Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Fisheries

Issue 5 - Evidence


OTTAWA, Tuesday, March 21, 2000

The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries met this day at 7:00 p.m. to examine matters relating to the fishing industry.

Senator Gerald J. Comeau (Chairman) in the Chair.

[English]

The Chairman: Honourable senators, I call the meeting to order.

I will ask our witnesses from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to proceed. I imagine that most of the questions this evening will have to do with our visit to the West Coast. With that in mind, we have some people sitting right now on the West Coast, in Vancouver. We welcome you to our committee as well.

I will now ask Mr. David Bevan to introduce his colleagues and to make his opening comments.

Mr. David Bevan, Director General, Resource Management, Department of Fisheries and Oceans: Mr. Chairman, I will start with the introductions. With me here tonight are Mr. Michael Edwards, Senior Aquaculture Advisor; Mr. Lorne Anderson, Acting Director General, Aquaculture Restructuring and Adjustment; and Ms Susan Farlinger, Director of Aboriginal Fisheries in British Columbia.

On the screen, on the right is Mr. Paul Macgillivray, Regional Director of Fisheries Management; in the centre is Mr. Ted Perry, Policy Director; and on the left is Mr. Steve Samis, who is looking after the habitat programs in British Columbia.

I shall begin with a brief of the West Coast fisheries. I believe this document will be made available to the committee once it has been translated.

Regarding commercial fisheries in the Pacific region, the major wild fisheries are salmon, herring, groundfish and shellfish. Looking at an average between 1995 and 1998, the landed value for salmon would be $88 million, representing 15 per cent of the total; herring, $68 million, representing 12 per cent; groundfish, $117 million, representing 20 per cent; and shellfish, $108 million, representing 19 per cent.

There are other fisheries, but from that you can see that salmon and herring are no longer the pre-eminent commercial wild fisheries in British Columbia.

While the added value in processing of salmon still makes it the most valuable wholesale species, at $282 million out of a total of $769 million, in the past we have seen landed values as high as $400 million. You can see that there has been a continuous decline in wild salmon fisheries over the last five or six years.

At the same time, aquaculture has grown to where aquaculture in salmon and trout is now at an average of $185 million over the 1995 to 1998 time frame, and shellfish is $10 million. The landed value in acquaculture is almost $200 million, compared to $383 million for the total wild fisheries. You can see that there has been a change in the makeup of the fisheries.

There is a high degree of employment in the commercial fisheries. Wild fisheries in 1996 employed approximately 10,300 FTEs, full-time equivalents, in a total of 21,600 jobs. With respect to aquaculture, it was 1,700 full-time equivalents, representing 2,100 jobs. Again, you can see, with respect to aquaculture, there is a considerably higher income per job than in the wild fishery.

With respect to recreational fisheries, 2,900 people, or FTEs, are employed; there are a total of 6,100 jobs in the recreational fishery. In British Columbia, there are approximately 14,900 FTEs and a total of 29,800 jobs.

In the wild fisheries in the past, salmon represented more than 50 per cent of the landed value. Recently, that has fallen to less than 25 per cent. Not only has there been a marked decline in the volume of the landings themselves, but also, concurrent with the decline in salmon, there has been a significant rise in the groundfish and shellfish fisheries.

There has been a trend, therefore, of a decrease in the salmon fisheries in terms of both volume and value, steady fisheries with respect to groundfish, and perhaps slight increases with respect to shellfish.

In aquaculture, the farmed salmon industry is primarily Atlantic and chinook salmon. The shellfish consists of Pacific oysters, Manila clams and Japanese scallops.

In 1997, there were 15 to 20 salmon farming companies, and 50 to 100 shellfish farming companies. Aquaculture has grown in wholesale value from its inception, from about $1 million in 1985 to $245 million by 1998.

In 1998, estimated employment in aquaculture and aquaculture projects was in excess of 2,500.

With respect to processing, in British Columbia the annual average wholesale value of processed seafood product between 1995 and 1998 was estimated at $976 million -- almost $1 billion exported from the Pacific region. While salmon products used to comprise two thirds of that amount, they have now declined to less than 40 per cent. Salmon remains very important to processing activities in British Columbia, but much of the salmon processing actually comes from canning salmon imported from Alaska. Much of the Prince Rupert processing capacity is fed from Alaskan products. In fish processing, there are approximately 5,000 jobs in British Columbia.

Recreational fishing, and we are talking mostly about the tidal and ocean fisheries here, has been focused on salmon. The industry has declined recently as restrictions on chinook and coho fishing and retention have reduced the number of people fishing. While there is no precise, reliable coast-wide effort in catch information, the trend is clear: There has been a drop in the number of participants, from as high as in excess of 400,000 licences sold each year to in the vicinity of 200,000 recently, and there has been a drop in the catch as well. That has had a significant impact on the recreational fisheries and the industries that supports them. B.C. residents represent approximately 80 per cent of the total recreational fishing days, but lodges and all-inclusive packages aimed at tourists as well as B.C. residents have been affected, as those angling days have been reduced.

In 1997, there were approximately 125 lodges, 1,000 charters, and 300,000 licensed tidal anglers who fished approximately 2.1 million angling days. It is estimated they spent almost half a billion dollars on recreational fishing, including $81 million on lodges, $260 million on day charters, $190 million on boats and other equipment, and $188 million on other goods and services. That is the size of the industry that has, in recent years, been affected by the need to conserve stocks at risk. From 1994 to approximately 1998, the industry is estimated to have declined from approximately 2.7 million angler days and $611 million to the 2.1 million I mentioned for 1997 and $485 million. Hence, there has been significant decline, and that decline has continued past the 1997 date I mentioned here to a lower level. We do not have precise figures for that at this time.

With respect to aboriginal fisheries, there has been growth in aboriginal fishing over the last decade, starting with the changes to introduce the aboriginal fisheries strategy in response to the Sparrow decision. We have seen growth in fisheries for food, social and ceremonial purposes, as well as pilot sales programs and excess salmon to spawning requirement fisheries. In addition, there has been growth in fishing of other species -- and we will talk about that a little later. The AFS, the aboriginal fisheries strategy, was developed to support operation and implementation of co-management activities with the First Nations to engage them in the management of the resources they are utilizing. There has been negotiation and funding for 75 cooperative management agreements, worth $15.9 million in 1999. Approximately 170 of the 213 British Columbia and Yukon Indian bands have agreements now.

Under the topic "regional distribution," there is an issue concerning seasonal salmon fishing jobs. It is interesting to note that the Lower Mainland of British Columbia has almost one third of the jobs in the salmon fishery. As such, there is a high concentration of people in the Lower Mainland who are employed on the salmon fishery.

The Chairman: To stop you for a minute, where would the Lower Mainland commence and end?

Mr. Bevan: It would extend from the United States border up through North Vancouver into the mouth of the Fraser Valley.

The fishing fleet profile indicates that, as of 1995, total salmon licensed fleet was approximately 4,300 vessels, before the programs were put in place to reduce them. The top landings for salmon fisheries at one point reached almost $400 million and currently are in the vicinity of $22 million. We understand that the large decline in value is not just related to reduction in volume; declining market prices have also had an impact. That has had a significant and serious impact on the salmon fishing industry, where participation has dropped in response to programs implemented by the department over the last three or four years.

The herring fishery involves short openings in each area through February and March, so it is progressing as we speak. There are two main gear types -- seine on larger vessels and gillnet on smaller vessels. We have introduced changes to the management of the herring fishery, requiring that licences be pooled among the seine vessels to control the amount of participation. Some of those fisheries in the past would have involved large numbers of vessels fishing very short periods of time, 45 minutes, et cetera. It was hard to manage. We had quota over-runs, and catch overages of 25 per cent above the total allowable catch in the past were experienced. Recently, because of the pooling system, we have been able to reduce those to approximately 5 per cent or less. Also associated with the roe herring fishery is the herring spawn on kelp, where the herring are allowed to spawn on kelp and that product is sold to the market. Approximately 80 per cent of the spawn on kelp fishery is produced by the First Nations.

As mentioned earlier, groundfish is a major fishery in British Columbia. There are approximately 142 licence holders catching approximately $48 million worth of fish. In halibut, there are 436 licence holders catching $35 million of fish; sable fish, 48 licence holders, $27 million; and rockfish, hook and line, 261 licence holders at $5.2 million worth of fish. In the groundfish fishery, therefore, it is clear that the earnings per licence holder are much more reasonable than they are in the salmon fishery, and that fishery continues to be managed to create sustainable earnings for the fleet.

Shellfish is another fishery in which there is a total of 224 licence holders in crab, catching $24 million worth of shellfish. In the prawn fishery, there are 253 licence holders, with $22 million in earnings. In the geoduck fishery, there are 55 licence holders, with approximately $35 million in catches. In the sea urchin fishery, there are 110 licence holders, with $10 million in catches.

That is the trend. With shellfish, you can see that the licence holders are able to earn a reasonable living from the fishery. We are endeavouring to ensure that that is sustained in the future.

Mr. Lorne Anderson, Acting Director General, Aquaculture Restructuring Adjustment, Department of Fisheries and Oceans: Mr. Chairman, I will speak on two issues. First, I will talk about aquaculture and where the department is. I will not speak specifically about the industry but about where the department is going. I will then give a short presentation on the Canadian fisheries restructuring and adjustment measures that took place beginning in 1998.

In terms of the aquaculture file, I know you have heard from the minister and from Mr. Yves Bastien, the Commissioner for Aquaculture Development, as well as from representatives of the industry. Thus, I will not go into a lot of detail about that. However, I want to let you know about some of the work that is underway at DFO and the impact it has on the aquaculture sector.

Most of the work falls within the mandate of the department and is being undertaken in a manner consistent with the other aspects of our mandate, which are conservation, sustainable use of aquatic resources, marine safety, environmental protection and scientific excellence. I will begin by providing you with some of the background roles, responsibilities and discussion about the organization. I will then talk about our priorities.

As you are no doubt aware, the responsibility for overseeing aquaculture in Canada is shared among the federal government, the provinces and the territories. The provinces, with the exception of Prince Edward Island, have the responsibility for the majority of approvals for aquaculture sites and for overseeing the industry's day-to-day operations.

In the 1980s, a series of memoranda of understanding on aquaculture were reached with the Atlantic provinces, Quebec, B.C., the Yukon, and the N.W.T. These MOUs are tailored to meet the needs of the industry in each province or territory. They have been used over the years for the administration of the industry.

The signature of the MOUs was followed in 1995 by the release of the federal aquaculture development strategy, which provides a framework for federal initiatives in support of industry development. The strategy confirmed DFO as a lead department for aquaculture within the federal government. There are 17 federal departments and agencies that have responsibilities relating to aquaculture. As a result, for matters that require consultation and discussions between these various federal players, an interdepartmental aquaculture steering committee was established some time ago, with DFO as the chair. I will not talk about the principles of the strategy right now. We have left copies with the clerk for everyone to consult.

When the strategy was released, there were no resources attached to put it in place. It was also unfortunate that its release took place as we were entering a period of severe budget cuts within the federal government, when resources were scarce. Consequently, progress in implementing the strategy was slow in the years immediately following its release. However, in December 1998, the first-ever federal Commissioner for Aquaculture Development was appointed for a four-year term, and this fulfilled a commitment made during the 1997 election.

At the same time, within the Department of Fisheries it became evident that a better focus with respect to the development of policy for aquaculture was needed. Thus, in April 1999, the Aquaculture Restructuring and Adjustment Directorate was established at DFO to consolidate the department's policy and program approaches to aquaculture in cooperation with the newly appointed commissioner.

At that time, we undertook broad and wide-ranging consultations to confirm the nature and objectives of the federal government's role in aquaculture. With a view to establishing open dialogue between industry and governments regarding policies affecting the sector, we have established policy advisory committees for the Atlantic and Pacific regions and are working with consultative bodies in the province of Quebec.

The creation of a directorate for aquaculture at DFO has meant that consultation with other federal organizations involved in aquaculture has been more frequent through the Interdepartmental Aquaculture Steering Committee. It has also meant that a more consistent approach has been taken to deal with issues that must be considered by the federal organizations.

Finally, last June, the department held two round tables, one with stakeholders and one with provinces and territories, to review the current state of the aquaculture industry in Canada and to determine whether the federal aquaculture development strategy was still relevant. At the round tables, provincial governments and industry confirmed that the 1995 strategy still represents an appropriate approach for the federal government and the federal government was urged to implement this strategy without further delay.

As a result of those consultations, we have adopted a four-pronged approach to the sustainable growth of the aquaculture industry in Canada. Within the department, we are working across regions and programs to put in place an updated policy framework for operational decision making. This will enable DFO staff across the country to respond with certainty and predictability to the needs and requests of both the aquaculture sector and the department's other stakeholders.

Under the leadership of the Commissioner for Aquaculture Development, a review of legislation and regulations relating to aquaculture has been undertaken to ensure that a consistent regulatory framework is in place with a level playing field for the aquaculture sector and to provide the level of protection required by the Canadian public.

In light of the importance of effective federal-provincial-territorial cooperation to the success of aquaculture in the Canadian jurisdictional context, the third component of our approach is development of a sound mechanism for intergovernmental cooperation and information sharing. A task group, which is co-chaired by Canada and B.C., has been established under the auspices of the Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers. The council provided the task group with a four-point work plan to develop recommendations for appropriate approaches to foster an environmentally sustainable aquaculture industry, to establish a priority setting mechanism for research and development for approval by ministers, to identify mutually agreeable initiatives in the area of technology transfer, training development and performance measurement and, finally, to identify mechanisms for resolving issues related to resource use that involve one or more jurisdictions and/or the aquaculture industry.

The task group is to report to the council in August of this year. It has met several times and its deliberations thus far could be described as productive and being conducted in a spirit of collaboration and commitment.

Finally, we are making a commitment to make strategic investments in federal capacity to support and to promote the federal aquaculture development strategy. The establishment of the new DFO directorate was the first step in that direction. We are continuing to seek ways to find the kind of practical, in-the-field investments that are required both to increase the public confidence in the safety of the aquaculture sector and to enable the aquaculture industry itself to meet its full potential.

In closing, I wish to stress that, while the development of an environmentally sustainable and economically viable aquaculture sector is a clear priority for DFO, the department is not focusing aquaculture in isolation of its other responsibilities, which include conservation of wild fish species, protection of fish habitat, ensuring marine and navigational safety and carrying out integrated oceans management. Our priority is to ensure that, through our legislation and regulations, through our policies and programs and in our relations with other federal agencies and other levels of government, we recognize the legitimacy of the aquaculture sector as a user of aquatic resources. This includes helping to create the conditions that will enable the sector to reach its full potential.

The Canadian Fisheries Adjustment and Restructuring Program began in 1998. I will highlight a few points that were happening then. There was the decline of salmon prices, overcapitalization in the salmon fleet, continued downward trends of salmon stocks, and a projected six- to eight-year recovery period for coho. That is what necessitated the unprecedented conservation measures that we took. The CFARP measures were in response to that. There were significantly reduced fishing opportunities for commercial and recreational sectors and coastal communities. Following the Auditor General's recommendations, the B.C. job protection commissioner's report recommended that we do further restructuring and capacity reduction of the salmon fleet. At that time, we had already removed 800 salmon licences under the 1996 Pacific salmon revitalization strategy. There were about 3,300 salmon licences remaining in the fleet.

In June 1998, the government announced a $400 million investment over five years for British Columbia. The three main objectives of CFARP are: Increase efforts to protect and rebuild the salmon habitat; restructure the commercial fishing industry by further reducing the fleet; and help people in communities adjust to the current changes that were taking place. DFO was teamed with HRDC and with Western Economic Diversification Canada to deliver these programs.

The CFARP measures fell under a number of headings. Restructuring the fishery was the first major one. That involved the voluntary salmon licence retirement program, which was just completed. There were also selective fishing initiatives and fisheries diversification. Another heading was "Helping People and Communities Adjust." There were adjustment opportunities through HRDC. We gave a salmon licence fee remission to fishers who were not able to fish, and $4 million was spent on tourism promotion for the recreational sector. Western Economic Diversification Canada delivered two programs: First, a recreational salmon fishing loan program for the recreation sector to be more selective and help them adjust; second, a major community economic adjustment initiative, providing funding to communities in B.C. to create new jobs.

The last heading is "Rebuilding the Resource," where we spend money on habitat restoration and salmon enhancement, community-based watershed stewardship, and strategic enhancement. Those are a few highlights regarding where we spent some of the money and what we have come accomplished to date.

To date, we have spent $270 million of the $400 million. A major part of that funding was in the voluntary salmon licence retirement program. We recently completed the program. We retired 1,408 of 3,304 licences that were eligible through three rounds of a reverse bidding process. The final results were announced in January and the cost there was $192 million. We had a balance reduction across all gear types: 44 per cent of all eligible seine licences, 40 per cent of gillnet, and 40 per cent of troll.

Concerning selective fishing, which is an initiative that is ongoing until 2002, its objective is to address Pacific fisheries where by-catch is an issue. We have had 40 selective fishing experimental pilot projects in place since 1999. Breakthroughs have been made in a number of areas, for example, revival boxes for fishing vessels,

The main elements of the "Rebuilding the Resource" package, which was $100 million, involved repairing damaged habitat, rebuilding weak salmon stocks by extending the existing habitat restoration and salmon enhancement program, and fostering a community-based watershed stewardship by establishing stewardship coordinators and habitat auxiliaries to assist community groups, industry, local governments and volunteers to effectively protect habitat. We are also rebuilding the threatened salmon stocks, such as coho, through strategic enhancement.

Under the heading of "Helping People and Communities Working with Other Federal Departments," about $100 million was delivered over a three-year period. This covers the work of HRDC. We had a vessel tie-up program, where we put money in the hands of people who were not able to fish in 1998. The major initiative underway, the community economic adjustment initiative, is currently providing $13.8 million through Western Economic Diversification Canada, but it is delivered through the community futures program. We have aboriginal leadership and the four major departments on board. Some mayors are on this committee that allocates funding to various communities on the coast.

Basically, those are the highlights. I would be pleased to answer any questions you might have.

As well, we have some things that we will be able to table once we get them translated.

Mr. Bevan: Ms Farlinger will go over the aboriginal fisheries situation.

Ms Susan Farlinger, Assistant Director, Aboriginal Fisheries Pacific Region, Department of Fisheries and Oceans: I will speak briefly about some of the aboriginal issues that we have in fisheries in B.C.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans works with First Nations in B.C. for the most part in two broad venues: through the negotiations and agreements on operational fisheries matters of fishing and co-management in the aboriginal fisheries strategy, and through the B.C. treaty process. We participate as members of the negotiating teams led by the Federal Treaty Negotiations Office.

The fisheries components of treaties are important elements of the treaty process in B.C. for both coastal and up-river First Nations. Expectations have been high for this process. Additionally, there are First Nations who subscribe to neither of those programs or activities and with whom we must consult on their fisheries and matters that affect them.

In addition, many First Nations are concerned about policy, in particular, fisheries policies. For that reason, DFO is leading other related federal departments and is currently working with both the British Columbia Aboriginal Fisheries Commission and the First Nations summit to develop a process to involve First Nations in the development of fisheries and related policy that might affect them.

A memorandum of understanding between these aboriginal organizations and the federal departments is expected to be completed before the summer. Since then, Minister Anderson announced, in 1998, the Pacific New Directions Policy, with the broad objectives of conservation, sustainability, and improved decision making. Policy papers such as the allocation policy, the wild salmon policy, the selective fisheries policy, and the improved decision-making policy are coming out into the public as discussion documents and coming back into the department for decisions by the minister. These require substantial public discussion, and this forum created by the MOU with First Nations organizations will provide an opportunity for detailed discussions with First Nations to supplement the bilateral consultations that we conduct on a routine basis with First Nations. The improved decision-making paper provides the greatest scope for the discussion of the community-based management approach in which many First Nations are interested.

Under the aboriginal fishing strategy, DFO has about 75 agreements with groups representing about three quarters of the First Nations in B.C. These agreements set out an arrangement for fishing for food, social and ceremonial fisheries, and provides funding for co-management activities ranging from stock assessment through fisheries management and into habitat activities.

A total of $15.9 million in funding is attached to these agreements annually in B.C. In addition, we are currently spending about $4 million retiring licences from the regular commercial fishery and providing them to First Nations as communal commercial licences. These are operated as part of the regular commercial fishery.

To date, 137 licences have been retired from the commercial fishery and provided to First Nations for various species, including spawn kelp, salmon, prawn, crab, roe herring, halibut, rockfish, sea urchin, and others.

The AFS program was intended, in 1992, as a bridge to treaty in B.C. and had an original timeline of seven years. In 1997, it became clear that treaties would not be resolved in B.C. by 1999 and cabinet approved the program as ongoing until treaty. The treaty process has moved slowly in B.C. and First Nations have expressed concern that the AFS has not expanded in the interim, particularly in the area of pilot sales.

The B.C. treaty process has been operating in B.C. since 1993. Some 51 First Nations, representing 124 bands in B.C., have filed in the process and 43 have advanced to the critical stage for agreement in principle. The Sechelt agreement is the only initialled agreement in principle, and that group is currently working towards final agreement. Several other groups are close and the two governments are hoping to move these to agreement-in-principle stage prior to the provincial election in B.C.

Six offers have been made by Canada and B.C. within the last few months. After the Delgamuukw decision in 1998, the B.C. Treaty Commission sponsored a process to review the treaty process and its progress, and produced several recommendations that have since been acted on. This is the source of the recently approved treaty-related measures, or TRMs, in which land can be acquired, resource access can be advanced, and capacity-building can be supported once groups reach the agreement-in-principle stage and before the final agreements are implemented.

For fisheries, this means that TRMs can be used to provide some access to fish and some access to participation in management structures. DFO and DIAND worked together to develop the fisheries provisions at treaty tables, including the participation of First Nations in the broader management process, and this will clearly need to set out how First Nations communities are involved in management.

Many B.C. First Nations have expressed through both processes that economic benefits from resources in their areas are of primary importance to them, whether from AFS or from interim agreements or any other venue they can use to gain access.

The Gladstone and Marshall decisions have had the effect of raising the expectations for access to resources for sale for B.C. First Nations. I understand that you are to meet with both the Musqueam and Nuu-chah-nulth groups during your consultations in B.C. Both these groups are intimately involved in fish and fisheries activities. Nuu-chah-nulth has been supporting the development of a West Coast-Vancouver Island management board, which will no doubt be the subject of public discussion when the improved decision-making discussion paper is released this spring. The Nuu-chah-nulth are also concerned about the following policy issues: the impact of Pacific restructuring on their communities, as individual First Nations members retire their licences; conservation measures on rockfish, which they see as a move to privatization; and their treaty process, which is targeted to produce an agreement in principle before the end of the year.

This group currently receives $1.5 million annually in their AFS agreement, and has access to commercial licences through the licence retirement program I described earlier. To date, 17 licences across crab halibut, prawn, rockfish and salmon have been provided to Nuu-chah-nulth bands.

The Musqueam band participates in a pilot sales project as an aboriginal fisheries agreement between DFO and the Musqueam, Tsawwassen and Burrard bands. Negotiations for this year's agreement are just beginning. The Musqueam are particularly concerned about the priority accorded to pilot sales -- that is, the same as the commercial fishery in the recently published allocation policy -- as they feel that sale under this agreement is a right.

I hope that this summary has provided with you some context on aboriginal issues, and we will be happy to answer your questions.

Senator Robichaud: Mr. Anderson, when you were speaking about the aquaculture directorate, and this is primarily what I am interested in and what the committee is looking at right now, you say that one of their responsibilities was to help this sector of the industry attain its full potential. At what level would you say we are right now on the West Coast in aquaculture and how much more can we do?

Mr. Anderson: In B.C. -- and I hope the region can help me out here -- there are some issues around site access. It is a provincial jurisdiction at this time. There was a British Columbia policy on aquaculture that was put forward about a year ago, at which time they had done an evaluation and produced their own policy with respect to aquaculture, but at present they decided not to do any expansion in the fin fish aquaculture siting. They are allowing for some transfers of sites, but they have limited the expansion to shell fish sites for now. It is really more of an issue for the province than for us. We are working with them on the regulatory review and discussing those issues with them now, but it is really not something for which we have a direct responsibility.

Senator Robichaud: You say that immediate expansion is only in the shellfish sector?

Mr. Anderson: That is what the British Columbia government has decided.

Senator Robichaud: Is roe on kelp considered aquaculture, or is that considered just a wild fishery?

Mr. Paul Macgillivray, Regional Director, Fisheries Management, Department of Fisheries and Oceans: There are really two parts to the herring spawn kelp fishery. Under provincial jurisdiction is the harvest of kelp, I believe, so the kelp that is used in those operations is under provincial control. However, from a federal perspective, we actually manage that fishery as a wild fishery, so you will see it described along with our roe herring fishery on this coast. As Mr. Bevan described, it is a fairly limited fishery, with 80 per cent of the licences being held by First Nations bands or individuals, but we actually manage the fishery as part of the wild fishery.

Senator Robichaud: That was my next question. I wanted to know, with respect to the roe on kelp fishery, what was the participation of First Nations, and you said most of that is First Nations. Is that right?

Mr. Macgillivray: Yes, that is correct. About 80 per cent of the licences are held either by First Nations individuals or First Nations bands.

Senator Robichaud: Was that part of the negotiations on the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy, AFS?

Mr. Macgillivray: Not so much. Ms Farlinger mentioned that there may have been one spawn on kelp licence transferred, but that fishery is relatively new. It started about 1975, and it expanded gradually. There was a conscious effort made in the late 1970s and early 1980s to target licences towards First Nations bands in particular. That was a conscious effort, which preceded the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy.

The Chairman: I am still vague as to what roe on kelp is. Is it the eggs, the roe, placed on kelp?

Mr. Bevan: Yes, the herring spawn, and the spawn affixes to the kelp.

The Chairman: I see.

Mr. Bevan: The product is actually the kelp and the eggs that are processed and sold to the market.

The Chairman: And does this go to the Japanese market?

Mr. Bevan: Yes. It is a very lucrative product.

The Chairman: Very good.

Senator Perrault: There is reason for optimism about what we are doing to maintain the viability of the fisheries, and I am very encouraged by it. At one of our previous meetings, we talked about Atlantic salmon in Pacific waters and whether this is a good thing. Have we ever tried to see how Pacific salmon make out in Atlantic waters?

Mr. Bevan: I do not believe so.

Senator Perrault: There might be a great range of benefits flowing from that.

Mr. Bevan: I have never heard of that being attempted, and certainly there are protocols that would need to be in place.

Senator Perrault: You have not have experimented with it?

Mr. Michael Edwards, Senior Advisor, Aquaculture, Department of Fisheries and Oceans: I do not know whether our colleagues would know, but not that I am aware of.

Mr. Bevan: West Coast salmon in Atlantic waters? I do not believe that has been attempted.

Senator Perrault: I am a British Columbian, and I can say that many of us in British Columbia have been troubled by some of the reports relating to health standards among the salmon population. As I pointed out in a previous meeting, you go to a restaurant and they say, "Genuine wild salmon served here." It is almost a way to discredit the fish raised in these facilities. What is your reaction to that?

Mr. Bevan: There is certainly one segment of the market that has a view on aquaculture product, but perhaps I can call upon Mr. Anderson or Mr. Edwards to respond to that.

Mr. Edwards: In terms of which species you prefer, the debate is usually dependent on which coast you are from.

Senator Perrault: I think they are both good.

Mr. Edwards: Absolutely.

Senator Perrault: You do not see any danger to the Pacific native wild salmon from the intruders from the East Coast?

Mr. Edwards: The recent environmental assessment that was done on the West Coast has, I think, concluded that the industry, as it is currently constituted, does not represent a threat to the wild stocks in that region.

Senator Perrault: There are some reassurances there. That is good to know.

Senator Mahovlich: In monitoring things and in trying to control the stocks, at what time do you make a decision regarding reduction in fishing licences and the number of coho? Do you monitor that on a yearly basis? Is there any improvement in that?

Mr. Bevan: Yes, the stocks are monitored on an annual basis. Evaluation of the escapement happens after the fishing season. Evaluation of how the spawning went and the number of juvenile salmon in the system also takes place, and then how much is likely to have gone to sea, estimation of the at-sea survival and a prognosis for the coming season. Then there will be test fisheries done in season to decide how the fishery should be conducted.

There is an evaluation ongoing with respect to the status of the stocks. Certainly, the number of licences is well known. We issue them and we know what the licences are and, as you can see from the data, even though we have reduced the participation in the salmon fishery, the facts are that the overall value of the fishery is quite low now. We must be cautious not to damage the stocks and to seek ways to rebuild them, and that means that the opportunities for users -- commercial or recreational or aboriginal -- are reduced and restricted.

We have some reason for optimism in some locations, but certainly the challenge of rebuilding is there with us now. We must deal with habitat, and we need to be careful as the ocean conditions and the ocean survival of salmon are not good at this time. Until they improve, we must be very prudent in the conduct of the fisheries.

Senator Perry Poirier: You were talking about spawn on kelp. I am interested in how you would be doing the gathering. How would you gather the kelp? Does it come on shore? We have kelp on Prince Edward Island, but it is raked at sea and very little comes ashore; it is all picked up in the water before it reaches the shore. How does that affect the herring? The kelp must be in the water before the herring can spawn.

Mr. Macgillivray: The kelp that is used in the herring spawn and kelp operations is much different than the kelp on the Atlantic coast. It is a wide leaf, very thin kelp. It can be a foot or so wide. The process that is used is essentially one where some log booms would be placed in the water, typically in a location that herring will spawn, and the particular kelp will be harvested and hung from the log boom. You essentially get a log boom with the kelp hanging vertically in the water and the herring will come in and spawn.

Herring eggs are very small, crunchy white eggs. You will typically get six or eight layers of herring spawn on each side of the kelp and then it is harvested and cut into thin strips. There is almost a 100 per cent market in Japan for this product, so it ends up in Sushi bars. It is a very specialized product. It was actually introduced by Alaska and British Columbia into the Japanese market in the mid-1970s.

Senator Perry Poirier: I was wondering how the kelp is picked up.

Senator Robichaud: It is hung from log booms.

Senator Perry Poirier: It was stated that it is hung on log booms in the water. Are these then picked up?

Mr. Bevan: The senator may have missed the first part of Mr. Macgillivray's response regarding how the kelp is actually collected.

Mr. Macgillivray: I am not as familiar with that part, but I think the kelp is harvested in kelp beds and then transported to locations where either herring will come in and spawn naturally or, in some cases, there is an impoundment set up where the kelp will be strung from log booms and then herring would be transported and put inside an enclosure. In terms of the kelp harvest, I think the kelp comes from kelp beds and then is transported to where the row on kelp operation takes place.

Senator Perry Poirier: Kelp grows on the rocky bottom. Yes, I understand.

I have another question. You are retiring many fishermen. Why do you have so many licences to start off when you must retire 50 per cent of them right now?

Mr. Bevan: In the past, the salmon fishery was much more lucrative than it is currently. There was abundance and the price per pound was better than it is now. As I mentioned earlier, the landed value of that fishery at one point was almost $400 million so the number of licences involved in the fishery was more reasonable in the past than it is in today's market.

I think you can appreciate, when you have a drop from almost $400 million to $20 million, you can see there is no way the fishery can continue to support the number of participants, so we needed to make those adjustments. At one point, as I recall, sockeye salmon were selling at $3 or more a pound; it has certainly gone down. Pink salmon had value, whereas now pink salmon on the world market is very low value indeed. With those kinds of changes and reduction in volume, we must take out the number of licences that are required in order to make it more economic for those who stay in the fishery.

Senator Perry Poirier: Herring spawns on kelp. Could salmon be processed the same way? Would salmon spawn on kelp as well -- salmon spawn as well as herring?

Mr. Bevan: No, salmon return to freshwater rivers to spawn.

Senator Perry Poirier: It must be a rocky bottom.

Mr. Bevan: Yes. There is a market for chum salmon row, so some of the row from salmon is processed; but again, it is not enough to compensate for the dramatic drop in the value of the fisheries.

Senator Robichaud: You have mentioned the shellfish fishery, like oysters, and you mentioned Japanese scallops.

Mr. Bevan: Yes.

Senator Robichaud: Are there any aquaculture operations in shellfish?

Mr. Bevan: Yes, there are aquaculture operations in oysters and some of the clams. They were talking a grow-out of geoducks. I am not sure if that has started.

Mr. Edwards: It is in the developmental stage.

Mr. Bevan: They would get juvenile geoducks and grow them out to market size.

Senator Robichaud: They are looking at doing that on the East Coast with sea urchins. They were looking at how to produce a better quality roe. On the West Coast, it is mostly a wild fishery, is it not?

Mr. Bevan: Yes.

Senator Robichaud: It is not aquaculture at all at this moment. Is it being considered?

Mr. Bevan: With respect to sea urchins, I do not believe that is being considered. Perhaps someone in the region would know if any consideration is being given to aquaculture of sea urchins.

Mr. Ted Perry, Acting Director Policy, Department of Fisheries and Oceans: There may be some preliminary discussion, but we are aware of none underway.

Senator Robichaud: Is there any enhancement? When we went a few weeks ago to the Madeleine Islands and New Brunswick, there were some experiments and work being done on enhancing the product of scallops, of collecting spats and then seeding them out on beds and helping nature produce more scallops. Is there anything like that happening on the West Coast?

Mr. Bevan: Yes, there are clam leases, where people can look after a portion of the beach to enhance the growth of clams on that area. There is also work on Japanese scallops. There is aquaculture activity on scallops in British Columbia.

Senator Robichaud: Do they use approximately the same methods? Do they have collectors and seed out areas, grow out areas?

Mr. Bevan: Perhaps the region can provide more detail on that.

Senator Robichaud: We will probably find out when we go out there.

Ms Farlinger: On the experimental work on scallops, as I understand it, they actually collect stock and have them spawn in captivity and then collect the spat from there and grow the scallops out. A number of experimental things are taking place on the north coast in particular with that.

Senator Robichaud: However, it is at a very experimental stage right now?

Ms Farlinger: That is my understanding.

Mr. Edwards: Yes.

Senator Robichaud: How are the aboriginal communities fitting into this effort in the development of greater potential in aquaculture?

Ms Farlinger: There are some very mixed feelings about aquaculture in the aboriginal communities. The rapid development of aquaculture at the same time that land claims are coming along has created a conflict. Some First Nations are participating in the expansion of shellfish culture. The province has issued some tenures to some of the First Nations. Many of the large groups still have philosophical difficulties with aquaculture. Many First Nations groups do not support it, although they are certainly more supportive of shellfish aquaculture than of salmon aquaculture.

Senator Perrault: We are all concerned about the decline in certain types of fish and marine life. However, about a month ago, I read a publication issued by the Canada-Russia organization. They claim there have been massive salmon catches in Pacific Russia. Are they conserving better, or is it just one of the vagaries of nature that the fish apparently are fleeing to the Soviet Union and we are talking about survival here? Do we trade information with other people who are in competition with us? After all, fish protein is one of the main sources of food for many societies in the world. It is critically important that we maintain that supply.

Mr. Bevan: Canada, Russia, the United States and Japan are all members of the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission, which deals with salmon predominantly. That commission meets annually to share scientific information, to plan joint science, and to foster a better understanding of what is happening in the north Pacific with respect to that.

Senator Perrault: Have you heard any reports to indicate the extent of the Soviet haul?

Mr. Bevan: They have been doing reasonably well or quite well in the past years. There is a publication put out by the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission that deals with the catches and other data from the member states. That information is in there and does indicate that they have been doing well. In general, that side of the Pacific has been more productive.

Senator Perrault: Is it a natural phenomenon, or it is because of better planning?

Mr. Bevan: It appears to be a natural phenomenon. What is called an ocean regime seems to be more supportive on that side than on the western side. Our salmon are reliant upon that portion of the Pacific, and there seems to be less productivity there right now because of general climactic and oceanographic conditions.

Senator Perrault: Has the warming of the waters had a measurable effect on the catch?

Mr. Bevan: That is correct. We believe that ocean survival of salmon has dropped significantly in a number of stocks. As to whether that is a generic problem or whether it has been specific to stocks, it seems to be the latter. The Pacific stocks have had more trouble than others.

Senator Perrault: Are there more predators moving into the warmer waters?

Mr. Bevan: That is one possibility, yes.

Senator Perrault: So survival is at risk.

Mr. Bevan: The survival of some of coho stock, some of the Chinook, and indeed some of the sockeye have shown local dramatic declines in survival at sea. It is possible that that happened because of predation on their way out of the rivers.

Senator Perrault: Or the mackerel or something.

Mr. Bevan: It remains to be seen. We cannot say we have a clear understanding of that.

Senator Robichaud: Or seals.

Mr. Bevan: It is not the same problem, senator.

Senator Robichaud: No, but they might get to be a problem like they are on the East Coast.

Senator Perrault: Do not let them through the canal.

Mr. Bevan: There have been local problems with local populations of seals with predation on fish in estuaries, but nothing in terms of the numbers that one sees elsewhere.

Senator Robichaud: We certainly would not wish the West Coast fishermen to have the same problem we have with seals, because it is just not going away.

The Chairman: I have just a few quick questions before we wrap this up. Ms Farlinger referred to the native problem with the rock fishery. I imagine that will probably come up as we are travelling in that area. My understanding, unless I am completely wrong, is that not only do the aboriginals have a problem with this but some of the non-aboriginals have as well. From my understanding, there were approximately 140 some odd halibut licences. There is a kind of by-catch of the halibut fishery, which involves rockfish. With the privatization of this rock fishery, most recently something like 50 licences, a number of those licences do belong to the halibut fishermen and the rest are being placed on the market to the highest bidder. The licence holders will not have a problem with it, but those who do not have a rock licence now attached to their halibut licence are running into big problems. Do I have this right, or am I completely wrong?

Mr. Bevan: The measures that are being put in place were designed to reduce the overall mortality caused by dumping and discarding as a result of management plans. These measures were there to reduce the mortality from the by-catch.

The Chairman: The privatization of the rock fishery is assumed to be fixing this problem?

Mr. Macgillivray: One of the points on which we have not yet focussed in our discussion so far is the introduction of selective fishing requirement. Someone described various policy papers that came out under a "New Directions" series. That dealt with things like wild salmon policy, allocation, et cetera. Selective fishing was one of those requirements. I just mention that by way of background.

In the case of halibut fisheries and rockfish fisheries, we have introduced this year a one-year pilot program to try to encourage more selective fishing and more responsibility and accountability on behalf of individual licence holders to minimize their by-catch of rockfish and discard. Part of that plan would allow this year, for the first time, halibut fishers who are licensed to fish rockfish as well, to fish both halibut and rockfish on the same trip.

In the past, the fisheries were separated. If a halibut fisherman caught rockfish, he was required to discard that rockfish and then make a separate trip to fish his rockfish licence. The intent there was clearly to reduce discards.

There is a second portion of that change. Halibut fishermen who are not licensed to fish rockfish are given, this year again as a pilot, individual limits, to encourage them to target more carefully on halibut. So if they go into an area and they are catching halibut and they are getting a high rate of rockfish as by-catch, they are required to move or change their fishing patterns to avoid that rockfish. That is the intent.

The remaining group, the rockfish licence holders who do not fish halibut, are left with the balance of the available rockfish quota. There are several parts to this. One point I would stress is that these by-catch measures were introduced this year as a one-year pilot. We have committed to have an independent assessment at the end of the one-year period with a view to determining whether we should proceed with that approach or come up with an alternative approach to dealing with by-catch issues.

The Chairman: The rockfish licence holders have not been handed out individual transferable quotas or quotas as we know them? It is still a competitive fishery, as it was in the past?

Mr. Macgillivray: Yes, that is correct, for the rockfish licence holders. You have probably heard about privatization and quotas as an issue, because now the halibut fishermen will have specific by-catch limits or limits that they can catch on rockfish at the same time that they are conducting their halibut-harvesting operations.

The Chairman: We will probably hear more about this on the West Coast when we reach there.

My understanding is that blue mussels have been introduced on the Pacific coast. I am not sure where I picked this up, but is my understanding correct?

Mr. Bevan: There are mussels on the Pacific coast. I do not believe they were introduced. There are introduced shellfish species such as Manila clam, but the mussels, as I understand it, were indigenous to the Pacific.

The Chairman: I wish to thank today's witnesses.

The committee continued in camera.