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POFO - Standing Committee

Fisheries and Oceans


Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on 
Fisheries and Oceans

Issue 16 - Evidence - May 28, 2013

OTTAWA, Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans met this day at 6:30 p.m. to study the regulation of aquaculture in Canada and future prospects for the industry.

Senator Fabian Manning (Chair) in the chair.


The Chair: I realize that we will be waiting on some senators who will be arriving a bit late. As we are fully aware, we have run late in the Senate.

I am pleased to welcome you to this meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. My name is Fabian Manning. I am a senator from Newfoundland and Labrador and chair of this committee.

Before I begin, I want to apologize, once again, to our representatives from the department. We had you here on May 7, which does not seem that long ago, and we had a late evening at that time also but it is beyond our control. We thank you for your patience once again. I will start the meeting now and we will try to finish by 7:30. I will ask any senators to limit themselves to one question and a follow-up, and if we get an opportunity to have a second round, we will. We can also have the witnesses back at some other time if we need to do so.

The committee heard from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on May 7 as part of our study on the regulation of aquaculture in Canada and future prospects for the industry. Again, that evening there was little time for questions, so we were delighted that the officials are back here with us again this evening.

For the record, I would ask you to introduce yourselves. If you have any comments you would like to make, please do so, or we can go right into questions. It is totally up to you.

Guy Beaupré, Director General, Aquaculture Management Directorate, Program Policy, Fisheries and Oceans Canada: I am Director General of the Aquaculture Management Directorate in Fisheries and Oceans.

Eric Gilbert, Executive Director, Aquaculture Operations, Ecosystems and Aquaculture Management, Fisheries and Oceans Canada: I am Executive Director of the Aquaculture Operations Management Directorate.

Jay Parsons, Director, Strategic and Regulatory Science Directorate, Ecosystems and Oceans Science Sector, Fisheries and Oceans Canada: I am Director of the Aquaculture Science Branch in the Ecosystems and Oceans Science Sector of Fisheries and Oceans.

The Chair: If it is okay with you, we will go right into questions. We have your presentation and all senators have had an opportunity to take a look. Once again, we will have one question and a follow-up and then go back around the table, if necessary.

Senator McInnis: I have a whole host of questions and I obviously will not get them in tonight. I agree that we are short with time and I will ask one question, but it is important to me that I have the answers from DFO. I wonder if I might communicate to you in writing and then I can copy all the members. There are a number of questions that I would like to get established as we embark on this study.

Let me ask a very quick question.

The Chair: Can we get an answer from Mr. Beaupré?

Mr. Beaupré: Yes, we will be pleased to answer those questions.

Senator McInnis: I read through your document last week, which is very much a marketing document on behalf of aquaculture. Of course, Fisheries and Oceans appears to be marketing aquaculture. On the other hand, you are enabling it, in some respects, in our country. Do you consider yourself to be in somewhat of a conflict of interest?

Mr. Beaupré: Thank you for that question. As you know, we are the regulator mainly in British Columbia and Prince Edward Island, not necessarily in other provinces. We consider ourselves the regulator in the same way that we are regulating the fisheries.

Our presentation basically presented facts to give a good sense of what is aquaculture in Canada in the various provinces, the main products and markets, and the main issues that we face on an ongoing basis. It is not so much a marketing presentation, but presenting facts to provide you with good information on what the aquaculture is about.

Senator McInnis: Do you see any conflict at all here?

Mr. Beaupré: No.

Senator McInnis: Who has the final say as to whether a licence goes forward? The provincial governments come, or at least most of them, to your department and you are involved, as is Transport Canada. However, the province can say, "No, we are not awarding the licence." Under the Constitution, it falls to them because it is a form of farming. They would have the final say, is that correct?

Mr. Beaupré: Yes, and we work with the provinces and other departments on the various issues. For example, if it is about a new site for aquaculture, we have evaluations to decide whether the site is appropriate from various perspectives in terms of protecting habitat and fish species that would surround the site. We work with other federal departments and provide advice to the provincial government for making decisions. It depends on the issues, but we work on an ongoing basis with provincial governments.

Senator McInnis: They blame you. Did you know that?

Mr. Beaupré: That is quite possible.

Senator Wells: Is the mandate of the department regulatory with respect to aquaculture? Do you have other requirements with respect to aquaculture, generic promotion of the industry and other things, or is it purely regulatory?

Mr. Beaupré: I would say the mandate is regulatory, but it also involves science and a number of other activities like enforcement in British Columbia, for example. It is very focused on regulating the industry.

Senator Wells: As a follow-up, are the regulations prescriptive or goal-oriented? Do you prescribe what needs to happen for the regulations or is it goal-oriented? Do you tell the potential aquaculture operators what the objective is and they give you comfort that they are doing it, or is it prescriptive?

Mr. Beaupré: We work with licence conditions in British Columbia. The licence conditions ensure that the aquaculture activities will take place in accordance with the conditions to ensure that the impacts on habitat are managed in a way that they are minimized or can be mitigated. Various aspects of the production are also part of the licence conditions, so the activity itself and its potential impacts are mitigated.

Senator Wells: You mentioned British Columbia separately from the Atlantic coast. Could you tell me why you are doing that?

Mr. Beaupré: It is mainly because in British Columbia we are the regulator, whereas in the other provinces they are the main regulators, so we work with them.

Senator Poirier: I have one question and I may have a follow-up depending on the answer. Regarding the location of net-pen aquaculture, is there a law regulating where they can set up a net-pen to prevent an alteration to the landscape?

Mr. Beaupré: I do not think there are specific laws, but in terms of establishing a new site in British Columbia or in other provinces, there are a lot of activities related to the attributes of that particular environment, for example, whether the currents are very strong, whether this could interfere with navigation or if it is too close to wild salmon rivers; that is another criteria. There are a number of criteria taken into account either by the province or the federal government in deciding on a particular site. Of course, there are also consultations with First Nations and Aboriginal groups, depending on where the sites would be.

Senator Poirier: As a follow-up, when you are allowing an aquaculture procedure to go ahead, whether it is oyster farming or whatever, is waterfront tourism looked at? Do we know what the impact is by allowing certain aquaculture activities in a waterfront tourism area? Do we know what impact that has or do we have any information on what impact that would have for the tourism industry?

Mr. Beaupré: For the tourism industry I would assume this is a criterion we would look at. We have not particularly related tourism per se, but in terms of impacts we have models of potential impacts of various factors on the environment. In terms of tourism, this would be one of the considerations that would come up in the consultations we would do. If there were concerns in the communities, these would come up during those consultations prior to establishing the site.

Senator Poirier: Would that be in Atlantic Canada under a provincial regulation or a federal regulation?

Mr. Beaupré: It would be under provincial regulations.


Senator Maltais: Welcome, gentlemen. I would like to congratulate you on your work. In the report of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, there are very strict safety and traceability standards, which are very important for Canadians who eat fish.

I am wondering about the discounts on products imported from Asia, for instance, over which we have no control. You must hear about that. The prices of those products are competing with your products, because it is normal for your prices to be higher, given all the measures you must take. In fact, we can practically say that foreigners are dumping their products into Canada right now.

How do you see that from a competitive point of view?

Mr. Beaupré: I do not really have an answer to that. It is about dumping, not something that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans considers. Other departments deal with that issue specifically.

In terms of imported species, they must be inspected for safety reasons— not so much in terms of competition, but in terms of the potential impact on other species in Canada or on consumers' health.

Senator Maltais: What about the traceability of imported products? Can we trace them right back to the food they eat, the way we can here in Canada?

Mr. Beaupré: I think it can be done for most products. Perhaps Mr. Gilbert has something to add.

Mr. Gilbert: That is a very good but very complex question. You were right in saying that, as a department, we do not play a major role in that. You were also right in saying that we hear about it. It is a question of being fair to our Canadian industry when it comes to imports.

There are two things I would like to add to what Mr. Beaupré said. First, I would like to say that we have a safety program in place for sea products, which is strictly applied and opens up outside markets for us, because we have reciprocal agreements with the European community, the U.S. and others. As a result of those agreements, what we send to their markets meets their demands and what they send to us meets our demands. That is not the case with all countries.

The second point I would like to make is that, when trade agreements are involved, as long as there are no problems with the products, they are tolerated to a certain extent because of the trade aspect, not the public health aspect.

Senator Robichaud: I would like to follow up on Senator Maltais' question. Who regulates the food used in aquaculture? And if it is regulated, is it compared with what is used abroad?

Mr. Gilbert: For shellfish, there is no food; they are filter-feeding animals. So in the case of onshore and offshore fish farms, we use fish feed. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is responsible for that. They have regulations. They have legislation on the type of feed for animals, both on land and in the sea. The process is highly regulated. The regulations are very strict.

The regulations are mostly concerned about human health, but they are also concerned about the health of animals as such. So, in Canada, we cannot feed fish whatever we want.

Does that answer your question?

Senator Robichaud: Yes, thank you. I guess we should ask the agency whether they compare what is being done here and elsewhere.

Mr. Gilbert: I would invite you to ask them the question. I may have a personal opinion on it, but I would rather keep it to myself.


Senator Raine: I think I mentioned last week that I would like the information that we have been given to be broken down by species because the aggregate numbers are not that helpful.

I am also looking at table 5 of our document, where you talk about the different species by province. I would be interested in finding out which of these species are native to our habitats and which are introduced. For instance, Mediterranean mussels, Japanese scallops and Manila clams, I presume, are not native to British Columbia, so they have been brought in. Are they being farmed in a contained area, or are these now able to get out and become natural to the British Columbia waters? It would be interesting. Tilapia, I believe, is also an Asian fish. We will now grow that in our waters. What are the ramifications of these introduced species in our waters?

Mr. Parsons: It depends on which species you are talking about. Most of the species you mentioned are shellfish that are grown on the West Coast. While some of them might have been introduced quite a number of years ago, most of them do have naturalized wild populations that exist on the coast. Some other species, for example, like Atlantic salmon, are grown on the West Coast, but there are no established natural populations of Atlantic salmon on the West Coast. Tilapia, for example, are cultured in Canada. They are a freshwater fish and the few operations culturing them are all land-based facilities, so they are contained and grown within tanks.

Senator Raine: Are some species of fish more adapted for fish farming than others? I understand that many of the salmon species do not do well penned up. They attack each other, for instance. Atlantic salmon are more docile.

How are they selected? How does this work? How do they start becoming part of our aquaculture industry?

Mr. Gilbert: It is a very long process. For Atlantic salmon, for instance, it took decades to master the cycle of production and to do some genetic selection in order to improve the routine operation. That is true for all of the species.

I would say that in most the cases it is easier to raise domestic fish in their own environment than to use an exotic species, it is easier. There are some exceptions. However, if you look at what we are producing in Canada, I have never made the calculation myself, but I would say that the very large majority of what we are raising is indigenous fish.

The exotic species, if I may add complementary information, are strongly regulated in this country. There is a national code of introduction and transfer, which is an MOU signed by the provinces and by the federal government — DFO — that regulates all of the movement of fish, including the import of exotic species into this country. A risk assessment is done for each case. We are looking at ecological risks if the species were to spread out, genetic impact on local species, and concerns over fish health, a new disease that could be spread because of that introduction. There are not that many examples where those kinds of introductions went badly, if I can put it that way. It is well regulated by DFO, CFIA and the provinces.

Mr. Beaupré: One element you were asking about was how the industry comes to choose one species over others. In the case of salmon, Atlantic salmon is easier to grow in a pen than is wild Pacific salmon. That is one reason you see the aquaculture of Atlantic salmon.

Senator Robichaud: It is also better tasting.

Mr. Parsons: If you wish, I could elaborate. Obviously many factors are considered in the selection of a potential candidate species for aquaculture. Certainly, on the biology, there are questions around raising a fish or shellfish under aquaculture conditions. We need to understand the biology of the fish in terms of being able to spawn the fish so that we can raise the juveniles and then grow them out. We need to understand the diets they need in order to grow them in an economical period of time.

Another factor is the economics around potential candidate species. Can we grow these species using the technology that we have? How long will it take? What will be the cost of feeding and the labour associated with this in a manner that is economical? Of course, from industry's perspective, there are market considerations for these potential species at the end of the day. A lot of considerations go into deciding whether a potential species would be viable biologically and economically for aquaculture.

Senator Raine: Does DFO do this initial work or does the industry do it? How does it work?

Mr. Parsons: The landscape certainly has changed over the last 5 to 30 years. I would say that during that time, it has been a collective effort on the part of industry to be involved and interested in growing potential candidate species. Historically, DFO has been involved in providing research on the development of a number of species and the academic community has been involved in research to support the development of these species. That has been the history over the last many years.

More recently, as Mr. Beaupré answered in an earlier question, the department's current role is focused more on regulatory aspects related to the industry than on developmental aspects related to the production of new or existing species.

Senator McInnis: You will be aware that in the province of Nova Scotia, open-pen salmon farming is extremely controversial. It would appear to me and many others in the province that aquaculture is very much a work-in- progress. You have difficulties with sea lice and sea lice treatment and monitoring the density of the fish held in net pens, so we are not quite there yet. Some jurisdictions in Canada have established standards and regulations for finfish stock densities, while others have not. We have the difficulty of escaping farm fish that can breed with wild salmon, so as I say, we are not there yet. Some fallow or rotate their pens, while others do not. There are many difficulties.

When I read through your document, I did not see a lot of participation from the public Ecology Action Centre, the Lobster Council of Canada and a number of others. I saw words like "socially sustainable" and the word "social" was used. I saw "non-governmental NGOs." I did not know what they were because they were not identified. When I look at the state of aquaculture, and I have read the Cohen commission report and what they said about salmon farming, it strikes me that there are a lot of questions to be answered.

Would you agree that while we are embarking on these matters, a lot of research is required? For example, Nova Scotia has put a halt to open-pen salmon farming. They have struck a wide-ranging committee to develop regulations. I note with interest that once again they are not involving the public. There was never a discussion about the rights of the private property holder. You can be living in an ancestral home of over 100 years overlooking an inlet. Unannounced — no notice — they come with their 18-hectare leases with motors running 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It strikes me that there is a lot of work, and you are unable to do that successfully unless you include the public.

I look at your table of participants and see the grocery stores and Cooke Aquaculture, which was just fined $500,000 for putting an illegal substance in the water, but no public. That is a problem as we go forward.

How would you equalize the state of aquaculture? Am I incorrect in my assessment of this? It just seems to be a multiplicity of problems.

Mr. Beaupré: Senator, all the issues you have raised and the facts you have put forward are very true. This is the environment we face on a day-to-day basis. Many of those questions are extremely difficult to address, mainly because there are many factors to take into account. For example, aquaculture is a new industry and it has to fit with the fisheries industry that has been there for a long time. It is difficult.

We hear many times that aquaculture is fine, but not in my backyard. There are concerns about that. We see that every day. The minister receives letters all the time that raise those issues. In addition, people have many concerns, not only the general public but also the industry. We get representation from the lobster industry because they are concerned about the products that would be used to treat the fish for sea lice, for example. How do you go ahead and do the business of aquaculture and use the products that are okay to be used because these products have had an environmental assessment done on them? They are used according to a label that the federal agency, the PMRA — I do not remember what the acronym stands for. Everything is well regulated, but there are still concerns about the use of those products. There are the concerns you mentioned — the interactions between the wild and aquaculture fish, and the sea lice. Many people are concerned on both coasts — everywhere.

It is difficult to manage. At the same time, because there are many concerns, there is a lot of information that is not quite accurate that we have to correct sometimes.

We are very much in contact with other countries like Norway, for example, and Scotland and Chile. They face the same problems, so we have exchanges in order to learn and ensure we are going in the same direction. If they have been able to address one issue, we can benefit from that.

We are trying to move all these pieces at the same time, but they are very complex.

Senator Raine: You did not really answer the question about what value is given to the views of established homes onshore that will be somewhat — I would say — destroyed. Is there a value; is there a compensation for that?


Mr. Gilbert: If you are talking about monetary value, there is none; there is no compensation. However, to add to Guy's answer in response to Senator McInnis' question, I must say that, in Nova Scotia, the allowance is the province's responsibility exclusively. The province is responsible for issuing leases for the ocean floor and the province also issues aquaculture licences.

The department participates in the process by providing scientific opinions on the potential impact of the facilities on fish habitat and commercial fisheries, in compliance with the Fisheries Act.

However, we participate in the process from A to Z and I know that the province, in the context of site assessments and assessment of access requests for new sites, holds many public consultations throughout the process; they often last a year or two.

In those cases, all the associations and the public are invited to share their views on a particular site. It happened recently with St. Mary's Bay and other sites.

If you are asking me whether the overall public support for a particular site is taken into consideration as it should be, I cannot answer that question. However, I can tell you that the assessment of site access includes public consultations, in which all those who are affected directly or indirectly by the possibility of having a new aquaculture site are invited to share their views on the request.


Senator McInnis: I happen to have gone through the process. I have no interest in any company that is involved in aquaculture, but I watched it. The protocol is weak at best and public engagement was little to none.

You mentioned Shoal Bay. You will be familiar with Sheet Harbour and the Douser project — the only one in America. You will see where you lose the confidence of the public in that Shoal Bay has been denied, but the neighbouring harbour closer to the Douser is still there. You see the lack of faith that people have in the system.

I realize the jurisdiction difficulty because of the provinces having the right for leases, but it strikes me that we have such a mishmash of rules and regulations. Is it not time to have some form of concurrent legislation that the provinces and the national government would be in agreement on, and that would involve some consultation with the public? It strikes me that we are not really organized yet from a legislative point of view. It is not a fault or blame, but has anyone thought of that?

Mr. Beaupré: It is certainly part of the many considerations that we look at when we consider the best way to regulate the industry. It is a complicated picture, as you have just described, because the provinces are the regulators in some areas and we are in others. We manage under the Fisheries Act, which is an act that is mainly focused on wild fisheries, so there are activities that we need to address differently because they are not part of the Fisheries Act, per se.

We also manage with a long list of regulations and agencies. If you are from the outside looking in at all of this, it is very complex. We are trying as much as possible to bring clarity and simplicity in those regulations. It takes time. We certainly agree that the picture is quite complex.

Senator McInnis: At the end of this study, I hope that we will be able to assist you in some way with respect to recommendations. I do not mean at all to minimize the complexity of it; it is not easy and there are a number of players. Ultimately, as my friend here has alluded to, many countries need the protein. Aquaculture may be the only way of doing it, so let us try to get it done properly.

Senator Hubley: According to the Aquaculture Association of Canada, the future of aquaculture is dependent upon research that leads the way to economically efficient yet environmentally sustainable methods of production. Could you give us an overview of the state of the aquaculture research taking place in Canada? Also, please give us the sources of funding for the research that is taking place.

Mr. Parsons: I can start to respond to your question. There may be follow-up information that we need to provide.

We are in the process of finalizing a publication that we do every two years. It summarizes the research going on across Canada. That publication is due to be available Friday, and I would be more than happy to provide copies to all members of the committee. It will give you a flavour of the breadth of ongoing research and development projects, not only in the department, but within the academic and other communities, as well.

Within Fisheries and Oceans, we have two main research programs. One is called the Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program. This program was funded in 2000 and is a collaborative program with industry. The current focus is to undertake work in support of optimizing fish health and environmental performance.

These are collaborative projects we undertake with industry; industry provides some of the funding, and the work is undertaken DFO researchers.

In 2008, as part of a sustainable aquaculture program, the department also received funds to undertake research in what we call the Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research. Again, that is research undertaken by the department, mainly focusing on research to support management, management decisions, and development of policies and regulations. Those are our two main programs within the department.

At the federal level there are a number of other programs under Industry Canada. NSERC is the council that provides funds to universities and the academic community in Canada. They have a number of programs that provide research funds through university researchers that undertake research in the aquaculture area. They also have collaborative programs to enable collaboration between industry and academic researchers, and programs that allow the development of research networks. For example, there is a current network on integrated multi-trophic aquaculture, and NSERC has funded the University of New Brunswick as the lead university. It involves a number of universities and industry players, and DFO is actually a collaborator in that network as well. There are various programs that fund research in this area through the academic community.

Under the National Research Council, there is also IRAP, the Industrial Research Assistance Program. It provides funds for technical projects, and the aquaculture industry is an eligible applicant under that program as well.

As well, other regional development agencies fund developmental projects that the aquaculture industry can avail itself of in some regions of the country.

At the provincial level, there are funds that some of the provinces allocate toward research projects. Historically, for example, in Quebec funds were provided for aquaculture research as well, but at the provincial level it is more limited.

That gives a general overview. I probably have not covered all the programs, but it gives a general flavour in terms of the funds that are available to industry directly and/or the academic community.

Senator Hubley: You mentioned collaboration. Could you also comment on the fact that there is considerable foreign ownership in Canada's aquaculture industries? Does Canada benefit from research that takes place in other countries?

Mr. Parsons: I would think generally, yes. Research that is undertaken and is published then becomes available in the public domain to anyone. I would assume that industry and researchers avail themselves of that information and look at it in it terms of how we are able to use research that is available in the public domain and how we can apply it in the Canadian context.

To a limited extent within the department but also within the academic community, researchers are involved in a number of international collaborative projects that support them undertaking research that is of mutual benefit to all parties. Certainly that is another way, through research, that we can collaborate with international partners and avail ourselves of scientific research done elsewhere in the world.

Senator Poirier: On page 3 of the notes that we were supplied, aquaculture production in Canada was pretty stable for five years following the peak they had in 2006. Then they say that in 2011 there was a decrease of about 9 per cent in value over 2010. Can you tell me the main reason for that? Was it market driven? Was there not a market for it? Was it the price? What would be the reason for a decrease of 9 per cent?

Mr. Beaupré: I do not know of any particular factor that would explain that, other than the market at this point. I do not know if my colleagues have a more precise answer.

Senator Poirier: You think it was market driven, that there was no market for the product?


Mr. Gilbert: We can come back to you with more specific information, but the fluctuations in the value of aquaculture products. . . most of our production is in salmon; in terms of volume, it is 70 per cent, and in terms of value, it is more than 80 per cent. The price of salmon has a cycle that varies between two or three years on the market. The price fluctuates; it drops, then it goes up; it drops, then it goes up. You can sort of see it on the graph. I am talking about the American market here.

In 2011, if memory serves, the price was at an all-time low, but we can get back to you with more specific information to justify this drop exactly. This is an aggregate of the east coast and the west coast, and there can be differences between the two coasts, according to the target market and the type of product sold.

Senator Poirier: Have there been drops in other countries or is it just Canada?

Mr. Gilbert: It is a market where the prices are rather international, but our products are largely sold to the American market; not all the other countries sell this type of product. The competition on the American market is mostly between Canada and Chile. For instance, Norway and Scotland would not be affected by a change in price on the American market, but they would be affected by a change in price in the European community, since that is the market most of their products are intended for. And the cycles do not necessarily coincide.

That is a good question. As you know, we are not marketing products. Agriculture Canada is still responsible for marketing sea products and there would certainly be experts who could answer that question better than we can. However, we could get back to you.

Senator Poirier: Most people who are employed in the aquaculture industry are 35 or less. Why? Is the situation the same around the world?

Mr. Gilbert: As you can see by the officials, aquaculture is a new area and it attracts young people only.

Senator Poirier: Is this comparable to the average age in other countries or are they more advanced than us?

Mr. Gilbert: To my knowledge, it is difficult to compare ourselves to other countries, because it depends on what country we are talking about. Based on what I know, I would say yes. There are a multitude of reasons for that, but the main one sort of has to do with the joke I just made, that aquaculture is a new culture that started to develop in Canada in the 1980s, and it has since attracted young people who want to work in new sectors.

At one point, in Canada, many young people pursued specific training to be able to work in aquaculture. We have seen a significant increase. The trend is not as strong today, in part because of the industry's stagnation and the decline in opportunities.

In general, since it is a new industry, young professionals, some even with a university degree, are still the ones who hold most of the jobs.

Senator Poirier: Do you have data that shows whether, in other countries, outside Canada, aquaculture started before the 1980s, and whether those countries are more advanced than us?

Mr. Gilbert: That depends on what species we are talking about. I was referring to salmon in particular. For salmon, it is the same thing everywhere. The salmon industry developed around the same time all over the world. If you are thinking of species such as shellfish, including mussels and oysters, oyster farming has been around for a long time now; it started in Canada decades ago, long before salmon farming. So it depends on the species we are talking about.

I admit that the comparison of various countries in terms of the dynamics and age in the workplace is not something we have dealt with, as far as I know. However, I can tell you that the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance commissioned a specific study on employment demographics in the Canadian aquaculture sector. If memory serves, the study covered all the sectors, not just salmon.

That study may have some comparative information on other countries. We can try to find it for you, but I am sure that the aquaculture industry will be pleased to provide you with more information on the topic.

Senator Poirier: Thank you.

Senator Maltais: Is tilapia farmed extensively?

Mr. Beaupré: In terms of volume, I do not have the numbers, but it is the type of farming that is done pretty much everywhere.

Senator Maltais: I know it is done in Ontario and they produce very good quality fish. The consumer knows what the fish eats in Ontario, because it is monitored. There is no indication about what the tilapia we get from elsewhere eats, and, once we know, we no longer eat it. Is it possible to identify the fish from Canada somehow? Even if it is a bit more expensive, I am sure that, when everyone knows what the other tilapia eats, you will have a boom in the production of your tilapia, because it is high-quality fish. However, we must know what it is fed with. Is there a way to identify the fish from Canada, to have some kind of branding?

Mr. Gilbert: To my knowledge, last time I looked at the statistics, Canada still had four or five companies left that produced tilapia. It is very little and very marginal. They are small businesses, land-based facilities with closed tanks similar to what you see for trout, except that the farming conditions are a bit different — the water is warmer and so on. You are right, production in Canada is very well monitored.

To answer your question, of course there would be a way to market a Canadian product under the Canadian label, and I think the Canadian association is still working on a project like that. Now, it is a question of volume. Since the production of tilapia is very small, it is sold locally almost exclusively. We see that with trout in Quebec, for instance. When it is sold locally, the people who buy it know exactly where the fish comes from and do not need to see a sign that says Quebec, Canada or Alberta on the product to know where it is from. I think that is the stage we are at with tilapia.

Senator Maltais: Large supermarkets do not make the distinction. In addition, foreign fish is cheaper than our fish, because it is normal that our fish is more expensive, with all the regulations that are in place. However, the tilapia that comes from abroad is certainly less expensive, because it is not properly monitored like ours.

Mr. Gilbert: I would like to add a comment. You are right, but to explain why, we must remember that, in large supermarkets, in 99.9 per cent of cases, tilapia is imported. So there is no Canadian product to label.

Senator Maltais: Very good answer, thank you.

Mr. Beaupré: You asked about branding. We see that a great deal in Europe. If you go to the fish counter in large supermarkets in Europe, every type of fish, every seafood product will be labelled. You will see "North Sea shrimp" and the price, or "Vietnam shrimp" and the price. You will even see if the fish or the seafood is farmed or wild. We do not have a system like that in Canada yet. But I think it will come eventually. You see it, for instance, in other countries; if you buy chicken, you will see the picture of the producer with his wife. Eventually, the same will end up happening for fish — you will see the picture of the fisherman with his tilapia. But it is important for consumers.

Senator Maltais: Very important.

Senator Poirier: You are saying that this system is not in place in Canada. Is it not already in place for salmon, whereby we can see whether it is Atlantic salmon or farmed salmon? It seems to me that we can see it indicated in grocery stores.

Mr. Beaupré: We can see whether the salmon was certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, for example; we are starting to see it for other species as well in grocery stores, but not so much for fresh fish.


The Chair: Thank you to our witnesses, once again, for being here this evening and for your patience. We apologize, once again, for being late.

I just want to let the committee know that next Tuesday evening, barring some unforeseen circumstance, we will be hearing from the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance. See you then.

(The committee adjourned.)

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