Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Fisheries and Oceans
Issue 21 - Evidence
OTTAWA, Tuesday, March 31, 2015
The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans met this day at 5:09
p.m. to study the regulation of aquaculture, current challenges and future
prospects for the industry in Canada (topics: enact federal aquaculture
legislation OR amend Fisheries Act: pros and cons; defining "aquaculture:'' a
fishery or farming activity?; existing federal and provincial review processes;
progress achieved; and concluding remarks.)
Senator Fabian Manning (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: My name is Fabian Manning. I'm a senator from Newfoundland
and Labrador and I'm pleased to chair this committee.
Before I give the floor to our witnesses, I would like to invite the members
of the committee to introduce themselves.
Senator Meredith: Senator Meredith from Ontario.
Senator Raine: Nancy Greene Raine from British Columbia.
Senator McInnis: Tom McInnis from Nova Scotia.
Senator Stewart Olsen: Carolyn Stewart Olsen from New Brunswick.
Senator Poirier: Senator Rose-May Poirier from New Brunswick.
Senator Wells: Senator David Wells from Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Chair: The committee is continuing its special study on the
regulation of aquaculture, the current challenges and future prospects for the
industry here in Canada. We're pleased to have a great group this evening to
have some interaction with. Before I continue, I want to ask the witnesses if
they would introduce themselves, please.
Ruth Salmon, Executive Director, Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance:
Ruth Salmon, Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance.
Pamela Parker, Member, Board of Directors Executive and Government
Relations Committee, Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance: Pamela Parker,
Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association and the Canadian Aquaculture Industry
Terry Ennis, President, Board of Directors Executive, Canadian Aquaculture
Industry Alliance: I'm Terry Ennis, president and CEO of Atlantic Aqua Farms
from Prince Edward Island.
Kevin Stringer, Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Ecosystems and Fisheries
Management, Fisheries and Oceans Canada: Kevin Stringer, Assistant Deputy
Minister of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
Eric Gilbert, Director General, Aquaculture Management, Ecosystems and
Aquaculture Management, Fisheries and Oceans Canada: I'm Eric Gilbert,
Director General of Aquaculture Management from DFO.
Jay Parsons, Director, Aquaculture Science, Ecosystems and Aquaculture
Management, Fisheries and Oceans Canada:
I'm Jay Parsons, Director of Aquaculture, Biotechnology and Aquatic Animal
Health Science Branch from DFO.
The Chair: Thank you very much. On behalf of the members of the
committee, I want to thank you for taking the time to join us this evening.
We're hoping to have interaction with our senators, and try to allow as much
discussion as possible. I know we have some opening remarks, but our plan is,
following the opening remarks, we're going to try to discuss four items this
evening if possible and we'll have time limits on those. That is to make sure
everybody is aware of the plan.
First is the discussion of enacting federal aquaculture legislation or
amending the Fisheries Act, and the pros and cons of both. Second is defining
aquaculture as a fishery or a farming activity. The third is existing federal
and provincial review processes, progress achieved to date. Maybe we'll have a
summary of closing remarks at the end.
I want to advise our senators that following our public session we'll be
going in camera for a few moments after our meeting, so don't run away when I
lay the gavel down.
I understand there are some opening remarks. I will ask Mr. Ennis to go
Mr. Ennis: Thank you, senator. My name is Terry Ennis. I'm President
and CEO of Atlantic Aqua Farms, a mussel company from Prince Edward Island. Our
company is the largest mussel company in North America. We produce and process
fresh and frozen blue mussels under the brand name Canadian Cove. I am also
president of CAIA.
First I want to emphasize that in my industry I'm a farmer. Our operations
involve stocking, rearing, protecting and harvesting our livestock which, I
might add, we own. It's our property or inventory, if you will. All of the
activities that are typically associated with farming we carry out in our
operations. The difference is that we operate on the water, whereas terrestrial
farmers operate on the land. Similar to land-based farmers, we are stewards of
the environment in which we operate. Farmers have a vested stake in ensuring the
continued health and productivity of their land as we do with the waters in
which we operate.
Odds are that if you have purchased mussels at a grocery store or ordered
them at a restaurant, they were either grown in P.E.I. or in Newfoundland. In
Canada, we produce a product that we believe is the best in the world and the
market agrees. We can't produce enough to fill the demand we have.
We are regulated under a 150-year-old Fisheries Act that never envisioned
aquaculture at the time it was written. You can't even find the word
"aquaculture'' in the Fisheries Act. The result is that this act ignores our
legitimate, important food-producing industry as if it doesn't exist. As a
company owner who provides year-round, good-paying jobs to Canadians and
supplies nutritious healthy food to Canadians and export markets with our highly
demanded product into the U.S. and elsewhere, this is a very frustrating
situation to be in.
For over 30 years our industry has asked for an aquaculture act. Numerous
independent studies, government commissions and committees have recommended an
aquaculture act. While I appreciate the opportunity to come here and speak to
you today, it's really time to move beyond talking about the situation. It is
time to act. I'm hopeful that in addition to the considerable work that CAIA has
undertaken to move forward on an act, your deliberations and report will finally
lead to concrete action by the government.
We spend a lot of time discussing salmon farming, but it is important to
realize that as a shellfish farmer I also want to see growth in our industry. We
believe that can in part be accomplished through national legislation. We need
legislation that will: define and explicitly recognize aquaculture in law to
acknowledge aquaculture as an important, legitimate user, and I would say
steward, of our country's aquatic resources; ensure we are regulated on the
basis of sound science; ensure greater coordination between federal and
provincial regulators, which should lead to a reduction in unnecessary overlap
and duplication of effort; clarify regulatory and promotion roles within
government; and to open the door for aquaculture to access insurance and support
programs that are available to our terrestrial agriculture counterparts.
I believe there are both opportunities and responsibilities for companies
like mine to grow Atlantic Canada's food production sector. We have a mandate to
feed people both locally and globally with healthy and nutritious food, and to
create jobs and bring social benefits to our coastal and rural communities.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Ennis.
Ms. Parker: My name is Pamela Parker. I'm the executive director of
the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association and I thank you again for the
opportunity to speak to you.
Our association represents the salmon farming industry throughout maritime
Canada, both in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the salmon farmers and the feed
producers, in addition to a wide range of supporting organizations and
Today I want to share with you a new report on salmon farming globally
recently released by the International Salmon Farmers Association. It shows that
our industry has come of age. It is thriving in coastal communities around the
world, producing one of the healthiest foods with a minimal environmental
footprint. The report further demonstrates that Canada is well positioned to
benefit from the growing demand for healthy protein.
According to the report, at page 6, salmon farmers globally produced 14.8
billion meals in 2012-13. That's a lot of healthy meals to feed a growing
population. And it's especially impressive when you think that the salmon
farming industry did not exist 40 years ago.
What's more impressive is that salmon farmers produced those meals from only
.00008 per cent of the world's oceans. That's 14.8 billion meals from only 262
square kilometres of ocean. That makes salmon farming one of the most efficient
protein producers in the world.
The report also shows that in 2012-13, production of salmon was worth $10
billion U.S. It created 121,000 direct and indirect jobs around the world,
stimulating thousands of spinoff jobs and economic growth in a wide variety of
sectors. To view the ripple effect of our industry, refer to page 13 of the
For Atlantic Canada, salmon farming is already one of the biggest economic
drivers, employing 3,000 people in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and generating
$356 million in economic activity annually. Our region plays an important role
in the success of the global salmon farming industry. In fact, 50 per cent of
Canada's farmed salmon is grown in Atlantic Canada. With our vast aquatic
resources, innovation and technical expertise, we have tremendous opportunity to
continue to grow and create economic prosperity in coastal communities.
A federal aquaculture act is critical to enable us to reach our full
potential, and to secure a responsible and sustainable industry for the future.
An aquaculture act would finally address the long-standing issues of trying to
regulate aquaculture under the Fisheries Act.
The Fisheries Act was designed to allow seasonal or permanent fishery
closures, to create limits or conditions to fishing gear and allowable catch,
prohibit certain behaviours and levy charges for violations. However, it was not
designed for the farming of fish, where the resource is privately owned, where
it involves intervention by regular stocking, feeding, protection from predators
or disease. Nor is it designed to enable seafood farmers to access existing
fisheries to support growth of new or underutilized species, or to define needed
levels for growth in the production to enable Canada to compete in an
international market. Words like "cultivation,'' "promotion,'' and "growth'' are
terms that are fundamental principles in the farming of fish, but have no place
in the Fisheries Act.
The Fisheries Act does not and cannot consider private farming drivers that
affect Canadian aquaculture products and their competitiveness in an
international market. Yet this is fundamental to our discussion of present
industry stagnation. Holding Canadian aquaculture solely within a Fisheries Act
almost guarantees the growth will be slim to none.
If we move forward with modern legislation that has been written specifically
for who we are as farmers, Canada will be seen as being open for business and
investment dollars, and economic activity and employment will flow into Canada
as a result. There will be significant positive impacts on rural, coastal and
First Nations communities, in particular, and Canada will help to provide
alternative seafood that complements the products from our existing fisheries.
Your committee has spent a lot of time learning about and considering the
level of scientific research into our industry, and I'm sure you have come to
realize that research is what drives this industry. Science has informed both
our farming practices and our regulations, and it will continue to guide the
industry forward. Is there more to learn? Yes, there is. Research continues.
But let's not confuse the need to continue to support and advance scientific
research and technical innovation with the need to move forward now with
legislation that will position Canada as a global leader in responsible best
practices with clear, transparent and accountable regulatory frameworks.
The future of salmon farming in Canada holds tremendous promise in terms of
producing fresh and nutritious seafood for generations to come. Salmon farming
also has the potential to revitalize coastal communities with high-value jobs
and new opportunities.
Thank you for your important work. A national aquaculture act with fair and
clear rules will be a significant and important milestone for the modern and
responsible aquaculture industry of Canada.
The Chair: Thank you. Ms. Salmon.
Ms. Salmon: Good afternoon, senators. Thank you again for the
opportunity to be with you. We appreciate being here and also appreciate the
work that your committee has been doing. I know you've been working hard, and we
certainly appreciate it.
As I mentioned, my name is Ruth Salmon, Executive Director of the Canadian
Aquaculture Industry Alliance, and our association represents seafood farmers
from coast to coast to coast.
As you know, certainly, over the course of your study, few jurisdictions can
match Canada's natural advantages when it comes to aquaculture. We have an
enormous coastal geography. We have an abundance of cold, clean water, a
favourable climate, a rich marine and fishery tradition, established trade
partners and a commitment to sustainable and responsible best practices.
Aquaculture is among the fastest-growing food sectors in the world,
accounting for 50 per cent of the world's total fish production. That's going to
be about 62 per cent by 2030.
In 2012, our association launched a national strategy to address over a
decade of stagnation in production. We determined that a combination of
legislative, regulatory and policy and program reform was necessary to reverse
the trend and encourage growth and increased competitiveness in our sector.
As you know, the Canadian aquaculture industry is regulated primarily by the
Fisheries Act, a piece of legislation that dates back to Confederation when
commercial aquaculture in Canada did not exist. Rapid development of the sector
resulted in a combination of federal, provincial and local regulations, many of
them implemented before commercial-scale aquaculture was even a significant
activity. So as a result, many of these policies and regulations are reactive,
duplicative and inefficient.
Our association views the lack of legislation appropriate for our industry as
a primary impediment to investment and growth. In fact, if real progress to
improve the legislative, regulatory and policy environment in Canada is achieved
in a timely manner, the industry believes it could easily double in size over
the next 10 years. That's a real, doable and responsible growth projection.
Canada remains one of the world's only major farmed seafood-producing
jurisdictions without national legislation specifically designed to govern and
enable its industry. Other jurisdictions that you've been exploring, such as
Norway, Chile, New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland, Australia and the United States
have all enacted aquaculture legislation. Most of the Canadian provinces, if not
all, also have their own aquaculture legislation.
Over the last two years, CAIA has presented its viewpoints on an aquaculture
act to this committee as well as many other standing committees. We've also
presented our perspectives to the Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture
Ministers this past June, and at that time, we indicated that our association
would be doing additional homework to provide more detail of what we thought an
act should contain. We're nearing the completion of that process now, and I can
share with you tonight the underlying principles that have guided our work.
CAIA believes the aquaculture act should ensure responsible growth,
competitiveness and sustainable best practices through a modern legislative and
regulatory framework — I stress the word "modern'' — and outline a transparent
regulatory regime that will be robust, risk-based, science-based, agile,
adaptable and focused on performance outcomes. Instead of trying to force-fit
aquaculture in a traditional and outdated fisheries regulatory regime that is
fundamentally inappropriate, the new act would provide the government with a
regime that recognizes and is designed specifically for aquaculture as a farming
activity. An act should be consistent with yet update key duties and powers from
the Fisheries Act, the Safe Food for Canadians Act, and the Species at Risk Act.
The new act should contain modern, state of the art compliance, promotion and
enforcement tools, including an effective licensing mechanism and administrative
monetary penalties to establish an effective regulatory regime that ensures
legitimacy and public acceptance.
An aquaculture act should provide a regulatory regime that reflects the fact
that the business incentives of aquaculture operators align well with the risk
management objectives that are sought by the government.
I'll give you an example. Disease and escapes cause loss to finfish
aquaculture operators, so minimizing those risks and finding lower-cost ways of
achieving compliance is job number one for industry, as well as government, so
our objectives and government objectives are the same.
An act should reflect the reality that the aquaculture industry recognizes
and supports that effective regulation of our industry is a critical factor in
continuing to maintain and build consumer acceptance of our farmed products and
public support for our farming operations.
An act should avoid perceived conflicts of interest for ministers by
separating regulatory from industry promotion functions.
An act should affirm a regulatory leadership role for the federal government,
while allowing day-to-day delivery of regulatory oversight to be handled by
provinces, if certain conditions are met.
It should be a highly cost-effective model for the federal government,
reducing the need for dedicating scarce resources to regulatory activities that
are duplicated at the provincial level.
In closing, we believe a modern legislative and regulatory framework with
clear and transparent rules for all stakeholders is essential to a critically
important industry. Canada's first national aquaculture act will ensure a
vibrant, nutritious and responsible farmed seafood sector for future
The Chair: Thank you, Ms. Salmon.
Mr. Stringer, I understand you have some opening remarks.
Mr. Stringer: Thank you very much. It is a pleasure for us to be back
with you on this issue. As has been pointed out by the other witnesses, the
Senate committee has done some very important work. We look forward to the
results of your studies, and it has been an honour to be invited a few times to
speak with you, answer questions and engage as we are today, and it's a unique
pleasure to be here with representatives of industry at this time, in this
unique process. Thank you for inviting us.
As you know, aquaculture in Canada depends on several jurisdictions at once.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada is the main federal agency. The department ensures
that aquaculture is managed in a sustainable fashion, in accordance with the
Fisheries Act and related regulations. The Fisheries Act dates back to 1868,
almost when Confederation was born. It is now nearly 147 years old and, at the
time it was drafted, it was difficult to imagine that aquaculture would develop
to such an extent.
In spite of this lack of historic legislative focus, aquaculture has
established a solid foothold in Canada. We've already heard about that and the
committee members are well aware of it. It now accounts for about one third of
the total landed value of fish in Canada. In fact, it is effectively the largest
fishery in B.C. accounting for $508 million in landed values.
As senators are aware, DFO has been working on the aquaculture activities
regulations and a number of other regulatory improvements to improve the
regulatory coherence in environmental management of the sector. As public
servants, we work with the regime we have. That regime is the Fisheries Act. Ms.
Salmon spoke to their comments in 2012, and it has been before then and since
then that there needs to be a comprehensive regulatory regime. So we've been
doing it based on that with the tools we have.
When considering the question of the potential for a dedicated aquaculture
act in Canada, it's useful to consider — and I'm sure the members will — the
aquaculture regulatory regimes in other countries. Jurisdictions such as Chile,
New Zealand, Norway and Scotland have all adopted national legislation that
recognize aquaculture in the title and have acts that basically speak to
aquaculture. Others have not. But others, such as Ireland, recognize and
regulate aquaculture under specific provisions in their national fisheries
legislation, and that's one way to do it as well.
For others, such as Australia and the U.S., aquaculture is largely governed
by sub-national state governments, under sometimes aquaculture specific and
sometimes fisheries legislation. The U.S. did in fact enact the National
Offshore Aquaculture Act at the national level.
We would note as well that the purpose of aquaculture legislation varies from
one country to another, and the issue that was just raised around what would be
in an act is significant. It is different in different countries. So Norway's
legislation states as its purpose — and we are paraphrasing because the
translation is rough — the promotion of profitability and competitiveness of the
aquaculture industry within a framework of sustainable development that
contributes to the creation of economic value on the coast. Norway's legislation
confirms the property rights of aquaculture operators to withdraw and recapture
farmed species and specifically allows for the mortgaging of aquaculture
licences to raise capital.
On the other hand, it does have important control dimensions. It imposes
siting requirements on fish farms, specifically for salmonids. It sets fees and
imposes a duty of disclosure on fish farmers. It imposes sanctions and
enforcement provisions for failure to comply, including criminal charges, and it
grants power to government to recover costs of enforcement and execution of
orders from aquaculture operators. There are other examples as well.
Ireland's Foyle and Carlingford Fisheries Act contains a lengthy section. So
it's the Fisheries Act dealing with the issuance and revocation of aquaculture
licences while leaving other regulatory matters potentially related to
aquaculture to be addressed elsewhere in their fisheries act and by other pieces
We could go on. There are other examples, but the central point is that the
purpose of aquaculture legislation is not the same from one country to another.
The purpose appears to depend on the specific challenges and unique
opportunities those countries were seeking to address, their legal systems and
of course the unique political and socio-economic context that they find
Industry stakeholders have expressed interest — we've heard it today and we
will hear more — in having modern legislative and regulatory framework that
enables sustainable aquaculture development in Canada. The complexity of our
aquaculture regulatory regime is often identified as a key factor in limiting
the sector's growth.
The reality is that, as government, our responsibility is to ensure that a
robust regulatory framework exists, and one that enables the growth that must
surely happen in the future and also protects the broader aquatic environment
and ensures sustainability. There are different tools to achieve this. An
aquaculture act is certainly one of those tools.
As public servants, I don't think you'll find us taking a formal position
about whether an aquaculture act is the best tool. As public servants, we work
with what we have. But we can speak to the challenges, gaps and risks with the
current framework that can assist you with your studies.
I'll just repeat that I am very pleased to be here to answer questions and to
participate in this engagement.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Stringer. I don't believe Mr. Gilbert or Mr.
Parsons have opening remarks.
Mr. Parsons: No.
The Chair: To move things along, I will ask Senator McInnis if he
would open up with some remarks on our first topic for discussion, as all of you
have touched on and has come up in our discussions, on enacting aquaculture
legislation or amending the Fisheries Act, the pros and cons.
Senator McInnis: We have heard a great deal about whether the new
aquaculture act is required, would it be the utopia or provide us with one-stop
shopping, something similar or analogous to what is perhaps in Norway.
We understand that there are 70-some pieces of federal and provincial
legislation and regulations. The level of duplication and lack of uniformity in
the aquaculture governance is incredibly confusing. We were provided with a
schedule or table and when you look through it and see the number of divisions
of provincial and federal departments that touched them, it's quite remarkable
and would lead one to believe that it would be cumbersome at best for the
Now, would a new act cut out all of the good work that's been done — I'm
being selfish here — in my province of Nova Scotia with the new regulations?
Mr. Stringer, you are on record as saying that reform would be carried out
within the existing framework of the Fisheries Act, but you'll clarify that
tonight I'm sure. It's a wide discussion. I think it's important for this
committee, as we get ready to draft a report, to try and come up with the very
best recommendations with to respect to this. Obviously, the status quo does not
appear to be an option so the committee would be interested to hear your
feelings on that.
The Chair: Anybody who would like to make a comment on any issue
raised, please feel free to make the comment, cross-examine or butt in. The
floor is yours.
Ms. Salmon: Senator you raised some very good points. One of the
points was in terms of what your province has done, Nova Scotia, and I think you
raise a very important point.
We went into this work realizing that it was very important. In this country
we have a governance system where the federal government and the provinces are
involved in the management of aquaculture and we're not suggesting that change.
So it is very important that the provinces be able to administer the aquaculture
act if certain conditions are met.
That's to say very clearly that we're not looking here to change the way
that's already operating. The provinces have an important role to play in
aquaculture management and certainly that needs to continue.
You also made another comment about there being 17 pieces of legislation, and
would we be cutting that out. In supporting what Kevin Stringer was saying in
terms of that, we do have a robust regulatory requirement in Canada and we
agree. We don't want for a minute the stringency of our regulations to be
reduced. Industry has never said we need less regulation, we want to be less
What we wanted was a clear, consistent act that would be modern, reduce
duplication and red tape and that would, in one place, be able to explain how
aquaculture is managed. You identify that it's complex, so it's complex for
Canadian consumers to understand how aquaculture is managed.
National aquaculture would give us the opportunity to explain how aquaculture
is managed and how we are managed and impacted by a number of different pieces
of legislation. It's not cutting out, it's creating something that would be much
more coherent, clear, consistent, and be able to be clear and consistent not
only to Canadian consumers but industry as well so that they are comfortable
investing in an industry that they know how it operates and they know this
federal government has a vision for its future growth.
Those are the two points I wanted to pick up on and there may be others who
want to weigh in.
Ms. Parker: I would just add, from our industry's perspective, we
definitely want to maintain the roles of our province. However, a lot of times
the provinces are in conflict because of the lack of clarity at the federal
Also I think that there are models already in Canada. Unlike Norway, where
they don't have provinces that have a regulatory role, Canada has this
complexity for all of our resource industries. There is a role for the provinces
and there is a role for the federal government.
Really we're not asking for anything more than that, we're just asking for
clarification at a national level, which will then enable the provinces, I
think, to have a clearer understanding. It also allows the federal government to
set the minimum standards that we would strive for. Certainly it would give a
benchmark then to measure provincial roles.
Mr. Stringer: I have a couple of comments. As I said previously, I
think, during my opening remarks, we are working with the current system. We are
committed to ensuring that there is a robust and modern regulatory framework and
so we have the arrangements in the current Fisheries Act. We are working with
that. We've talked about the aquaculture activities regulations which we believe
will contribute to this. We will move with further items.
That doesn't mean that those things can't be addressed and some other things
couldn't be addressed in an aquaculture act and you couldn't do it in a
different regime. I don't think it negates any of that important work that we've
been doing and you've been looking at. Others have been working with us as well.
A couple of points that were made in the question and colleagues here have
spoken to. One-stop shopping, it is a question if you were to do an aquaculture
act, are you going to put everything related to aquaculture that is currently in
other pieces of legislation into one piece? Or would it define aquaculture,
provide a legal basis and enable a vision? I think we would want to do something
about that, even for the fisheries business. We still have Department of
Transport regulations and things that the fisheries industry has to follow. It's
not all in the Fisheries Act. There are other pieces of legislation that define
the fisheries business in addition to the Fisheries Act.
The final thing, and this will be a big issue, and Ruth and Pam both spoke
about it, the federal-provincial relationship is a hugely important dynamic. We
have a national strategy that we work on with the provinces. We have a
deputy-minister level group that is effectively chaired by Eric Gilbert along
with one of the ADMs from the province. It is a complex world, and they meet
regularly and we coordinate where we need to. But the issue of
federal/provincial jurisdiction is a challenge and one where, no question, both
jurisdictions have a responsibility.
Senator McInnis: On that item of jurisdiction, the Supreme Court of
B.C. talked about jurisdiction, as does the Constitution, section 91 or 92. In
there they said that it was the jurisdiction finfish. I may have it with me.
Anyway, that it falls in the federal jurisdiction, and so for the provinces to
say that is inland fishery and the other is provincial, it is not.
Now some would say the Supreme Court decision would not fall to other
provinces. I would suggest quite differently because any challenge in Nova
Scotia would be the precedent, and that's the way it would follow until we get a
Supreme Court of Canada decision.
Where does that come into the mix and how is it working in B.C. now that
you've set up out there?
Mr. Stringer: A couple of comments, and I'll ask Eric to jump in. That
decision did indeed say that it's a fishery and therefore the federal government
has responsibility for it. By the way, not responsibility for absolutely
everything — the provinces still do the tenures and the leases, but in terms of
licensing the facility and the general regulation of the operations of
aquaculture it has been federal. It has not been applied elsewhere in the
country. It hasn't been tested elsewhere in the country.
There were discussions or considerations, provinces that are managing and
regulating this expressed a view early and wish to continue to do so. That's a
system that we continue to manage. It does make for a complex regime, no
We were given 18 months by the courts to come up with a regulatory regime. We
did that and it came into effect on December 18, 2010. It was the Pacific
Aquaculture Regulations, the PAR, and we have been managing since then and it
has been going quite well, we think. It has been effectively managed, so it can
We've maintained the relationship we had previously with other provinces and
we respect their jurisdiction. Provinces are not here, but you will often hear
them say this is similar to agriculture. Fish farmers own the fish they
cultivate, it is property and civil rights and all those things. We have not
engaged in that. We've simply said in B.C. the courts have said it's federal.
You're managing it elsewhere and we're going to continue to work together.
Eric, do you have anything to add to that?
Mr. Gilbert: I think it was a pretty good answer. This is a very good
question. From my personal perspective, actually, the question is: Is
aquaculture a fishery or not?
Right now we have three different regimes in place in Canada: one for B.C.
where we are the lead regulator; one kind of arrangement with the Province of
P.E.I., we're playing almost the lead regulatory role there; and elsewhere it's
the province playing the lead regulatory role. This is coming from a long way.
In the 1980s the provinces and the federal government sat down together and
tried to define whose responsibility that is, this new industry that is
expanding pretty fast in Canada. Is aquaculture federal or provincial
To be honest, at that time the federal and provincial governments agreed to
disagree. We fixed the problem by negotiating an MOU on how to manage, so clear
roles and responsibilities splitting within the MOU between the two levels of
government. We've been working that way since then.
An aquaculture act in any way, we're talking about defining aquaculture.
Normally it would be the first part of the act, so the act would have to set the
stage for aquaculture as a fishery or farming, the agriculture side of things,
or maybe even something new. It may be something that is not a fishery but it's
not perfectly coping with what agriculture is. It's something new. Aquaculture
But my point would be to say that whatever we decide or the federal
government, through negotiations with the provinces, will decide what
aquaculture is, this would necessarily change the relationship a bit, the way
the province and the federal government are working together. I'm not qualifying
at all if it would be better or worse, but I'm saying this definition would have
an impact on who is doing what for sure.
Senator Wells: Thanks again to the panel; it's good to see you back. I
have a question for Mr. Stringer, but before I get to the question, I want to
say that Ms. Salmon, who is the Executive Director of CAIA, and Pamela Parker,
who is Executive Director of the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association, and
Terry Ennis, who is an operator and on the boards, to hear Ms. Salmon say that
the aquaculture industry can double over the next 10 years is a staggering
thought. I don't disagree, because I think Canada is under performing.
Certainly, I think we see that in our deliberations over the past number of
Mr. Stringer, I've known you for a couple of years both from the fisheries
side and the oil and gas side of things. It's important to note that you were
with NRCan as Director-General of Petroleum Resources. I note that in the
petroleum industry, and I spent some time in it myself, the Government of Canada
did a number of things to streamline processes to make it better, not
necessarily easier, but more streamlined for industry to do what industry does
best. A couple of examples: the Government of Canada streamlined the
Environmental Assessment Act process, known as CEAA 2012. The process became
better after that. The Government of Canada established the major projects
management office, which was not one-stop shopping, but it was a single portal
for major projects like the ones we see in the energy industry. When we think of
single portal, I think that's probably a better descriptor than one-stop
shopping because there are a lot of things to do that span many departments and
agencies. The federal government also set up the Atlantic Canada Energy Office
based in St. John's in 2008, I think.
We have done a lot of things for the oil and gas industry based on the
obvious and recognized need and perhaps the call from industry to make things
more sensible on a regulatory level.
We hear Ms. Salmon saying: We could double the industry over 10 years and we
have support. Every time we have been in front of anyone from the aquaculture
industry in Canada in our deliberations, we have heard the same call.
I know you don't make policy, but you recommend policy. Why do you think it
is so difficult to action this from the aquaculture industry when it was
apparently so easy to do it from the energy industry?
Mr. Stringer: Thanks for the question. I'd make a couple of comments.
One is that it has grown. There has been some stagnation, but it is now 30 per
cent of Canada's landed value. It is significant, and we do agree it continues
to be poised for growth.
I think what we've been saying is we agree on the need for a robust
regulatory framework, and I think everybody is in agreement on that. The
question is what tool. Our job as public servants is to work with the tools we
have, provide advice with respect to other tools that may be useful — not our
decision — and we can express views with respect to the limitations and
challenges with the current tools. As I said, our job and our objective in terms
of regulatory framework, regardless of the tool, is to enable the growth that
needs to happen and ensure that it's consistent with protecting aquatic
environment systems and sustainability.
Regarding some of the things we have talked to this committee about and have
been moving forward on, I would point to the aquaculture activities regulation
as one element to be able to do that, providing legal clarity, consistency and
coherence, where we heard and, arguably, it was not there, and to multi-year
licences, instead of coming back every year. We are moving forward on those
specific things. We are doing that now within the framework and with the tools
we have. We are moving forward on it. We're hearing that there is a better way,
and that's something that we know you're considering.
Senator Wells: It's a fair point. Ms. Salmon, how long have you been
advocating for an aquaculture act, for want of a better term?
Ms. Salmon: This industry has been advocating for an act long before I
took the position with CAIA, and I have been here for eight years. Certainly,
there have been 30 years of reports and studies recommending an aquaculture act.
I'm thinking of when our association became actively involved, maybe 20 years
ago. That would be my guess.
Senator Wells: Many years, I think it's safe to say.
Mr. Stringer, you said the aquaculture industry is poised. It's one thing to
be poised for growth, and it's another thing entirely to grow. This is what the
aquaculture industry is calling for.
If the Government of Canada, specifically through the Department of Fisheries
and Oceans, were to have an act — obviously, it would go through Parliament —
then it would be up to industry to put their money where their mouth is and to
do what they say they will do. I think there is no better challenge that I'll
put on their plate than to be able to facilitate that. Even though it's the
bureaucracy and you don't make decisions as such, there is an obligation, as we
have done for the oil and gas sector, to have not just a robust, modern
regulatory framework but to have one that works for industry. It's an important
distinction to make.
Mr. Stringer: I don't mean to knock the idea of whether or not an
aquaculture act is the best tool. What I do mean to say, though, is I think we
have a general understanding of what kind of regulatory regime is required.
We think there is a need to work with provinces on it where they have systems
that currently exist. There is more than one way to achieve it. We currently
have a set of tools that we're operating with, and we have a regulatory agenda
that we've outlined to this committee and we are proceeding with. If there ends
up being an aquaculture act as well or amendment to the Fisheries Act that puts
an aquaculture part in, we would work with that as well, but we certainly do
take your point.
Senator Wells: Thank you.
Senator Meredith: As a follow-up to my colleague's question, Ms.
Parker, at the end of your statement, you cited U.S. $10 billion and $356
million in economic activity locally and you stated: "A federal aquaculture act
is critical to enable us to reach our full potential and to secure a responsible
and sustainable industry for the future.''
What would that potential look like? The previous question said it has been
over 30 years that the industry has been asking for an aquaculture act. How
would we realize the full potential in the absence of a full aquaculture act?
Ms. Parker: Currently, a lot of our companies, both our Canadian
companies and our companies that are from head office, say in Norway, are
investing in other countries. They are not investing in Canada right now. Even
our local companies are investing outside of Canada because they lack the
confidence that the confusion is going to go away. It's very complex. We spend a
lot of time trying to educate the public on how we're regulated and it's very
I think, with all due respect, during the Cohen commission, even the Deputy
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans had a difficult time explaining how the
industry is regulated because there are so many different and conflicting parts.
Hopefully an aquaculture act will recognize, of course, that other federal acts
have to be considered, but the complexity and the clarification will be there.
That will give confidence to our industry that we have the tools to go
forward, so that we understand clearly how fish health products would be
regulated or how benthic or environmental impact would be monitored and
regulated. We could clarify that to the public. They would be able to see the
information available publicly.
It is in some provinces now. It isn't in all. But to have the aquaculture
activities regulations would ensure that the public is fully informed on an
annual basis about the environmental performance of our industry.
It would make it more difficult for misinformation to be clarified, for
communities to understand the benefits of the industry for themselves, for their
community, and to resolve outstanding questions. Many of you, when you first
came into this process, didn't fully understand and you had lots of questions.
There was confusion, and it's very difficult.
If the industry is defined and if we're able to clearly articulate the
different aspects of what our industry does, which is the same as terrestrial
farmers, I think that will go a long way.
Certainly we have to respect the environment that we work in. We will always
have certain roles within the Fisheries Act, just like any other marine industry
that's working, whether it's oil or gas, or even a log boom in B.C., has to meet
certain regulations around the Fisheries Act. We'll have to do that too. But I
think the clarity needs to be there and the federal desire to recognize our
industry will also go a long way to attracting investment and confidence in our
Senator Meredith: Thank you. Ms. Salmon, just to follow up on your
presentation, why is it that you think that potentially DFO — and Mr. Stringer,
you can jump in after she has commented — has been somewhat reluctant to hear
your viewpoints on why we should bring about this aquaculture act?
Ms. Salmon: That's a good question. Again, I would support Kevin
Stringer's comments that as civil servants they operate with the tool that they
have. Quite honestly, I think they've done a good job. The aquaculture
activities regulations are an example of the kind of performance outcome and
modern approach that we would look to see replicated in an aquaculture act.
That's an example of a regulation that makes some sense, but there are lots of
other examples of changes to the Fisheries Act that will be required after they
finish the aquaculture activities regulations.
What we're talking about is one piece of national legislation; that the whole
piece of legislation is modern in its approach, not prescriptive, and looks at
performance outcomes and is not inefficient or time-consuming.
To be fair, DFO has worked with the tool they have. Why have we not moved
faster towards an aquaculture act? There are probably a number of different
reasons. It is a complex industry, and that's part of the reason why our
association, two years ago, decided to make a concerted effort to do our own
homework and not look to government to solve our problems. That's the process
we're in right now. We need to make it clear, and we're hoping to do that, about
exactly what an aquaculture act should look like and how it might be approached.
I think in the past, moving forward on this, it's very confusing. There are
these various levels of federal legislation. There are provinces involved. There
are different species that we farm. It isn't a one-template solution. I think
that's probably the reason why it hasn't been an easy activity to move forward
with, but our hope is that our association will help clarify some of the road
forward and it will make it easier for some of those decisions.
Senator Meredith: Mr. Stringer, did you want to comment on that?
Mr. Stringer: Thank you. I would say, as Ruth Salmon just said, really
there has been lots of talk about an aquaculture act for the last five or ten
years, but there's been a real focused effort formally from CAIA within the last
two or three. In that discussion, there are proposals that come forward, here's
an idea, and there are questions back and forth about what would actually be in
it. Ruth just spoke to the fact that they're coming to the completion of a
document that might speak to what's in it. But in the meantime, we're plugging
Why has it not happened? Partly that work hasn't been done. It's partly the
current regime we're making reforms to, and it may not be as effective. It may
or may not be. But the platform has been adequate for us to move forward on.
I think the issue that was raised by senators previously — provinces will
have a view on this. We've got different jurisdictions and different regimes in
each province. They don't do things the same way. The challenge of taking on
something that says "guys, this is the way it's going to be'' or setting
standards is not an easy one. We've been plugging away with the regime we've
got, making the reforms and working with the industry.
I absolutely agree with what Ruth has outlined, which is that we have a good
working relationship with the industry, with the provinces and with other
stakeholders, despite the challenge that you'll see from time to time in terms
of identifying what needs to be done next and moving ahead with it. This is a
big initiative, and we really welcome the views of this committee as you
consider what's best.
Senator Raine: I know this is very difficult because, you're
absolutely right, we don't have an aquaculture act, but with the new regulations
that are coming into place there are a lot of things happening to govern and
regulate aquaculture in Canada.
My worry is that DFO has a fantastic organization across the country with a
lot of science and scientists and people on the ground. If we have a whole other
regime, department, whatever, you get silos — that's DFO, that's not aquaculture
— and we start to lose that valuable scientific resource that's been built up.
I would like to ask the industry representatives, if there isn't an
aquaculture act, can we regulate the industry in an efficient, proper, modern
way that lets you expand and invest, given that our number one concern is that
it doesn't impact the wild fish? Of course, everybody agrees on that. But can it
be done without an aquaculture act?
Mr. Ennis: We currently operate under DFO and the Fisheries Act, of
course, but we also have a great deal of interaction with Agriculture and
Agri-Food Canada. You asked if there would be confusion in the future. I think
we're working in that system now under sort of regulatory and how we operate our
businesses from a farming perspective versus how we're supported internationally
through agri-marketing programs and developing new markets for our product. I
think we're both doing quite well now.
We've certainly debated this at the association and amongst our members,
whether under an aquaculture act it would fall under the remit of DFO or does it
fall under Agriculture Canada or is there a new department? I don't think we've
come to a conclusion on that yet ourselves. Certainly DFO has made a lot of
progress in the last couple of years. The gentlemen present and many other
people have consulted with industry and other stakeholders, and they're making
Certainly under the leadership of Minister Shea we've seen a lot of progress
and we appreciate that. We want to see something in place through an aquaculture
act that would give confidence to all Canadians, those who are opposed to
aquaculture and those who are working in the industry, that meets everybody's
needs. We really think that tweaking the Fisheries Act may move the ball down
the field but it's not going to accomplish everything we want, especially when
the Senate and this committee have looked at other jurisdictions where you see
that model operating successfully. I think we're almost at a point where it's
nearly a foregone conclusion we need an act and we're trying to convince
ourselves why we shouldn't have one. That's a good point to be at, after many
years, as an industry trying to move the ball down the field.
I think it can work. Whether it's under DFO or under Agriculture Canada in
the future, someone else can debate that. My preference would be DFO, but I
don't speak for everybody in the industry. It's something we can sort out in the
future for sure.
Ms. Salmon: I was going to assure you that this industry is science
based and needs to continue to be science based. That's absolutely at the
foundation of our industry.
The sense of protecting the wild stocks, protecting habitat, is critical.
That needs to continue. That doesn't mean growth can't happen in the industry.
They can work hand in hand. That doesn't mean one has to be less than the other.
We're looking for a piece of legislation that is modern, that is science based,
that is nimble and credible, protects the environment and the aspects of the
Fisheries Act. The conservation and protection aspects of the Fisheries Act are
critical. We want science to be more significant than it is right now, and we
want science communication to be more part of our industry than it is right now.
All the things that you think are important, we do as well. We also think you
can have sustainable growth with that.
Senator Raine: So you're saying you need this act so that the public
and the people who are anti-aquaculture can be assured that the industry is
properly regulated and the act will have the power to do that?
Ms. Salmon: Absolutely.
Mr. Ennis: That's a very important piece of this, for sure. I say to
anyone who opposes aquaculture that some of the best stewards of the ocean are
people who are involved in this industry, because we make our living every day
on the ocean. So we certainly don't want to cause problems. We want to make sure
it's a sustainable industry that's around for many generations to come.
One of the questions earlier was about economic development. It does have a
big impact on rural communities, and there's certainly lots of potential. If you
look at global statistics on seafood consumption, population growth and economic
factors, wild capture fishery is not going to be able to keep up with the
demand. Mr. Stringer mentioned a moment ago that about 30 per cent of Canadian
seafood is coming from aquaculture now. Roll ahead 20 years and it might be a
lot more than the wild fisheries coming from aquaculture if it's done properly.
The Chair: We have already touched on the next topic, which I'd like
to get some more feedback on. Certainly it's a topic that we've been engaged in
from one end of the country to the other, and that is defining aquaculture as a
fishing or farming activity. We heard some feedback already this evening, but
I'm going to ask Senator Wells to make some opening comments or ask a question,
whatever he may have, to start this part of the discussion.
I'd like to focus in on that, because one of the major issues that has been
raised with us on several occasions is if a government finds a place to put an
aquaculture act in place, defining exactly whether it's a fishery or a farming
activity will be a very important part of that.
Senator Wells: Full disclosure: I used to be president of a company
called Atlantic Halibut Farms, so I know a little bit about the aspect of
farming and the things that go along with it.
When we talk about any kind of farming, whether it is fish farming or more
familiar farming in fields with cattle or agricultural products, we talk about
feed and rearing juveniles. We talk about the specific plots of land or space.
We call them growers, whether it's seafood or cattle. We leave these spaces
fallow sometimes. It's a farming term in both aquaculture and farming on land.
There's controlled harvesting, which we don't always have in the wild
fishery. In the aquaculture industry, there's controlled harvesting. If you need
10,000 kilos of product, you get it. In the wild fishery, if you want 10,000
kilos of a product, you hope to have that through whatever fishing gear or
methods you use. Of course, in fishing you control the stock or harvest through
defined harvesting based on quotas, allocations or opening and closing of
seasons, which are things that you don't have, things that you don't regulate in
the aquaculture industry. Farmers take their product when they need it. There's
not a defined season. It might be defined by weather or other factors, but it's
not defined by regulation.
With respect to the regulations that guide it, and it's the Fisheries Act,
which was developed in 1867, aquaculture is the square peg and the act is the
round hole. I think that's what every operator that has to live under — the
rules were designed for something completely different. Can you imagine if we
had rules of the road for our vehicles that were designed for the period of
horse-and-buggy? That's what I think we're facing now.
It's just a point of discussion to open up this part of the session. I open
it to the floor, chair, for any of my colleagues to comment on that or give
Ms. Salmon: You said it very well. It was eloquent and absolutely
accurate. When you look at definitions in other jurisdictions, the United
Nations, everyone defines aquaculture as farming. We know that that hasn't
always been the case in recent legal cases, but potentially that decision was
made because there wasn't a clear definition of aquaculture in law in Canada.
Everywhere else where aquaculture operates, the United Nations defines
aquaculture as farming. You could ask any operator of aquaculture in Canada and
they will tell you they're farmers. That's what they do. So for us it's a very
Senator Wells: Maybe we could hear from Mr. Gilbert or Mr. Parsons.
I've known both of them for a number of years through their efforts in the
aquaculture industry, specifically Mr. Parsons. Do you have any thoughts on
Again, I'll say Jay Parsons has been involved in the aquaculture industry for
more than 20 years, because I think that's when I first ran into him.
Mr. Parsons: By all means, thank you for the opportunity to comment.
Certainly, as you've outlined, I've been involved in the aquaculture sector
through the university community, working with industry and more recently with
government, working in supporting the management and the regulation of it
through the scientific work that we do.
As you've outlined, clearly the steps involved in aquaculture are quite
different than the harvesting of fish from the wild. Certainly a number of the
steps in terms of broodstock, including raising the young and having control
over your stock, needing to feed them, controlled harvesting and looking after
them, are clearly activities that are aligned with similar practices that occur
in terrestrial farming.
Having said that, I think it's already been stated there have been legal
decisions under our existing framework that have a different perspective, and my
management colleagues are more prepared to be able to articulate those
particular aspects. Having said that from the farming perspective, there are
also common aspects of activities that aquaculture — occurring in an aquatic
environment — has in common to the fishery as well. It's of course not all
clear-cut, one or the other, because it is a common environment in which the
fisheries and aquaculture take place, but certainly from the husbandry aspects
that's very much in line with terrestrial practices.
Mr. Gilbert: For those of you who have known me for a long period of
time, I'm trying to be very practical in the way that I approach my job and that
I have to deliver the mandate of the department regarding aquaculture. As my
dear colleague Kevin put it, we have to work with the tools we have. One of the
tools we have is a Supreme Court decision in B.C. saying that aquaculture is a
fishery. We decided to be practical and apply this in B.C., but actually the
decision was made under the Canadian Constitution. On paper, aquaculture is a
fishery across Canada, and that's what we have to deal with.
If I may, I'll come back to the point that I was making previously, which is
the fact that if we have an aquaculture act that sticks to the fact that
aquaculture, legally speaking, is a fishery, then this has some consequences.
This would mean that for the first time we would have a national act dealing
with aquaculture, but a big part of it making it a federal jurisdiction, because
the fishery is a federal jurisdiction only, as you all know. It's a very complex
In terms of fixing or looking at the issue we're facing from a legal
perspective, it would need the highest level of government decision and it would
not go easily. Because some provinces might like the idea that aquaculture would
be a fishery and others would not. It would start a round of discussion between
the two levels of government again. At the end of it, we might be in a better
situation, but how long would this take? I don't think anybody knows.
Again, the core of the issue comes from the fact that aquaculture is not
defined, but whatever we decide it would be, it has some pros and cons. I can
tell you that we're working within the framework we have now, and we're making
some progress, certainly not as fast as the industry would like to see it
happen. But the AAR, the aquaculture activities regulations, will make a big
difference from that perspective in terms of siting and daily operation, in
terms of what DFO will do practically to help better manage the industry.
One last comment I would make: Again, my personal view on the need for an act
or not is irrelevant, but one thing I would say is that since 2010, since we
took over part of the jurisdiction in B.C. to deal with aquaculture and we've
established this new program, we have seen, I think it's fair to say, an
improvement in terms of social licence of aquaculture in B.C. We've seen people
more and more interested in looking at all the information we can provide
because we have access to that information, being the main regulator. So
transparency is the reason for it.
At the end of five years of federal jurisdiction in B.C., under the Fisheries
Act for aquaculture being a fishery, we're just about to allow some industry
expansion. Actually, we've issued two new licences for new sites in B.C., not
only because we have the tools to do it properly but also because the acceptance
of the aquaculture fact is improving in B.C.
I can say only this: Even for the two new sites that licences were issued
for, those licences are in the name of First Nations, which is a first. Eight,
ten years ago, there was a movement within First Nations opposed to finfish
aquaculture. Today, five years after the implementation of the Pacific
Aquaculture Regulations, we see even First Nations asking for salmon farming
licences, which is a fact that says a lot.
Mr. Stringer: In addition to what my colleagues have said, I'd say a
couple of things. First, the issue of is it farming or is it fisheries.
Presumably, it's about both. It's an interesting debate. I hear different views
from different people quite regularly on it. As has been pointed out by many,
the consequences of where you formally land on that, if you were to move forward
and define it, is pretty significant.
At this point, we have court decisions, we have the practical reality of how
it's being managed by provinces in different areas, and those are things that at
this point we respect the court decision where it was made, we respect the
provincial jurisdiction and we have good relations with provinces — all of that.
Second, we've all said, including me in my opening remarks, that the
Fisheries Act in 1868 did not envision a modern aquaculture world, and therefore
it would be a challenge to say it's a perfect tool for it.
It's been pointed out that it didn't actually envision a modern wild fishery
either. It's been pointed out by the fisheries community and others as well.
It's been a challenge to change that Fisheries Act. We've had some changes but
not that many changes. But in the wild fishery we've made it work, and in the
aquaculture industry we've made it work. We've had efforts to adjust, change the
Fisheries Act for the wild fishery. Would that have made the wild fishery an
approved regulatory — I'm not 100 per cent sure, but those things went forward,
and you're hearing proposals with respect to aquaculture as well. We have made
it work both in the wild fishery and in aquaculture.
The Chair: Thank you, Senator Wells. Great discussion again.
I want to move into our third topic.
Senator McInnis: Can I read something into the record? It is important
with respect to this. I just found the quote that I had. This is from the B.C.
. . . "finfish aquaculture'' is a "fishery,'' and falls within the
exclusive jurisdiction of Parliament under subsection 91(12) of the
Constitution Act, 1867.
The court "ruled that the majority of the provisions of provincial
aquaculture legislation lie outside the constitutional jurisdiction of the
That I think is extremely important, a very important statement. It goes on
to say that the only jurisdiction the province has is to look after marine
plants on the bottom of the ocean floor. That is an important thing as we go
forward as to what we're going to do.
Sorry about that.
The Chair: No. It's a good interjection.
Mr. Ennis: We've heard a few times now this evening that DFO has to
work with the tools that they have available. I would think the courts are much
the same. They have to define it as a fishery because there is no definition of
aquaculture. If you look in the Fisheries Act, it's not even in there.
Senator McInnis: It's in the Constitution.
Mr. Ennis: I haven't read that one yet. Eric made some good comments a
few moments ago, but at the very end of his statement he said that the First
Nations have applied for fish farming licences. There's a lot of confusion
around whether it's farming or fishery, but I thought it was interesting that
they applied for fish farming licences. To David's point earlier about is it
farming or fishing, I think we all agree we need some clarity around that.
The Chair: Words are important.
Moving on to our third topic for discussion this evening, and certainly I
thank you again for the great feedback that we're receiving here. Just to
clarify from my opening remarks, the topic is existing federal and provincial
I'd like to have some conversation — I think Senator McInnis is going to lead
us off here — on the progress achieved under the National Aquaculture Strategic
Action Plan Initiative and an MOU that was signed a while back with the Atlantic
provinces. So basically trying to get some feedback from the people gathered
here this evening of your take on what is happening up to date in relation to
the federal and provincial processes and is there something we could learn from
those? Is there an order we need to do? Part and parcel of what we're trying to
do here is trying to find an avenue to move.
I'll turn the floor over to Senator McInnis, who will initiate this
Senator McInnis: I'll be very brief. Basically, the federal and
provincial governments — and I believe all provinces are represented here, are
they? I think they are. You're looking at the regulatory frameworks to enable
harmonization of the regimes that would lead to reduced regulatory burden.
The committee, as I understand, was founded in 2010, five years ago. I know
from past experience that these things don't move quickly, but it would be
interesting to see where you are with respect to it. You may have considerable
information now as to how this may be. There may be some consolidation,
condensing and so on. Would you comment on that, please?
Mr. Stringer: I'll start and I will ask Mr. Gilbert to add.
I have a couple of comments in terms of how we work with provinces. The
Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers has a body underneath
it, which is co-chaired by Mr. Gilbert and one of the ADMs from the provinces.
Because of the jurisdiction, the split jurisdiction, the difference in B.C. and
the difference in P.E.I., we have had to have good working relationships. A
number of groups were involved, and there may be people at the table who helped
push us in this direction, which is to say we need a national strategy for
aquaculture. We recognize that at this time the jurisdiction is diffuse, and
therefore let's, at the very least, get the federal government, provinces and
territories together to come up with a set of objectives that is, in fact, an
action plan with year 1, year 2 and year 3 objectives to try to move forward on
all of the elements where we have shared jurisdiction. There were science,
regulatory and economic development components. I will ask Mr. Gilbert to speak
to where that is. I know an assessment has been done recently, an evaluation by
the parties, and what we need to recommit to going forward.
It is one of the tools we have with provinces and territories to try to
coordinate, regulate and ensure. For example, I know you've talked about fish
health recently. That's jurisdiction that the provinces and the federal
government have. We need a fish health regime that is consistent across the
sector, and we need to make sure we are setting standards.
I will ask Mr. Gilbert to speak specifically to some of the things in there,
some of the evaluation and what we might learn from it.
Mr. Gilbert: The National Aquaculture Strategic Action Plan
Initiative, or NASAPI, was a first in Canadian history. In 2010, for the first
time, we gave both levels of government a national strategy to tackle the
aquaculture industry and try to move on many issues. It was an ambitious plan. I
think we had close to 160 actions that we had to make happen over a five-year
As I said, it was a provincial-federal-territorial strategy, but we engaged
the industry in the development of it extensively. We had numerous consultations
and meetings across the country, including discussions with First Nations and
It was a first. Because it was a first, it was pretty ambitious and we're in
the fifth year now, so we did an evaluation of where we are. I would say we
didn't realize everything that was planned in the strategy, but, certainly, we
tackled most of the actions and we moved on many of them.
It's government, so it takes time, but the first example I would mention is
the renewal of the National Code on Introductions and Transfers of Aquatic
Organisms that was in existence in 2005, if I recall well. That needs to be
renewed. This is a national code that delineates roles and responsibilities
within the federal family but also the provinces and even the industry, as it
deals with transfer of aquatic organisms, mostly from fish health issues, so
from a transfer of disease perspective.
This code was signed off by all ministers, provincial and federal, and the
trigger to do that was the new role of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency that
they will take on. The CFIA is already responsible for the export and import of
live organisms, but they will soon implement the domestic component of the
National Aquatic Animal Health Program. So that federal organization is taking
over some of the old DFO responsibility as it relates to fish health. We have to
therefore delineate a new rules and responsibilities scheme for all of us and
make sure CFIA will be sitting at the table and coordinating their action with
us and with the provinces.
I think this is a great achievement. For the first time, we can tell anybody
who wants to know, including the average Canadian who is not involved in the
aquaculture industry, how we are managing fish health in this country.
A second example is the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program modernization.
Again, it deals with food safety, shellfish health and access to market, and
this one was planned to be modernized within NASAPI. We are about to finalize
I need to mention here, in terms of governance structure, we have, as you
mentioned, an MOU signed with all the Atlantic Provinces, Quebec and B.C. That
came from the ADs when we didn't agree on who is responsible for aquaculture, so
we said: Let's work that out, put the legal issue aside and in practical terms
let's determine who will do what. Those MOUs have been in place for decades, and
they have a governance structure, a federal-provincial committee that deals with
daily operations of both sides, federal and provincial, as they relate to
aquaculture. NASAPI was built on this. The delivery mechanism at the provincial
level was the committee of the MOU that was responsible to review priorities on
a yearly basis, follow progress on any of those priorities and report at the
national level on progress done for any given year.
I think we can say that NASAPI was certainly not perfect but a success in
terms of coordination amongst the federal-provincial governments and we
delivered on major action items.
Finally, as I said, this strategy is coming to an end, and just so you know,
we and all the provinces agree that we should renew the strategy. We need a
national strategy for aquaculture and we also agree that this new strategy needs
to be a little more focused. Maybe a little bit less ambitious, but we can
deliver on 100 per cent of the actions we agree to do.
Senator McInnis: Would this not be a good vehicle to do the act if
there was such a thing?
Mr. Gilbert: I would say in terms of talking with the provinces, it
would be the vehicle for sure.
Senator McInnis: How often do you meet?
Mr. Gilbert: The ministers responsible for aquaculture and fisheries
meet once a year, normally in June. All the deputy ministers of all the lead
agencies, including us and the provinces, have a conference call three times a
year. Under this umbrella, we have what we call the "strategic management
committee on aquaculture,'' which is the one I am co-chairing with a provincial
co-chair. This committee meets as needed, so it's at least four to five times a
year, if not more.
When we developed the aquaculture activities regulations, we had to engage
the provinces, so we used the strategic management committee to do that. Last
year, we had eight or ten meetings — conference calls or face-to-face meetings.
It's pretty useful and it's working pretty well.
Mr. Stringer: Regardless of whether there is an act or going with the
current arrangement, what is good about the current structure with the provinces
is it does start at the ministers, and ministers get a report every year,
whether or not there is progress. There is a discussion about this by ministers,
there is reporting up to ministers, preparation, et cetera, so there is that
discipline that's brought to it. Then there are deputies who get together and
when they do it three times a year, I can promise you that there is a flurry of
activity to say what progress have we made and let's make sure, you know. We
also have the working level connections that work. It is a necessary connection
that we've got and whether it's NASAPI or our regular work, that structure of
engagement with provinces and territories has been quite useful.
Senator Raine: What does NASAPI stand for?
Mr. Gilbert: National Aquaculture Strategic Action Plan Initiative.
Senator Meredith: In your collaboration with the provinces, are there
any major concerns that are brought to DFO with respect to how you move forward
under this new initiative?
Mr. Gilbert: I can assure you that they are raising tons of concerns
on a regular basis.
Senator Meredith: How are you addressing those?
Mr. Gilbert: It depends on what we are talking about. Sometimes the
province would use that platform as a good venue to discuss their concerns that
they know we're not responsible for, but as the lead agency that we should help
The coming into play of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is a good example
where CFIA was not used to working with the provincial aquaculture folks. They
have their network in place on the agriculture side, but since they've taken
over aquatic animal health issue or program they have to develop that network.
Developing the National Aquatic Animal Health Program was a major endeavour from
CFIA and they used the SMC under the Canadian Council of Fisheries and
Aquaculture Ministers to deal with the province with us sitting at the table. It
was pretty efficient.
Each and every time any member of that CCFAM is moving forward on any
regulatory initiative, this is something that would be discussed at that table,
both only from an information sharing perspective, but also in terms of
Senator McInnis mentioned that the Nova Scotia government is moving forward
in regulatory reform. We exchange a lot, in order to make sure that through the
development of the Aquaculture Activity Regulation, we will not overlap in any
way what the province is planning to do. That's another example. If there is
some emerging issue like access to market, we could have a conference call
organized very rapidly in order to discuss that amongst the federal and
This governance structure, in my view, is very useful. Actually, I see it as
a "must'' because aquaculture is a shared jurisdiction and the lack of
coordination between the federal government and the province was mentioned many
times in the past as something that impedes the industry from moving forward and
that provoked or caused more confusion. So the CCAFM umbrella and the Strategic
Management Committee on Aquaculture were designed, put in place, maybe 10 years
ago and it was exactly to address that lack of coordination.
It's not perfect. It's far from going as far as an aquaculture act in terms
of coordination, but it certainly was very efficient and useful.
Senator Meredith: Thank you so much.
The Chair: I want to thank our witnesses.
Senator McInnis: We all know there is opposition to aquaculture on
different fronts. You talk about growth of the industry. What effect has that
had on the growth of your industry or lack thereof? Has that stopped the
corporations from going forward?
Ms. Salmon: It is an interesting question and I think it's a good one
because there is opposition against our industry from a small vocal minority, as
there are against other industries, which is certainly challenging. But from our
industry's perspective, what is most critical is to have a federal government
that sees the vision for what this industry can be and supports it for that
future growth. That's what we have not seen to date. So again, not to be
critical of what has gone on before because there has been some good work and we
are a significant industry, but we could be so much more. We've lost 42 per cent
market share over the last decade and other countries have raced ahead. What we
see as an impediment is the fact that we need a modern approach to how we are
managed. We need a government that sets the vision for growth while at the same
time ensuring environmental sustainability.
We can talk about words and definitions and say it's too difficult. We can
talk about that we have a complex governance system. We all know that. But let's
not lose sight of our goal of supporting a critical food producing industry that
can do a lot for coastal communities and First Nations. It can be an economic
driver and produce a healthy, nutritious product that not only Canadians need,
but that the world needs.
I think we have to step back and realize what we are here to talk about. We
can find all the reasons why it's difficult to do it because it has not been
done before, but what is the purpose here? We want Canada to be a leader in a
seafood farming industry that supports and respects the environment, which also
moves ahead and not only creates jobs, but creates a healthy protein. I want to
leave you with that comment because we have to remember why we are doing this.
Senator McInnis: But we want to do it correctly.
Ms. Salmon: Absolutely and our impediment has not been the public
issues, which are challenging, to be sure. But that has not stopped our industry
Ms. Parker: If I could just add to what Ms. Salmon said. I agree with
her. We are a farming industry. The Fisheries Act is ultimately a conservation
and protection tool. So it puts the government in a conflict under the Fisheries
Act to be promoting an industry that operates in the marine environment, or
pardon me, enabling an industry like ours that farms in a marine environment
when their ultimate goal is protection and conservation. So it makes the
decision-making to move forward perhaps more difficult.
Senator McInnis: You are farming on public domain — terrain. Farming
is done on land. There is a distinct difference. The public can say private land
is farming on land. It is different — big difference. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We certainly want to thank our
witnesses this evening. Once again you have added much to our discussions and
consultations. If there is something that comes to mind after you leave here
this evening that you think we should be aware of or be enlightened on, please
feel free to forward it to the committee at any time. We will hopefully work on
finalizing our report after the Easter break and present our report to the
Senate by June. That's our plan. All eyes are in that direction, but you never
know what can happen. Thank you for your time.
Is it agreed that the committee move into camera?
Senator Stewart Olsen: You bet.
The Chair: Pursuant to rule 12-16. All those in favour?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Contrary minded? Carried.
We will take a moment to move in camera.
(The committee continued in camera.)