. From your dialogue with Canadians, can you tell us where their heads are at on this?

Dr. Hanson: It is hard to generalize.

Senator Johnson: How low or how high is the bar, in terms of cognitive knowledge?

Dr. Hanson: It partly depends on the area of the country. If you go to Atlantic Canada, for example, the bar is quite high. You cannot escape the oceans because they are everywhere. Interestingly, in Quebec many people have their backs to the oceans. They look toward the land rather than toward the sea. In British Columbia it is a very focused and often conflict-laden approach taken in the coastal zone. There is a rich perception of the oceans because of the presence of Aboriginal people, who have interesting and unique perspectives. I would say that the same is true throughout the North, where people see the oceans as the land and it is simply integrated as the basis of their lives.

We have all of these perceptions and we have the perceptions of the great mass of people who live around the Great Lakes, who envision themselves as living on an inland sea. However, they do not quite regard it in the same way as people who live in Nova Scotia. The critical thing is to get people to recognize that their particular view of the ocean, if they are involved with fisheries or tourism or whatever it happens to be, is only a partial view. There is a need for an integrated perspective. That, by and large, is still difficult to find in people, wherever they live.

There are natural elements that effect the environment, such as El Niño. In Manitoba, if it is an El Niño year, there will be a warm winter. People are starting to make that kind of linkage on the climate change side. People are beginning to recognize that the oceans play a significant role in their lives. They may not know how, but they know that happens somehow.

When we deal with oceans and ocean health, we talk about oceans in relation to disasters - the Manitoba floods, for example, where the oceans almost certainly played a role in those storm systems. People are developing a surprisingly sophisticated understanding of these kinds of activities, compared with five years ago.

Senator Watt: Thank you for the good information that you brought to this table.

First, I will tell you where I am from and about the people that I represent. I am from Ungava Bay and I deal with Hudson Strait and Hudson Bay. When you say, "from sea to sea to sea," I get all the spin-off. It comes from every corner of Canada, in terms of environmental concerns, especially with regard to the food chain. There are many other concerns for those of us living in the Arctic or the Subarctic, if you will.

I will not spend much time asking questions about the specific issues that you have brought forward here today. Like you, I have tried in many different ways to encourage the people to be a little more cautious about what they are doing in terms of the sea and in terms of climate change and the livelihood of people in the North.

I have tried to utilize the Circumpolar Conference as well as the Arctic Council, which is composed of seven Arctic countries. I am sure that you are also getting a lot of information from those groups.

There are an unlimited number of recommendations being put forward based on scientific and traditional knowledge of the people who live in the area. You are bringing something to us that is a start. Let me put it that way.

It is a good start to call you "ministerial ocean ambassadors." That is a beginning. However, it should not end there. If the Canadian government had moved in the direction of establishing enabling legislation, it would be a better start. It does understand the value of enabling legislation. Government puts forward enabling legislation because it is searching for answers to problems. It is an opportunity for us that the Oceans Act is described as enabling legislation. It is not an "end all", but it is a beginning.

We could move in the direction of trying to put more meat on it by considering it from sea to sea to sea. You are talking about three areas, I imagine. Our responsibility is not to consider the global picture. We are studying fish-related matters and issues such as habitat.

Let me put that aside for a minute. This is long overdue. I do not have a crystal clear answer to what that should finally be in terms of an additional structure that we might require in order to proceed quickly. If we leave out the sky, we are underestimating the potential damage that that sky could do to the ocean. The sky and ocean must be linked to what you are doing. You cannot leave it out because what goes up comes down. We all know that.

The Canadian government is at the stage where we have to find innovative ideas. I have one. I am not sure that our chairman will be convinced we should make it part of our report. That will be determined later. However, Messrs. Holland and Hanson, I have an idea of establishing three legislative committees. What power would they have? That would be dealt with at the cabinet level. They should have teeth that would allow the government to move. If they do not have any teeth, this will be totally meaningless. They will be heard, but at the same time they will not be heard.

You talked earlier in your presentation about a conflict dispute mechanism. Let us use that term. Perhaps that should also be built into the idea of a legislative committee divided into three.

It should be divided into three because we are so far behind what is happening. Our minds are working. We are starting to move in the right direction, from what I am hearing from you. It is about time. However, we are far behind where we should be today considering there is climate change and the food chain is being affected. People's lives are being affected.

People are dying today in the Arctic. I am not sure whether you have full knowledge of that, but that is what is taking place today. We, the people who live in the Arctic, are at the top of the food chain. We absorb everything that is eaten by any species on this planet. Those species that we enjoy, which are our livelihoods and diet, are not being monitored.

If you understand what I am saying, we have much to achieve. I am happy to see that your report indicates there is encouragement. I have been waiting for that for a long time. It is here now. Let us, all together, try to grease the wheels so that government machinery can start moving in the right direction. We will have to help the government. Our Canadian government has its priorities. It very seldom considers what is happening in the North, the Arctic and the oceans.

Mr. Holland: I will probably leave the business of the legislative committees. You know more about the inner workings of government than I do, senator.

The three oceans do have very distinct issues. For example, you were referring to the persistent organic pollutants that are a great trouble in the North. On the East Coast we have the cod crisis. Aquaculture and oil and gas exploitation and development are all fairly unique there. The West Coast is different, both in geography and in its society and economics. There certainly is some merit in considering the three oceans in terms of the issues that may be at the top of priority lists for each. As I say, I will leave the governance part for now.

You reminded us that we could not neglect the atmosphere. Of course, we cannot deal with the climate and the oceans without dealing with the atmospheric scientists and climate modellers, oceanographers and ocean modellers.

I will provide one little snippet that you may not have heard. A new El Niño appears to be beginning. We will not know for several months, but I hear that the scientists think there is another El Niño beginning in the Pacific at the moment, which will bring changes to our environment.

As a country, in the international field we are working with the World Meteorological Organization now. In fact, there has been a new joint commission struck between the ocean community in the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and the World Meteorological Organization to deal with ocean observations and marine weather and climate. A Canadian, Savi Narayanan is co-chair of that committee. Our scientists are well represented. That point is, I hope, being addressed adequately.

Dr. Hanson: I would like to underline your point about the Arctic in general. We are behind the times in terms of our knowledge. We have neglected, quite seriously, a number of aspects about management. We will be faced with new challenges, particularly as people who are now beginning to worry that we might have the northwest passage become more ice-free, which raises serious questions about shipping and the regulation of shipping. I would go further than that and say that we may start to have, in some areas of the Arctic, a fundamental breakdown of the environment as permafrost starts to melt.

At the International Institute for Sustainable Development, IIST, we spent the last 18 months, until earlier this year, working with people from Banks Island to capture their perceptions in an accurate way. It was followed up with video taping of sites that were shown to us where permafrost was melting away. Entire coastlines were slumping into the sea. If this occurs on a wide scale across the Arctic, it will set in place an unprecedented level of environmental damage.

We will have to talk to the world and highlight this because this is the mine canary, the early warning sign, of climate change. It could have devastating impacts. As you correctly allude, those changes are already starting to be noticed by the people of the North.

I am very concerned about this. A perception in the last two years has been developing about how critical this is and how we will have to be organized in terms of building a knowledge base and adaptation and mitigation strategies.

It will be expensive. I think that the bodies to which you refer, such as the Arctic Council, are brave efforts to get a coordinated approach from our neighbouring countries in the Arctic. It is important that we continue with that. Those are new and still relatively untested bodies that are not working all that well, frankly. I would like to hope that we could follow through with those in the same way as we have with our bilateral relations in the United States through the Boundary Waters Treaty Act, et cetera.

We must create a new sense of cooperation and problem solving capacity. It will be necessary for the voices around the whole of the Arctic to make the case because there are many other problem areas in the world. Developing countries, particularly, would consider resources that were put toward Arctic problems perhaps as being in conflict with the resources that they would seek for their problems. We are on the cusp of a set of very major problems in the North relating to climate change.

Senator Watt: There is a specific problem. Vegetation is going out of control. It is going wild. That is more evident now in the Subarctic, much more than there is in the Nunavut area. In the Inuvik area it is noticeable because the climate is a bit warmer and the permafrost is melting very fast. The base of the permafrost is no longer touching the roots of the plants, and therefore, plants are going wild.

With regard to how important the scientific community is on this issue, I would like to caution you a bit. I have dealt with the scientific community for quite a number of years trying to encourage them to move quickly in some areas. It is happy to take the contracts, but the contracts never end. Reports are always designed in such a way that there will be another contract.

Dr. Hanson: You have said it, and that is a problem.

Senator Phalen: My question is in regard to oil spills. We have all watched, horrified, oil spills and the harm that they can do. In the event of an oil spill, who is responsible? What happens if we do not act quickly enough? What are the penalties, if any?

Mr. Holland: Senator, the Coast Guard is the reactive point in government for oil spills. It has a contingency plan in place for all marine areas around Canada if a spill takes place. There is government equipment that is ready to go in the event of an oil spill, but industry has equipment ready to help as well.

I will not try to answer, if an Exxon Valdez happened, whether we would have enough equipment to deal with it within Canada, but probably not. However, there is also an international agreement, to which Canada is a party, where all countries would respond to an appeal from any participating country.

To get a fuller response to your question, you would have to ask somebody from the Coast Guard. Plans are in existence for contingencies.

I cannot remember whether I have answered all the points in your question.

Senator Phalen: You did not answer my question about penalties, if any.

Mr. Holland: There are penalties under the Canada Transportation Act.

Dr. Hanson: There are penalties under the Fisheries Act as well. One of the problems that is often pointed out is that if you spill a barrel of oil, you will get hammered very much under the Fisheries Act, but the routine amount of oil that is flushed off roads and so on is actually a major part the of the problem of oil pollution.

People notice big, nasty spills, but, in fact, there is a cumulative pollution from the land runoff that far exceeds the total that goes into the oceans from tankers, et cetera. There is a contingency fund as well that has been set up on the East Coast from taxes on the tankers that are moving through. If there were a spill, there is a big chunk of money available. You do not have to start suing people to get action on a clean-up.

We have heard some disturbing news from some sources about whether the equipment is well placed. We heard in the Mackenzie Basin, for instance, that it is not well placed. It is quite a long way from where an actual spill might occur. There is concern about whether it could be brought forward in a timely way for the Coast Guard to be able to use it.

We heard in Quebec, in the case of a particular port where there had been an oil spill that was not terrifically bad, the feeling of the people involved in the port was that it was not very well handled. Whether we are up to our optimum capacity to deal with oil spill issues is highly questionable in the minds of some people with whom we spoke. These were operational people. It was not the environmental community wringing its hands. These were the people involved with ports authorities and the actual people who would have to respond in the case of oil spills. I think that there are problems.

Senator Phalen: We have also heard about mercury in fish and other pollutants. Are we coming close to a critical position, or have we passed that, with respect to pollutants? Have we passed it or are we there?

Mr. Holland: There is not one answer to that question, senator. There are very sensitive areas and very polluted areas around the Great Lakes, but you could still drink the water from the centre of the Great Lakes without any problem. It all depends on where you are. If you are close to an industrial outfall or a sewage outfall, you would get chronic pollution. You would get shellfish closures, et cetera. If you go to a less inhabited part of the coast, you would have no problem.

Although the oceans know no boundaries, in terms of the spread of pollution, it is only certain types of pollutants like heavy metals and persistent organics that travel unabated. However, even those get diluted as they travel away from the source, except in the particular case of persistent organic pollutants in the Arctic because of the cold. The volatile pollutants tend to settle there and they do tend to congregate in the fatty tissues in the animals.

In general, pollution is abated by dilution. That does not mean to say that we should not worry about pollution because the places where pollution tends to occur are the coastal areas, which are the places where we have the highest productivity, the greatest number of fisheries and the greatest population.

There is not one quick answer to your question, but if you ask me as a scientist, I am worried that the overall situation is not getting any better. I would like that to be addressed in terms of land-based sources, in particular.

Dr. Hanson: If you are a beluga whale in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, it is a critical situation. You are carrying a pollution load. We know that. If you happen to be in certain areas along the Nova Scotia coast where there are small communities putting in domestic sewage and creating situations in the ocean where you cannot have aquaculture because of the pollutant levels and you cannot harvest shellfish, that is a critical situation. If you are in the North, as Mr Holland has said, persistent organic pollutants, POPs, come on air currents sometimes many thousands of miles and are dumped into the Arctic. They are not produced in the Artic at all. If we find that in mother's milk, the situation is pretty critical. We have spent $50 million, with no end in sight, on the Sydney tar ponds. That is a critical situation.

I could go on. Are we adding to or reducing that burden now? That is a big issue. Also, there are other kinds of pollutions about which we have to worry.

One of the big issues now is invasive species that come in through ship ballast and settle in coastal zones. Many are marine species that adapt to fresh water in the Great Lakes causing hundreds of millions of dollars of damage in Canada and billions of dollars in the United States. That threat is getting worse because of increased trade and movement of goods around the country. In Halifax bugs come in from Europe in containers on the ships and are attacking the spruce forest, perhaps placing much of the spruce forest at danger. These are the threats that we have to worry about that are in some way related to the ocean and the impacts of either direct pollution or something that resembles pollution.

Senator Phalen: If you shut everything down in one of the Great Lakes, how long would it take to restore it to health?

Dr. Hanson: It depends on the pollutant. We have done marvellous things in two decades to get phosphorous out of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. We are starting to turn the corner on some of the uglier types of chlorine compounds, the more complex pollutants.

Senator Phalen: Is that without shutting the flow down?

Dr. Hanson: It is shutting down the flow of pollutants basically. It is also, in some cases, through trying to put in place some alteration to the food chain or something like that so pollutants do not go in the same way that they might.

There are some good news stories. Overall, I do not think we should panic that the oceans are in such a devastated state that we cannot use them. We have to address specifics in addressing the pollution issues, such as the belugas in the St. Lawrence system. They are also canaries. They are telling us that the system is out of balance in some way.

That is the way I like to think about pollution. You look for those things that are signs of trouble and you try to deal with them. In dealing with them, you generally help to improve the overall health of the ecosystem.

Mr. Holland: The Great Lakes, dependent on which lake, would flush out in five to seven years if you stopped a particular pollutant. That is the flushing time. The oceans do not have a flushing time. That is the end of the line. The only way to get pollutants out of the ocean is for them to be absorbed by the fish, the ecosystem and by settling to the bottom to become buried under the sediments. We might be talking about thousands of years.

Senator Mahovlich: Someone mentioned distillation plants in the Middle East. Has distillation of ocean waters been perfected? I can recall being on the island of St. Thomas where there was a problem of not having water for golf courses. There was talk about a distillation plant, but it was too expensive and could not be done. You mentioned earlier something along those lines.

Mr. Holland: It is a question of scale. Distillation plants in the Middle East are distilling billions of gallons of water. That makes it economical. You are speaking about local operations, where it probably would not be worth it.

Senator Mahovlich: Are distillation plants in the Middle East doing bulk water?

Mr. Holland: Yes, half the countries' water, in some cases, comes from the sea. During the Kuwait war, one of the biggest worries of some of the countries bordering the affected sea was that the oil from fires might get into the sea and suddenly they would lose half their water supplies. That was a big worry.

Senator Mahovlich: You mentioned towns up and down the coast of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia where pollutants are going into the ocean. What about New York City? Where does it dump its waste? That is a bigger problem. There are 10 million people there.

Dr. Hanson: For a long time, guess where the garbage went? It went by barge offshore and was dumped at sea.

Senator Mahovlich: Is that not being done any more?

Dr. Hanson: I do not think that is being done at all. There are also strange tales of midnight barges that carry stuff out to the seas. Remarkable progress has been made. There is no excuse for lack of progress in this area. It costs money, but it depends how we want to invest our money. There is no excuse for dumping endless amounts of domestic sewage and there is no excuse whatsoever for dumping solid waste into the oceans.

On the other hand, we must intelligently examine how we make those investments. We do not have endless amounts of money. In some cases, surprisingly, it can be small communities that create many problems. For example, it may be better to close the local fish plant so that you can maintain waters so that they can be used for aquaculture and tourism purposes. In certain circumstances, it is okay to put some level of domestic pollution into the water because there is an assimilative capacity in the ocean to handle this. You must consider each case as it comes up.

Sometimes there are other factors to be considered. The famous example in Canada currently is the city of Victoria, which dumps its pollution into the sea, to the great annoyance of its American neighbours. I have talked to me of my oceanographic friends about this. The argument can be made that the ocean is a great mixing machine and domestic sewage will help to enrich the waters. Perhaps it is not such a bad thing compared to certain other settings where you do want to ensure that the ocean is clean such as, for example, Vancouver, which has much more contained waters around it.

On the other hand, if we are really annoying our American neighbours by putting our sewage on to waters that will go into their waters, maybe we should be thinking carefully about that. We have to consider each case individually.

I would like to highlight that not enough attention is being paid to smaller communities. Having cows close to fresh water that might go into the sea is an important issue, and one that is often overlooked.

Mr. Holland: It is not a question of technology. We can make drinking water out of our sewage. It is an issue of cost. Victoria could have tertiary treatment of all of its waste, but we are talking about billions of dollars just for that city. New York once dumped its sewage into the New York bight. There is an international convention, once called the London Dumping Convention. "Dumping" was seen to be a nasty word so it is now called the London Convention of 1972.I was chair of that when the dumping of sewage and industrial waste directly into the sea was stopped. It was banned under the convention. That concerns direct dumping into the sea and does not cover dumping by discharge from the end of a pipe, unfortunately. That should be covered under land-based sources of pollution. We are tightening up the controls.

Senator Mahovlich: In Ontario, we have Fathom Five National Marine Park, on the Bruce Peninsula. There are about 20 shipwrecks, which attract about 8,000 scuba divers every year. Are there any other underwater parks in Canada?

Mr. Holland: There are many. Off the West Coast there are 112. A couple of naval ships were sunk for scuba diving. As Mr. Hanson said, ships and archaeological sites and many sites of natural interest are used for underwater parks.

Dr. Hanson: The general sense is that there is not enough protection given to many of the areas. Some of the sites are for a specific purpose. In British Columbia, for example, many of the smaller sites are basically places where you can dock boats and not much else. Concerning truly underwater sites, the diving park is a good example of something that is protected for a very specific reason. Corals off the East Coast of Canada have been discovered, which were well known to be there, but now they have been recognized. These are areas that are being damaged by trawling activities. The extent of these corals is truly amazing, as is their potential role as nursery areas for fisheries. We are just now beginning to figure out how to protect those.

There are issues of whether certain areas should be marine parks, which is one of the things that is being proposed under Bill C-10, which would be administered by the Parks Canada folks, or as marine protected areas under the Oceans Act. Also, we have a third category through Environmental Canada were the Canadian Wildlife Service has coastal areas that are good for bird habitat or other such things.

We have a mixed bag of protected areas. How we manage these areas must be sorted out. People must understand why they are being set up. In many cases there are mixed views about that regarding the role of fisheries in and around a marine protected area. The Fathom Five Marine Park is a good example of the sort of thing that can produce economic benefits and appreciation of fresh water. These areas certainly attract tourists.

Senator Mahovlich: You mentioned ship and whale collisions. Does this often happen, and what measures are being taken to prevent that?

Mr. Holland: There is a certain species of whale, the Right Whale, that sleeps on the surface. They are very endangered, and the loss of even one or two Right Whales makes an impact. That is one of the high priority ship-whale situations that marine mammal scientists are trying to do something about. I do not know what can be done except to warn ship captains and ask them to be on watch in the areas where Right Whales are liable to be.

Dr. Hanson: I had the opportunity to consider this in some detail during our adventures. It is quite fascinating because there is a good news story potentially over the next four or five years. We have the technology now to track both ships and whales - not to the inch, but you can get good information of where both are. Part of it is a simple issue. If the whales are in a spot, tell the ships not to be there and to divert from their routes. In the past we did not do this. It was that simple. Now, with enough attention being focused on it, the port authorities in Saint John, New Brunswick and people in the United States are doing this.

A schoolteacher in Nova Scotia, near Senator Comeau's area, spends her time making all kinds of reports of ship activities that are creating problems for whales. Often whales get entangled in fishing gear, which is equally devastating. She said to me when I was there, "Imagine a fisherman out there in the Bay of Fundy seeing his livelihood go down the drain, seeing himself portrayed on national or international television as being a whale killer and seeing a valuable net being shredded. He does not want that to happen."

There are all sorts of techniques that have been developed in Canada by John Lien and others at Memorial University in Newfoundland, to calm the people and the whales down and get the situation sorted out. The best situation is if collisions do not happen at all.

There is potential for a good success story in the whale-ship collisions that will involve all these different stakeholders. It will involve government as a partner and it will require an international monitoring system. The woman in Nova Scotia said that every week the international press phones her to ask what is happening with the whales in the Bay of Fundy. This is a story.

I am hoping there will be more good news kinds of things where we can take action. This does not cost a lot of money. It just requires intelligent action.

Senator Jaffer: I am from British Columbia and I am interested in your comments. I could not agree with you more that we are blessed with the Aboriginal cultures so we have a richer culture, especially concerning water issues.

I was interested in two things that you said. I know this area well. A number of times you mentioned the Clayoquot Sound and what is happening there. I would like to hear what you have to say on that.

My second question is something that preoccupies me concerning the Sechelt area and the issue of pollution of the ocean by fish farms. Does fish farming destroy ocean fish?

Dr. Hanson: I must admit that I am a native born British Columbian as well, and I lived there for many years of my life. I went to the University of British Columbia to study fisheries, in fact. It is still an important part of my life.

Clayoquot Sound is interesting because we have moved from a case of almost maximum conflict where people were basically at war with each other. People now understand the linkages between problems much more clearly than in the past. They are putting their differences behind them and trying to move on. They have been trying to take an adaptive approach to the problems. Essentially, that means learning by doing. It is recognizing that we do not have all the knowledge, but we still have to move ahead. We have to seek an approach that allows for a range of economic activities of various sorts, whether it is ecotourism, logging or fisheries.

They are struggling to come up with a set of mechanisms that will be operative. Where they will not be operative, they can learn from that and try something else. There is a lot of experimentation happening in Clayoquot Sound.

Overlaying that is the issue of Aboriginal peoples who would say consistently that they have had a long-term perspective and long-term residency and they will always be there. That is their starting point. Others are starting to learn from that perspective.

The logging operations are starting to draw upon native principles and even native partnerships in terms of how to approach logging. The people involved in fisheries are seizing an opportunity. There are not a lot of problems. I do not want to make this sound too glamorous, but, in the case of crab fisheries, people said that there were opportunities that they wanted to explore. They do not want to be treated as in the past and to get licences in the conventional way. They want to do experimentation and learn how much, in that fishery, is appropriate to be harvested and how much of the crab should stay in the water. There are a number of different things that could be documented about this.

They are also saying that they need support for this to be able to do it well - and there has been generous support for it, I would say. But the question is: What is the continuity and sustainability of that support?There is a need for new kinds of institutions. For example, there is the biosphere reserve with the trust fund that has been set up that provides some of the funding for different activities and local science arranged by people in the area. There are management board structures that are being set up that try to bring together the stakeholders in the region as the primary managers of the overall regional base.

Clayoquot has gone from being a site of intensive conflict to a site of an integrated management experiment with some hope. It is a site that is vitally important to British Columbia because the eyes of the world have been on Clayoquot Sound. If it performs well, it is likely to be perceived as a region that is doing things right. That has trade implications and all the rest of it. That is one of the reasons why governments, provincial and national, have been so interested in investing there.

This is an important case, in my view.

Senator Jaffer: Just last week there was an article about that area in the The Globe and Mail. There are Aboriginal people near Tofino. Will they be able to live as they have in the past on the ocean? The article gave the impression that their days are numbered on those islands. Perhaps I did not interpret it correctly. Could you comment?

Dr. Hanson: My sense is that there are many problems there. I do not think that their days are numbered. I would be surprised. That is certainly not what I heard from native people and from others who work with the people there.

On the other hand, I do not think we should ignore the fact that there is a great deal of poverty, and many problems about sustaining livelihoods. Parts of this relates to what has happened over the past 50 years. We cannot correct 50 years or 100 years of problems overnight. That is certain.

One of the other lessons that I learned from Clayoquot Sound and other integrated management experiments is that if you set out a grand and glorious scheme, it will almost be bound for failure. If you learn to work together and you take approaches in steps that make things a little bit better, a little bit at a time, you start to learn to trust each other. You learn about the ecosystem and about the full potential of that system, which is wonderful in that area. In that way, you have hope for the kinds of approaches that we need for the oceans.

We must have more of these kinds of experiments underway - not dozens but hundreds - in our ocean areas in Canada.

Mr. Holland: I believe that you were talking about finned-fish farming and not shellfish farming, senator. With finned-fish farming you have high density of species in a small area. Thus, there are pollution problems from fish detritus and so on. This affects the benthic and surrounding area and causes some environment problems for the non-farm fish. There is also oxygen depletion.

Maybe one of the most controversial problems is fish escapement from fish farms. Non-native fish are being farmed, whether they be are genetically altered or imported, such as Atlantic salmon. The fish escape. There have been various claims that Atlantic salmon are appearing in the wild and have been seen to breed. The issue is whether this will kill the local salmon.

The introduction of fish disease because of high density is one of the problems. Another issue is the use of antibiotics and pharmaceuticals for fish farms. Being from that area, senator, you have probably seen a sign at some fishmongers that says, "Buy our fish - wild fish don't do drugs." There are many people who will not eat farmed fish because of the high levels of antibiotics, but that is a public preference.

Finally, competition for space is a problem in some areas with marinas and other marine activities where space is restricted. There may be problems with licensing of space for aquaculture.

Those, by and large, are the problems. I will not take the time of the committee to deal with any possible solutions. There are also problems from the aquaculture side, as well, but those are the environmental problems that you most hear about.

Dr. Hanson: The aquaculture report that was produced for this committee on the Atlantic and Pacific coastal regions had sound recommendations. My concern would be that aquaculture will continue to contribute economically on our two coasts, the East and West Coasts, and we have to find solutions to these problems.

One of the recommendations that is helpful in this report is that you do not put these things in areas where people do not want them. Sechelt is a prime example of that. We heard, from people in northern British Columbia, that they want those licences and economic opportunities for a region that is economically starved for jobs around Prince Rupert. Even if that were to go in there, some of those models have to be reconsidered concerning how they are conducted.

Senator Tunney: I am very concerned about the apparent disappearance of certain varieties of fish. In my area, which is Lake Ontario between Kingston and Toronto, the Bay of Quinte, the walleye, or pickerel, is virtually extinct. We do not know why. Commercial and sports fishermen are demanding that the ministry ban the taking of any more the pickerel in that area. It used to be a tremendous pickerel area.

Along with that, I would like to have your opinion on whether the disappearance of the Newfoundland cod is a result of the draggers.Does anyone know for sure that it was the draggers that caused the disappearance by scooping up cod and what is called garbage fish that were dumped back in the water? Was it the disturbance of the sea floor that caused the disappearance of the cod?

If you can do that briefly, I would be happy.

Dr. Hanson: If we can do that briefly, I will be very impressed.

The Great Lakes are well known in the world of fisheries for the dynamics of the fisheries because of the various introductions of species, the disappearance of other species, and environmental changes. I could not answer exactly concerning the walleye situation.

If you are interested, I could dredge out some very interesting papers about the fisheries dynamics and some of the reasons why some species have disappeared. It is a remarkable story. There is almost nothing else like it in the world. These incredible changes in composition of lake life is well-documented.

In the case of cod, the brief answer is, no, we do not really know for sure all the reasons for the disappearance. There are scientific arguments. Some say it relates to environmental fluctuation, others say it relates to particular aspects of management. A couple of things are clear and relatively indisputable. First, we were fishing those fish far too heavily. Second, as you say, senator, when we scoop everything and have a fishery that is based on the foods that the cod eat, the capelin, et cetera, it is not surprising that we find ourselves in these problems.

Finally, we are only starting to develop a good enough sense now of an ecosystem-based approach that would give us greater insight. Whether we ever will know what happened with the cod is unknown. Again, there are all sorts of interesting books on the subject.

We must wonder of we are repeating our mistakes in the now abundant shrimp fishery and the crab fishery. If you read the latest report of the Office of the Auditor General on the Atlantic fisheries, and in particular, look at the shellfishery report, you will find conclusions that are quite troubling and disturbing, which show some of the same trends about our management practices. I would commend those reports to you, if you are concerned about what is happening on the East Coast now that the cod have disappeared.

Senator Cook: You have given us a lot of information. At the end of the evening my head is on information overload.You are ambassadors. In your statement of purpose you say that you set out to find Canadians for a ministerial advisory council on oceans. I would like to know if that has been done.

I would also like to know where your conclusions will go. You talked about integrated management with reference to habitat, which will be the topic for our next study. I see all these wonderful conclusions. I am wondering where they go once you assimilate them and who has oversight for implementation or who pushes the envelope for this?

Mr. Holland: Senator, I am pleased to say that the Minister's Advisory Council on the Ocean was established a year ago last September. Our tour of Canada brought 120 nominations for that council, which we stringently analyzed because we were trying to get the most representative and knowledgeable group of independent voices from Canada's ocean community. We ended up giving the minister 20 names, from which he chose nine council members. They met for the first time in January of this year. There was a hiatus because of the election. They have now met four times this year.

The council is an independent voice, and it does advise the minister. The ocean ambassadors are ex officio members of that council. We have been closely involved and, hopefully, facilitated their meetings and their discussions. As ocean ambassadors, we also report to the minister.

The findings that you see here were the result of an oral and written report by the two ocean ambassadors to Minister Dhaliwal.

Dr. Hanson: John Lien from Newfoundland is currently the chair. You might wish to talk with him about the Minister's Advisory Council on Oceans.

Where do our conclusions go? We would like to spread our conclusions as broadly as possible. We do talk with different groups and bring some of our messages. We sometimes put them in different formats for different kinds of audiences.

One of the important things that emerged from the discussions that we had over that summer about a ministerial advisory council was that people said there are multiple audiences. Canadians should be hearing about these problems, echoing what Senator Johnson said. It concerns not just the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. In fact, the responsibilities within government related to oceans are spread across 23 units of federal government alone, which is massive. A Canadian ocean strategy is supposed to come to grips with that, under the Oceans Act. We have not yet done enough to try to reach out to other government departments in addition to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. Much more must be done in this area.

During the summer I helped to facilitate and bring out points of view at meetings that involved different departments. It was interesting and eye-opening in many ways to observe the different perceptions about what is important and what are the needs for coordination, et cetera.

Oversight for implementation is a critical issue. I could not do adequate justice by saying only a few words on it. I would suggest that it would be appropriate for this committee and other committees in Parliament to examine oversight.

The Chairman: I cannot let this opportunity go by, knowing that we have a bill coming before the Senate within several weeks for marine conservation, which is proposed by the Parks Canada to create marine conservation areas. In effect, it will create a new set of representative areas of the oceans - in the order of 28 areas.

Many of us did place a great deal of support on the Oceans Act. I was one of its great supporters myself. We gave it support because we knew that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, through the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, had the means to dialogue with coastal communities throughout Canada. We now have a brand new player coming in on the game along with Environment and DFO. We have the brand new player called Parks Canada, which will create confusion, apprehension and possibly ill will in coastal communities as they start to consult.

As you probably know, there is much consultation with these coastal communities. This new group of interveners in the oceans fields will be authorized under the marine conservation areas.

Do you two gentlemen have any idea of what went wrong? Why did marine conservation bill get by the planners and thinkers who examine these things prior to passing legislation? What happened? Why did the Oceans Act not handle this?

Dr. Hanson: As a starting point, we definitely need a good system of protected areas. That is a baseline upon which everybody could probably agree.

There is a strong interest, in the conservation community within Canada, in extending to the oceans what has been done on land. There is a strong desire to set up representative areas that fully protect and recognize some of the unique characteristics within different kinds of ecosystems.

That is in part the genesis of Bill C- 10, to which you referred, Mr. Chair.

I have several concerns about it. First, there is a general sense in the public that not enough has been done yet on marine protected areas under the Oceans Act. Clearly, we heard that in the summer. There are apprehensions, as well. There are success stories to report as well about things that have happened. By and large, quantitatively and to some extent qualitatively, not nearly enough has happened.

The Canadian Wildlife Service, with its protected areas, has much experience in this area. Therefore, that is a good base upon which to draw. We should not, in any way, take away from what Environment Canada has been able to do thus far. That is longstanding and pre-dates the Oceans Act.

Will this create confusion on the part of coastal communities? Will it create competition? Should we have a marine protected area or a park? Who will give the best deal? That could become a problem in certain areas. Will it be truly cooperation or will it be bureaucratic rivalries that are set up? How is the competition for scarce resources going to be handled? Are we diluting our efforts or concentrating and focusing them?

I will not try to answer those questions. They are the kinds of questions that the committee might consider if it is examines Bill C-10.

Further, it has been expressed strongly in some circles that if these three approaches to marine protected areas are put in place, then we must have a strong interdepartmental coordinating and accountability mechanism. We found on the land side, where there are literally thousands of protected areas in Canada, that the provinces will have a significant role, particularly on the West Coast. British Columbia already has over 100 areas that are designated with some degree of marine protection. Cooperation with the provinces and with the Aboriginal peoples is important.

Bill C-10 notes that it is a mechanism designated to formally handle things that are designated as national parks and that a national parks system cannot be complete unless it has the marine side as well. When I say national parks I am speaking of areas that have that kind of a designation, perhaps like the area of the Queen Charlotte Islands, which is a park reserve at the present time. There may be good technical reasons for thinking that Bill C-10 is a wise idea. I think that you should weigh that into consideration as well.

Overall, I view, with some apprehension, any addition without a clear sense that it will be reasonably funded and well coordinated. It should also be explainable to Canadians and to the world as to why we are approaching it this way.

Finally, I think it would be a great mistake, whatever happens with Bill C-10, if we did not move ahead much more forcefully over the coming years with the marine protected areas under the Oceans Act.

The Chairman: On that note, we will wrap up this meeting tonight. I apologize to members, we have gone a little bit longer than we had anticipated. I appreciate your patience. I think that had to do with the level of interest of members of the committee in regard to the witnesses.

It has been very much appreciated that you spent this time with us tonight.

Members of the committee, this week I will be distributing a summary of evidence that we heard when we travelled north and inland. We hope to have it in your hands by next Thursday so that we can discuss it at next Tuesday evening's meeting. The summary of evidence that we will be distributing will be confidential.

The committee adjourned.


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