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POFO - Standing Committee

Fisheries and Oceans


Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on 
Fisheries and Oceans

Issue 16 - Evidence - June 4, 2013

OTTAWA, Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans met this day, at 5:05 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 am pleased to welcome everyone this evening to this meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. I am Fabian Manning, a senator from Newfoundland and Labrador, and I am chair of this committee.

Before I ask our witnesses to introduce themselves and give some opening remarks, I would ask that the members of our committee introduce themselves.

Senator Wells: I am David Wells, a senator from Newfoundland and Labrador.

Senator Poirier: Rose-May Poirier, senator from New Brunswick.

Senator Beyak: Senator Beyak from Dryden, Ontario.

Senator Stewart Olsen: Carolyn Stewart Olsen from New Brunswick.

Senator Raine: Senator Nancy Greene Raine from B.C.

Senator Watt: Senator Watt from Nunavik.

Senator Lovelace Nicholas: Senator Lovelace from New Brunswick.

Senator Campbell: I am Larry Campbell from British Columbia.

The Chair: You can see, witnesses, we are coming from coast to coast to coast.

A few weeks ago, the committee started a study on the regulation of aquaculture in Canada and the future prospects for the industry. We first heard from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans representatives, and we are looking forward today to hearing from the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance.

On behalf of the members of our committee, I thank the representatives of the alliance for taking time to be with us here today. I now ask you to introduce yourselves, and I understand you have opening remarks. After those, we will hopefully get questions from our senators.

Ruth Salmon, Executive Director, Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I appreciate the invitation to be here with you this evening. I am Ruth Salmon, Executive Director of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance.

Bruce Hancock, Member of the Board of Directors and Executive Director of the Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia, Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance: I am the Executive Director of the Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia. Prior to that, I was a shellfish farmer for about 20 years. I have been in the industry for a long time.

Ms. Salmon: We have some good, practical knowledge and experience.

Before I get into the deck, I will talk a little bit about our association. The Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance is the advocate for Canadian aquaculture. We have members for shellfish and finfish from across the country. We represent producers, suppliers, feed companies and regional associations — approximately 90 to 95 per cent of the production.

The first slide is what I wanted to start with, in terms of talking about the critical choice I think we as Canadians face. Now, 50 per cent of the seafood sold in Canada as well as worldwide is farmed. The global demand for seafood is rising at a rapid pace of 7 to 9 per cent per year.

With this demand for seafood growing annually, will Canada meet its future demand with imports or will Canada reassert its leadership and grow the farmed seafood sector responsibly? I think this is the choice that our country faces, and I think this is important work that you are doing as a committee, so hopefully you can help decide that.

The next slide puts our industry in context. This definition of "aquaculture" is written by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. It speaks to the core of who we are. Aquaculture is farming. Agriculture is not about the environment that it takes place in or the species that is cultivated, but it is about the activities that constitute farming. All of those are undertaken in aquaculture.

Regarding the next slide, I think you actually saw something similar when you heard from DFO. It is a quick economic snapshot of our industry. It is currently valued at $2.1 billion. We employ about 14,500 full-time workers in rural and coastal communities. While the bulk of our production comes from the two coasts, we do farm in every province and the Yukon. We are currently about a third of the total value of Canada's fisheries production.

The next slide is the foundation of our concern and why we have come together as an industry to try to move forward. We have had 12 years of stagnated growth. We started, as you can see, in the early 1980s and 1990s with rapid growth. That should have continued from 2000 and beyond, so we could have experienced investment in job creation, but we flatlined. Aquaculture is the fastest growing food producing sector in the world, but that is certainly not the case in Canada.

The next slide is where we compare our production to that of our competitors. We have dropped 40 per cent in market share since 2002, and we are only 0.2 per cent of global production. This is really alarming given our natural advantages here in Canada. We have the biophysical capability. We have the longest coastline and the largest freshwater system. We have a rich marine tradition. We have sustainable practices, and we lead the world in some of those sustainable practices. We have a skilled workforce. We are close to one of the largest seafood markets in the world. We are very well-positioned. However, we have flatlined while our competitors — you can see they are the U.S., Australia, Norway, Chile, New Zealand, Scotland and Ireland — have raced ahead.

The next slide puts as bit of this lost investment into context. We did an internal survey with our salmon aquaculture members who invest in Canada as well as outside of Canada. In the last year, year and a half, recent investments of more than $500 million have been made worldwide, and less than 7 per cent of that has come back to Canada. It is really maintenance dollars, not funding for new capital infrastructure projects. When you talk to the CEOs of the companies, they tell you that that investment could easily be 20 to 25 per cent. The investment dollars are there, but they are going elsewhere.

The next slide is the obvious. What has happened? Why have we flatlined? The fundamental reason, and it has been reinforced in numerous studies, as you will probably find out in your work, is that our industry works under a complicated set of regulations that are reactive and inefficient. They restrict growth. They frustrate the integration of new sustainability practices, and they limit investment. We operate under the Fisheries Act, which was created to guide a wild fishery. It does not even define our industry. It does not set a vision for growth, and it does not provide us with the enabling framework that we need.

The next slide is the result of a rigorous process that our industry has undertaken to look at the regulatory costs. It was based on the regulatory cost calculator that was designed by Treasury Board. You can see there that the costs are quite significant. We looked at the regulatory costs, both direct and indirect, and that equals about $95 million a year and $670 million over a 10-year period. Just so you understand, the indirect compliance cost is the lost net profit that results from regulations that are not directly related to compliance activities.

Then we looked at economic impacts. We looked at lost economic activity and lost jobs. These are the total impacts of lost sales in our industry on the total economic output and employment. That is also significant: $785 million annually and 4,550 fewer jobs per year. This is a fairly good representative sample of our industry. It is about 95 per cent of the finfish by sales and about 50 per cent of the shellfish. The costs are significant.

As a result, in the next slide, our industry feels it is at a bit of a crisis situation and needs to come forward with a fairly coordinated and coherent approach to next steps. This is both finfish and shellfish right across the country. The national strategy is advocating for the development of a legal framework, an aquaculture act for Canada. All our major competitors have an aquaculture act for their industry except Canada. This was actually recently suggested as one of the recommendations in the fisheries and oceans standing committee report on closed containment. Also, regulatory reform is key, with an emphasis on reduced red tape and finding policy and program reforms that would give us an enabling environment like other food-producing industries. That is the three-step approach for growth, business certainty and increased competitiveness.

If we were able to achieve that, the next slide talks about the benefits of the strategy. We are not talking here about tweaking around the edges. We are talking about significant reform. This is again another bit of an informal survey with both our finfish and shellfish members who say that Canada is between 150,000 and 160,000 tonnes right now, and within five years, without actually changing the footprint of the industry but just increasing efficiencies and making amendments on existing sites, we could move to 200,000 tonnes. With a responsible, phased-in approach to growth, you can see that within fifteen years that would be 600,000 tonnes, which would equate to 34,000 jobs. Earlier, I had mentioned that we are currently at about 14,000. It would be a significant increase in jobs and economic prosperity for rural coastal communities. Many of those are First Nations. In fact, First Nations peoples comprise 20 per cent of the B.C. salmon aquaculture industry, so that could dramatically increase if we had access to new sites.

Point number 3 is that we are very supportive of what this government is doing in the Canada-EU trade agreement but unfortunately cannot take advantage of those kinds of agreements without an ability to grow.

The last slide is really to say that the work of this committee is critical. We think time is of the essence to achieve responsible aquaculture growth and development that is based in sound science. There is a lot of good work that DFO has done as a foundation for the industry. We need farming to guarantee future supplies of fish, and this growth will ensure food security for Canada as well as jobs and economic prosperity for rural and coastal communities.

The Chair: Thank you, Ms. Salmon.

I have a quick question: Has your organization made representation to the government in relation to an aquaculture act?

Ms. Salmon: We made a presentation about a year ago to Minister Ritz, Minister Ashfield, the Prime Minister's Office, talking about the need for legislative and regulatory reform. As a result, we are working closely with DFO to try to move forward on that. It is not exactly clear where we are going, but we certainly continue to try to advocate for that position.

The Chair: The process has started?

Ms. Salmon: It has started. That is right.

Senator Stewart Olsen: My questions will be New Brunswick-specific, if you do not mind. First, on salmon — and your name really fits right into this.

Ms. Salmon: It does.

Senator Stewart Olsen: We have, I think, four companies that are doing salmon farming. New Brunswick has the largest fish farming in Atlantic. You mention that there has not been a lot of growth. Is that mainly because of the regulations, or is it lack of land or lack of available land? Is there anything New Brunswick-specific that we should know about?

Ms. Salmon: Mr. Hancock can jump in afterwards if he has something to add.

In terms of the capabilities of new sites, it varies depending on the province. For example, there has been some small growth in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland recently. There is probably less room in New Brunswick to actually grow, but when you talk to the companies that are farming there, they say that they would like the ability to have greater efficiencies, so have this site and not this site. There are some amendments and changes that can be done. However, in terms of a footprint, the new growth probably would not be significant in New Brunswick. Certainly, in comparison, in British Columbia, there is a huge potential there that has not been tapped, and Central Canada. There is a small amount of trout production and other production in the other provinces that could certainly grow.

Mr. Hancock: I would point out that in New Brunswick you have a lot of potential for shellfish. You have an oyster industry on the north shore that has been very successful. They have made the conversion from wild fishery into cultivation. It will be access to leases. That is definitely one of the keys. Obviously if you do not have the space in the water, you cannot start the process. However, as Ms. Salmon mentioned, it is not just about access to leases. Every part of our process is regulated at one stage or another. If those regulations become overly burdensome or unpredictable or just take too long, then you can miss whole production cycles because you cannot get another crop in the water.

Senator Stewart Olsen: If I could just clarify, the real growth for New Brunswick to concentrate on would be shellfish?

Mr. Hancock: I cannot answer that question. I do not know the finfish industry well enough in New Brunswick to do that.

The other point that should be made is that aquaculture is the cultivation of all species. I just touched on it with shellfish right now. We do not know what the next species will be five or ten years from now. We are working on alternate species. Quite frankly, Canada does not do a great job in that department, but there are companies out there. Halibut is a good example of a fish that just might be the next big one. Where the popular sites are now for finfish, yes, we may be at a bit of a limit in those areas of New Brunswick, but we do not know what the next species will be.

I think that is the trick. We need the framework in place that allows for the adoption of these new species too. We are near-shore farming now. What about offshore farming? That is something that is down the road, too.

Senator Stewart Olsen: Thank you very much.

Senator Wells: What are some of the factors that would have the largest impact on an aquaculture business model in terms of the regulatory regime, financing, mitigation, disease risks and finding suitable sites?

Mr. Hancock: It depends on the stage of the business cycle. If you are trying to get started, access to lease and access to financing is absolutely critical. You cannot get started without them. For some of our larger companies, their financial activities will not be managed by the government. They are done by offshore banks and things like that. In that case, it becomes just the day-to-day regulations, some of the issues that we were touching on before.

Ms. Salmon: Exactly. That is what I was going to say. It is definitely where you are. However, for the larger companies that are well-established, there is investment that could easily be brought into Canada that is now going elsewhere, and they are in a position to move forward because they are a stable company. They are not small and starting out. I think it depends. I would say that the regulatory impediments are overlapping everything at every stage.

Senator Wells: Are there suitable financing programs, either public or private, that serve the aquaculture industry?

Ms. Salmon: That is a good question because access to capital depends, again, on your size and scale. A lot of the small- to medium-sized businesses are having trouble accessing capital because there is no security. In some provinces, there is a yearly licence for a product that takes 18 months to 24 months to grow out. That does not provide much security to a bank or a lending institution. Some of the larger companies, as Mr. Hancock said, do not have trouble getting financing, but the small- to medium-sized would.

Mr. Hancock: I could add to that. ACOA has been very supportive of the industry on the East Coast, but it has largely been in the form of capital assets. In terms of working capital, that is a really big issue, and a lot of provinces have stepped up and will help with that. However, in provinces such as Nova Scotia, where there has not been a working capital program, that is definitely a huge issue restricting the growth of the company because the banks have, quite frankly, let us down in this industry, certainly at that start-up stage.

Senator Wells: Because of the risk?

Mr. Hancock: Yes.

Senator Wells: I have a final question. Recognizing that your industry association represents many species and many geographic areas, if you were to summarize for the committee, what is the one message that your membership would hope that you bring to this committee today if there was one overarching message?

Ms. Salmon: It is that this is such a huge potential for Canada and the world, and we have learned so much. When you think about where we started, we started 30 to 35 years ago, and some mistakes were made in those early years. We have done so much good science. So much evolution has taken place. This is a sustainable industry today. We have the potential to be leaders in our field, and we are held back largely because we do not have the right legislative, regulatory and policy environment to enable this industry.

When you do not have legislation that even defines you, it is not clear what the roles and responsibilities are. It does not provide the right environment for investors. We should be a leader in the world, and we are not.

Senator Raine: We are just getting started with this study — and we are not going to rush at it — but already we can see there are a lot of different viewpoints.

I wanted to ask you right off the bat: Fifty per cent of the seafood sold in Canada and worldwide is now farmed?

Ms. Salmon: Right.

Senator Raine: Of the seafood sold in Canada, what percentage is imported?

Ms. Salmon: That is a really good question, and I am not sure I have an answer. I can probably get that for you because we did a bit of a poll of our key retailers and sort of said, "What percentage is farmed?" They indicated 50 per cent, but it varies from retailer to retailer. One said that 30 per cent of that was from Canada and 20 per cent was imported. However, that was just one retailer. I would have to do a bit more research to give you a good firm answer on that. However, it just indicates that the farm sector is significant, and we could play a larger role than we do.

Senator Raine: I guess two things come to my mind. One, if we start to compete in fish on price and put our fish up against fish coming in from other countries, processing fish is labour intensive. We are not going to win that price battle, but we have pristine waters, sustainable policies and inspections, and our product should be much better. Is there a strategy in the Canadian industry to deal with that?

Ms. Salmon: It is a good question.

Senator Raine: Maybe people are reluctant to invest because they see the competition coming from the imported fish as being tough to match.

Ms. Salmon: The interesting thing is that there is such a huge demand for it that there will always be a place for a different group, different level. Canada has a very high quality product in general, and it is priced here. There are others that are priced below, but I do not see that as a problem because the demand is there. When you talk to people at the United Nations FAO, they say that there will always continue to be a strong demand for seafood, so do not ever be concerned about not growing. Keep growing it; we need it.

There will always be a niche for lower cost product, for the high quality product and for a fresh product.

Mr. Hancock: I could add to that. Most of our producers are exporters right now, so they are experts at exporting their product. They do not just do it to the United States; they do it all around the world. That is not just large operators; that is small operators, too. On the farm that I used to have, which would have been considered a small operation, 50 per cent of my product was exported.

I can tell you anecdotally, from the Boston Seafood Show this year, that, without fail, all of the people who were part of our organization, when we were asking them afterwards how the show went, said, "Great! Everyone likes our product. They want more and we just cannot produce it." This really is not an issue of whether this will be flooding the marketplace.

The other thing I would just touch on briefly is that Canada has an excellent reputation in the marketplace for seafood and food in general. We have a reputation for being a stable country, with rules and regulations. We produce safe food. People look at Canada as the Great White North, with clean water. It is that brand that we have. That goes with our farmed seafood, not to mention that it tastes a lot better, and that is the truth.

Ms. Salmon: We could sell so much more; we are so limited. We are only at the Boston Seafood Show to maintain relations with our existing customers. We cannot take any new orders, and they are always there. It is an opportunity that we cannot take advantage of.

Senator Beyak: I was listening when you said that all of our major competitors already have an aquaculture act. You have talked to the MPs and the PMO. Sometimes there is a great model out there waiting. If you could pick from all the competitors acts, which one would be the easiest for us to work quickly on?

Ms. Salmon: I wish it was that simple. It is a good question, and we have actually done a really good review of the various acts.

I think we can learn something from each of the jurisdictions. As you know, no one has a Canadian situation with our federal, provincial and municipal scenario. We cannot take a cookie cutter and place it here.

There are good lessons to be learned in various areas.

Senator Raine: Can you provide us with the analysis you did of those other legislation?

Ms. Salmon: Absolutely. In this national strategy, we are doing a fair bit of background work to arm ourselves with good information. Not only are we reviewing other countries and their legislative framework, but we are also putting together draft architecture of what we think an act might look like. In addition, we are doing background papers on a variety of other issues that are industry spacing. I would be happy to share all that work with you.

Senator McInnis: You envisage this legislation would obviously be federal; that is what you are talking about. Would it be concurrent with the provinces?

Ms. Salmon: That is a good question. We are sensitive to respect jurisdictional boundaries and responsibilities. We met with the provinces a couple weeks ago to talk about our ideas. We envision a national umbrella approach where the existing regulations would nest underneath. Whether it is B.C. regulated by DFO or the Atlantic provinces regulated by their provinces, both would fit under this national framework that would provide all of us with a definition, some clarity of roles and responsibilities, a vision for growth, an enabling framework.

We envision an overarching national framework where the existing regs would nest underneath. The provinces are actively involved in aquaculture. They want to remain that way. We do not want to suggest otherwise.

Senator McInnis: When you have national legislation, I am trying to figure out how you could possibly — if it is concurrent legislation — have one set of regulations in Atlantic Canada, another set in British Columbia and another set in Ontario or wherever. I am thinking more along the lines of the Criminal Code where provinces are consulted and ministers of justice get together and come forward with suggestions as to amendments to the code. However, it is handled by the national government. I would not know how the other would work.

Ms. Salmon: Certainly we are working with getting some legal advice now in terms of what options are there. I would be happy to share that advice with you when it has been completed. We are very conscious that we want the provinces to be onside here.

Mr. Hancock: There is an understanding that there are aspects that are the responsibility of the federal government and aspects that are the responsibility of provincial governments. Despite the fact that both are not very clear a lot of the time, they do have some sense of where that line is.

Senator Poirier: I have a couple questions. At the beginning of your presentation you said global demand for seafood is increasing rapidly at a pace of to 9 per cent each year. Are you talking about seafood specifically attached to aquaculture? The reason I am going there is that we, as a committee, just finished and deposited our report last week on the lobster fishery. If you followed it, one of the problems facing the lobster industry right now is that there is a lot of product out there and they are unable to sell it; some fishermen have it on hand and their price is being driven down by that.

Seeing that, I was just questioning if the global demand for seafood is rising in some sectors, obviously it is not in others at this point. With the lobster industry, we are not seeing it. I know it has been flat and there has been no increase. Could that have an impact on why some of the smaller companies are having a hard time getting set up and getting the financing they need and the insecurity of whether this also happens to other products in the seafood industry?

Ms. Salmon: No. Going back to your first question, the 7 to 9 per cent is global demand for seafood, farmed and wild. Certainly there will always be fluctuations in price, but still the demand is high and anticipated to continue to grow.

By 2020, the UN forecasts a shortfall of 50 million tonnes of seafood. Aquaculture will be the one to take up the slack, if anything. If aquaculture does not grow to meet that demand, we will face a deficit.

You are right. There are variances in the different species. Overall, worldwide, that growth of seafood is there and is anticipated to continue.

Demand is not the problem and concern about selling the product has not been a problem in aquaculture. In shellfish and finfish, the demand is extremely high.

Mr. Hancock: In terms of that growth of consumption of seafood, it is based on population growth for the world but also the fact that even the developing world is getting richer. People's tastes are changing and they are moving to a seafood diet. The other point is that the wild catch has flatlined. That growth will have to be met through aquaculture. It is not coming from the wild fishery.

That is hard to say from someone in a lobster-growing area, but the reality is that in terms of global production it is a very small part. The lobster situation is unique because of the fact that landings are essentially double what they were 10 years ago.

In terms of your second question about access to funding because the industry has flatlined, do not connect that with marketing because that is not the issue. The issue is access to leases. It is the problems we have for running our business. However, absolutely if you were a banker and were to look at where the industry is going, it does not look favourable.

Ms. Salmon had an excellent example about lease renewals that are one year along. It takes four years to grow an oyster. Why would a bank lend you money when your lease could be pulled from you in one year's time? It is pretty obvious why there is a problem.

Senator Poirier: For a period of time, I was an elected member of the Province of New Brunswick. At that time, in the immediate area where I lived, there was a lot of frustration around the aquaculture business because of the impact on tourism areas, cottages and beachfronts. Is that an issue? Are you hearing that a lot anywhere?

Ms. Salmon: It is interesting. It is a personal perspective. Many of our companies are actually part of working waterfront and tourism. Mr. Hancock can talk about that.

Mr. Hancock: There is no question. When there is expansion of an industry to an area where it has not been, there is major push-back. You can have the best science in the world and talk about other communities that are working well with the industry, but you get that push-back. We see that in any industry.

The parts I would look at are areas where we do have aquaculture right now. Look at the southern part of New Brunswick around the St. Andrew's area, which we all know is a good tourist area. That is the centre of salmon aquaculture. If you go to the north coast of P.E.I., that is suspended culture for shellfish. It is the most intensive shellfish culture we have in Canada. The north coast of P.E.I. is probably one of our most intensive tourist areas in the Atlantic provinces. When you go there, it is not just two co-existing; they work together. When you go to P.E.I., part of the experience is shellfish.

Ms. Salmon: It is the celebration of mussels and what the land and water offer. Mr. Hancock is right. There is always that potential for conflict when aquaculture is new to an area, but there are other examples where it works very well.

Mr. Hancock: It happens around the world. If you go to parts of France where they have been growing mussels for 800 years, you can do tours. They have museums of oyster farming operations. People plan their vacations around the oyster experience in France. It becomes very much part of the attraction and works well with the whole thing.

We can look to Norway on salmon farming. If you go to Bergen, which is a gorgeous city, they have salmon farms going all the way into the harbour. It would be like Halifax harbour with salmon farms going into the harbour, so it can work.

Senator Poirier: Can you explain the different steps an aquaculture project has to go through, from step one until a project is complete and production starts?

Mr. Hancock: It is fairly complicated and varies between provinces. Essentially in Nova Scotia you are looking at a two-year process. It starts with an application to the provincial government, because our province is the lead on aquaculture applications. They do an initial review of the application and make sure everything is in order, that you have supplied the right amount of information, and then they proceed to network it out. I believe eight different departments are involved, both federal and provincial, in evaluating those applications.

They send it out. Of course, the major ones are the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Transport Canada. Those are the ones that I would say play the largest role in scrutinizing the application.

When they get feedback from those regulators, they will sit down — they should sit down with proponents of the application — and discuss any shortcomings in the original application, any concerns raised, and give the proponent an opportunity to address that with either site adjustments, where they are going, or it might be a case of more mitigating factors.

This is a point a lot of people miss: One of the issues that has come up in Nova Scotia is that the government has never turned down a lease application. That is not true now. We have had one that has been rejected.

The reality is that, usually, if you hit an impasse in those regulatory meetings where you cannot mitigate or you cannot change the site design in a way that satisfies the regulators, you withdraw your application. You do not get to that point where they say no. It is supposed to be a collaborative process that you work together on. Unfortunately, that is not always the case or how these things turn out.

Eventually, the way it works in Nova Scotia, all the recommendations come back, it is presented ultimately to the minister of fisheries in the province and that person has the final say on whether the lease is issued or not.

Senator Poirier: Do you find the process too long? If it is, what would you recommend?

Mr. Hancock: It is definitely too long. Right now, two years is what they are running in Nova Scotia. We have seen applications that have gone four, and I think even longer than that, seven years. In other words, the "fixed link" to P.E.I. went through their environmental assessment faster than aquaculture sites.

The other thing, to be clear, is that this is not just salmon. This is shellfish leases. I was talking to a gentleman on the north shore of Nova Scotia: bottom-cultivated oyster lease, four years.

Senator Poirier: Is there a recommendation you would make to help speed that along?

Mr. Hancock: Definitely, I think in terms of the process, there need to be timelines for people.

Ms. Salmon: There need to be service standards so people know that if I meet these criteria, then here is the kind of service standard I could expect.

In British Columbia, not only do you have to have an application for a new site, but you have to apply for a small amendment. Even if you want to change from a round cage to a square one, you have to apply for that amendment. Some of those amendments have been sitting for five to seven years.

Senator Poirier: Is that process similar in all provinces?

Mr. Hancock: Each province handles things differently.

Senator Poirier: I mean the length of time for the whole process to happen.

Ms. Salmon: There is no consistency, which is the problem. When you look across the country, there is no consistency in a number of areas. Everything is different: lease terms, licence terms. It is a patchwork quilt.

Mr. Hancock: It is not even consistent within provinces. That is the problem, too. It is very variable.

Senator Campbell: As seen by the statistics, this is obviously an important industry in British Columbia. Our share of the market is 52 per cent. One of the concerns I hear in British Columbia is exactly the reason you are here: There is no overarching legislation that people can follow with regard to aquaculture.

I am not a member of this committee: I am here on behalf of someone else. First, I am very specific about what I eat and I would never eat a fish from China. I want to make that clear right now. They have 61 per cent of the industry. It goes to the ability of a country to vacuum the floor.

The interesting thing is that the next 20, there is 31 per cent. Basically in the top 20, you have 100 per cent of your market, down to where we are at 3 per cent. Do you not think a 7 per cent investment, when you only have less than 3 per cent of the market, is a fairly significant investment into an industry?

Ms. Salmon: Those numbers are a bit skewed. What we were comparing was just salmon aquaculture, and you have to take China out of the picture. Maybe I misunderstood your question.

Senator Campbell: I was looking at aquaculture production. I see what you mean; it is apples and oranges. You say the 7 per cent is in the salmon.

Ms. Salmon: Right.

Senator Campbell: This has been ongoing for as long as I was in British Columbia, and we started fish farming many years ago. We would like to consider this as agriculture, as farming, as you say.

Maybe I am wrong on this, and I would appreciate your answer. The industry is reluctant to move to the onshore growing of fish. I do not think this will work with shellfish, but certainly with fish, to get it out of our waters and onto the shore like a farm. There seems to be a reluctance to do that. Am I wrong about this reluctance? If I am, why is that?

Ms. Salmon: I would not say "reluctance." If the technology was there, the economics were there and it was environmentally sustainable, the industry would be doing it.

The Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans looked very carefully at this subject and, for example, arctic char grows well in closed containment. However, for salmon, at this stage, there are a number of issues. The viability of it is a problem. You cannot be globally competitive to do it on land today.

Right now, less than 4 per cent of a net pen is filled with fish. There is a notion that there is high density, but there is not.

When you take it on land, in order to be viable the density increases and there are fish health issues. It has a greater environmental footprint because you have to pump oxygen and you have to do it on a large tract of land. You no longer have those jobs in rural, coastal communities: You have them in larger centres.

There are a number of issues and reasons why the industry globally has not moved on land when it comes to Atlantic salmon. We will continue to be involved in research and development and that may look different in 10 years' time. Today it is an option for a niche product. We have some companies doing it and serving white-table-cloth restaurants in Vancouver, but minor production.

Senator Campbell: I do not eat often at white-table-cloth restaurants.

Senator Lovelace Nicholas: You mentioned you had opportunities for First Nations. Did you say 20 or 80 per cent?

Ms. Salmon: It is 20 per cent of the employment in British Columbia.

Senator Lovelace Nicholas: That is only in British Columbia?

Mr. Hancock: There is a great example in Nova Scotia of a joint venture between a trout operator and a First Nation that has been very successful.

First Nations had big involvement in the oyster industry in the Bras d'Or Lakes until disease hit that stock. We are working with them in trying to rebuild the industry in that area, but there is a lot of interest. They want to be partners in this.

The other point, too, and I am sure you folks have heard about this before, is that when you operate in a rural environment, it is a real challenge to find workers on your site. I am sure it is the same situation around the country. The exception is in First Nations communities, where there are a lot of young people. I think there is a direct link that can be drawn between engaging First Nations in aquaculture and supplying the industry with the people it needs for working. It is a good relationship and has the room to be so much more.

Senator Lovelace Nicholas: You have answered my next question.

What about disease? Are they contained? What are the chances of disease?

Mr. Hancock: Look, any time you are dealing with a living organism, you are going to deal with disease.

I was telling Ms. Salmon before we came here on Sunday that I was doing a public engagement activity in the valley of Nova Scotia, which is an agricultural area near Wolfville, so I had a lot of farmers coming up to me. Farmers get it when you talk about aquaculture; we are farmers as well, just doing it in the ocean. The guy gave an example about a strawberry field down the road that was going to have to be torn up because of a virus that was introduced there. There is a new type of virus that has hit the apple orchard.

It is the reality of any living creature that viruses or bacterial infections become an issue. Once you start getting into the cultivation of animals and have them in larger quantities, it becomes a bigger challenge.

It is the same thing with pests. There is the saying, what is food for man is feast for beasts. Once you start to farm, you will have those problems.

Senator Lovelace Nicholas: I am not worried about animals here.

Ms. Salmon: To add to Mr. Hancock's point, certainly on the larger finfish operations, they have their own veterinarian. Smolts enter into the water disease-free. They do constant monitoring and checking, and if there is a need to treat those animals, it is done immediately with care.

It is interesting because less than 5 per cent of all fish receive any antibiotics. That was not the way it was when we started the industry, but we have learned so much about fish health and vaccinations that we only use a small percentage of antibiotics. It is managed well.

Mr. Hancock: Compared to terrestrial farming, it is a much lower use of antibiotics.

Senator Lovelace Nicholas: You mentioned new species of fish. Could you explain this? Are you going to grow different species of fish, put them together and see if there is another species?

Mr. Hancock: No. It is about identifying the next species of wild fish that is native to our waters and that could be cultivated.

Senator Lovelace Nicholas: All right. I was worried about that. Thank you very much.

Ms. Salmon: We have cultivation going on with black cod sablefish in British Columbia. It is small at this stage, but the demand for that product in Japan and China is just huge; they cannot begin to meet the market. It is just finding those indigenous fish and shellfish that would farm and cultivate well.

Senator Watt: I am from the Far North, so I am not sure how to put my question. With the organization that you represent, the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance, have you looked at the Arctic to see how the aquaculture industry could start to move forward? Is that too soon because of climate change? It is warming up, we know that. Ice is disappearing gradually, but it will not be disappearing that quickly.

Ms. Salmon: I will start and Mr. Hancock can jump in.

My response to that is we are trying to responsibly grow an industry in established areas first. The potential for new species and new areas is certainly there. For example, we have a land-based arctic char facility in the Yukon. That is just an example of it being a great environment to grow fish. There is huge potential. We are trying to establish and secure the investment in an industry where it is currently operating.

Mr. Hancock: You answered it well. I do not know a lot about the North, so I have not had any experience with it.

Senator Watt: It is new to you. I would imagine that because of the lack of understanding and the lack of available information, not necessarily in terms of species but in terms of technology, if anybody from the North wanted to get into this line of business of aquaculture, you would have to seriously consider moving south in order to access it. That would be the only viable way because the high cost of transportation and the high cost of goods would become a factor.

Ms. Salmon: Certainly transportation is a factor, but there are new areas. It is just that we are trying to secure and grow an industry where it started.

I would say that there is opportunity. For example, the EU has not been a major market for us simply because the U.S. is so close. However, if we have additional product, you can send frozen product to the EU. There is a demand for seafood, so if you can look at how to transport that economically, I am sure there is —

Senator Watt: One of the reasons I bring this matter to your attention and to the attention of senators is that we used to market stocks from the North to the South. We cannot do that any longer because of the competition from the aquaculture industry. In order to transport goods, the high cost of transportation is also one of the factors we face. We are looking for an alternative way wherein if we can get into the business of aquaculture, that would be fine.

To my knowledge, in terms of whether the North is ready for that — and I do not think the North is ready for it, not necessarily because the people do not want to.

Ms. Salmon: Right.

Senator Watt: It is a question of too much ice moving around and trying to build a farm. I have seen aquaculture farming, especially with salmon in Norway. I have visited some of those sites, and it works very well. However, I do not think, with the type of technology we have now, that it would work in the North. The coast is very heavily active in terms of the currents, ice and tidal water. That is another factor.

Ms. Salmon: Certainly we have lots of experts in our industry that would be better at answering that question than I would be, but technology is improving and advancing all the time. If you are interested, I can hook you up with somebody that might be able to answer that question in a more informed fashion.

Senator Watt: I appreciate that.

Senator McInnis: Mr. Hancock, you and I spoke on the phone at one point, but we never got to meet.

Your role is to sell the industry. That is primarily one of your roles, correct?

Ms. Salmon: I am trying to increase awareness and education and promote the responsible development of the industry, yes.

Senator McInnis: Absolutely. The reason I asked the supplementary question with respect to the legislation is that I had read that you thought that new legislation would be helpful.

The reason this study is under way and the reason it is probably going to take a considerable period of time is because there are problems. I have not heard you mention them, but they are there.

Last week, we had the aquaculture division of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans here, and they did not deny difficulties with disease, density, escapes, interbreeding with wild salmon, ocean floor and underpins. There are many uncertainties. There is push-back in Nova Scotia, the one licence out of ten — prior to this, there were 10 applications and 10 licences were approved. The reason that the one was not approved is probably political, but it does not matter, because of the public, on several fronts. They are credible. We want to identify the problems, how we can best resolve them and how we can make this industry successful. That is what this study is about, and we need your help.

As I said, I was intrigued to hear that you were in favour of one piece of legislation, because it is such a mishmash now. For example, the Supreme Court of British Columbia identified that this is an industry that should be regulated by Fisheries and Oceans. In P.E.I. we have dual control with the province.

I would like for you to talk about that, taking away all the mishmash we have now in terms of different regulations, protocols and strategies. The Province of Nova Scotia has a big committee to develop new regulations. For this to go through, without the huge controversy — I just took that out of the weekend papers — that exists in Atlantic Canada, and not only there but as the Cohen commission report showed in British Columbia, how can we best bring about this legislation? I realize that you are not legislators. You do not have to get into it now, but it is important that we hear from you in that regard because I think you are absolutely correct in what you are suggesting. I read an article showing that you were in favour of that. It will not be easy. For this to work, it would have to be that.

Ms. Salmon: I am pleased to hear you say that, senator, because I think that clarifying roles and responsibilities, and providing a definition and a framework that everyone understands, including the public, would be helpful for everyone. I would be happy to have further discussions with you in terms of what that might look like and how that would happen. I think it would be beneficial.

Senator McInnis: Part of the difficulty is that there are push-backs — and I want you to respond to this — and the fact that you say it is new to the area. For example, you raised a family on the shores of Spry Harbour, you acquired the property from your parents, the grandkids are coming and so on, and all of a sudden there is a lease of 18 hectares right in front of you. Please comment on the rights of the private property holder. You touched on it a bit with Senator Poirier. That is important.

Please also comment on this: Why could we not have a predetermined set of locations that are perhaps closer to the ocean in terms of currents, depth and wash, where these things can be predetermined? For example, I have often seen this, and in fact there is now one in a province in Atlantic Canada in terms of predetermined use of property, designated use. Why could we not look at that?

Ms. Salmon: I will make a couple of comments and then hand it over to Mr. Hancock.

We know more now in terms of a good place for a site. When the industry started, even in New Brunswick and British Columbia some sites were put in places that today we know are not the right place to grow fish. We know a lot more about siting.

I understand that there are public concerns when aquaculture is new to an area, and certainly our industry is committed to community dialogue, all of those things. However, at some point, as a country, we have to stand back and see what is happening with aquaculture and decide whether we want this industry or not.

It is important to have that community dialogue. It is absolutely critical. We need to put sites in the best places for growing fish. However, as a country, we also need to have a commitment in terms of whether or not we want to be a player here.

I know there is some localized opposition. This industry is controversial; there is no question. However, you also have to realize that a lot of that controversy is a small minority that is very vocal and very opposed to our industry moving forward. They do not necessarily buy the story I am presenting to you this evening. They do not care about rural and coastal communities; they just do not want the industry. They are the vocal minority.

When we do polling across the country — and we do polling in every province — Canadians are not opposed to aquaculture. The support is there. We are still in the newspaper and there is still a small group of critics who do not want us to be there, but it is not the Canadian public. We are still getting good support.

Mr. Hancock, do you have anything to add?

Mr. Hancock: On the Nova Scotia situation, I want to clarify in terms of the 10 new leases given out in the last — how many years did you say? That information, if you are talking about finfish leases, is incorrect. There were essentially three new finfish leases given in a seven-year period. We have had two recent ones since then, so that means five finfish leases in a period of about eight years.

Senator McInnis: There were 10 applications for aquaculture. I do not know what they were.

Mr. Hancock: Four of those have happened in the last year and a half. Prior to that, we were in a virtual moratorium for about six or seven years in Nova Scotia in terms of new leases.

I would also like to touch on the point Ms. Salmon was making about public acceptance of this industry. We have done repeated polling in Nova Scotia, and well over 85 per cent of the public supports aquaculture development, specifically finfish and salmon farming development.

The opposition to this is definitely a minority, but that does not mean they do not have legitimate concerns. I fully acknowledge that.

I also acknowledge the fact that our system is flawed. The system is not only failing the industry; quite frankly, it is failing the citizens of this country, too. Whenever they are feeling that they are powerless and that their concerns are not being addressed, I think we have let them down as a government. Ultimately, that fails the industry, too, because when we are getting this push-back, we do not like it.

The other point I would like to make is that the push-back you are getting in this industry is not from communities that have it. For Nova Scotia, for example, I attended a public meeting not long before the one in Sheet Harbour — which I think is the one you were at also — and that was in Shelburne, where they have had fish farming for 20 years. It was an entirely different group of people. They were supporting more development in that area. That is not to say there were not some people opposed to it, but the vast majority of the people supported it. That is because they knew what it was they were getting.

Again, I am not saying that this should be pushed on people. Obviously, both industry and government have failed to make people feel like they are a part of the process.

I would like to touch on another point in terms of property along the shoreline. As industry people, we have a responsibility to be good custodians of the water out there, but it is a shared resource. You do not buy a property and buy the view.

An Hon. Senator: You just devalue the property.

Mr. Hancock: At the end of the day, that is a working waterfront. We have lobster fishermen out there using that space. That is a resource that is there. Again, it is shared. That means there is a responsibility for the industry to use it wisely, but it also means that you do not own the water.

Ms. Salmon: To your point, maybe there is a better way of organizing that.

Senator McInnis: There are 100 groups, hundreds of thousands of individual members who are opposed to the process and to the industry. The Lobster Council of Canada is just one. That is how many groups there are.

Ms. Salmon: There is opposition, sure.

Senator McInnis: Yes, fishermen's associations and so on. Anyway, let us work together to try to bring a resolution to this.

Ms. Salmon: I agree with you.

Senator McInnis: I am not getting it. It is of no use to be offensive.

Mr. Hancock: I am not trying to be offensive on this, and I am sorry you took it that way. We have tried to be extremely proactive in the province in terms of reaching out to people. Personally, I have tried very hard to contact people and have offered my services to go down and explain; in fact, I have done that with your organization. What happens quite often is that there is a reluctance to engage on the other side, and we do. I think it is incumbent on both parties. It is not just an issue of industry; it is from both sides.

Senator McInnis: I could not agree with you more.

The Chair: I have a supplementary from Senator Campbell.

Senator Campbell: I did not find your comments offensive; I just found them incredibly unrealistic. I do not know where you are from, but there is certainly a difference between buying waterfront, view lots, whatever. I live in the Gulf Islands; that is where my home is located. I fish up and down the coast. Do not tell me that you have a right to put an 18-hectare fish farm in front of my property.

Ms. Salmon: Absolutely not.

Senator Campbell: This is one of the reasons why this type of industry is having such a difficult time: They are unrealistic; they think they can put it wherever they want and they cannot.

I want to ask you a question. You do a Canada-wide survey. Well, I really care about it if I am from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba — those three provinces. How about coming and asking New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and British Columbia? We are where you want the fish. If I lived in Alberta and you said, "Hey, what do you think about fish farming?" I would be all over it.

This is part of the unrealistic expectations that this panel and this committee will see on an ongoing basis in this. It has to be either federal or provincial, and you have to be realistic about where you are going on it.

Ms. Salmon: I appreciate your comments. I do not think we are looking at whether this is federal or provincial. We know this is joint jurisdiction.

I think the industry also wants to work well with the community in which they are operating, and they are. We have lots of great examples, whether it is Tofino or Campbell River.

Senator Campbell: It does not sound like you are doing too well in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Hancock: I would like to differ. I just mentioned the fact that where we have aquaculture in communities, we are not getting push-back. In fact, we have operators who have been doing business in Nova Scotia for 20 or 30 years. They are well-respected people in their communities.

Senator Campbell: I am not saying they are not well respected. I am simply saying, "Then that is fine, build them there."

Mr. Hancock: They have built them there.

Senator Campbell: And keep building them there. If they like it, you have a good market.

Ms. Salmon: The point tonight is to step back and ask what Canada wants. Canada has a choice. It is about looking at the bigger picture.

I agree that siting where farms should and should not be is important and part of the discussion, but does Canada want to be a player in the farmed seafood sector or not? There are lots of opportunities for sites that are not in front of views. We have huge biophysical capabilities, and we have the potential of even going offshore in the future.

I guess my comments are more around whether Canada wants to play a role here or not. Do we want to participate in something that can create jobs for rural and coastal communities around something that is a healthy, nutritious seafood that is in high demand?

Those are the kinds of questions. I agree with you that in terms of the details we need to work together and work those out. We are not expecting anything; we expect to be working with the community.

The Chair: You are only our second set of witnesses. It should be interesting here. Senator Stewart Olsen has a supplementary question.

Senator Stewart Olsen: I hear what you are all saying about the views, landowners and everything, but in New Brunswick we need jobs. I would hope that the property owners and people could work with these companies to bring some kind of solution. Frankly, if it meant jobs in my area, I probably would say, "Okay, I can probably look at a fish farm." To bring it down to —

Ms. Salmon: It is a balance, right?

Senator Stewart Olsen: Yes. Also, I live on the water, Senator Campbell, and jobs are paramount in my province.

The Chair: Is your question a supplementary, Senator Beyak?

Senator Beyak: Yes.

I was down in Santa Barbara last year because the people from Santa Barbara voted for an oil well offshore. No one could believe that because it is an environmentally sensitive area. Somehow they have made them look like cruise ships. They are way, way offshore; they are not on anyone's beach. I understand your points of view, too.

As Senator Stewart Olsen said, there is a way to work together on this. I cannot figure out a fish farm that will look like a cruise ship.

Ms. Salmon: Exactly. It is an emotional issue when aquaculture is new to a community. It is helpful if both sides can step back and try to work together and look at the big picture.

The Chair: Interesting discussion for sure.

Senator Raine: I do not think we will resolve the siting issue.

I would like to hear more about integrated multi-trophic aquaculture, exactly what that is and how that works. I would also like to hear more about offshore aquaculture. Is it taking place in other places of the world, and do we have opportunity there?

Ms. Salmon: I will make some comments and then hand it over to Mr. Hancock.

Integrated multi-trophic aquaculture is where you have a number of systems on one tenure or farm. Traditionally, it has been finfish, shellfish and then plants. The basic concept is that the nutrients from the finfish farm are utilized by the shellfish, and the plants are also utilizing the waste from the shellfish, so it is almost like a circular benefit. It reduces the environmental impact, and it also intensifies and increases the number of species that you can culture on one farm.

Quite a bit of work is being done in New Brunswick on IMTA. There is still lots to learn and we are still involved in the research and development stage of it, but it looks very interesting.

Mr. Hancock: I cannot really add a lot to that. I would add, though, that multi-trophic aquaculture is a way of capitalizing on some of the products that are the results of growing fish. When you have just a fish farm, there are different ways to look at it, but it is waste and it is actually an important part of the whole marine ecosystem. If you do not have a controlled situation where you are growing shellfish or seaweed next to it, where you are benefiting from it, the surrounding population does also. It is about having a balanced ecosystem. Multi-trophic aquaculture is about creating that sort of balance in the ecosystem.

As far as offshore aquaculture goes, we are slowly moving a little bit more in that direction. As can you well imagine, going into deep water poses some big technology and engineering challenges, but I think it is a great opportunity.

I look again at the Atlantic coast and the Scotian Shelf that we have. That is a tremendous area that is not really deep, but deep enough for doing offshore aquaculture, so I think there is some real potential there.

Ms. Salmon: It is still more in the R&D phase, but this industry advances very quickly. Therefore, I think the technology will be there in the near future for that to be an option. That would eliminate some of the siting issues, too.

Senator Raine: I have a supplemental question. On the IMTA, would an operator need to go through three different regulatory regimes to establish that?

Mr. Hancock: It certainly has challenges, I know that.

Ms. Salmon: Part of the research is to determine how that regulatory system would work. For example, shellfish has certain requirements under the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program. It has not been considered for IMTA. They are certainly having problems expanding.

It is not without its regulatory problems, but I think it is worth moving through and figuring out how that works. It is really in the early days.

Senator Raine: Are other countries doing it now and have they figured out how to regulate it?

Ms. Salmon: We are actually a leader in that area, in terms of IMTA.

Mr. Hancock: They have been doing forms of IMTA in China for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. I would imagine it is not regulated. I do not know if there is a good example in developed countries of the regulation of that or not.

Ms. Salmon: In some countries where they only have one federal system, it is a little easier than in Canada. It seems we are working through that, but there are some problems in terms of expanding.

Senator Raine: You are aware of what is happening in British Columbia where there is now only DFO regulating aquaculture. Is this having a positive or negative impact on the development of aquaculture on the West Coast?

Ms. Salmon: That is a big question. I would say that still there is not the sense of ability to grow. People thought that would maybe it be simplified if the province was not involved and that things would move ahead easier with one regulatory body, and that has not been the case. There are a number of complicating factors around that. I would say that the industry certainly has accepted the new regulatory regime and are doing additional monitoring and additional posting of information, but they have not yet seen the ability to move through the amendments and the new sites as yet. We are hopeful.

Senator Raine: Does the province still have control over the siting?

Ms. Salmon: Yes, it does.

The Chair: When you look at the growth across the country, Newfoundland and Labrador is leading the way in regard to aquaculture. Could you touch on whether the regulatory environment is different in Newfoundland than other provinces? What do you see as contributing to that growth?

Ms. Salmon: That is a really good question. To a large degree, that province has decided they want aquaculture. I think that fundamentally they have made the decision that they want to enable aquaculture in a responsible way.

Mr. Hancock: I agree.

Ms. Salmon: It is a decision. As well, some of their communities, as you know, senator, would not be there without aquaculture. They basically have taken a community where there was nothing left and provided them with opportunity. When you talk to the mayors of some of those communities, they are so grateful that there has been that investment and that life was brought back to those communities. It starts from an initial sense that we want to do this and want to support this, and working through that.

The Chair: On the other side, we just had a farm that was quarantined in the last couple of days. I have some idea, and I am sure some senators have, of the process of how that happens. Maybe you can touch on that in relation to the discovery of the virus and how that process is taking place in regard to having the quarantine and what happens, just for the benefit of the senators here and members of the committee.

Ms. Salmon: The disease in question here is ISA. You do not find that, for example, on the Pacific coast. They have other diseases that they are challenged with. When ISA is found and it is determined by CFIA that it is present, they immediately quarantine the site. It is not a food safety issue, but it spreads very rapidly. Biosecurity is critical. Immediately, that site is quarantined and all the procedures around movement of fish or moving people on and off that site are closely monitored.

Mr. Hancock: It is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's responsibility, and they more or less take control of the site.

Ms. Salmon: As soon as they confirm it, they are the ones in charge, and they determine how things will run so as to minimize any kind of spread of the disease.

Mr. Hancock: How it rolls out is done on a case-by-case basis. It depends on the disease and how virulent the strain is. That is how CFIA will determine what their course of action will be.

The Chair: In regard to the number of people involved in the industry that your alliance represents from across the country, what would be the percentage?

Ms. Salmon: It is between 90 and 95 per cent. We have companies that join our association directly, but we also have regional associations, such as Mr. Hancock's, that are also members. When you look at that, it is about 90 or 95 per cent of the production across the country.

The Chair: What is the extent of Aboriginal involvement in the industry as a whole?

Ms. Salmon: I do not have a number right across the country. As I mentioned, 20 per cent of the employment in British Columbia in salmon aquaculture is First Nations.

Mr. Hancock, would you have a sense of it? It is probably not that high in Atlantic Canada.

Mr. Hancock: I would not say so, but it is also in Ontario. There is quite a bit.

Ms. Salmon: There is a really good partnership and a number of rainbow trout operations that are run by First Nations.

The Chair: In relation to an aquaculture act or some type of federal regulation, could you just touch on the three top issues that you would like to have addressed in an aquaculture act or regulation that would oversee a national act?

Ms. Salmon: It sounds almost too simple, but the fact is that we are not even defined anywhere. I think we are in the Bank Act. That is quite telling. We do not have some of those overarching, enabling things like a definition, and roles and responsibilities defined. As Senator McInnis said, it is confusing and complicated as to who does what and what criteria will be there for industry to move forward and what kinds of standards. All of those things need some clarity. This industry does not have an enabling framework. Many other food producing industries do have support and a vision for where they are going, and we do not have any of that. It is important to set some of that foundation and say that we are here and that Canada views this as important and significant and has a vision for our growth. It is those overarching things. That does not mean that the regulations do not need streamlining and improving, but it is that overarching work that has not been done and that would send a very significant message back to the investors.

Mr. Hancock: I do not know what form it would take, but what we are looking for as an industry, from someone that was in the industry, is clarity and transparency, and that goes back to what Senator McInnis was saying. It is just as confusing for the public as it is for people in the industry. We need to find timelines.

Ms. Salmon: Predictability.

Mr. Hancock: That is right, predictability, absolutely. We have lost touch with what the needs are for business operators. It comes back to having that certainty there. Again, that works well for everyone if there is a process in place.

The way that things are being approached in Nova Scotia right now, and maybe we are a little slow on this and I would agree that it could have been done earlier, but in terms of a regulatory and policy review policy that we have undertaken, there has been a committee put together that is reaching out to other stakeholders. Whenever you get into specific lease applications, you get into situations of, "I do not want it in this community, I do not want it to destroy my view, or I do not want it to change my livelihood." It is hard to have a constructive dialogue at that point.

The thing that we need to do is set some clearly defined guidelines upfront with the other stakeholders. What is it that you can live with? In a perfect world, if a proponent comes forward with a plan and if they address these issues, can you live with that? Once that is defined, then we need the support from government that, yes, we now have a framework to grow the business, and there will have to be a pretty good reason — either the proponent has not met those obligations or there is some other legitimate issue — that will not allow it to go forward. That is where the engagement needs to take place, in that upfront stage, in the determination of that framework.

Ms. Salmon: Before you come forward with an application.

Mr. Hancock: Absolutely.

Ms. Salmon: So you understand the rules. Going to your point, senator, that would help a lot.

The Chair: From an investigative point of view, for future reference, what countries would you suggest are doing well in regard to the aquaculture industry that we may be able to learn from?

Ms. Salmon: Norway and Scotland are growing rapidly. In terms of sustainable and innovative practices, you do not have to go anywhere but Canada to see we have some really good leaders in that field. We are a global industry. We learn from each other. If there is research and development going on in Norway, our companies are hearing about it as well.

We work closely together. We are members of the International Salmon Farmers Association, so we are connected and learning. I do not know that you need to go outside of Canada to see some really good practices, but in terms of supporting an industry moving forward, I would say Norway and Scotland.

Mr. Hancock: As well, a lot of the other European countries that have well-established industries where there is not necessarily the growth. Until recently, Spain was the number one producer of shellfish in the world. France has an industry that is 800 years old. There are a lot of examples in Europe. Frankly, the rest of the world has been doing aquaculture for a long time and has embraced this. It is new here and obviously something we are struggling with.

Senator Raine: To wrap it up, I would like to ask you how you think aquaculture should be defined in federal legislation.

Ms. Salmon: No question I would support defining it as the FAO has, as a farming activity. Sometimes that is where we get into problems. We are under the Fisheries Act and are working in the marine environment. People think it is like fishing and it is not. It is just the same as farming. That would be my recommendation.

Senator McInnis: If I can ask a supplementary question, farming on land can easily be distinguished from farming on the water. When you put things on the land with respect to a farm, it is quite different than putting something in a moving target that has currents and perhaps not the flushing.

Ms. Salmon: Absolutely it is different. I did not mean to say it was not different.

The actual activities of starting with seed, nurturing that and harvesting, they are the same.

Senator McInnis: I agree with that.

Ms. Salmon: I am not saying we are just the same as farming on land, but it is the activities.


Senator Robichaud: I want to apologize, as I thought the committee was meeting at 5 p.m., but not before the adjournment of the Senate. When I asked whether the committee had the permission to meet even if the Senate was sitting, I was told that it did not. I was in the House. I understand that you have been given permission to meet even while the Senate is sitting. Is that right?


The Chair: Yes, we did last week. We anticipated our guests were travelling here, so we sought permission.


Senator Robichaud: I want to apologize to our witnesses. Next time, I will read the latest notice on my iPad.


The Chair: The apology is accepted in both official languages, or in all three of them.

I thank our senators and witnesses. It has been an interesting evening and we look forward to our future discussions.

(The committee adjourned.)

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