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Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on

Issue 18 - Evidence

OTTAWA, Tuesday, April 23, 2002

The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries met this day at 7:05 p.m. to examine matters relating to oceans and fisheries.

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


The Chairman: Honourable senators, we will be hearing this evening from the Atlantic Salmon Federation. Mr. Chase and his colleagues greatly contributed to our study on aquaculture two years ago when a group of committee members were in St. Andrews-by-the-Sea.

The Atlantic Salmon Federation is a well-known and influential voice that speaks out in favour of habitat protection, watershed protection and the wise management of wild salmon stocks.

The Atlantic Salmon Federation is an international organization with a well-established reputation for public education and programs. We are very fortunate this evening to have Mr. Chase before us.

Mr. Stephen Chase, Vice-President, Governmental Affairs, Atlantic Salmon Federation: Mr. Chairman, we appreciate the opportunity to appear before you tonight on behalf of the Atlantic Salmon Federation.

Habitat, of course, is very near and dear to the salmon's heart. Just as our home is important to us, habitat is critical to the Atlantic salmon.

In Atlantic Canada and Quebec, wild Atlantic salmon is a measure of our environmental health and well-being. It serves as food for First Nations and is a source of cultural identity for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. It provides recreation and enhances our quality of life. It also provides jobs and income for Canadian individuals, businesses and rural communities. The wild Atlantic salmon helps define who we are and where we live. It is our heritage and our responsibility. It must also be our legacy.

The wild Atlantic salmon, which lives alongside us in the Maritimes, in Newfoundland and Labrador and in Quebec, is facing increasingly difficult challenges. Many of the stocks are low or at risk. Some stocks have already been lost.

Habitat damage continues to erode the productive potential of this resource. It is clear that fundamental changes in government priorities and direction are required to meet these challenges and to protect this valuable public resource. To help achieve this, the Atlantic Salmon Federation will outline some basic concepts and principles that we envisage as necessary in establishing a new direction for the wild Atlantic salmon habitat and fishery, a direction that will secure our legacy for future generations.

I would like to leave you with an understanding of the problems as we see them and some of the solutions. Between this presentation and the brief I provided earlier, I will attempt to show members of the committee the following: the challenges facing the wild Atlantic salmon in Eastern Canada; the importance of quality habitat for salmon in freshwater and marine environments; the legal, policy and program frameworks for conservation and protection within DFO; and the partnership that ASF envisages as necessary for stewardship of wild Atlantic salmon.

First, I wish to say a bit about the Atlantic Salmon Federation. The Atlantic Salmon Federation is an international, non-profit organization that promotes the conservation and wise management of wild Atlantic salmon and its environment.

We have a network of seven regional councils: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Maine and New England. We have a membership of more than 150 local river associations and 40,000 volunteer members. The regional council covers the freshwater range of Atlantic salmon in Canada and the United States.

The Atlantic Salmon Federation is dedicated to the attainment of the following goals: maximizing survival of the wild Atlantic salmon; ensuring a healthy freshwater environment for wild Atlantic salmon; ensuring a healthy ocean environment for wild Atlantic salmon; optimizing the number of wild salmon spawning in their native rivers; and optimizing the survival of wild salmon in the fresh water and sea ecosystems. In pursuit of our mission and goals, ASF will advocate to government, to industry, and to the public all necessary measures to achieve its conservation objectives.

Over its 53 year history, ASF has pursued these goals in close collaboration with DFO and other Canadian, United States and European federal, provincial and state government agencies and industrial partners in developing research, stewardship and public education initiatives all directed towards the survival of the salmon through improving the marine and freshwater habitats. This collaboration has been productive, but there are many more opportunities remaining through which conservation, protection and enhancement of salmon populations could be improved through collaboration between ASF, DFO, the provinces and First Nations.

By way of context, North American salmon populations have been declining for 20 years. I would show you the chart that shows the precipitous decline. It is approximately a 45-degree angle. From 1980 to 2000, the decline has been from roughly 800,000 large salmon to roughly 80,000 in 1999-2000, returning to North American rivers. It is a precipitous decline.

Many factors contribute to the survival of wild salmon in our rivers, coastal waters and oceans, including industrial and municipal pollution, land use practices, predation, dams and impoundments, global warming, aquaculture and various harvesting practices. Other causes of decline are less certain. Enclosure and catch reductions in salmon fisheries have by themselves failed to reverse the slide.

In the Bay of Fundy region, for example, wild salmon populations in 33 rivers are in imminent danger of biological extinction. Many of these rivers have lost their salmon populations due largely to impoundments and pollutions.

In fact, a process was established at the behest of the Atlantic Salmon Federation with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The inner Bay of Fundy recovery process was set up a couple of years ago. It has a broad base of consultation with federal and provincial departments, First Nations and other interested parties. Through that process, a plan is being prepared for the inner bay.

The Species at Risk Act, which will soon be passed, will play an essential part in the recovery of the inner Bay of Fundy salmon populations, which are very distinct. They are quite different from other salmon populations in North America in that they do not migrate to Greenland as do the other North American and European salmon. They migrate to somewhere off the Georges Bank area. It is essential that the act be adopted to guide restoration and provide funding.

Another area of importance to us is acid rain and its impact on the southern uplands of Nova Scotia. From a map of Nova Scotia depicting the southern part of the province from Yarmouth up through Halifax to the eastern shore you would see that most of the rivers have been damaged by acid rain, so much so that the pH in those rivers is about 4.3. A neutral pH is 7. They are very acidic. The aquatic life throughout those rivers has been decimated.

We thought 20 years ago that the acid rain issue had been licked, but it has not. I am here to tell you that it has not and that we very much need to do something about it.

Given the trends that have emerged so far, other rivers to the north of these areas, north of the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia area, may be at risk unless we establish a concerted action through partnerships between governments and conservation organizations. Time appears to be the enemy. There is precious little of it left if we are to put these populations on the road to recovery.

The survival of the Atlantic salmon depends significantly on the availability of healthy and productive fish habitat. Secure, quality habitat provides the life support system on which they depend, directly or indirectly, to reproduce, live and grow. Habitat is where the salmon lives, and the availability of quality habitat is as important to the salmon as it is for any other animal species.

The availability of freshwater habitat is vital to sustaining the production of wild Atlantic salmon. However, freshwater habitat is often damaged and lost due to changes, big and small, as a result of human activities and in ways that are both obvious and subtle. The impacts of pollution and damage caused to spawning beds due to silt are significant. I had some photographs of rivers with silt plumes in them. I had an aerial map of Prince Edward Island showing plumes of silt going out of the rivers and into the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Northumberland Strait. I believe that somewhere in the order of 5 million tonnes of silt each year washes off P.E.I.'s agricultural lands. I was told it would equate to 500 kilometres of dump trucks bumper to bumper.

In addition, many parts of Eastern Canada's economic, social and environmental well-being depend heavily on the sustainability of diverse and rich aquatic ecosystems, including marine and freshwater fisheries resources. It is also clear that a well-managed recreational fishery contributes significantly to local and regional economies. In Atlantic Canada and Quebec, it is estimated that the extended benefit of the recreational salmon fishery stands at well over $200 million annually. In New Brunswick alone, the recreational fishery has been estimated to be worth $50 million annually. A similar picture is evident in the other Atlantic provinces.

Across the regions of Eastern Canada where it lives, the wild salmon supports thousands of jobs, primarily in rural communities where newer forms of economic development are difficult to establish. It is the best kind of sustainable economic development, contributing significantly to the economy, and that has been the case for generations in Eastern Canada.

The life cycle of the wild Atlantic salmon alternates between freshwater and marine environments. Atlantic salmon adults spawn in brooks and rivers where, as juveniles, they may spend up to three years in the nursery area before migrating to sea. These small salmon, known as smolt, leave the bays and estuaries for the feeding grounds located off the southwest coast of Greenland. That is where North American and European fish congregate before moving back to their natal rivers. The homing capability of the Atlantic salmon is legendary and it is one of its most remarkable characteristics. The salmon is among relatively few fish that can find its way back to specific rivers and brooks, where it originated, from waters as far away as Greenland.

The Atlantic salmon, therefore, depends on quality habitat in both its environments. We must act to protect and improve both the marine and freshwater habitats for the benefit of wild salmon, provided we have the will to do it, and support policy and programs to carry that out.

Of the two environments on which the Atlantic salmon depends, the freshwater environment presents the greatest immediate opportunity to effect best management practises and remediation. Many of the rivers and estuaries of Atlantic Canada and Quebec have been subjected to harmful human activities. There is no up-to-date inventory of the extent to which salmon habitat has been degraded by various activities, nor is the nature and extent of the measures required to correct the problems really known.

We have found that it is useful to look at the salmon in the context of its two habitats. It is quite safe to say that, with respect to the freshwater habitat, which we can see and touch and which our volunteer organizations can work on, we have it within our grasp to be able to do something to identify and remedy the problem. In the marine environment, it is much more difficult to do that, because the ocean is a relative black hole. It is along these two lines that we have been approaching the federal government to take some action in the freshwater environment and also the marine environment.

In partnership with federal and provincial governments and First Nations, it will be necessary, in the freshwater environment, to develop river-specific plans covering current environmental conditions and their impacts on salmon, such as land use practices, water quality, fish passage, predators and habitat quality. We would also like to see developed river-specific remedial measures such as developing the local volunteer network, that is, conservation organizations; the drafting and implementation of mitigation plans; and the strengthening of the hatchery support programs and gene banking for stocks that are approaching extinction.

In the marine environment, there has been a recent drastic decline in the rate of survival of salmon at sea. The causes of the decline are uncertain, but they may be driven by a combination of factors, both natural and anthropogenic. Furthermore, while we know that salmon are disappearing at sea, we do not know when their death occurs. This makes it impossible to identify the causes of mortality.

I came from meetings in Montreal today where we were discussing the stock status of the Atlantic regions, that is, Quebec, Atlantic Canada and Newfoundland. Juvenile production of salmon is reasonably good, but the adults do not return from the ocean in numbers that are commensurate with the numbers going out to sea. We do not know why. The reasons could be predation by seals or birds, capture as bycatch in fisheries, poor oceanographic conditions or lack of food. That could be brought on by fisheries that are targeting some of the forage species for salmon, shrimp, krill, caplin and other fisheries that are often collected and used for anything from fuel to feed for other fisheries. Other reasons could be changes in the marine migration routes, exposure to diseases and parasites, and ecosystem changes in the environment. Global warming is certainly a large factor. We need to work on many factors.

Fortunately, for those of us in the marine environment, the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization, which is based on government partnerships in the North Atlantic, at the urging of ASF over the last few years, has established an international coordinated research committee which, based on priorities that have been identified and debated by eminent international scientists, has winnowed it down to a list of priorities.

Through the aegis of NASCO, the priorities have been identified and are ready to go. We are waiting for governments to step up to the plate and provide funding to that body. The premise is that the ocean issues are so large that no one government could tackle them on its own. However, we have this international coalition of governments that has everything set up. The vehicle is just waiting for someone to put some gas in the tank.

I move now, Mr. Chairman, to what we see as some of the solutions. We have spent some time on the problems; I would like to come to the table with solutions.

To effectively deliver a program of public support, which is buy-in and at an advantageous cost, because we are conscious of getting the best bang for limited dollars, there is an urgent need to engage and sustain the volunteer resources that can contribute to an overall wild salmon program. Unfortunately, in recent years, with the decline in salmon populations and the closure of a lot of rivers, volunteer forces are shrinking. This is occurring at a time when they are most needed to meet the challenges facing salmon populations in the local rivers.

It is also unfortunate that DFO has done little to rally the large body of volunteers who would otherwise come forward with a serious demonstration of interest in Atlantic salmon and the leadership to protect it. It is a fact that, when salmon rivers are closed, many people go home. This has happened right across Atlantic Canada. At a time when we most need them, the governments are basically doing nothing in those rivers. Without that kind of leadership, the volunteer force dries up and we lose a major, free contribution.

DFO's mandate in the Fisheries Act contains provisions for the conservation and protection of fish habitat and sustaining freshwater and marine fisheries resources, including the habitat of Atlantic salmon. In 1986, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans tabled a policy for management of fish habitat called the ``Habitat Policy.'' The Habitat Policy provides a comprehensive framework for conservation, protection and enhancement of fish habitat, including delivery of the department's National Habitat Management Program, which I think you had outlined to you by a previous witness from DFO.

The Habitat Policy also outlines the concept of integrated planning for fish habitat management, which provides for integration of habitat needs with fisheries management objectives. The Habitat Policy sets out several implementation strategies to meet the stated objectives, goals and concept of integrated planning for fish habitat management. These include precisely the things that ASF has been calling on Fisheries and Oceans to get going for the last several years: protection and compliance; integrated freshwater and oceans planning; habitat enhancement; scientific support; information management; public consultation; public information and education; cooperative action; and habitat monitoring. Basically, that covers everything we need.

On the basis of its conservation mandate and the provision it has created for a comprehensive habitat program, ASF believes that DFO is well-positioned to take the initiative to expand the habitat program to Atlantic Canada and Quebec. ASF has identified the need. A strong supporting rationale has also been presented as to why the Atlantic salmon is important to us culturally, socially and economically. Therefore, the next step is for DFO to act on its stated objectives and to lead the provinces and ASF into a habitat program for Atlantic Canada.

I learned today from some provincial representatives the fact that aquatic habitat is a provincial responsibility. That is why it is imperative that there be cooperation. What we envisage is a partnership that would consist of Canada, the provinces, ASF on behalf of conservation organizations, and First Nations.

The Chairman: I will stop you there. I do not generally do this. What is aquatic habitat?

Mr. Chase: Aquatic habitat would be everything within the freshwater environment.

There are fine distinctions in some of these terms. Whereas DFO is responsible for fish habitat, the provinces are responsible for aquatic habitat. What is the difference? Well, you can have aquatic habitat without fish. You really must have a cooperative partnership between Canada and the provinces.

ASF has been calling on DFO to lead a renewed initiative involving federal departments and agencies, provincial governments, First Nations and conservation organizations, to restore the wild salmon to abundance. In this initiative, DFO would take the leadership role in establishing a coordinated program involving federal departments and agencies, provincial governments, First Nations and conservation organizations. ASF is ready to partner with the department in marshalling and coordinating the various federal, provincial and NGO resources to develop an overall plan to restore the wild Atlantic salmon to abundance. ASF has a long and excellent history of partnering with DFO in a variety of initiatives, including joint scientific research, public education and Aboriginal capacity building. This provides an excellent basis of moving forward in a comprehensive habitat initiative on an immediate basis.

ASF also contributes funds to DFO annually. Our organization has contributed in the order of $1.5 million to DFO's initiative in the inner Bay of Fundy and our joint scientific research. Each year, we send several thousand dollars to scientific initiatives that DFO is conducting in Newfoundland and the monitoring of Greenland. We are ready to bring something to the table.

We envisage the new habitat initiative as including provision for all components of DFO's Habitat Policy that I outlined earlier. To launch this, ASF proposes a memorandum of understanding, MOU, with DFO to develop the program in full consultation with the provinces and ASF's regional councils.

In Atlantic Canada there has been an ongoing public concern over the loss of productive fish habitat. It is time that the concerted efforts of governments and conservation partners came together to change this and to establish a partnership that results in positive gains for wild Atlantic salmon.

I would stress that we would see this as an ecosystem approach that benefits wild salmon as well as other native freshwater fish species. Putting the partnership to work will be a challenge. The Atlantic Salmon Federation is, however, ready to take up the challenge as a ready and able partner with DFO and other governments to develop and coordinate the federal, provincial and NGO resources in preparing the overall plan we need.

At the heart of a successful habitat restoration program will be effective community stewardship organizations. These organizations must become legitimate players in the formulation and execution of management plans for habitat and resource management. Central to their effectiveness will be strengthened science and habitat programs in DFO that will provide central scientific support to the wild salmon resource, in both its freshwater and marine environments.

There is a need to strengthen the science and habitat programs in DFO to support wild salmon in both its freshwater and marine environments; there is a need to engage and sustain volunteer resources in contributing to the overall wild salmon program; and there is a need to get on with the partnership between Canada, the provinces, NGOs, First Nations and others.

We are calling on the federal government to assume leadership and make a significant new commitment to the benefit of the wild Atlantic salmon resource in Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

With that, I thank you. I regret that I did not have the pictures and the maps to show you. However, I can forward them to you.

The Chairman: That would be much appreciated. We will ensure that the members of the committee receive the pictures and be able to refer back to your presentation. Any documents that you provide here tonight will become part of our exhibits of the committee.

Senator Phalen: Mr. Chase, I had a number of questions and you addressed many of them in your report. I do have a question about the term, ``conservation requirements for Atlantic salmon.'' What is it and how do they arrive at it?

Mr. Chase: I will start by giving you a general introduction to the status of the salmon.

Each river has been identified in terms of its minimum conservation requirement, so that, when mapping out the overall square area of habitat, they can estimate the productive potential of the river. They know how many adult fish are required to re-propagate the river. When the fish return and are measured, the researchers can tell whether sufficient numbers are returning to re-propagate the river. As recently as today, we have been informed that there are rivers in Atlantic Canada that do not meet the requirements — there are not enough adults coming back to repopulate the rivers. Some rivers are down to the 6 per cent range, but most of them are at about 50 per cent to 75 per cent. Some rivers actually exceed the minimum conservation requirement.

Does that help you, senator?

Senator Phalen: What is the ratio? Is it factored on a certain number of eggs to produce a certain number of fish? What is expected?

Mr. Chase: It is measured in egg deposition per square metre. There are scientific factors to measure that. They measure the size of the spawning area, the size of the nursery in the river, the amount of juvenile productive area, and they can estimate just how productive those areas should be.

Senator Phalen: Many rivers are not meeting their conservation requirement. Is that correct?

Mr. Chase: That is right.

Senator Phalen: Do you know the reasons for that?

Mr. Chase: There are a number of reasons, but they vary. One is siltation. There are numerous causes of silt: agricultural practices, forestry practices, vehicles operating near streams, and urban and rural development. The silt runoff effectively clogs the habitat nursery area that may be gravel beds, which are ideal for spawning. When they become covered with silt, the spawning habitat is effectively eliminated.

Senator Phalen: You indicated that you did not know what was happening with the smolts that are migrating.

Mr. Chase: We have had a major scientific program in partnership with DFO in the Bay of Fundy. We have released smolts with electronic tags over the last six or seven years. We have sonar buoys and, when the fish are released from certain rivers, they are tracked as they move out of the Bay of Fundy and head for the ocean.

Senator Phalen: Are they not tracked in the ocean?

Mr. Chase: They are not tracked outside the Bay of Fundy. We have been able to identify a number of factors that either affect or do not affect them. We have learned that predation by birds is not as serious as we had thought it was. We have learned that most of the smolts make it out of the estuaries and bays and beyond the sonar buoys and out into the ocean. However, the numbers that go out are not commensurate with the numbers that are returning. Something is happening out in the ocean that is preventing the numbers that we would anticipate from coming back.

It is happening on both sides of the Atlantic, both in the European context and here.

Senator Phalen: Where do the grilse go?

Mr. Chase: The grilse migrate to Greenland just like the large salmon.

Senator Phalen: Do they return?

Mr. Chase: Yes, they do.

Senator Phalen: What about slinks? Where do they go?

Mr. Chase: Slinks are commonly called black salmon. Those are salmon that come in in the fall, spawn, stay in the rivers over the winter and then migrate back out to sea in the spring. Those are going out to sea as we speak.

Senator Phalen: When do they come back?

Mr. Chase: They could come back in the fall. Ordinarily, they would spend the summer period and early fall off Greenland and then return to the native rivers in the fall.

Senator Phalen: I have a paper here from Agriculture and Fisheries Nova Scotia, which is a chart on the comparison of angling efforts, by county, in Nova Scotia. You may not be able to answer this question. Fifty per cent of the counties have increased their angling from 1985 to 2000. In Cape Breton, under ``Days Fished by Licensed Anglers'' in 1985 the figure is 157,446; in 1990, it was 158,000 some; and in 1995, it was approximately 109,000. The figure for 2000 is 11,530. That is a dramatic drop. Cape Breton's numbers are the only ones that have dropped. The others fluctuate. Is there any explanation for that?

Mr. Chase: The only explanation I can give is that the effort has declined as the salmon populations have declined. There are fewer people fishing because fishing is not as productive as it used to be. It has been a great concern to all of the provinces that the sale of licences is down dramatically, as is the revenue they get from the sale of licences.

Senator Phalen: The dramatic drop is applicable only to Cape Breton. In 50 per cent of the other areas there have been increases.

Mr. Chase: It is true that salmon licence sales in all of the provinces are about half of what they were 10 years ago.

The Chairman: I wanted to ask a supplementary question on the smolts going out to sea and not coming back. I seem to recall, and I am not sure where I heard this, that it is possible that the smolts are picking up something as they migrate from the lakes to the ocean. They might be picking up some kind of chemical.

Mr. Chase: Yes.

The Chairman: They are absorbing it into their system. Once they go out to sea, the seawater activates this substance and makes the fish sterile.

Mr. Chase: There has been some research done on this. I think what you are referring to, Senator Comeau, is the study which was done of some of the chemicals released from various items such as detergents, pesticides and herbicides. They have affected the ability of the salmon, and there are a number of hypotheses. One of them would be that when the salmon goes from the freshwater into the marine environment, the osmosis of water into its cells has to change, and these chemicals affect their ability to do that. Therefore, they die in the estuaries once they reach salt water. Another hypothesis is that it weakens the ability of the fish to feed. Doubtless there is validity to these research studies.

It serves to illustrate that the movement of the fish from the freshwater environment, where we can see and understand various implications, into the black hole of the ocean environment is something that we need to gain a greater understanding of, as well as what is going on in the oceans.

Senator Johnson: I think that the problem with the wild salmon is critical. I have been a member of your association for many years, and I am a salmon fisher. I have fished in many countries in the North Atlantic. Did you say that stocks decreased from 800,000 to 80,000 in 20 years?

Mr. Chase: The numbers have dropped. In 20 years, they are about 10 per cent of what they were. The figure I gave you was for large multi-sea, multi-winter salmon, about 800,000 in 1980 to about 80,000 returning in 1999. It is roughly similar for grilse. Fortunately, the numbers that we are getting from our international scientific body showed a very slight upturn last year and a continuing of that upturn this year, so I think the numbers have gone from in the order of 80,000 up to the 100,000 range. The chart on the slide shows a 45 degree angle. It has started to come up a little bit, and that is encouraging, but it is not back where it should be.

Senator Johnson: Obviously, the pollutants and all the things you named are having an effect, and I am sure much of that is environmental. In all our studies in this committee, we have found that.

One of your goals is to stop killing wild Atlantic salmon. Could you explain that?

Mr. Chase: Yes.

Senator Johnson: What do you mean by ``killing''? Are you talking about sports fishing, commercial fishing, or what? To what extent do we have to stop this in order to increase the numbers?

Mr. Chase: The Atlantic Salmon Federation is first and foremost a conservation organization. Our interest is the welfare of wild salmon, and we have never hesitated to call for closure of rivers to fishing where it is necessary to do that.

Senator Johnson: How many rivers have you called for closing as we speak?

Mr. Chase: This arises most frequently in a river, say, in the summer low period, where the water temperatures elevate to the point where it is very dangerous to fish salmon, and we have stepped in and advocated closure of the rivers until the conditions are back to the point where angling can resume. We are also very supportive when DFO closes a river to fishing because the number is below its spawning requirements. Our objective is to protect the populations of fish in the rivers and bring them back to abundance.

Senator Johnson: Are DFO and the provinces sensitive to the Atlantic Salmon Federation?

Mr. Chase: Yes, they are. We have a very good working relationship with DFO and all of the provinces. We collaborate with them routinely on working groups and research projects.

Senator Johnson: You talked about what we need to do in terms of conservation. Why are we not doing a better job?

Mr. Chase: I think we are a bit frustrated at the need for DFO to take some leadership and get the parties to the table.

We believe that a substantial environmental, social, cultural and economic case could be put on the table to justify taking action. In the last year or so, we have spent some time on the economic argument. We have called on DFO to make an annual investment in the marine and freshwater environments, specifically, about $5 million into the marine research and$10 to 15 million into the freshwater environment. We have a fishery that is worth well over $200 million a year. We think it is a good investment in sustaining that economy.

I do not like to have to make the economic argument, but it seems to me that, when the wild salmon lost its commercial status with the closure of the fisheries, it suddenly fell off the table from DFO's interest. The DFO's stated objective is conservation of fish species. I do not think it says anywhere that it is conservation of only commercial fish species. We are frustrated, because we have a fish that is valuable for many reasons to many different people, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, and a good economic argument can be made, but nothing is happening.

Perhaps it is not fair to say that nothing is happening. There are some very dedicated people within Fisheries and Oceans. Unfortunately, those people are starting to retire and they are not being replaced. The programs are restricted because of a lack of money. That is why we give money to DFO, as opposed to the other way around. It is to help keep these things going.

Senator Johnson: I find it your comments about what we have not done to make sure the wild salmon survives quite compelling. Do you have links with countries like Iceland, which has strict conservation rules on their rivers, and Greenland and other countries in the north which have salmon rivers?

Mr. Chase: Yes, we do. We have a partnership with a number of non-government organizations in Europe and in Iceland. The North Atlantic Atlantic Salmon Fund is very active in the European context. There is the Atlantic Salmon Trust and the Salmon and Trout Association in the U.K., and the World Wildlife Fund in the European context. We have a strategic partnership with those groups.

Senator Johnson: Do you think they are doing a better job than we are?

Mr. Chase: I would be hard-pressed to answer.

Senator Johnson: Are they suffering the same deaths at sea that we were talking about? They probably are. Are they doing a better job on the conservation side? From what I have seen in Ireland and Iceland on my fishing holidays, they seem to have more restrictions than we do.

Mr. Chase: They are experiencing the same decline.

Senator Johnson: I know about the decline. I am talking about preservation.

Mr. Chase: I would say that, on balance, we are doing a better job in North America than the Europeans are doing in Europe.

Senator Johnson: That is good to know.

Mr. Chase: For conservation activity, they are probably further ahead, but they still have some high seas fisheries for Atlantic salmon off Ireland that are damaging the European stocks.

Senator Johnson: Are you referring to the Faeroe Islands?

Mr. Chase: Yes. Some of the commercial fisheries are causing damage. In terms of conservation programs, I would say they are putting more money on the table.

Senator Johnson: They are fishing more on the high seas, but they are putting more into conservation on the inland rivers.

Mr. Chase: I would like to add, again without prejudice to DFO, that the United States is putting significantly more money on the table considering that the salmon populations are pretty much restricted to the state of Maine. They used to be in the area from the Connecticut River northward. A number of those populations are now gone. There has been an endangered species listing in eight rivers in Maine, but the U.S. government is putting significant money on the table to help bring those rivers back. We would like something commensurate in the Canadian context.

Senator Phalen: Is international fishing in our waters hurting our fishing here? Is it hurting our salmon?

Mr. Chase: Yes. The international fishing that is going on in the Irish and Faeroes context, no, but there is still a commercial salmon fishery off southwest Greenland that last year took in the order of 40 tonnes of salmon, which is in the range of 60,000 fish. In the Greenland context, about 60 per cent of the fish are of North American origin, about 40 per cent are of European origin, and of that 60 per cent, something like 95 per cent or more are fish that come to Canadian rivers and about 5 per cent to U.S. rivers. The U.S. government has put so much money into it because there are so few fish that major activity is required. However, I do not think that Canada should be complacent.

This year, ASF will be exploring, in concert with Canada and the U.S, a long-term conservation agreement with the Greenland commercial fishers. That is an initiative we have on the go. It will take significant volunteer resources and funding to do that.

Senator Mahovlich: What international organizations would be monitoring the activity, for example, around Greenland?

Mr. Chase: With respect to the Greenland commercial fishery, there is a monitoring program carried out by Canada and the U.S. in Greenland. The Greenland fishery usually starts in August and runs to mid-September. Scientists from both the United States National Marine Fishery Service and from DFO go to Greenland and they talk to the fishermen. They even go into the supermarkets to check the fish that are for sale. ASF contributes money to DFO to enable their scientists to go up there and do that. They have a very good understanding of what is going on in Greenland and the nature of the fishery.

Senator Mahovlich: Is there a name for the policing of this?

Mr. Chase: It is not policing. It is strictly monitoring and sampling of fish to determine where they are from, and they do that genetically. It must be pointed out that Greenlanders have a treaty right to fish for wild salmon. When the International Commission for the Exploration of the Seas, ICES, meets each year, the members will assess what they think is the salmon populations in the oceans. From that, there is a formula through NASCO, the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization, which tells us what the extent of the Greenland fishery could be. Last year the model showed an increase in the numbers of salmon, so Greenlanders assumed their right to harvest more fish.

Both the U.S. and Canada worked very hard at NASCO last year to develop an agreement that would conserve as many of those salmon as possible. The result was that, even though Greenland was entitled, on paper, to 200 tonnes of fish, the fishery that they realized was in the order of 35 to 40 tonnes, and some of that was for the local subsistence fishery because the population in Greenland is largely Aboriginal. We have no quarrel with the subsistence fishery, but the commercial fishery is something we must end if we are to help with the recovery in North American rivers.

Senator Mahovlich: Coming from Toronto, I have a question about the Great Lakes. Atlantic salmon were native to Lake Ontario but disappeared about 100 years ago. They are being stocked into Lake Ontario to try to re-establish native species. In your opinion, has restocking been successful?

Mr. Chase: Yes. I say that without hesitation. We see the rivers, the natural environment, as the best propagator or nursery for salmon. However, there are rivers where the salmon populations have fallen well below conservation requirements. That is where restocking comes into play and hatcheries are necessary.

In areas such as the Great Lakes where the populations were extirpated years ago, a restocking program — if the fish will take hold — is important. We would not say across the board that hatcheries are required. They are required in some areas but not in others. It is case specific.

Senator Mahovlich: Has it done well in Lake Ontario?

Senator Mahovlich: Yes, it has.

Senator Mahovlich: When I was golfing at Glenn Abby in September, I saw salmon coming up the rivers.

Mr. Chase: I have to confess that I am not familiar with the salmon populations in Ontario.

Senator Johnson: Is it the same species?

Senator Mahovlich: It is a landlocked salmon.

Mr. Chase: I will not stray too far out of Atlantic Canada and Quebec.

Senator Tunney: Are seals predators of Atlantic salmon when they are in a certain area?

Mr. Chase: Yes, they are. In fact, it is our understanding that seals have been a major cause of the decline of salmon in the ocean environment.

Senator Tunney: Do you have any tracking of the reduction in salmon population compared to the increase in seal population?

Mr. Chase: It is very difficult to pinpoint. Most of the evidence would be circumstantial. The seal populations have exploded in recent years and salmon populations have declined, and there have been analyses of the stomach contents of seals and salmon have been found in them. There is a link that is not nearly as well understood as it should be. It is more circumstantial, but it is there, nonetheless.

Senator Tunney: There are studies that will show, perhaps not precisely, by weight, how many salmon an adult seal will consume in one year; or how many salmon will be consumed by a baby seal up to adulthood. It is a substantial number of salmon.

Mr. Chase: I agree. It is my understanding that seals will consume many times their weight in salmon daily. I would like to add, if I might, that populations such as mergansers in rivers consume several times their weight in juvenile salmon. It is quite remarkable to watch mergansers chasing juvenile salmon. There is is predation by cormorants, seals, mergansers, et cetera.

Senator Tunney: Cormorants are prolific in Lake Ontario.

Do you think low water levels in the streams have an effect on spawning and survival?

Mr. Chase: It definitely does. Temperature is also a major factor for injury to juvenile populations. We heard today at our meetings with DFO on stock status that the high temperature of the last couple of years has done a great deal of damage to juvenile salmon.

We are interested in land use practices like timber harvesting which has caused unusual fluctuations in water levels. The waters of the rivers, when the rains are heavy, will rise quickly but then fall quickly afterward.

Senator Tunney: There is a rush into the stream and then a drop right off.

Mr. Chase: Yes. Not only that, but this carries the silt with it which damages habitat. There are numerous factors that have an effect on spawning and survival.

Water withdrawal for irrigation has been an issue in the blueberry industry and the cranberry industry in New England where the rivers are small. When there is a small river and water is pulled out for irrigation, there is an impact on the juvenile population.

Senator Tunney: Are you establishing a list of endangered species? Are you adding to it as you see the need? Will the list be covered by the federal government's endangered species bill that is before the House now, with much trepidation? It will come before the Senate in due course. Will fish be added to that same list or will there be a separate, endangered species bill?

Mr. Chase: No. In fact, the Atlantic salmon in the rivers of the inner Bay of Fundy have already been identified by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, COSEWIC, the scientific body that provides advice to the minister. They have already been listed as endangered and they would receive protection under the proposed Species at Risk Act. We rely on that body to identify certain rivers. Each river has a genetically specific population. I would urge you, when the Species at Risk Act is introduced in the Senate, to give it speedy passage, because it is very important to the wild salmon.

Senator Tunney: We were in the Maritimes some time ago. In Nova Scotia, we were at a research station where they were demonstrating to us — the members of the Agriculture Committee of the Senate — how to genetically identify fish and even identify the area from which they came. Do you know about that?

Mr. Chase: I do not know about the specific study of which you are speaking, senator, but I do know that salmon can now be identified on a river-specific basis. ASF has participated with DFO in this, and there is a scientist in Scotland who specializes in this. In rivers in Maine, for example, there were arguments about whether the salmon were native or wild. Rivers have been genetically typed, as has the Bay of Fundy. We can genetically type fish from virtually any river, and can tell whether it is of European or North American extraction. They can take it right down to the river level.

Senator Tunney: We were told that they are using this science now to charge and convict poachers.

Mr. Chase: That capability exists. It can also be used to attract aquaculture escapees back to the site from which they originated.

Senator Tunney: That was informative and interesting.

The Chairman: The subject of seals has been raised several times. As an aside, we will be proposing to members that we may want a session in the near future on seals. The Clerk and I will ensure that we set aside an evening session on the subject of seals.

Recently, I read that there were more seals in Atlantic Canada than there were humans. It sent the fear of God through me, so I want to know a little more about what is happening with our close neighbours, the seals, and what they are eating.

Senator Cook: As a Newfoundlander, I see my rivers through eyes that do not see a large human population around them. For the most part our rivers are pristine. Are they being impacted? I know that low water levels will affect them, but are they impacted as much as rivers that are near sprawling urban areas or more pollutants? Are we also suffering the effects of acid rain?

Mr. Chase: The rivers of Newfoundland have been impacted in much the same way as others. The overall decline has occurred in Newfoundland just as it has elsewhere. The decline has been more severe in the more southern parts of the range of the salmon, but Newfoundland is in a much better position than the Maritime provinces and parts of Quebec because a number of the rivers are more pristine and have not been as impacted by people fishing them or some of the urban issues.

However, there are some real conservation issues regarding Newfoundland, which include some forestry practices, the aquaculture industry, with rainbow trout in particular being a problem in Newfoundland just as it is elsewhere. That being said, Newfoundland is relatively better off than other jurisdictions.

Senator Cook: Given that this study is about habitat, I would our focus to stay on that subject. Can you offer some solutions regarding the spawning grounds of rivers where the juveniles live for the first three years? Is the major problem encountered when they leave to go to sea? When they go to the southwest end of Greenland, do they stay in deep water? Where is the Greenland salmon fishery? Is near shore or offshore?

Mr. Chase: The Greenland salmon fishery is near shore, and it is carried out largely by family operations. There are small boats of two and three people per boat. They go out to sea and come back at the end of the day. It is a near-shore fishery.

Salmon do not go very deep. I do not know what depth they go to, but they are not a deepwater fish.

Senator Cook: My question concerned the distance offshore, not the depth of the water. Are they 40 miles off or are they 10 miles offshore? Where do the Greenland people fish?

Mr. Chase: I would say that it would be definitely nearer shore because of the nature of the boats. It is probably within the 10-mile range off the coast of Greenland.

Senator Cook: I am trying to understand where the salmon live when they leave the rivers and what happens to them. Do they come back and find that the estuary where they lived and spawned is not compatible with what is happening offshore? Have you done any research on that?

Mr. Chase: The research carried out by government agencies over the years has established that the fish that go up to Greenland will find their way back to the river where they were born. In fact, at one time we did not know that the fish went to Greenland. I believe it was the American submarine Nautilus, in one of its voyages under the ice, that discovered the feeding grounds of the salmon. That is when it became known where the salmon went. Until then, nobody knew.

The Greenland fishery is a relatively recent industry, within the last 30, 40 years, and that is why it is such a serious problem. It is a right, as I said earlier, but it is not a traditional Aboriginal right in the sense that some of our First Nations have that right.

Senator Cook: I would like to move from the resource to the management of the resource. I cannot understand why DFO is not ready to be a partner with a group of NGOs who have all this expertise, and even give them money for certain projects. Why is that so?

I will ask the minister the same question.

Mr. Chase: I wish I knew the answer to that question. We are fortunate that we do have a receptive ear in the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. He has told us that, and I accept it.

He has fiscal difficulties. He has imperatives to address. That is why I believe that we have made a business case out of this. It is not just an environmental or a social or a cultural case. Those are strong arguments, but we have a strong business case. Here is a fishery that is commercial in the sense that there is a recreational fishery it sustains that is worth a lot of money. I believe the minister is interested in doing something. We are calling on him to do that sooner rather than later.

Senator Cook: With respect to the seal population, the news around home this year is that there was no ice and the pups drowned, so maybe we may see some shrimp.

Senator Tunney, when I was a child, I was told by men at the head of the wharf that a seal will consume 60 pounds of fish a day if can find that much.

Senator Tunney: I am not surprised. In the early years, they were cod feeders.

Senator Cook: Yes, but they are not picky when they are hungry.

Senator Adams: I remember one time in New Brunswick, approximately 15 or 20 years ago, there was a concern about Aboriginal fishing using gill nets. Is this still going on?

Mr. Chase: It is still going on. Each year DFO gives an allocation of salmon to each First Nation. There is a harvest of both large salmon and grilse by First Nations. The task that ASF has taken on is to build partnerships with the First Nations to point out that the salmon is worth more in the river than it is in the freezer. We have been successful in the last year in developing a strong partnership with the First Nations at Listuguj, at the mouth of the Restigouche River and Eel River Bar, where they have come together and taken a leadership role in the Restigouche Watershed Management Council, which is a community stewardship initiative. We are proud of that, and proud to have worked with those two First Nations to do that.

We would like to work with the First Nations and point out the advantages of keeping the salmon resource and the recreational fishery going, and that it is worth a lot more in terms of jobs and economic development than it is to continue the current practices.

Senator Adams: Do American anglers go down there for the salmon fishing? Does your organization have an agreement with the Aboriginal people? The industry is worth approximately $200 million a year. How much of a percentage would go to the Aboriginal people for the salmon fishing? If I were living there I would perhaps be involved in tourism, but being an Aboriginal maybe the Department of Indian Affairs would say we could not do that if we are living on reserve. Do you have some kind of agreement with the Aboriginal people respecting salmon anglers?

Mr. Chase: We do not have agreements per se but we have encouraged the First Nations to take leadership in managing the resource. There is a great potential for a source of jobs and employment for First Nations right there. There can be sustainable economic development. The task is to show people the advantage, and why, because I think it is inherent in the Aboriginal outlook to want to conserve natural resources for future generations. It is a matter of getting that to line up, and then helping them do that. That is what we have been doing.

Senator Adams: They say at DFO that they have control, and that they do not allow fanning with the gill nets. How do the Aboriginal people work with the DFO?

Mr. Chase: DFO gives them a harvest allocation. To varying degrees, DFO does or does not encourage them in the direction of husbanding the resource. I think it might stop simply at, ``Here is your allocation, which you can take or not take. `` I think the extra step would be to say, ``Here is your allocation, but if you do not take it, here is how you can take advantage of it and promote a recreational fishery. There is a lot more in it for you if you do it that way.'' That is the premise that we are trying to put forward. Does that answer your question?

Senator Adams: Yes. Thank you.

Senator Watt: An area that has been completely forgotten for a number of years is the area of the Koksoak River in Ungava Bay. There used to be heavy commercial fisheries activities in that area. That goes all the way back to the 1700s. Adjacent to that is the Whale River and the George River at Kangiqsualujjuaq. Those are three Atlantic salmon rivers.

The Hudson's Bay Company kept records of the poundage of the catch in the years going back to 1700, and we have been able to use that information in managing the Atlantic salmon. Leading up to the 1960s, Atlantic salmon were still there, but not in the same numbers and the poundage dropped from, say, 40 or 60 pounds to 15 pounds, average weight. That is quite a drop. We have been able to refer to that as an indication of what is happening to our Atlantic salmon in those three rivers.

I believe it was in the late 1960s when we began to realize that there was a big drop in the numbers. The salmon were almost non-existent. Only a few salmon were coming back to the river. Information was made available to us in either 1968 or 1969 that large numbers of Atlantic salmon were being taken by fishermen in Davis Strait, in international waters close to Greenland. Ever since then, the depletion of the stock in those rivers has continued. We are beginning to witness the Atlantic salmon mixing with ouananiche, the black salmon. We have been able to recognize that that is happening, because we know ovananich, we know black salmon and we know Atlantic salmon. There is a definite cross-breeding between the two stocks now, and that seems to be increasing the numbers.

Our salmon is slowly starting to come back, but it is not the same species that is coming back.

Have you experienced that happening in southern rivers in the Maritime area?

Mr. Chase: Senator Watt, I cannot say I am familiar with the circumstance you outline. I do know that we are concerned that, in the case of aquaculture, species that escape from aquaculture facilities mate with wild salmon in the rivers, and the genetic characteristics change, and that reduces their fitness. What you suggest is quite possible, but I could only speculate that the salmon would mate with other salmonids, such as trout and Arctic char.

Senator Watt: Do you think that is possible?

Mr. Chase: Yes, I do, but I cannot offer any scientific light. I would have to turn to one of my science colleague.

Senator Watt: Is there any scientific information available with regard to the three rivers I just mentioned?

Mr. Chase: When I have the record, I will show it to my science colleague and see if I can get an answer for you.

Senator Watt: My question is: Do you have any scientific information in regard to those three rivers that I just mentioned, or are they not being dealt with at all because they are so far north?

Mr. Chase: I do not think we have specific knowledge of those three rivers, senator, other than what DFO would provide to us.

Senator Watt: That could be almost nothing.

Mr. Chase: The DFO should have some assessment of activity in those rivers. I believe they would have that. However, I cannot speak for them. I will try to find an answer to your question.

Senator Watt: I do not know if I understood you earlier, but you mentioned that Atlantic salmon do not go all the way up to Greenland, or another species does not go all the way up to Greenland.

Mr. Chase: Further in the Bay of Fundy from Saint John, 33 rivers go around Fundy National Park, including the Petitcodiac, the Shubenacadie, up to the Annapolis. It may not take in the Annapolis River. Scientists have told us that the salmon from those rivers represent a distinct group of salmon that do not migrate to Greenland.

There are three general groupings of Atlantic salmon. There is European origin salmon and North American origin salmon, and both those migrate to southwest Greenland. The third group is from the inner Bay of Fundy, and it does not go there. It migrates off the tip of Nova Scotia, around Georges Bank. It is a very distinct population. In part, that accounts for why it was listed by COSEWIC and would benefit from the Species at Risk Act. I was referring to that.

Senator Watt: I was beginning to wonder whether you were talking about estuary salmon, which is a much smaller species than the Atlantic salmon. Those do not migrate all the way up into the deep waters around Greenland, they stay along the coast. They seem to demonstrate the same behaviour as Atlantic salmon. They return to waters where they originated.

Mr. Chase: Some salmonids do that. The term ``salmonids'' covers the whole class of trout.

Senator Watt: I am not talking about trout, I am talking about a species identical to the Atlantic salmon, but smaller.

Mr. Chase: Are they steelhead?

Senator Watt: No, they are not.

Mr. Chase: I may be reaching too far into territory that I am not well equipped to respond to.

Senator Watt: Would it be correct to say, then, that you have little information in regard to the three rivers I am talking about?

Mr. Chase: That is correct, but I will try to obtain an answer and get back to you.

Senator Watt: The information collected and utilized by the Hudson Bay Company is kept in the archives in Winnipeg. There you will find all the information about how much was caught and how that has changed over the years.

Mr. Chase: I will do that, senator.

Senator Phalen: You indicate that not all salmon go to Greenland. Which species do not go there, and where do they go?

Mr. Chase: I was referring to the salmon from the inner Bay of Fundy.

I will ask my colleague, Dr. Whoriskey, if know where that understanding originated.

Senator Phalen: Is it known where they go?

Mr. Chase: Yes, it is known. I do not know if we know exactly where they go off the tip of Nova Scotia, but they do not migrate to Greenland.

For greater precision, I will find the source of that information and make it available to the committee.

The Chairman: Senator Watt has asked about an agreement that is being negotiated now between the area of Nunavik and the Government of Quebec, respecting the flooding of certain lands. One must wonder whether some of the rivers to which Senator Watt referred would be impacted by the flooding if that proposal goes through. Do I understand that the Atlantic Salmon Federation has some concerns in regard to this flooding?

Mr. Chase: We have not studied that issue specifically to develop a position on that. I have not looked at what areas would be flooded and whether that would impact any salmon rivers.

The Chairman: When you talk to your colleagues at the Atlantic Salmon Federation, would you get back to us if there is any concern regarding this subject at all?

Mr. Chase: Yes, I will.

Senator Watt: Another area that would be important to have some information about is what happens when rivers are diverted. If that happens, then the temperature of the river changes. Would you also check to see what temperature is acceptable for the survival of wild Atlantic salmon, or any other species for that matter?

Mr. Chase: Yes, I will do that.

The Chairman: These are probably questions we should be asking DFO.

Returning to the Greenland fishery, you referred to subsistence fishing. Is the commercial fishing done by Inuit or non-Inuit groups?

Mr. Chase: My understanding is that most of it is done by the Inuit. Most of the inhabitants of Greenland are Inuit. A series of local fisheries up the coast of Greenland harvest these fish.

There is a subsistence fishery, as well, for Aboriginal food purposes. They feed their dogs with the product.

As to the commercial element, while significant, I would point out that the market for frozen wild salmon is not very strong. The buyer in the area has carried inventory over from year to year. That tells you more than your question called for, but this is very much a local issue.

The Chairman: You mentioned that southern Nova Scotia rivers are very acidic. I am familiar with that, since I reside in that area. Many of the rivers have been severely damaged by acid rain. One of the productive rivers was the Tusket River. Are you familiar with that river?

Mr. Chase: I have a document here that I had intended to distribute. This postcard shows the map of Nova Scotia. A brochure that goes with that outlines the magnitude of the problem.

The Chairman: I appreciate that. I realize that many of these rivers will have problems sustaining the fish, even though the fish are still there. Some of these rivers still receive the salmon — although in decreasing numbers — because, for the time being, they can find small areas of non-acidic breeding grounds. Will you be able to save the gene pool for an indefinite period into the future?

Mr. Chase: The answer would be that, yes, we can save the gene pool. DFO, to its credit, is working hard to do that by maintaining some of the genetic stock in the hatcheries that they would like to close. So far, the obligation to maintain that genetic stock has carried in the department.

Can they do that indefinitely? It is unlikely that we could indefinitely maintain genetic stock in rivers that will not sustain them. That is why the Nova Scotia Salmon Association has worked so hard. They brought in international experts to advise them how to reduce the acidic nature of the lakes and rivers. They have major liming programs, applying lime in both the winter, on the ice, and during the year.

They are working hard to change the acidic nature of the rivers, but that is only treating the symptom. Governments in both Canada and the United States must get to the source of the acid rain and deal with it at the source. We cannot go on and on treating the problem in rivers that cannot sustain populations.

We would like Canada to press the United States vigorously, as well as Canadian sources, to deal with the acid rain issue.

That is explained in the brochure that I just handed out.

The Chairman: Are Aboriginal communities in the Maritimes being cooperative in the efforts to conserve salmon in our rivers? I use the word ``cooperative'' specifically in reference to the Maritimes.

Mr. Chase: A large number of First Nations communities are being very cooperative. I have given you some examples. I would add that in the inner Bay of Fundy, the Fort Folly First Nation has taken a leadership role in the recovery program.

Other First Nations would be ready to do that once we are able to work with them and explain the advantages of conservation.

Senator Cook: How much of your energy, money and resources do you put into research? Will the Kyoto Accord alleviate the acid rain problem that is staring us in the face? Is there any hope?

Mr. Chase: I cannot give you a specific figure on research here at this table. I can send you figures that outline how much ASF spends on research on an annual basis, which is significant. It is between several hundred thousand dollars and $1 million.

My sense is that the Kyoto Accord would be advantageous in dealing with the acid rain issue. It would help. It would be better if the U.S. government dealt with the sources of acid rain in, say, Ohio, the industrial heartland of the United States, and perhaps we could deal with Eastern Canada as well, because the Atlantic provinces are in the plume of the acid drift across the region. That map of Nova Scotia gives you a sense of just where the main effects of it are found.

Senator Cook: If the U.S. does not sign on we will not be better off in Atlantic Canada, because most of the acid rain originates in the United States.

Mr. Chase: That is right. In the mid-1980s there was a very effective acid rain campaign. There were signs at the U.S—Canadian border, and acid rain was recognized as an issue. At some point around 1990, those signs came down, and I think a lot of people thought that the acid rain issue had gone away. We are here to tell you that the acid rain issue has not gone away. The visual impact of it can be seen in the southern uplands of Nova Scotia where the rivers are almost devoid of aquatic life, and they are becoming more and more injured as time goes on. If I can leave you with a message, it is that the acid rain issue is one of the most significant habitat issues we have to deal with in Canada.

Senator Phalen: Has your work with liming in certain areas in Nova Scotia helped any?

Mr. Chase: My understanding is that it has helped; but it is a major effort. The equipment and the product are expensive, but the volunteers are willing to do the work. I was at a meeting on the weekend where the Nova Scotia Salmon Association was discussing this issue. They would require somewhere in the order of 20 to 50 units to apply the lime, and those cost in the order of $40,000 to $50,000 apiece. The cost of the lime is on top of that. It is beyond the ability of an organization such as the Nova Scotia volunteers to sustain that. However, they are still trying to do it.

Senator Phalen: There is no area in Cape Breton shown on this post card. Is that because the lakes and rivers are lime based?

Mr. Chase: Some geological characteristics have made the southern uplands, shown in red, more susceptible. I do not the exact difference, but that is probably the reason. The plume of acid drift clearly takes in more than just the southern tip of Nova Scotia. There are some fundamental geological differences between the southern part of the province and the Annapolis Valley area and the rest. That is for an expert to identify.

The Chairman: As you can see, Mr. Chase, you have solicited a lot of interest in our group tonight. I almost cannot get them to stop asking questions.

On their behalf I would like to thank you. Please give our best to Mr. Taylor. We are sorry he could not make it tonight. You were an able replacement, and we appreciate the time you have spent with us.

Mr. Chase: I have enjoyed my time here this evening. If there are questions that emerge to which we can provide responses, written or otherwise, I would be happy to do that.

The Chairman: If our budget is approved, we may be going to New Brunswick some time in the fall. However, we cannot take these things for granted. We will be calling on you for help as we plan our trip in that area.

Mr. Chase: We would be delighted to do that, and perhaps you can visit us at our conservation centre in St. Andrews. We would enjoy showing you around.

The Chairman: Is it agreed that the documents as provided to us by the witness be filed as exhibits with the committee?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The committee adjourned.