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POFO - Standing Committee

Fisheries and Oceans


Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on 
Fisheries and Oceans

Issue No. 41 - Evidence - April 4, 2019

OTTAWA, Thursday, April 4, 2019

The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, to which was referred Bill C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence, met this day at 8:05 a.m. to give consideration to the bill; and, in camera, for the consideration of a draft agenda (future business).

Senator Fabian Manning (Chair) in the chair.


The Chair: Good morning senators. My name is Fabian Manning. I am a senator from Newfoundland and Labrador. I am pleased to chair this morning’s meeting. Before I give the floor to our witnesses, I would like to invite the members of the committee to introduce themselves.

Senator McInnis: Thomas McInnis, Nova Scotia.

Senator McIntyre: Paul McIntyre, New Brunswick.


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


Senator Christmas: Dan Christmas, Nova Scotia.


Jean Lanteigne, Director General, Fédération régionale acadienne des pêcheurs professionnels inc.: Jean Lanteigne, Director General of the Fédération régionale acadienne des pêcheurs professionnels in Shippagan, New Brunswick, in the heart of the Acadian Peninsula.


Rick Williams, Research Director, Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters: Rick Williams, Research Director, Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters.

Senator Campbell: Larry Campbell, British Columbia.

Senator Hartling: Nancy Hartling, New Brunswick.

Senator Busson: Bev Busson, British Columbia.

Senator Gold: Marc Gold, Quebec.

The Chair: And by video from The Rock.

Keith Sullivan, President, Fish, Food and Allied Workers: Keith Sullivan with the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union. Good morning.

The Chair: The committee is continuing its study of Bill C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence. This morning we are pleased to welcome three witnesses. On behalf of the members of the committee, I want to thank you for being here. I understand you each have opening remarks, so we’ll give you the opportunity to present those, and then we’ll have questions from our senators.

Mr. Sullivan: Thank you very much. I’m actually getting a little feedback. Can you hear me okay?

The Chair: Yes, we can.

Mr. Sullivan: Thank you.

I represent nearly 15,000 men and women working in Newfoundland and Labrador who are members of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers union. Many of our members are employed in the fishing industry, and that includes about 10,000 harvesters. FFAW members live in nearly 500 communities in every single region of our province. Many of the communities have existed for centuries and almost all were founded because of the fishery. The inshore fishery has been the primary economic driver of coastal communities in Newfoundland and Labrador and has contributed to building a very strong middle class.

Today, my comments are going to focus on the fisheries management provisions in Bill C-68, specifically section 2.5’s reference to the consideration for:

. . . social, economic and cultural factors in the management of fisheries . . .


. . . the preservation or promotion of the independence of licence holders in commercial inshore fisheries . . .

Our fisheries are experiencing dramatic changes resulting from shifts in the ecosystem. Shellfish stocks that were once more abundant off our coast are seeing some declines, while groundfish, like the iconic Northern Cod, are seeing significant increases. What’s clear is that during this time of transition we can’t afford to make fisheries decisions in silos. We can’t afford to ignore the wealth of knowledge offered by people who spend their days aboard the boats.

New considerations for decision-making within the Fisheries Act that incorporate community knowledge, social, economic and cultural factors, as well as the preservation and promotion of the independence of inshore licence holders will help to ensure our fisheries are managed with not only people but communities in mind as well.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration for me to say that the most important economic development policies for Newfoundland and Labrador’s coastal regions and communities are fleet separation and owner operator. These policies have kept the viable inshore fleet in place and have injected significant wealth into every single corner of our province. While inshore fish harvesters, their families and communities recognize the importance of these policies, there are some who don’t see the value of safeguarding these important policies.

Over the past 20 years there has been a sustained attack on the owner-operator and fleet separation primarily by processing companies.

That has had serious economic repercussions for the fishery and coastal regions. As a result, corporations have gained a lot of control of these licences and are really siphoning off the wealth and benefits from inshore fisheries and away from our adjacent coastal communities. Of particular concern is the impact that controlling — or sometimes called trust agreements — have had on the cost of fishing licences. It has made it extremely difficult for young people to enter the fishery. I know this committee is going to hear many witnesses as you study this legislation, but I would like to share a story that will really emphasize how important Bill C-68 is to young harvesters in our province and future harvesters.

Stephanie is a fish harvester from Port de Grave. I met her at the last union convention. Her father happened to be an active member of our union over the years. Wayne and I had a lot of lively debates, suffice to say, about different issues. One thing we always agreed on is that we need to find ways to get young people into the fishery. Wayne did that. He encouraged his daughter to go fishing.

Stephanie, like a lot of people who grew up during the moratorium, went on to a different career path. After 13 years doing something she didn’t have a real passion for, she changed direction. She had support and encouragement from her family. She started out fishing cod with her father. Then moved to crab, capelin, other species. Despite being from a fishing family, it has been a continuous uphill battle for Stephanie, who is trying to run her own enterprise, to support a young family and keep value in her community. That’s why we need these strong legal protections in Bill C-68 to prevent controlling agreements.

Senators, you have an opportunity to ensure that young harvesters are not pushed out, they are not outbid by Bay Street investors or people outside our provinces who are willing to pay much more for licences. That’s why Bill C-68 can actually help with that. Stephanie’s story is similar to many other stories of young harvesters who are passionate about fishing but don’t have the access to the capital or are just outbid by large processing companies and sometimes of foreign origins.

The problem is that fleet separation, owner-operator policies have been remarkably easy to circumvent in recent years. Legal teams for companies have developed these trust or controlling agreements where the licence holder must transfer the beneficial interest of licence to another party that is not legally entitled to hold one. In these transactions, control over how a licence is used, sold or managed is also granted to a third party that is not entitled to hold this licence. That’s why the enforcement powers are also critical to ensuring that the owner operator is protected.

The owner operator of a fishery is a strategic asset to Canada’s economy. A policy alone is insufficient to safeguard the social, economic, cultural futures of our coastal communities. That’s why, with the force of law, these policies will become more robust, with legal consequences for corporations holding fish harvesters in these controlling agreements. Protecting the owner-operator fisheries is one of the best ways to build a strong middle class, create jobs, strengthen the economy in hundreds of our communities, like the small place where I would have come from, grew up in Calvert. And like I said, there are hundreds of others that depend on the fishery across Newfoundland and Labrador and the rest of Atlantic Canada. The inshore fishery can play a major role in building an economy in coastal communities so no one is left behind, and it’s a firm belief of FFAW and our members that Bill C-68 is critically important to the future of our industry.

Thank you for the opportunity. I’ll leave the remarks there. Thank you for the time. I wish I could be with you in person today and I look forward to some of your questions, senators.

The Chair: Thank you Mr. Sullivan.


Mr. Lanteigne: Good morning. I’ll be making my presentation in French.


In opening, I did add some more things to my presentation today. The notes will probably be shared with you later on.


Senators, first of all, thank you for allowing us to appear here today to talk about a subject that is extremely important to each of the members that I represent. A few words about who we are. The Fédération régionale acadienne des pêcheurs professionnels celebrated its fiftieth anniversary last year.

First, we are very pleased with the initiative taken by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to clarify and strengthen various parts of the fisheries act, particularly as regards protecting fish and fish habitats.

In Canada, we have been engaged in commercial fishing since the time of Jacques Cartier. So have the First Nations, whose fishing activities go back even further in time. There is no doubt that we have an in-depth understanding of fish and fish habitats. In that sense, we are very pleased with the new section 2.5, which updates the act and gives the department of fisheries valuable management tools. For many years, we have been managing fish by species. With climate change, we need to look much more at ecosystem-based approaches, not the siloed ones we have now, where the fishing of one species is detrimental to another. Including community knowledge and expanding the vision to include social, economic and cultural factors satisfies our call to have the scope of the department’s mandate expanded, which to date only covered “conservation and protection” in its approach and its management framework. This new approach is a much better fit for the concept of sustainable fishing today.

Still with regard to new section 2.5, paragraph (h) will add to the act “the preservation or promotion of the independence of licence holders in commercial inshore fisheries.” This is about the policy for owner-operators, as Keith said earlier.

We are very pleased with the new provisions in Bill C-68 that protect our way of life and prevent individuals or corporations from assuming the privileges granted to fishers who want to earn an honest living, ensuring our coastal communities stay vibrant and flourish.

This is a positive step here. We are victims of our own success. The evidence is that our fishing businesses are profitable. This is new. We have gone through times of poverty, subsistence living and despair, when we were able to get rid of the big foreign companies that exploited our fishers. You may remember the time of Loggie, Robin Jones, Fruings, et cetera.

When the new bill was proposed, many fish plant owners lobbied MPs of all stripes, you among them. Don’t fall for it. They argue that they create lots of jobs and that they don’t have any guaranteed access to the resource. But the real job makers are the fishers themselves. That’s where everything starts. Without a fisher, without the fish, there is no catch and no economic activity. If the concept of vertical integration is applied to Canadian fisheries in Atlantic Canada, it would immediately devastate many coastal communities.

The last time the Fisheries Act was reviewed by the previous government, we ended up with many new expenses in addition to our existing licence costs, such as: fees for dockside weighing, at-sea observers, cost of financing scientific activities, the imposition of at-sea monitoring, and the logbook.

As a result, for our fisheries — crab and shrimp — Government of Canada fees are often the second or third highest expense, after paying workers’ wages and fuel. Is this normal? The question needs to be asked. We would say no, and what’s more, it is an unfair system.

For your information, because they are ITQs, the licensing costs for shrimpers are $66/MT, and for crabbers are $137.50/MT, which cost an average of about $20,000 this year, while a lobster fishing licence costs $100. In addition, most other fisheries do not have to pay the fees listed earlier. This is the reality.

We are hoping that the new act will establish a better balance. We want to see a model that is fair for everyone, based on income rather than an arbitrary model that does not take into account the economic situation of a particular fishery.

I’d now like to talk about the next generation, and training. We all know that training is a matter of provincial jurisdiction, but in the particular case of fisheries, where licences are federally issued, it’s a bit of a two-headed beast. Bill C-68 does not address this matter, and we believe this is a serious oversight.

First, let’s talk about the next generation. The average age of fishers is very high, all across Canada. In our area, it’s 57 years old, and it keeps getting higher. We often joke about it being like Heinz 57 sauce. Very few young people are joining this industry, even though it is very interesting. One reason for this is that getting a licence is becoming more and more difficult, more and more expensive, and is often in the hands of lawyers, accountants and tax experts who play to the highest bidder and who more often than not have questionable business profiles.

Access to funding is non-existent and the costs associated with getting a licence are prohibitively expensive for a young fisher who wants to make a career of it. Under the current system, only wealthy people can get a licence. As a result, the field is narrowing or becoming more concentrated.

When I first became the head of the federation, the cost of a snow crab licence was about $2 million. That’s already a lot of money for someone who is 25 or 30 years old. Now, 10 years later — and this is fresh data from three weeks ago — one licence was transferred, without the cost of the boat, for $8 million. You can see how this just doesn’t make sense. The department says it doesn’t have anything to do with that, and it turns a blind eye. At this rate, we are going to hit a wall, and fast. We need to wake up and take a hard look at this issue.

We need to ask ourselves: Who will fish? What? How? As a country, as a nation, how are we preparing our young people to take on this role?

I’d like to close with a story. Last summer, the Fisheries and Oceans research vessel Teleos was at sea with its crew and teams of Fisheries Department scientists, and it had to return to port. The trawl was torn. No one on the ship knew what to do. They had to fly in a fisherman from Newfoundland to repair it. The ship went to port in Rivière-au-Renard, in Gaspé. In addition to the cost and the waste of everyone’s time, this is a great example of where we’re at right now.

In conclusion, we need Bill C-68 to be adopted as quickly as possible so that it can be implemented.

Thank you for your attention.


The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. Williams: I appear today as research director for the Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters, the national human resources sector council for the fish harvesting industry across Canada. We represent harvester organizations in commercial fisheries, including Indigenous fisheries. Our primary mandate is labour force renewal.

There are many important provisions in Bill C-68 that our members support including respect for Indigenous rights, improvements in stock conservation and habitat protection, and strengthening surveillance and enforcement to reduce illegal fisheries. However, we will focus our comments on section 2.5, like the previous two speakers, and its new language on consideration for social, economic and cultural factors in the management of fisheries, and for the preservation or promotion of the independence of licence holders and commercial inshore fisheries.

It is our understanding that these clauses are included in the act to affirm the minister’s authority to shape licencing policies, allocations decisions and fisheries management plans to address social, cultural and economic objectives, an authority that has been challenged in recent legal proceedings.

This language in Bill C-68 is strongly supported by council members because the strategic exercise of the minister’s authority, and indeed responsibility in these areas, is critically important for labour force renewal. We have recently completed a three-year $1.7 million study funded by Employment and Social Development Canada on labour supply and demand trends in the Canadian fish harvesting sector. We have shared the report with the committee secretariat.

Major findings from the study include: First, responding to surging global demand for seafood products, the Canadian fishing industry is currently experiencing unprecedented growth. Since the end of the great recession in 2009, the after-inflation value of seafood exports is up by two thirds and average fish harvester incomes have doubled. I appended some data on that to your document.

Depending on how this growth is managed, the fishery holds potential to generate much needed economic renewal in rural coastal regions and Indigenous communities across Canada.

Second, we have fish. We have market demand. The biggest barrier to the realization of this growth potential will be shrinking labour supply. Demographic data confirms that over 40 per cent of the current labour force — captains and crew — will age out of the industry by 2025. Due to long-term rural population decline and youth outmigration, there are simply not enough potential new entrants in coastal communities to replace them.

According to the 2016 census for the entire rural economy in Newfoundland and Labrador, for every 100 workers reaching retirement age, there are only 60 young people entering the labour force. In rural Nova Scotia and British Columbia, there are 75. In rural New Brunswick and Quebec, only 70. From 25 to 40 jobs will go unfilled across all rural industries unless new entrants are attracted from outside these regions. This is not just a fisheries problem; it’s a rural economy problem.

As the fish in the water grows in value, as Jean has pointed out, the market value of the rights to harvest that fish will also keep rising, generating new barriers to intergenerational transfers of fishing enterprises. Crew workers and new entrants to the industry have increasing difficulty accessing sufficient capital to purchase enterprises from rich hiring owner operators, while fish processors and outside investors are ramping up efforts to gain control of licences and quota, further contributing to price inflation.

This is a potentially very divisive issue among communities and industry organizations, pitting retiring harvesters against new entrants and crew members who aspire to become owner operators. Policy and program innovations will be needed to provide new paths to owner-operator status and affordable sources of loans and investment capital.

Four, the British Columbia fishery is not seeing the growth now under way in Atlantic Canada. We attribute this in large part to the absence of owner-operator and fleet separation protections in the Pacific region DFO. The 2009 to 2015 period saw increases from 125 to 325 per cent in average after inflation harvester incomes across Atlantic fisheries, but only nine per cent growth in British Columbia. If you go back to the year 2000, B.C. fishers had higher incomes than in the Atlantic region. Since 2000, their incomes have actually — after inflation dollars — gone down by 29 per cent.

In a wide open speculative market in B.C, licence and quota prices become unaffordable for people making their livings from actively fishing. To keep fishing, many owner operators have to pay from 70 to 80 per cent of their landed value of their gross earnings to lease quota from the people who own the licences and quota, onshore investors. It is understandable, therefore, that the labour force renewal challenge in B.C. is the most daunting, with income and job security that are not competitive with other industries. Indigenous communities have many young people needing career opportunities but under these conditions, they have very little access to jobs in commercial fisheries.

In the Atlantic region, the owner-operator and fleet separation policies have largely kept control over rights to harvest adjacent fish stocks in the hands of independent, community-based small businesses. As a direct result, the decades-long surge in global demand for seafood products has brought middle class incomes and a new sense of optimism to our communities.

We still face challenges to manage our fisheries sustainably and to renew an aging labour force, but we do so with the knowledge our industry now has a bright economic future. We want our brother and sister harvesters in British Columbia to have the same prospects and opportunities. DFO has a significant leadership role to play in addressing these looming labour supply challenges. The most critical need is for more consistent and effective enforcement of the owner-operator and fleet separation policies in the Atlantic, and the development of parallel protections for Pacific region fleets to maintain ownership and control of access rights by independent harvester enterprises based in adjacent communities.

We are entering a new era in fisheries policies and governance, with greater opportunities and greater risks.

With sustainably managed harvesting and rapidly expanding global demand for seafood products, the fishery will continue to be a generator of significant new wealth. The critical question: Who will benefit?

As the industry expands in value, there is ever greater risk that the growth dividends will be drained away from rural communities by remote corporate interests and speculative investors, as has happened in other primary production sectors and is now the pattern in British Columbia. Fish harvesters are the primary producers of this new wealth and the primary stewards of the resources in their adjacent waters. Our member organizations want to see fair and substantial shares retained by the people who work in the industry to ensure rural economic renewal and the revitalization of Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities that have relied on fishing for many generations.

Our council therefore strongly supports the passage of Bill C-68 as an essential step in ensuring that DFO ministers have authority and responsibility, as stated in the bill, to preserve and promote:

. . . the independence of licence holders in commercial fisheries . . .

The only amendment to the bill we would propose would be to revise this specific wording to say:

. . . preservation or promotion of the independence of owner-operator enterprises in commercial fisheries . . . .

By doing so, we would have language that applies equally well in all regions of Canada.

Thank you for this opportunity to share our research findings and policy perspectives.

The Chair: Thank you to our witnesses for some great presentations. The first question will go to the deputy chair of our committee, Senator Gold.

Senator Gold: Welcome to all of you.


My first question is for Mr. Lanteigne. The bill states that the minister may take into consideration, among others, and I quote clause 2.5 you mentioned: community knowledge, social, economic and cultural factors, and the preservation or promotion of the independence of licence holders in commercial inshore fisheries. You said that taking these factors into consideration is in line with your wish that the department’s mandate be broadened beyond conservation and protection.

Do you think you can contribute your community knowledge of social, economic and cultural factors via the existing consultation mechanisms? Or do you think the department would need new mechanisms to collaborate well with the communities concerned?

Mr. Lanteigne: Thank you for your extremely relevant question. Let’s begin with a single factor, the determination of quotas. Sea fishers are the eyes of the department. That is where the greatest number of observers are to be found. They are the first to see what is going on.

In 2011, a type of goldfish, the golden redfish, began to appear. It was not the Department of Fisheries and Oceans that realized this, but the fishers, because they are on the water, have eyes everywhere, and are fishing. Once they go back to land, they tell people what they saw, but no one listens. People talk about it, but the topic stays on the docks and in conversations in cafés.

The bill now says that the department wants to take community knowledge into account. Fishers are being invited to the table, which is very positive.

At this time, a species advisory committee model is being used. There is an advisory committee on herring and one on groundfish, another on lobster, but these are only consultations. The decisions are not made in co-operation with the industry. We tell people what we have seen, the minister goes back home and decisions are made. It is high time that we modernize this method in the fishery sector. We don’t necessarily want to copy the models used elsewhere. However, several countries give an important place to the knowledge of the people who practise the trade. That priority becomes extremely important if we want to manage the fishery, not only by species, but also with regard to what is happening under the surface.

You talk about reconstituting the stocks. How are we going to reconstitute them if we don’t have a clear picture of what is going on with seals who gobble up just about everything in the water? People do not accept to work in co-operation with fishers to come to solutions. That is why this part of the law interests us a great deal. This would really change the department’s vision and its management method.

Senator Gold: If I understand clearly, the concept of co-operation is now accepted, and will be in the law. However, the way things are done needs to be changed. It is the implementation that will be important.

Mr. Lanteigne: People often say that the devil is in the details. I think everyone knows the expression well. As soon as a legislative framework is put in place, people want to know how it will work and how things will be done. To borrow a well-known expression, are we going to be able to walk the talk? That’s a whole other story. At least, the legislative framework will be in place to allow that, because that is not the case right now.


Senator Gold: Chair, I would like to ask one more question, which I invite both Mr. Williams and Mr. Sullivan to address. This is about the important issue of fleet separation and independence of licence holders. We understand from witnesses and colleagues around the table how important that is, not only for the well-being of families but of whole communities. Indeed, when the minister was here most recently to launch our study of this bill, we heard him address that issue and the potential differences between the East Coast and the West Coast.

Mr. Sullivan — and I also invite Mr. Williams to comment — you mentioned that violating the policy for preserving the independence of the inshore fleet would not currently qualify as a legislative or regulatory contravention, which would allow the minister to intervene. I think the phrase that you wrote was, “policy is not a law,” or something like that.

On the House of Commons side, DFO officials said they plan to move their owner-operator policies into regulation, based upon consultation with stakeholders. Once those regulations are in place, fisheries officers will be able to enforce those regulations, for example, under section 9 of Bill C-68.

I would invite you to comment on that. Does that give you comfort that the law is heading in the right direction?

Mr. Sullivan: The fact that they’re moving regulations in that direction is obviously very good. There’s been overwhelming support in Eastern Canada for strengthening this. The policy is already in place, but similar to Mr. Lanteigne’s point earlier on needing more investment in this, it’s good to say that we’re going to manage differently, but we need to invest and actually do something.

The follow-up is also a part of the concern here. I think the legislation will strengthen this and, obviously, legalities around that, and having the regulation in place is obviously important. Then we need the investment of the enforcement of these companies, whether they are local processing companies or foreign investment companies that are looking to control our resources and take that wealth out. We need further investment in enforcement. That’s one key piece I’d stress in this, particularly if you’re working and living on the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. This is something that’s a key element as well.

Senator Gold: Mr. Williams, if I could invite you to comment on that, but also, perhaps, on the comment that the minister shared with us yesterday that the way in which the industry developed on the East Coast was different from the West Coast. He said he’s looking into it but I got from him a reluctance to commit himself to do what I think you’re asking for, which is to somehow translate the East Coast protections to the West Coast communities.

Mr. Williams: On your first question, I’m not a lawyer, but as I understand it, owner-operator and fleet separation have been policies, since the 1980s, subject to the minister changing the policy. Just in the last 15 years we’ve had three or four cycles of ministers suggesting that it’s time to change and modify these. Then industry gets mobilized and there are huge fights. When the minister has, with PIIFCAF, reinforced the policy, there have been legal challenges from companies saying the minister does not have authority in these areas to rule on social and economic outcomes.

From the industry’s point of view and from the people we represent, it’s extremely important that this no longer be a policy.

With regard to the West Coast, I would disagree with respect with the minister’s description of the situation as an omelette that can’t be unmade. There’s a very long history here, but in the early 1990s both the East Coast and the West Coast were in situations where you had too many fishermen and not enough fish. You had stock collapses on both coasts and a dramatic change in the market situation with salmon and aquaculture and so on and the industries had to be restructured on both coasts.

On the West Coast, you had about 6,000 enterprises and on the East Coast about 30,000 enterprises in four provinces with multiple fisheries. Talk about an omelette, right? What the East Coast had was the owner-operator policy and the fleet separation policy. The restructuring, rationalization and downsizing has all taken place through a process of co-management in which harvest organizations were at the table and whatever strategies were put in place through the TAGS program and other licence buyback programs and so on. The industry was an integral part of figuring out how to do that.

On the West Coast, nobody stood up and said, “our primary objective here is to protect coastal communities and keep the fishing economy in place to support those communities.” It was a tiny part of the B.C. economy in the fishery and 6,000 small businesses. We just opened it up to market-driven rationalization.

If you look on both coasts, the industry dramatically downsized in the 1990s but it stabilized by the time we got into the 2000s. Since that time, and in spite of the great recession, the dollar being at par with the U.S. and a lot of other shocks, the East Coast fishery has progressively grown, expanded and developed through strong conservation of stock, stock rebuilding and, as Keith pointed out, changes in stock composition, but we’re working through all of that.

On the West Coast, you have not seen the growth in the value of exports at all. You have not seen incomes grow. You have not seen the workforce grow. In my view, having just completed two or three years of intensive study on this, the West Coast fishery is going to go over a demographic cliff very shortly. Nobody will work in it. You’ll see foreign fleets coming in or you’ll see foreign workers. In the Maritimes, at the moment we hardly have a fish plant that works without temporary foreign workers because of the way that industry works. We’ll see the same thing on the West Coast on the harvesting side.

I think we have to uncook the omelette if we’re going to have an industry that supports the communities adjacent to the resource in B.C. I’m sorry to go on, but it’s a complex situation.

Senator Gold: Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you, Senator Gold. I think we all agree it’s a complex industry. That’s why we’re here trying to assist.

Senator Poirier: Thank you, again, to everyone for being here.


My first questions are for Mr. Lanteigne. First, thank you again for being here.

You shared your concerns with us about labour, particularly about the difficulties for younger people who want to join the fishing industry. In your opinion, how can we amend Bill C-68 to make conditions and the transfer of licences more flexible, while seeing to it that those transfers do not adversely affect the communities? In your opinion, how can the government help you to recruit younger people?

Mr. Lanteigne: That is a fundamental question. Today, if you go to a high school and ask young people if they are interested in a career as fishers, with the exception of the children of shipowners, you will see that there is very little interest. No one anywhere is promoting the fishing trade. Everyone wants their children to have professional careers as doctors, lawyers, architects, engineers, teachers and so on; everything except the fishing trade. So the starting point is to spark some interest for that sector.

As I said earlier, we are more or less faced with a two-headed creature. The Fisheries Department is responsible for issuing licences, for deciding who will go out on the water and how. The training aspect falls under provincial jurisdiction. The co-operation between federal and provincial jurisdictions at this time is minimal and varies according to governments. One day there can be good co-operation among government bodies. All of a sudden, the government changes, either at the federal or provincial level, and things are completely different. That has to be discussed in order to figure out how to approach that problem.

For our American cousins, the value of a licence is zero because the state holds the licences. The state gives the licences to the fisher. Once that person has stopped fishing, the licence ends and the state issues a new one.

Here, we have begun to put values on licences, which is all new. If you go back in time a bit, the sale of licences is not such an old phenomenon. On this, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans answers that to them the licence is free and the piece of paper costs nothing. However, there is an underlying transaction, which they don’t know about. This is tantamount to putting a blindfold on and saying that you don’t want to see that. The model does not work anymore.

So some thinking clearly needs to be done. However, the topic is taboo. The fisher has made this issue his or her retirement plan. A lobster fishing licence goes for around $1 million — we have even seen $1.2 million on the Gaspé coast. The fisher tells himself: “Here is a good retirement plan that is just as good as all my RRSPs”. If, all of a sudden, the licence goes to zero, there will be a revolt, and your offices will be very busy. We don’t have a choice; that topic has to be discussed because the time will come when things are not going to work anymore.

Distribution in the fishing industry involves the owner of the business and the deckhands. A ship is a ship. One does not go without the other. Without a crew, there will be no fishing. Once again, there is a lot of unfairness. In most cases the captain gets most of the income, and the deckhands often go home with a pittance. Given those circumstances, a young fisher will probably not develop a lot of interest in a fishing career. The only possibility, to have a real career, is to have a licence. That is when the trade becomes lucrative. As I said earlier, since the cost is $8.2 million, a fisher can’t spend such a large sum. It’s more likely that companies will try to get their hands on the licences. That, right there, is the heart of the issue. The solution is going to take a collective effort between the federal government and the provincial government, with respect to access and training of fishers. However, the training of young fishers never comes up. You might see a young fellow just hanging around the docks. If you say “What are you doing there, young man, with your hands in your pockets? I’m missing one crew member this morning, do you want to come on board?” So the young guy gets on board, goes out to sea and suddenly becomes interested. The captain then says: “Well, you’ll need your licence. Go and get that and I will hire you.” That is a brief snapshot of the situation.

There are very few trades in Canada that are easier to access. You cannot become a school janitor without at least having Grade 12. So there are some big gaps. Mr. Williams explained the principle very well. This industry has the highest growth rate in Canada. No one, however, is taking care of it. It would really be in everyone’s interest to examine the matter.


The Chair: I’m going to leave you time to ask a question, but we are on a time limit here. I realize there’s so much to tell us and you want to tell us. We need to shorten the answers somewhat. I hate doing this; I like to keep the flow of information keep moving. But we have five other senators who need to ask questions and we’re on a time limit. I’d ask that we get precise questions and possibly precise answers.

Senator Poirier: I’ll ask one more and then if time allows, I will put myself on the second round.


Mr. Lanteigne, the bill suggests several changes with regard to obtaining and transferring a fishing licence. When I put questions to the minister about this on Tuesday evening, his reply was not clear. As in most of his answers, he said that everything would be included in the regulations to come. However, there is no precise timeline. Do these changes concern you? Were you consulted on the development of these changes, as an organization?

Mr. Lanteigne: The precise answer is yes. We were consulted, we continue to be consulted, and the work gets done. However, we hope that this will be done as quickly as possible and that the implementation of the bill will also be done quickly. To answer your question, the advisory process includes every organization.


Senator McInnis: Thank you all for coming. Your presentations raise more questions in my mind than answers.

I’m not sure what you were getting at, Mr. Lanteigne, when you were talking about the cost of permits. You used the analogy that the state owns them and takes them back afterward. Where I come from, I can remember on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia where, if you were a fisherman, you were poor, generally speaking.

Today, it is a fact if you have a lobster licence and a boat, you surely have a good pension plan, if you want to relinquish the title to it. I’m not discouraging that at all. The captain, of course, is the one who takes the risk, but he is also entitled to a fair chunk of the profit. I’m not sure what you’re alluding to. I would not want the state to own the licence. I believe that the crew that are on the vessels are making a reasonable living.

I’m not sure what you were suggesting is a future direction in terms of the ownership of our lobster licences.

Mr. Lanteigne: Yes. Thanks. What I was giving you are some other models, elsewhere. The U.S. has a different approach. I’m not saying we should go that way, but in the U.S., when you complete your fishery or retire, your licence goes back and it’s the department that will reissue the licence. There’s kind of no value to the licence. It’s a model. I’m not saying it’s a model we have to retain.

To answer Senator Poirier’s questions, there are some other models that are being practised elsewhere in the world. I’m not saying it’s a model we want to retain. If we do that right now, definitely there will be a crisis because every fisherman values their licence. That started with the Marshall regulation. When that came into place, where the government started shopping for licences and placed value on that, suddenly fishermen discovered their licences were worth money and then they started speculating. We are at that level.

How far will it go? I don’t know. The quick answer we’re always getting is there’s a business plan that has to come into place and that will bring the cost of licences down.

In the absence of Bill C-68 right now, we’re talking about how strong the policy is versus a law. Right now, all kinds of strategies are being put in place to go around. That is putting pressure on worth and pricing. Obviously, fishermen are happy with this. This guy that sold his licence for $8.2 million is happy today. He just won the lottery. Last year the transaction was at 6, this year at 8.2, but basically if we start looking at it, it’s probably not a fisherman who owns the licence anymore. It’s probably a fish plant somewhere that used a name.

That’s why we need this law to make sure the licence access belongs to fishermen and not to some kind of illegal gimmicks on top of that where people are playing games because obviously it’s not going to work.

You’re absolutely right, that the fishermen develop the industry and vessels and invest in the fishery, it’s something very worthy to him. We also have to think about how we will manage to pass that licence or that right to young guys who can take it on from there.

Senator McInnis: It was a free-market system. I’m a great believer in that system. That’s our future. The fishery, with the opening up of the Asia market, for example, it has expanded tremendously. It’s wonderful to see that, particularly to see the price of lobster, where finally the licence holder is making a reasonable dollar. I think that’s a wonderful thing. It will eventually level out. Thank you so much. There are other questions I have with respect to trusts and so on. I’ll go on second round.

The Chair: Thank you, Senator McInnis. Just as a footnote, I grew up and still live in a small fishing community in Newfoundland and Labrador. And for many years, the fishermen were at the bottom of the rung of the ladder with regard to businesses. Today, they are professionals and they operate business enterprises. The value of those enterprises, I believe, give them some independence in how to deal with government, processors and everything else. Just a footnote I thought would be interesting.


Senator McIntyre: Thank you for your presentations. Mr. Lanteigne, I understand that your federation celebrated its fiftieth anniversary last year. Congratulations!

Your raised two important concerns in your presentation: first, the fees and royalties, and second, the younger generation of fishers and their training. In reply to a question put by Senator Poirier, you spoke of your concerns with regard to the upcoming generation, and training.

I’d like to hear your thoughts, briefly, on fees and royalties. I understand that at this time fishers are facing new expenses, aside from the existing costs related to the licences. I’d like to hear your thoughts on these matters. Will Bill C-68 resolve these issues? That is mostly what I want to know.

Mr. Lanteigne: It will be interesting to see if that is the case. That is to some degree what worries us, because those two clauses say that the department has the right to impose fees and recover funds for expenditures. At this time, that expense is already high and unfair. All of a sudden, the decision was made to include that measure in the act. We are not opposed to this. This is a natural resource and it belongs to all Canadians. Fishermen understand very clearly that those who exploit the resource must give a royalty to the government. However, we would like to see an equitable distribution over all types of fishery. At this time, it is very random. Let’s take a simple example. In the lobster fishery, weighout at dockside is not required. Lobster is weighed simply to find out its weight and the practice is not monitored. When it comes to snow crab, a company does the weighing, and the fisher has to absorb the costs. How is it that fishers have to pay for dockside weighing of snow crab but not of lobster? This is an unfair practice. If we have to pay for dockside weighing, let everyone pay and contribute. There are some major inequalities in the system.

There is also the example of observers at sea. We are told that we need observers at sea to monitor everything that is happening on board the ship, the catch and the collateral landings, and percentages are used. The rate can be 20 per cent, as is the case for snow crab. For shrimp, the observer rate may be 5 per cent, and the bill is passed on entirely to the fishers. Moreover, the government decides which company will do the job. Observers are required for a few fisheries, whereas for others, they are not. Either the government demands this, or does not. If we are headed for such a monitoring system, once again, our position is that everyone should be treated equally. We hope that the inclusion of that measure in the bill will produce some potential solutions like that.

Senator McIntyre: Thank you, Mr. Lanteigne.


Senator Busson: My question is generally for Mr. Williams, but Mr. Lanteigne and Mr. Sullivan, I would like your input as well. You talked a lot about the difference between the East Coast and the West Coast. We have heard other witnesses talk about how big that difference is and about the history. I really appreciate your Coles notes on how that developed.

You said in your recommendation for an amendment, is there a way that you see fit to recommend how that omelette would get unscrambled? Is there a possibility — I, hate the word turn back the clock — to fix that? It seems to me that what you are recommending on the East Coast is in response to what actually happened on the West Coast. Is that an oversimplification? Are you guarding against, on the East Coast, what happened on the West Coast?

Mr. Williams: It is an interesting reflection that when we created the Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters, for the first time we brought together fishermen leaders from fleets on both coasts in the late 1990s. They sat together and talked, and so on. A lot of the passion that has gone into the East Coast organizations fighting for owner-operator and fleet separation came from seeing the West Coast, and seeing that if we allow these controlling agreements and trust agreements and undermining et cetera, this is where we’ll be. There is a very organic kind of linkage between the two.

The House of Commons Fisheries Committee has had a special study on the B.C. licencing system. A lot of industry groups have made presentations on how a transition could be made back. There are only about 4,000 or 5,000 enterprises, most of them small enterprises. We are talking about a few hundred million dollars in fishing quota.

Senator Busson: That would be a buy back situation?

Mr. Williams: That’s what would be transferred from one set of owners to another set of owners, from people who don’t fish to people who do. There are a variety of strategies using licence banks and non-profit organizations and so on.

I think there will be a report coming out very shortly from the House of Commons Fisheries Committee that hopefully will identify some strategies around that. It’s a very practical thing. The PIIFCAF policy came in 2010. It gave companies who had bought licences through under the table seven years to have the licences returned to owner-operator control.

Mr. Lanteigne: 2007.

Mr. Williams: That has now been done. A fairly large number of licences that were bought by companies illegally or against the policy are now back in the hands. If you set a time limit, you allow normal market transactions and you provide access to capital, then these rights can change hands.

Senator Busson: Thank you very much.

Senator Christmas: I have a question for Mr. Sullivan. I was somewhat troubled by your comment that the fleet separation owner-operator policies having been remarkably easy to circumvent in recent years. Could you expand on what you have seen in the communities? How do those policies, fleet separation, owner operator, how they have been circumvented?

Mr. Sullivan: It happens in many different ways. Most often it’s done by the bigger fish processing companies. It’s done by other individuals, people outside the industry and people outside our province as well. Basically, they find an eligible harvester, do up an agreement. I would say this was designed and perfected by legal teams for these companies to put in trust.

We have seen examples of these and passed them on to DFO that clearly said this harvester could not sell or benefit from the sale of this licence. They had no opportunity to make decisions in a given licence. Often cases, they didn’t own any boats and through a series of policies, lots of times they weren’t on the boat. Sometimes harvesters would say, “That person’s name is on a licence.” They wouldn’t know what colour the boat is. It was far removed from owner-operator, and it’s really only gotten worse. Every single community that we go into, people know the enterprises that are operated by somebody who is not a fisherman. These people are getting paid less for their catch. People who are working on the deck of the boat are not getting the benefits.

We are already seeing some of this morph into what we are seeing in British Columbia where harvesters, legitimate fisherman sometimes have to pay 80 per cent just for the right or privilege to go fishing. There is nothing left for the harvesters, the crew and the people in the community. Just very quickly, because I was going to answer a previous question, in Newfoundland and Labrador, even though there are demographic challenges, we see a lot of young people who are interested in fishing.

The example I gave of the young woman, I have literally talked to over 100 people who are interested to get into the fishery but can’t compete. The business case doesn’t make sense, just from an individual harvester, to buy into the fishery because there is this outside corporation or another group that have already outbid them.

For the individual coming off the deck of a boat into a community, it doesn’t make sense.

Back to Senator McInnis’s point about how the income for lobster harvesters in his region is as good as many vessels in Newfoundland and Labrador. If they paid way too much for that licence so that the business case didn’t make sense, they may not be doing that well. The biggest way to get young people into the fishery is to ensure the owner-operator fleet separation is enforced and there is a fair competition and access for young people to get in.

A step further is around the management to allow harvesters more say in management. As Mr. Lanteigne said, these experts are people who are on the water all year round and know the conditions and the species quite well.

Thank you for the extra couple of seconds to make that point.

Senator Christmas: My second question is for Mr. Williams. You had proposed an amendment to section 2.5(h). I wonder if you could elaborate on that. I noticed some of the changes that you had suggested. Right now, that section says:

. . . the preservation or promotion of the independence of licence holders and commercial inshore fisheries.

What you had suggested in your amendment, if I’m correct, Mr. Williams, is to replace the words “licence holders” with “owner-operator enterprises,” and then you had dropped the word, “inshore.” Could you please elaborate on why you made those changes?

Mr. Williams: In British Columbia, a high proportion of licence holders are not active fishermen. They are people who used to fish and have gone to Hawaii and leased their licence or their companies out, et cetera. By saying “owner-operator enterprises” we are talking about active fishermen.

On the Atlantic coast, when we talk about the inshore fleet, we are talking 65 feet and under, so it’s a mid-shore and small-boat fishery. They don’t use that terminology in the Pacific region, the same way they don’t make a distinction between inshore, so that is just language that would be inclusive.

Senator Christmas: Generally, what you’re saying by making these amendments is that you are including both coasts in the provisions.

Mr. Williams: It includes both coasts and it focuses the language on the independent enterprise itself, and not on the licence holder.

Senator Christmas: Okay, thank you.

Senator Gold: Thank you for that explanation. That was very helpful. That still would allow the minister or regulations to fine-tune the particular approach to the West Coast versus the East Coast if that were warranted. In other words, it doesn’t presuppose a one-size-fits-all approach.

Mr. Williams: This language, as I understand it, expresses an intention or an objective. It doesn’t say that “only these people can fish.”

Senator Gold: Thank you.

Senator Hartling: I want to ask a question of Mr. Sullivan. I’m looking at the issue of labour force shortages, especially the outmigration in rural areas. I was interested when you talked about Stephanie and women in this trade and this field, because a lot of the time we are forgotten. Are there suggestions on incentives, recruitment strategies or even financial support to encourage women to get into the field, especially when we have so many female heads of households who need a good income?

That’s not to say men can’t get in there too, but I know that in the other trades, like plumbing, there are shortages.

Do you have any thoughts on that or any ideas from you or others about how to encourage more women to get involved in the trade?

Mr. Sullivan: It’s a very good question. We have already seen many more women become much more involved, even as independent owner-operators in the fishery. Stephanie’s story is not that unique anymore. We have seen a lot of interest from young people, including young women in our province in the fishery. We have harvesters who are readily trained and the training professionalization in the province is good.

Specifically, there is no added incentive for women versus men. I think if we level the playing field overall for men and women in these rural communities who want to fish, I have already talked about the legislation and regulation change. I think that is absolutely the biggest impediment for people. As an organization, we encourage women to be involved in decision-making. We make positions available for board members particularly for women. We see significant interest in that.

It’s already happening. The thing that is really holding back young men and women is not having access to it.

The other thing is having access to capital for young people. Again, it’s not necessarily something we address. I don’t see how you address it right here, but I think we have to look at ways where we have access to capital so it’s easier to make these investments, which, as we have talked about, can be quite large if we are talking about vessels, gear and licences, of course.

Senator Hartling: Thank you. Are there any other comments from you folks?

Mr. Lanteigne: Rick can probably give better information regarding that. By the way, I’m also the chair of the Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters, so I have two hats there.

In the study that we have been doing, there are more women than there used to be in the fisheries. In our case, in shipping right now there is a new woman. Her father transferred his crab licence to her. Right now, we have two women who own fishing vessels and they fish on the boat. It’s kind of new to us that we do have women not only fishing on boats, because we do have a certain number of them, but there is an increase in women being actual owners. However, there is no special program for that.

Senator Hartling: Okay.

Mr. Williams: I would underline the point that Keith made. I have emphasized our demographic research suggests there aren’t the young people in the fishing communities now. We’ll need to pull and draw them back, so a training system and access to capital are two things that would accelerate the greater participation by women. They do come in through training systems; our research shows that.

Senator Hartling: Thank you very much.

The Chair: As a supplementary to that, most of you have touched on the opportunity for young people to be involved in the industry on one side, and on the other we talk about licences that are valued at millions of dollars in some cases. What access is there today for a young person who wants to go out and purchase a licence, like a deck hand on a boat who wants to buy the licence, which could be valued at $1 million, from a retiring skipper?

Where would that young person go? Years ago, we had the Fisheries Loan Board in Newfoundland and Labrador, as an example, where you could go in and apply for funding to assist.

Mr. Sullivan, could you give us an idea of what the process would be for a young person today?

Mr. Sullivan: There are obviously different routes, depending on the individual. The route for most people, if they don’t have access to capital in another area, is to go to traditional banks, like Business Development Bank of Canada, for example. People go that route because they deal a fair amount with the fishery and have some flexibility.

As we know, there is no business that predictable or easy to navigate, but the fishery in particular, with changes in markets and quotas and everything else, is a difficult and unpredictable business because of the nature of it. A bank like that certainly gives some opportunities.

There is a fisheries loan program in Newfoundland and Labrador. We really want to revisit that and make the requirements and the stipulations around that more user-friendly. It doesn’t give the harvester the flexibility and sometimes is a disincentive more than an incentive.

Right now, we don’t have the special incentives and focus, particularly on an area where we need people to come in, and it is a growing sector. Mr. Williams pointed out the growth in value. And we can only see the value of wild fisheries growing. It is a real growth opportunity, particularly for the rural parts of our province. We need to put more emphasis and not just push it by the wayside and say the fishery will take care of itself. It needs some focus. That is one area, around the loan program, which is something we can vastly improve on.

Mr. Williams: Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have fisheries loan boards. They have only recently begun to give loans for licences. Previously, it was only for vessels and gear. They have special rates for young new entrants to attract them. However, most people are going to regular banks and credit unions because the fishery is so strong and the banks are willing to invest. B.C. doesn’t have anything at all that addresses the fishery.

Mr. Lanteigne: I would add that this success is also bringing some foreign investment. We are slowly starting to see that on the agenda. I was at the World Seafood Congress in Reykjavik two years ago. It was financing companies interested in financing licences in Canada. Two weeks ago at the Boston seafood show, they were there. They are raising their hands.

Now, I don’t think it’s necessarily good news for us to see that foreign investment coming in. But as Rick said earlier, the financial success is there and with that comes all kinds of venues. Some of them are okay. Some of them are not. We have to be careful. But there are some other avenues of money coming into the fishing industry right now.

Mr. Williams: Fish companies have always loaned money to fishermen and have always made agreements between them. Okay, you lend me money to gear up and I will sell my fish to you. I don’t think any of our harvester organizations object to that, as long as it stays within the limits of a voluntary agreement. Perhaps Keith could comment on that in Newfoundland, but we are not objecting to companies being involved in helping finance young harvesters get into the industry, as long as it stays within an owner-operator fleet separation context.

Mr. Sullivan: Yes, I don’t think there is anything that is going to regulate whether it’s me loaning a friend money to invest or if it’s a fish company. The thing is about control and actual ownership of that owner-operator licence. That’s obviously where the problem exists, where people outside the fishery are allowed to own and control. That’s fair, Rick.

Senator Campbell: We keep dancing around the West Coast. In fact, the money is in the licence. That’s the investment with the way it’s set up. It was interesting, I was speaking with Mr. Williams and the analogy he used was perfect. Anybody who is familiar with the taxicab industry will understand that what licences are and how important they are. Instead of dancing around it, how do we change it? What do we do to change it?

In some municipalities, we changed it by simply issuing new licences that were free and you were allowed to keep that licence as long as you were driving that cab. If you are fishing, you are allowed to keep that licence as long as you are fishing. When you stop fishing, it goes back and gets reissued. Somehow, for the West Coast to get the value and the income that we see on the East Coast, we are going to have to break this. How do we do that? We are going up against incredibly wealthy powerful companies. How do we do that?

Mr. Williams: In my recommendation to the House of Commons FOPO study group on this, I suggested a simple mechanism. You make a policy decision that by 2028 all licences in these particular fisheries have to be owned by active fishermen. Then you allow people to figure out how to market transactions, how to get those licences back. If it makes sense for young people in the community to access the capital to invest in an enterprise and then they have access to reasonably affordable capital, they will do it. Over time, the people who are going to lose the licences know they have to sell so they are going to offer reasonable prices. The people who want to buy in know what they are getting into, and they will pay reasonable prices.

I’ll keep it brief. If you establish a time limit and then provide access to capital, the market will sort it out because the fish in the water is going to keep growing in value.

Senator Campbell: I think that’s the critical part. We keep looking at these licences, but the fact of the matter is that it’s the fish we care about. It’s the fish that we want. We lose sight of that when it is, “I have got a licence, it’s worth $3 million and I don’t even fish. I live in Point Grey in Vancouver.” It’s seen as an investment. I really wasn’t aware, quite frankly, of the difference between the two until I started looking at this bill and talking to the minister.

I think that’s something is that we really have to consider because on the West Coast, just by your figures, it’s not worth going on the water. It’s not worth having the licence to go onto the water because you are jammed every time you turn around. Where do I sell it? Where do I fish? Thank you very much. I appreciate that.

Senator Poirier: I was going to go back to Mr. Sullivan. In reading through your presentation, a lot of the vocabulary that I’m seeing is a lot of the same vocabulary that we are hearing in other presentations. It has to do with the concern over owner-operators of their own fleets, the difficulty for young people to enter into the fishery business, the concerns over people having to compete with Bay Street investors or large companies for your licence.

It’s a concern we are hearing not only from Newfoundland. I have heard it in New Brunswick. In your opinion, does Bill C-68, as it is now, address these concerns? If not, what amendments would you recommend that could address that issue? Is it in Bill C-68 or a bill like that where it should even be addressed?

Mr. Sullivan: I think what’s put forward in the bill gives us the opportunity. It clarifies the mandate of the government and the minister and gives us the opportunity. But like I had said before, we really need to go further.

People have brought up that the devil is in the details. We also need to have the accompanying regulations. That’s an area where our members and people who are fishing and concerned about the fishery of the future are interested in making sure the regulations are consistent with what the industry wants and what our provinces and rural economies need to have success. That’s a couple of those areas.

The other part of that — and I know there is some investment tagged to this bill, not clear where it will actually go — is following that up with the enforcement to make sure there is no more slippage and we don’t find other ways around what will become laws as the way we found ways around policy. Companies were able to go around policies, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the government were not able to enforce that. They are the follow up measures that are needed. I think the bill gives us that opportunity and it strengthens the policies and what is wanted in eastern Canada and, in my opinion, would help the economy and people who are fishing in British Columbia.

Senator Poirier: Dr. Williams, if I understood a few minutes ago, when you appeared before the House of Commons committee, you had talked about the licence should not be able to be sold or transferred to anybody else other than a fisherman or an owner who is going to fish, which means that would eliminate the possibility of somebody from Bay Street, a company or a big fishing plant from buying it.

Could you give us an update on what reaction you got? That’s not addressed in Bill C-68, is it?

Mr. Williams: No. The study being carried out by the House of Commons Fisheries Committee is a follow-up. Because during the consultations on Bill C-68, they got so much input from the B.C. community and industry around this issue; so they set up a separate study to pursue. Yesterday the minister referred to the fact he’s expecting that report shortly. It will provide options and strategies on how this might happen.

Senator Poirier: Do you feel an amendment should be brought into Bill C-68 to address that?

Mr. Williams: No. If the language we’ve talked about here is passed in the act, then it gives the minister authority, and I hope responsibility, to pursue this issue and say, “Why would we have one set of policy objectives on the East Coast and then a radically different and divergent policy on the West Coast?” A minister could then decide they have the authority to do this, which they would do through regulations and other policies.

It would be a licensing policy decision as to who would be allowed, seven years from now, to own licences. There’s no need practically to address that in the language of this act.

Senator Poirier: Thank you.

The Chair: I thank our witnesses for a great discussion following the minister’s appearance here a couple of days ago.

I’m sure you’ll be following our discussions with other witnesses. Feel free to send the clerk any notes or something you may think about afterwards you wish to say.

Thank you for your time here this morning and for the great benefit of your knowledge of the industry.

(The committee continued in camera.)

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