February 25, 2014
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for inviting me to appear today. I am delighted to be here as Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and so pleased to be leading this department again.
Joining me, are members of DFO’s senior management team, including:
- Associate Deputy Minister David Bevan;
- Acting Assistant Deputy Minister, Ecosystems and Oceans Science Dave Gillis; and
- Assistant Deputy Minister, Ecosystems and Fisheries Management Operations Trevor Swerdfager.
Before getting started, I would like to thank the committee for their great work as well as their interest in studying aquaculture.
Today, I will be talking about important measures that our Government is taking to strengthen Canada’s fisheries and aquaculture sectors.
Aquaculture is the fastest growing food production sector worldwide, now supplying approximately 50 percent of the global demand for fish and seafood, and likely to continue to increase by 7 percent each year — in the future.
There is great economic potential in this industry.
In Canada, aquaculture is conducted in all provinces and the Yukon. We generate 174,000 tonnes of product, worth $2 billion in total economic activity annually and farm gate over $800 million. This translates into 14,000 jobs, most of which are in rural areas and Aboriginal communities.
Farming fish and shellfish provides extra economic opportunity and stability in communities that have traditionally relied on forestry, mining and the wild fishery. Canadian and international markets are increasingly looking to aquaculture to meet growing demands for seafood. And this trend will certainly not decrease with the trade agreement recently announced between Canada and the European Union.
Under an improved legislative and regulatory framework, the Canadian aquaculture industry believes that aquaculture could expand from $2 billion in total annual economic activity to $5.6 billion in ten years and to more than $8 billion in 15 years.
That is why our Government is working hard to enable aquaculture to thrive, while also ensuring that it is sustainable over the long term. Our Government truly believes that scientific knowledge and advice is at the root of sound aquaculture management. It ensures both the sustainability of Canada’s farmed and wild fisheries.
That’s why when we came to power, among the first actions in the fisheries portfolio was to establish a new national Sustainable Aquaculture Program. We recognized the major contribution aquaculture was making to coastal and rural economies and its tremendous potential for further growth.
The program helped us to generate new science knowledge and advice in support of regulatory and management decision-making. Some of our accomplishments include developing a risk assessment framework for aquaculture, renewing the National Code on the Introductions and Transfers of Aquatic Organisms, and creating new Canadian organic standards. We’ve also increased industry’s capacity to meet market-driven certification programs and improve public information on aquaculture sustainability.
Economic Action Plan 2013 re-affirmed our commitment to the Sustainable Aquaculture Program for a further five years. $54 million will be used to continue our science, monitoring and reporting activities as well as our work on a regulatory framework that facilitates industry growth.
Up to $27 million of this money will be invested in regulatory science. This funding will be used to investigate wild and farmed salmon disease issues; to enhance our understanding of the interactions between wild and farmed aquatic resources; and to monitor and develop mitigation options for the release of organic nutrients from aquaculture sites.
$2.9 million per year will be available to build on existing work related to regulatory reform and governance, and $1.4 million per year will be invested in improved aquaculture public reporting on the environmental and economic performance of Canada’s aquaculture sector.
This information will then inform the management and regulation of the sector.
It will also be used to study issues that require longer-term analysis, such as improving our understanding of potential cumulative effects on the ecosystem.
Renewing the Sustainable Aquaculture Program will help support the sector’s challenges to growth by streamlining regulations; improving regulatory management and transparency; as well as increasing scientific knowledge and supporting science-based decision-making.
Let me be clear: when I say streamlined regulation, it doesn’t mean in any way that our system will be less rigorous. We recognize that in some cases, the regulatory regime is inadequate, cumbersome and may create confusion and conflicting direction to the industry.
That is why we are working hard to resolve longstanding regulatory irritants to the aquaculture industry and provinces alike. Building on this progress, I propose taking a series of targeted, practical, incremental measures. I believe these reforms will boost the sector’s productivity and its environmental performance. It will also create new economic opportunities and high quality, year-round jobs in Canada’s coastal communities.
On the regulatory front, I propose bringing forward additional regulatory reforms that will eliminate overlap and duplication across Canada. For example, we will clarify some areas of responsibility between Environment Canada and DFO and we’ll introduce licence fees as well as multi-year licence regimes in British Columbia.
For years now, the aquaculture industry has indicated that the Fisheries Act provisions created confusion.
The first step to eliminating this confusion is to use the new provisions introduced to the Fisheries Act. Later this year, I will introduce new Aquaculture Activities Regulations that establish conditions for aquaculture operators to use products to treat their fish for disease and parasites. These regulations will reduce duplication and clarify the rules for using products that are already well managed by an existing provincial or federal regime, for example through the Pest Control Products Act.
Taken together, these measures would represent a robust improvement in our regulatory framework and would eliminate longstanding regulatory irritants.
In addition to regulatory reform, Canada is generating opportunities for farmed and wild fish and seafood sectors by opening new markets worldwide.
The Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement is an excellent example.
Under the agreement, almost 96 per cent of EU tariff lines for fish and seafood products will be duty-free. 100 per cent of these tariff lines will be duty-free in 7 years. Without tariffs, Canada will gain preferential access to a very lucrative EU market. This is not something that is enjoyed by our competitors. Canada’s aquaculture sector is strongly positioned to meet that demand.
Mr. Chair and Senators, our Government continues to work hard to generate opportunities for all Canadian fisheries and aquaculture sectors.
This government will continue to deliver results for fishermen across the country.
We are committed to working collaboratively with industry, provinces, Aboriginal groups and others to ensure the success and sustainability of Canada’s aquaculture sector.
Thank you for your time today, Mr. Chair and Senators. I look forward to reviewing your report on Canadian aquaculture.