February 6th 2019 - Bill C-55, An Act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act - Various Witnesses
Senator Poirier: I want to highlight your recommendation number 7, because we’ve also heard that comment from other groups who have appeared before us in the last couple of days about the concern that the oil and gas sector can be granted a potential for compensation while the seafood industry or the other part would not be. I was looking to hear from you on that recommendation. What would be the implication if the seafood farming sector is not given the same compensation?
The reason I bring that up, I am from New Brunswick. There were zones that were closed all last year for the lobster fishermen, and possibly this year seeing what’s coming up. There was a great economic impact on the community because of the ripple effect, not only of the fishermen but the fishermen helpers and working in the fish plants and not having money. So it ripples down to the people in the restaurants and people are not spending. It was hard and it’s going to be hard, possibly, this year too.
What would be the implications if they’re not given compensation, if the seafood farming sector is not treated the same way?
Mr. Kennedy: Thank you for the question. We’ve focused a little bit of our discussion on salmon farming, so I want to bring in shellfish farming as well. It is seen as a largely benign activity, so is compatible generally with marine protected areas. But different user groups can have different impacts on each other. What we’re seeing in British Columbia in the last couple of years, because of human pollution having impacts on oyster farms, they’ve had to do closures for health reasons of certain shellfish production areas. You can imagine how damaging that is for our market reputation. The potential profit from shellfish farming on a per-unit basis is very low. A closure or something like that is very difficult for shellfish farmers in particular.
For salmon farmers, the investment cycle is about seven years. So if there was some sort of closure, this is not hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is millions and millions of dollars that go into a salmon farming site, and hundreds, maybe thousands of jobs in some cases. So if there was ever a closure, you can imagine how damaging that would be to the local community. That’s why, in particular, I’m glad to hear the minister emphasizing the three legs of the stool, but having that more explicitly in the bill would be very important.
Senator Poirier: You did mention the good points of the bill and some of the recommendations that would be brought in. My colleague has pointed out that to date there are no MPAs that have been put into places that would affect the aquaculture industry. Obviously, if you’re putting in these recommendations, you’re being proactive in thinking of the possibility of an MPA coming in.
Bill C-55, as it is now without the recommendations 1 to 7, what implication would that be to the future possibility of an MPA being put?
Mr. Kennedy: Back to my point about transparency, I think it’s much more nervousness around the decision-making process. If there was more transparency built in, the sector would feel more comfortable about it.
There’s such an emphasis on consultation with Indigenous peoples, which there has to be. The Indigenous communities across Canada are significant partners for us going forward. There are more and more communities in British Columbia, Atlantic Canada and Ontario for instance asking for sites and being more interested in sites and getting into seafood farming. Obviously they’re critical partners in the whole process and need to be part of early conversations on any moves to create an MPA.
Senator Poirier: Thank you.