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POFO - Standing Committee

Fisheries and Oceans


Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on 
Fisheries and Oceans

Issue 7 - Evidence - March 27, 2012

OTTAWA, Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans met this day at 5:40 p.m. to study the management of the grey seal population off Canada's East Coast.

Senator Fabian Manning (Chair) in the chair.


The Chair: Good evening, everyone. I call the meeting to order. Welcome to the meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. I am Senator Fabian Manning, chair of this committee, from Newfoundland and Labrador. Before I introduce the witness before us this evening, I would like the members of the committee to introduce themselves.

Senator Harb: Mac Harb, Ontario.


Senator Demers: Jacques Demers from the province of Quebec.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Céline Hervieux-Payette from the riding of Bedford, in the Eastern Townships, Quebec.


Senator Poy: Vivienne Poy from Toronto.

Senator Raine: I am Senator Raine from British Columbia.

Senator Patterson: Dennis Patterson, senator from Nunavut.

The Chair: We have several other senators who also serve on the committee. They may arrive later on and we will introduce them when the opportunity arises.

The committee is continuing its study on the management of the grey seal population off Canada's East Coast and is hearing today from Chief Roy Jones. Mr. Jones will speak of seals and sealing in on Canada's West Coast and share his views on the health benefits of seal products.

Welcome to the meeting and thank you for taking the time to join us. I understand you have opening remarks you would like to make and then we will open the floor to questions from the senators. The floor is yours.

Chief Roy S. Jones, Jr., President, Pacific Balance Consulting Inc.: First, I would like to extend my sincere Háw'aa, which is thank you in our Haida language, to the Senate for allowing me to address you today. As a hereditary chief, I would also like to acknowledge the people whose land we are on, the traditional lands of the people of these territories. My Haida name is Cheexial Taaiixou. It is my hereditary chiefdom name. My English name is Roy Jones. I would like to introduce my host in Ottawa, my friend Paul Stanton and his wife Deb, with whom I am staying. I am having a wonderful time while I am here. We are long-time friends. As I said, I am on the board of directors of one of the companies he was with when he came out to Haida Gwaii to do some sports fishing. We have built a friendship from that, and it has become very strong.

In opening, I would like to say a blessing. May the blessing of the Great Spirit be with all who govern and make decisions for people in this great country, and may the decisions be made for the benefit of the young and those who are not born yet.

This is why I am here. I have been studying the seal problem for 30 years this year. It has been a very serious problem on the West Coast of Canada, where I live. In 1981, on a hunting trip there, we saw the impact of seals' predation on a salmon river, called Salmon River in the Lockport area of Area 2 East. As a result of that, it allowed me to study the bounty of the seal — our traditional diet — and the bounty ran from 1914 to 1964 and 1972. Upon the implementation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 in the United States, Canada ended all seal hunting on the West Coast of British Columbia. At that time, they were hunting for pelts.

About 18 years ago, I was visiting a friend who was a doctor in Victoria; again, I was a guest at his house. I picked up a book that was written by Dr. Michael Lyon, a sports doctor. The title of that book was Healing the Hyperactive Brain. The term "omega-3 fatty acids" continued to come up, both in and out of the book. Not having a clear understanding about it, I continued to research it. Ten years ago this year in June, I was invited to a conference at Foreign Affairs and International Trade where a number of doctors made presentations on omega-3 fatty acids. This kind of sealed the deal for me to get a clear understanding of what omega-3 fatty acids were all about. In the last 10 years, I have studied them intensively to the point where I have been doing workshops from Newfoundland to British Columbia, California, Hawaii, trying to educate people on the value of having a good traditional diet and supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids and various values of them.

It has been a long and an emotional road. When you see your lifestyle and traditional diets being challenged by lack of management practices, it has been a really tough time; it has been an emotional one for me.

On my journey here, I had the chance to visit my 11-year-old granddaughter. She is in the children's hospital and they do not know what is wrong with this little girl, because as soon as she sits up, her world starts spinning. I am carrying that with me, and we had a death in our family in the last two weeks. I am trying to juggle all of this, and I hope that my presentation to the Senate and the question and answer period will be of benefit to our people and all Canadians in the future. It is a very important subject. I analyze the benefit of the time I spend. I have a granddaughter and three grandsons, and I do this for all children.

I have sent a PowerPoint presentation to the clerk. Perhaps it would be best if I take questions from you. Again, thank you for allowing me to appear before you.

The Chair: Thank you, Chief Jones. On behalf of committee members, we wish your granddaughter, you and your family all the best. We start this life with family and end it with family, and nothing comes before family.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Chief Jones worked for free for three months to prepare a declaration that has been sanctioned by the governments of Newfoundland, Nunavut and Quebec on the ethical hunting of seals. He made a tremendous contribution. I am sure that he is too modest to mention that. It will not be mentioned during the meeting, but I would like to thank him for it. He was very generous with his time. Of the group of scientists who worked on the report, he was the one who truly knew the subject matter on the land. I would like to recognize him for that.

The declaration has official status in every province that has signed it, and we are now in the process of having other countries sign it.

The Chair: We appreciate your intervention, Senator Hervieux-Payette.

I congratulate you, Chief Jones, on that work.

Senator Harb: I want to join my colleague in congratulating you and wishing a speedy recovery for your granddaughter.

I want to assure you that not only members of this committee support your work; everyone supports your work. There is a common denominator for those who are on the side of the hunt and those who are against the hunt, and that is that everyone supports your inherited right to support your communities and do the good work you are doing.

Mr. Jones: Thank you, sir.

Senator Hubley: I, too, would like to extend a warm welcome to you this evening and to underline the importance of the work you are doing. It will be important for our committee.

I would like to ask a few questions on commercial sealing in British Columbia. There are three kinds of seals in British Columbia: the harbour seal, the northern fur seal and the northern elephant seal. In your view, which of these species would be the appropriate target of a commercial seal fishery?

Mr. Jones: The most valuable target of a commercial seal fishery would be the harbour seal. They are equally as abundant as the Steller sea lion, the population of which is totally out of control. The difference between the two is that the harbour seal is predominantly in the mouths of our rivers and in the small rivers and streams and the sea lions are basically in the larger rivers and the mouths of the inlets.

I want you to put one thing into perspective with regard to the impact on the salmon resource on the West Coast. The Fraser River, the Dean River, the Skeena River and the Nass River have been the four largest salmon-producing rivers on the entire B.C. coast throughout history. Until about 1976, these rivers produced 35 to 40 per cent of the biomass of the British Columbia salmon run. Today these four rivers produce well over 80 per cent of salmon coming to the British Columbia coast. This means that the small rivers and streams are being decimated and are no longer producing the biomass that came into our inlets, our rivers and streams, especially the smaller ones, which have suffered the most.

You see before you a map of Area 2 East. Historically they walked a little over 210 small salmon-spawning rivers and streams. Today, they walk less than 50. The rest are totally wiped out. There are no fish coming. There is a limited amount of industry that impacted this. We are so eager as people to blame each other, be it the commercial fishermen, the loggers or the miners. However, there are areas in that geographical area that have had absolutely no human intervention, yet the rivers are totally wiped out.

Senator Hubley: Is the seal the predator that has decimated or at least affected the salmon stock?

Mr. Jones: I will rely on the science for this, because some do not believe my anecdotal evidence. Peter Olesiuk, from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, released a report in April 2010 that is referenced in the pacific balance impact. It says that 36 seals will kill 3.2 million fry, or fish going back out in the springtime. The study was done on the Puntledge River.

One thing I made clear to the marine mammal coordinator, Paul Cottrell, for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Pacific region, is that you take this report and apply it to every river and stream on British Columbia's coast and then put the reality to work. All the work that they have done, due to budget restraints, has been done on the Puntledge River.

In 1998, they culled out some of the seals in the Puntledge River. In 2002, in the cycle run on the chum salmon they had a 300 per cent increase in return. Because the Cowichan River to the south and the Campbell River to the north did well, they said their science was inconclusive. This is the way the science has been done with Department of Fisheries and Oceans. It comes with the bias that they are willing to protect the seal because of what they call the popularity that goes with public opinion and the anti-sealing campaign.

Senator Patterson: Welcome to the committee. We really appreciate your coming all this way, especially in light of what you have been going through lately, and we wish you all the best.

I would like you to talk a bit about, as a hereditary chief, the relation of your First Nation to the salmon and the seal. I am familiar with the relation of Inuit to sealing. I would be interested to know if traditionally seals were harvested by the coastal people. I believe they were whalers. Could you elaborate on that, please?

Mr. Jones: The seal was an integral part of our Haida diet. It not only provided food, but also it provided clothing and stuff to wear throughout our community, and shelter as well.

When I talk about the seal and our people, I have to talk about the fundamental diet change of our people. Due to the Industrial Revolution, which basically started around 1902-03, and then when World War I started, they were seeking some materials to build planes with. Haida Gwaii spruce was sought out for the building of those planes. We came into a fundamental diet change around 1920.

By 1948, we started to see our first diabetes; we started to see our first arthritis and cardiovascular disease in our community. It was a 28-year shift in the diet. Through that time, the bounty was on the seal, and then the 50 years that the bounty was on the seals, it was during the three wartime years that they did not pay bounty. The seals were left alone for three years without paying bounty. However, the pelts were always harvested.

That fundamental diet change changed the tongue of our people and seal was not a popular food, even in my time. I was born in 1951 and have just recently started eating seal again and trying to introduce it to our people.

We had that change there, but when we look around the world, studies of omega-3 fatty acids have been going on for a number of years now, and the top doctors meet in Florence, Italy, every year now. Some of the evidence that they came up with, the fundamental diet change that has been happening in the Arctic basically came around 1960. In 1978 the cost of health care and the decline of the traditional diet crossed, and health care had gone up a tremendous amount.

Greenland was one of the last fundamental diet changes that is recognized in these omega-3 fatty acid studies, and that was an 18-year period. We are talking about the world diet change and this newly introduced food coming into our communities. When you go into Greenland, the fundamental diet change for a majority of the communities in Greenland was in 1985. In 1992 they had that change. As a result of that, a doctor out of Copenhagen did a documentary called The Hunt for Life, which addressed the problems that they were having with their diet at that time. It is a very well done documentary and highlighted exactly what we are going through today: the high cost of health associated with the food we are eating.

On the West Coast, when you ask that question, salmon is still an integral part of our diet but soon to become a forbidden fruit of the sea, as the abalone did, due to a lack of management practices.

Senator Patterson: Thank you very much. Chief, you referred to the scientific evidence gathered, and you said that it was valued more than anecdotal evidence. I wonder if you could nonetheless give us your perception and elaborate further on the relationship between seals and the decline of salmon, and perhaps a little bit about what you described as poor management practices.

Mr. Jones: At the end of the day, a lack of managing predators has always been a problem. It started in 1964, when the environmental community first started going out to stop the harvest of the East Coast seal pups. In 1972 they had quite an accomplishment when they got the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act in place.

I do not know how many Haida people eat seal today, but it is not very many. The impact of the seal is that when you see a river stream coming in that traditionally had a salmon run of 18,000 to 22,000 salmon running into that river, and it is supported by all the other little rivers around it, and there are 120 seals in that river, you have a problem. Today our people, more than ever, are depending on that salmon for our winter food. There are more people eating out of their freezers than ever before and jarring up fish for winter supply, drying, smoking, doing everything they can with it. It is a very important part of our food today.

I do not know if I got that out there properly.

Senator Patterson: Thank you.

Senator Poy: Thank you very much, chief. I am interested in the health issues that you mentioned earlier.

You spoke of a change of diet. I presume you were referring to moving from eating seal to eating salmon. You say that there are now all kinds of diseases prevalent among the Haida people because of the change of diet. Are you talking about salmon or are you talking about seal?

Mr. Jones: No, I am talking about a fundamental change of diet. There are processed foods coming into our community like never before. We eat canned food and chocolate bars. Nothing we eat today is a traditional diet by any means.

Senator Poy: It has nothing to do with the omega-3 oils that you were talking about, or has is? In my mind the two are linked, because once you eat less seal and less salmon you will not get enough omega-3 oil.

Mr. Jones: That is true. I will revert to the science I was talking about. There are more than 50 health conditions associated with that change of diet. In 1933, two brothers, doctors, went up to the Arctic and found that the people had no health problems. They had no cardiovascular problems, no diabetes and no arthritis. Even in the 1700s, in Manchester, England, they used fish oils and cod liver oils to help people with arthritis. The change of diets has deeply affected people. It is akin to bringing a form of smallpox into a community. There is no other way to say it. People are suffering from it today.

Senator Poy: You are very worried about the salmon stock.

Mr. Jones: Yes.

Senator Poy: In relationship to seal you used the words harvesting and culling. The harvest is done by sealers?

Mr. Jones: Yes.

Senator Poy: When there is a cull, it is done by other people. Are we talking about harvesting?

Also, I see on your PowerPoint that the local people use 100 per cent of the seal. However, when it is harvested en masse, that will not happen?

Mr. Jones: There is a difference between culling and harvesting.

Senator Poy: Yes, a big difference.

Mr. Jones: Bounty hunting is a culling method. Today it is totally not acceptable to do a cull, and for good reason. The health benefits associated with harvesting far outweigh culling as management. We have to distinguish between the two practices. We could use 100 per cent of the animal in a commercial market venture today. Our people will not change their diet back to what it was. They can learn from a harvesting practice. If we start the practice today, hopefully in one or two generations they will be back in a healthy state due to good traditional diets.

Senator Poy: I am only familiar with omega-3 oil from salmon. Do many fish oil manufacturers use seal?

Mr. Jones: Yes.

Senator Poy: I am not familiar with that.

Mr. Jones: There are many fish from which you can collect omega-3 oil. There is definitely a difference between the omega-3 fatty acids, and they are basically in three categories. There is long-chain fatty acid, medium-chain fatty acid and short-chain fatty acid. From seal, mother's breast milk, finfishes and the eyes of fish you can get the same quality of the long-chain fatty acid; then you have vegetable oil and flaxseed oil. Many scientists do not consider flaxseed oil to be an omega-3 fatty acid. They consider it to be a converter of omega-3 in our bodies; that is, it will convert the EPA, which is the anti-inflammatory for blood flow and joints, into DPA, which is the healing part of our body.

Senator Poy: You are saying that seal oil is top of the line?

Mr. Jones: Seal oil and mother's breast milk are the two highest omega-3 fatty acids that you can get in the world today.

Senator Poy: But it is not yet commercially made in large amounts?

Mr. Jones: Yes, it is.

Senator Demers: Chief, I say a prayer for your granddaughter. You have handled yourself with a lot of class.

You have said that many people are against eliminating seals. I am learning a lot about seals at the Aboriginal Peoples Committee as well. What is the biggest misconception about the elimination of seal? There is so much criticism about that, and I think we do not quite understand what it is all about.

Mr. Jones: I will use Newfoundland as a benchmark. The seal is cute with its big brown eyes, and there are many of them in Newfoundland. They want to cull 33,000 moose in Newfoundland, and the animal rights people say that that does not matter. Mr. Moose is delicious, but he does not look as good as the seal. These people jump on bandwagons. For them it is not about management but about principles. When your poster child is bringing in a lot of money for your cause, you will go with your poster child, and that happens to be the seal for PETA and other organizations like that. Seals have no responsibility to nature, while as human beings we do have a responsibility to harvest nature where nature is impacting other resources.

This is happening on the British Columbia coast, in Newfoundland and in the Arctic, affecting the lives of not only the Aboriginal people who live in those areas but also the non-Aboriginals who live among them.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: My office has contacted yours many times. They sent me a recent decision of a judge in the United States who ruled against the groups who oppose the Humane Society to authorize the killing of some seals in order that there be a balance between the seal and the salmon. It seems that it was going overboard there.

We have the same problem on the East Coast. I travel in Europe and I hear all the criticism from politicians who will never be faced with seal hunting. They have never seen it in their lives and, as you say, it is the baby seal they are relating to. Brigitte Bardot is the big spokesperson. She is usually shown at age 30, and now she is over 70. It is a big image thing.

I want to make sure if you share that idea, that the whole thing is fabricated by lobby groups who are in fact vegetarians. Do you agree with me?

Mr. Jones: Yes.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: I know the benefits, for my colleagues; I take some seal omega-3. It is available in Quebec so we can buy it because it is fabricated. I know all the benefits, too. I do not know if I will look as good as you do, because I read in your biography that you are 86 years old?

Mr. Jones: No, my dad is 86 years old, 87 now.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: I said you look so young.

The Chair: I was reading from the notes myself and I said if this gentleman is 86 years of age and is taking omega-3 —

Senator Hervieux-Payette: There is a positive story, and maybe you can help us to first establish that it is not a crime. It is a small industry, and of course they do not have the resources. If they were attacking beef, they would have a big enemy in front of them. Any other animal in the country is big business. In this case it is a small, limited business on both coasts. How do you suggest that we proceed to convince people — in fact Canadians are a lot more convinced than the rest of the world that this is an ethical way — there is an ethical way of doing some seal harvesting? If people are coming from your community, they mostly respect nature. It is part of their culture, and they do not kill just for the fun of it like some people do with the caribou up north. They are doing it to make a living. What do you suggest should be the line that we use when we travel?

Mr. Jones: I strongly believe that everyone has to understand that we have a responsibility as human beings to naturally harvest from nature and do it responsibly. The biggest part is when you look at metropolitan Canada; they are making the majority of the decisions, and they have absolutely no stake in nature until we quit sending them the foods that they want.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Politically speaking, our biggest opposition is not in our country. It is a fact that the Europeans have been brainwashed by big PR machines coming from the United States. In fact, they are being shown videos and all these things, and some of them are over 25 years old. There is a good story to talk about, and I guess you can be with some of the people who are convinced that this is an activity that we should be proud of as Canadians. I have argued many hours with any country in Europe, but they have not seen one in their whole life. I went seal hunting. I took my course as a seal hunter. I am a qualified seal hunter and I tried to explain that this is an activity that 15,000 families live from, but 15,000 families in this country is not a big business. However, there is omega-3 recovery. What else? I do not think the skin from the grey seals is something that can be used to make a nice coat. We have to use younger seals because they are killing each other all the time and having battles, and their skin seems to not be in very good shape.

What else? Do you see the meat being used, for instance, to have animal food? We are talking about using the animals the best way so that we recover. This is the way I see the future.

Mr. Jones: There are a lot of starving countries out in the world today. Using nature to hopefully supplement them in the future would be an acceptable act.

You made reference to the United States. In 2009, in an email I sent Ms. Labonté, there is a report done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the Columbia River; it is a very detailed scientific report. As a result of that, they gave them permits to kill 14 or 16 sea lions in the Columbia River. They have not done anything and they are adhering to public pressure again. They are so entrenched in obeying the United States laws that it has no bearing on whether things are good in nature.

When you talk about the meat, I worked very closely with the Chinese on the West Coast of British Columbia, and we have sent samples to China of all the meat. We have sent health samples over as well. In front of me I have seal meat dishes in China, and these people eat anything. The guy I am working with is the one that presented them and had them prepared in China. They cooked up the penis and everything to serve them to the people, and it was part of a meal. He said they will eat everything and anything over there. He said that is the only part he would not eat. I asked the guys how it tasted and they said it was excellent. That meat market could be a world commodity so there is no reason. If we are going to harvest the grey seal, whether we use it for dog food, human consumption, or fertilizer, there will be a benefit in all three areas.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: The omega-3?

Mr. Jones: You will have the good omega-3 fatty acid, and we have the sea lion on the West Coast, which is similar to the grey seal. It does not have the same quality of omega-3 fatty acid that we have in the harp seal and the harbour seal.

The difference between the harbour seal on the West Coast and the harp seal on the East Coast is that the omega-3 fatty acid varies. On the West Coast the omega-3 fatty acid content is between 22 and 27 per cent, and on the East Coast it is from 18 to 22 per cent. We have a richer seal because of a more diverse diet with the seals.

All those benefits are there.

Through the work that I have done, I have developed soaps, shampoos, lotions and creams out of seal oil. They turned out to be the most incredible health products that you can get, but the trouble is we are having a hard time adjusting the odour. People like everything to smell good. We made it smell real good, but we destroyed the effect. We are still working on it. We are still playing around with it. This has been a seven- or eight-year program.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Thank you. I thought that if we know what we can do and it is a renewable resource, we have to have a balance. My last question is do you think that where we have an overpopulation it is because the predators are not there anymore to make sure we have a balance in nature?

Mr. Jones: Yes. The other impact that you talk about that I do not highlight a lot is in Langara Island — and Paul said this as well — and fishing in the north and all around Haida Gwaii: The populations of sea lions and seals are large enough in those areas that they are impacting the sports fishery.

The province of British Columbia will brag that up: Okay, we are getting $30 to $40 per pound versus what the food industry gets out of what we class as the commercial sport. That industry is now being impacted by seals and sea lions in the areas where they are fishing. The only thing I take my hat off to the sports fishing industry for, and if you did research on the West Coast of British Columbia on salmon stocks, is that they have maintained the integrity to look after their industry through salmon enhancement of spring salmon and coho. All other stocks are very weak. A big run that came into the Fraser River of sockeye is an anomaly. We may not see that again for another 30 years.

Senator Raine: We have been hearing so much about the predation on the commercial fishing business on the East Coast, and I was happy that you came to say that we also have a problem on the West Coast. I am a little bit concerned that you seem to indicate in your presentation, which I have read, that DFO is not really doing any research or is not concerned at all about what is happening on the West Coast, in comparison to what is happening on the East Coast.

Mr. Jones: I work with Marilyn Joyce and Peter Olesiuk, whom I have not worked with much lately, but I am always directed back to Paul Cottrell now, who is marine mammal coordinator for the West Coast. We have run into multiple problems. At the end of the day, it comes to back up your science and stand behind it. They have all the science they need on the predation of the sea lion and the seal on salmon. For some strange reason, when they went into the Cohen Commission, none of that seemed to have mattered. The report on predation is a lengthy piece in the Cohen Commission that is going on regarding the missing Fraser River sockeye. It talks about the seals, sea lions and the sockeye coming in at a time when they are not eating fish. To me, that is hogwash. Peter Olesiuk, back up your work or do not do it at all. That is the problem I have. I have had the Department of Fisheries and Oceans come to my house with a letter saying if I shoot other seal or sea lion, they will arrest me. I have that letter at home now. I have no bones about shooting a sea lion that is taking a fish off my hook that feeds my family. That is the thing. Sadly enough, the Council of the Haida Nation has got leadership that sides with the likes of David Suzuki and other outfits like that, the Suzuki Foundation. They do not want to be conversely associated with harvesting seals.

On April 9, 2003, we had a conference in Skidegate. In the conference, the majority of the Haida on the day had endorsed doing something about the seal and sea lion. After the meeting the president contacted the lawyer, who is one of my cousins, Terri-Lynn Davidson, and the vice-president at the time. They spent the night writing a letter back to the vice-president of the Council of the Haida Nation from what was then Eagle, and that letter turned the people around and they voted against the issue the next day and shut it down. We have that type of leadership.

There was one other thing. I made a note. You talked about vegans and others; how do we address them? I use celery. When they approach me I say, "Do you eat celery?" They say, "Yes." I say, "There you go. All the moms and dads are standing around outside and as you cut down into the middle, all the babies are in there." I said, "Celery has a life too." I wrote that down here and I somehow skipped over it in my answer.

Senator Raine: I find it very interesting that you are involved in researching and developing the products that use seal for health. I grew up, as probably anyone in my generation did, with all six kids lined up with the mother with the bottle of cod liver oil. We grew up with cod liver oil every day. Back then, people knew that if you did not get vitamin D in the wintertime, you got sick. We had cod liver oil. Now we have a whole generation covered in sunscreen so you do not even get the vitamin D from the sun, and we are not doing this.

Are you seeing any interest from the health scientists, the nutritional scientists, in terms of utilizing these great oils for Canadian health?

Mr. Jones: I have done a number of workshops throughout British Columbia and different bands brought me in. I have been doing this on my own coin. I started up a number of businesses. I actually burned myself out quite seriously, to the point where I could not wake up anymore. I was working with your office. I have been to California, Columbia River, Hawaii, some of the better places to work, throughout Canada, Alberta, doing workshops on omega-3 fatty acids, basically living healthier through omega-3. I have not had seal oil for five years and I get a call every day for it.

Senator Raine: You cannot get it?

Mr. Jones: I can get it, but I have exhausted myself. One day I was talking to my dad about this and he said, "You have to quit doing what you are doing." I said, "Why?" He said, "You have spent well over a million dollars doing what you are doing." Believe me, I work, I get a contract, I fill the contract, I pay my bills, and any residue goes into omega-3 fatty acid studies. I am living a bankrupt life doing what I am doing, and I love every minute of it. I am committed. It is not about me today; it is about my grandchildren and those not born yet.

Senator Raine: Is seal oil being produced on the West Coast?

Mr. Jones: East Coast seal oil is produced, being bought up by capsulation companies and being capsulated on the West Coast, but there are a number of problems. We are able to buy it from the East Coast but not from the Arctic. A number of years ago, they sent the blubber down, vacuum-packed it up and sent it to a processing plant for rendering in Montreal, and they just lost their shirt on the shipping. They could not afford to do it, so they do not do it in the Arctic.

We took another step to try to remedy that. My son-in-law is a professional plumber. He has done some development. We developed a fuel from seal oil that could be burned in a furnace, because it is too expensive to get propane into the North. We have just presented it to some of the players up there. For the cost of about 20 gallons of propane you can make about 300 gallons of seal furnace oil, and then you can take it to the next step. It is quite a cumbersome process. You have to ship chemicals around and then ship the semi-processed product out, but it still was not feasible.

Senator Raine: Research should be done by scientists in DFO or Industry Canada on these opportunities.

Mr. Jones: I would like research scientists to endorse some anecdotal evidence rather than doing the science. To quote a remark made by a doctor at a meeting in Vancouver a number of years ago, there are absolutely no absolutes in science.

Senator Raine: I was not thinking so much of analytical science as about engineering science where you are trying to create processes to make the products work. It blows my mind that we could be harvesting this high-quality protein and high-quality oil for the betterment of humanity, and instead we are reacting to a propaganda campaign that makes no sense at all.

Mr. Jones: I will speak to the health aspect. If Canada harvested Atlantic seal oil and distributed it to anyone in Canada who wanted it, we could cut our health costs nationwide by 40 per cent. My wife and a number of other people are measuring sticks for that. I have been studying seal oil for a number of years. When I was 15 years old, I got a pair of glasses. When I was 52 years old, I ceased wearing glasses, and I had only been taking seal oil for one year. My wife's arthritis pills and health bills cost thousands of dollars a year. We cut it right down. She has not taken estrogen for menopause for a number of years, because seal oil shuts down the sweats.

My dad's first cousin, Percy Williams, who is a hereditary chief of my dad's people in Skidegate, has had Parkinson's disease for a number of years. I bought him a jar of seal oil and he quit shaking in three weeks.

The list of health benefits for humans from omega-3 seal oil supplementation goes on and on. It benefits diabetes, arthritis and cardiovascular disease. It assists from premenstrual syndrome to menopause. There is incredible benefit from seal oil omega-3. The EPA in omega-3, one of the collagens of omega-3 fatty acid, is an anti-inflammatory and it helps the blood flow by smoothing the walls of the blood vessels. The DHA benefits the nerves and the eyes. DPA is the healing part of omega-3 fatty acids. When Dr. Morita made his presentation to us at Foreign Affairs and International Trade, he talked about extracting DHA and healing cancer with it in Japan. He injected the DHA into a person with prostate cancer and destroyed the cancer cells. Omega-3 fatty acid has the power to retard or shrink tumours in our bodies. The benefits are there.

Why are doctors not promoting it? One doctor who did was phoned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by the animal rights people. They live in fear of these people. They have the knowledge to change the world but they cannot do it because there are too many powerful adversaries out there.

Senator Cochrane: Do your people take seal oil capsules?

Mr. Jones: Yes.

Senator Cochrane: In Newfoundland and Labrador we make the seal oil capsules from the seal oil. I am familiar with what you are saying about arthritis. Years ago a politician in Newfoundland promoted seal oil capsules. Many people started to use it, and I think it did improve their arthritis.

At the end of your brochure it says that the rivers and the streams will continue to be devastated by seals and sea lions. Would you explain that?

Mr. Jones: This is going on as we talk with the fry coming out. The seals and sea lions in are in the mouths of our rivers and streams gobbling up the fry. That is the impact I am talking about. In his report of April 2010, Peter Olesiuk said that 36 seals will eat 3.2 million returning fry. That is a public report on the fisheries website.

Senator Cochrane: You said that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans will now consider a West Coast seal commercial harvest. Have they agreed that it is the seals that are devastating many of these stocks?

Mr. Jones: Their scientists put that report out. Every time we approach, they call our evidence anecdotal and say that they we cannot go by that, that they need the science.

As early as 1998 and 2002, as I said earlier, they deemed their own science to be inconclusive because two other rivers did better. I strongly believe that they do not even believe in their own work.

You referred to having seal oil in Newfoundland. I know they make it there. I went to Gander for a conference and looked everywhere to buy seal oil, but could not get any, so I had to go into the business myself.

Senator Cochrane: I will put the word out and you will have competition.

Mr. Jones: Then again, the companies that are making the seal oils are also intimidated by the acts of the animal rights people as well.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: I still want to find a way of stabilizing the industry. I just want to say to my colleague who was asking if there was some recognition in terms of nutrition and complement of nutrition that, yes, PhD people in nutrition are recognizing omega-3 as being a very healthy supplement. I am related to them.

I would also like to ask the chief the following: I have met with the people in the ministry in British Columbia at the provincial level. The deputy minister was telling me that the activists against were in fact doing the same thing for bear. He said that until there is a bear walking in the middle of Vancouver, we cannot touch a bear.

It seems that it is not a story of one animal; it is a philosophy. Those who are vegetarian, of course, it is like a religion. As far as I am concerned, with all the McDonald's on this planet, I think we are far away from all becoming vegetarians.

How do we help? That provincial deputy minister was sad. He was telling me they were in private property, they were all over the place and they were threatening children. If you had a property along the shore, you could have these animals sitting on your property. Last year a young child, three or four years old, was brought down in the water by one of these animals. It is not a pet; these are huge marine mammals. Even a male of good standing cannot fight these animals. They are very dangerous. They are not just eating fish; they would be dangerous to human beings. I do not think we are invading their territory; I think they are invading our territory.

How do we proceed? I agree with you on this question of arresting and intimidating people. I think they are in fact close to criminal acts. I am not kidding. I am serious about this. You cannot threaten people and think that you have the right to do that because you have the right cause.

Who does not have the courage to stop this intimidation and side with the people?

Mr. Jones: I will use Haida Gwaii as a real answer to your question. In the north coast, you know of the Great Bear Initiative, generated by the spirit bear, and it is basically being run by the Coastal First Nations. Through this process, they have shut down the bear harvesting on Haida Gwaii, and they are only allowed to shoot four bears on Haida Gwaii now. On Louise Island, per square kilometre, we have the largest population of bear in the world. How do we get the Haidas' attention to turn this around? Bears eat fish. Haida Gwaii fish is in serious trouble. Two predators are uncontrolled: bear and seal.

When does salmon become a forbidden fruit of the sea? If I was a fish manager today on the Pacific Coast, salmon would be classed in the species at risk and various areas would be on the endangered species list. However, it is the First Nations people who have become part of the problem now because we have brother bear now. I always say it is so much easier for our people to go to the co-op store and buy the food they need for their table than it is to go out on the land and see the problems.

I grew up there. My dad was a commercial fisherman, my grandfather was a commercial fisherman, and his father was a commercial fisherman. I became a commercial fisherman and left the industry 14 years ago due to economic setbacks. It was bail out or go down with the industry.

I have three daughters and four grandchildren, the oldest one being the granddaughter, and three grandsons. I take the grandsons out fishing with me now on a sports-type basis to teach them how to fish. We have lost touch with the realities of nature, and the only way that you reinstate that is to take away something that is extremely valuable so they can assess why they lost it.

As I sat on council from 1978 to 1984, we did everything in our power to stop the abalone harvest, and today that is still a forbidden fruit of the sea for our people and it is being poached like never before. This will happen unless we start changing the mindsets to save a species that is going extinct.

The Chair: Thank you, Chief Jones. It has been an interesting discussion, for sure.

Before we conclude our meeting, for the members of the committee, I received two letters from the ministry of fisheries, which I want to read for the record, in relation to our studies concerning the lighthouses. Both letters were received on March 23.

We would like to thank the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans for its report on the implementation of the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act. The response underscores the government's recognition of the importance to stakeholders of preserving Canada's historic lighthouses as a symbol of our coastal communities and our maritime heritage. In closing, we would like to take this opportunity to thank the committee for its work on this report.

That is signed by the Honourable Keith Ashfield and the Honourable Peter Kent.

We also had another letter in relation to our other study, the parallel study to the one I previously mentioned, and it goes along these lines:

I would like to thank the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans for its report Seeing the Light: Report on Staffed Lighthouses in Newfoundland and Labrador and British Columbia. The government thanks the committee for its extensive work on this matter and appreciates its input. The government has no plans to de-staff lighthouses, and since this matter has been examined extensively, there is no need for further study on this matter. In closing, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the committee for its work on this report.

I, as your chair, would also like to thank all members of the committee for their work on those reports also. As we know, previous to doing our study there was a plan afoot to de-staff the lighthouses in British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador. Through the work of this committee and the recommendations that we made, we changed the mind of someone along the line. Needless to say, our work is taken seriously, and that is why it is so important for the work we are doing here right now. Once again, I want to thank everyone involved for those two excellent reports.

In closing, I want to thank Chief Jones again for his appearance here before our committee. We are leaving tomorrow evening for a couple of days in Nova Scotia to have public hearings and hopefully have the opportunity to visit Sable Island. We look forward to those couple of days in Nova Scotia as we continue on with our study. Once again, thank you very much.

Mr. Jones: May I also extend my gratitude to you for taking the time to meet with me. It has been a big honour for me to be here. May the blessing of the Great Spirit be with you all and your work.

The Chair: Thank you once again. The meeting is adjourned.

(The committee adjourned.)

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