Archived - Government's Response - 7th Report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, entitled Atlantic Fisheries Issues: May 2003
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The Government of Canada thanks the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans (SCOFO) for its report on Atlantic Fisheries Issues: May 2003. SCOFO's trip to the Gaspé, St. John's, Halifax and Moncton in May 2003 provided the Committee with the opportunity to speak to a number of people about a wide range of issues affecting the Atlantic fishery and the report's recommendations clearly reflect the testimony. The Government thoughtfully considered each recommendation and here provides a response. The Government would also like to take this opportunity to highlight the direction that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is taking, which we believe is consistent with the spirit of the Committee's recommendations.
DFO is committed to engaging in a dialogue to hear and discuss the views of all fishery participants to help it arrive at management decisions. Consultations are a key element in our agenda for moving forward to developing long-term solutions to address the complex issues in the Atlantic fishery. Consequently, the department continues to consult with fishery participants. In the response to Recommendation 2 of the SCOFO report, the department highlights the consultations it undertook in January 2004 on Fleet Separation and Owner-operator policies. The department will analyze this input and develop a plan to preserve the independence of the inshore fleet.
Although DFO has developed a foundation for the Atlantic fisheries to build on recent successes, particularly through the on-going Atlantic Fisheries Policy Review (AFPR), it remains critical to acknowledge that there are long-term problems with some fisheries that cannot be easily fixed. Our first priority is the conservation of the resource and to ensure that it is used in a sustainable manner. While DFO continues to be responsible and accountable for setting conservation standards and ensuring compliance, future governance changes will promote a shared sense of responsibility for sustainable use where stakeholders willingly participate in conservation. They must have a meaningful say in setting conservation standards and determining acceptable level of risk, and resource users must operate in a way that promotes long-term success for conservation, stock rebuilding and the economic viability of the industry. This sets the stage for the Atlantic fisheries to move away from "managing on the edge" and to focus on value, not volume.
The Government also seeks to bring further stability to the fishing industry over the long-term. As stated in the response to SCOFO's Recommendation 10, the department has instituted a number of multi-year fishing plans for fisheries in the Atlantic and will introduce additional multi-year plans, including for groundfish stocks. To maximize the effectiveness of multi-year plans, the development of a fair and transparent process for making decisions is necessary and we are working to further improve the process. It will also be beneficial to move away from yearly renewal arrangements as these tend to lead to lengthy debates on allocation among the fleet sectors which negates the benefit of multi-year plans.
DFO has been conducting a department-wide assessment of its programs in order to better align resources to priorities. Effective and efficient use of its resources will create improvements to better allow the department to meet the needs of Canadians. In areas such as science, a refocusing on its priorities will improve the process of gaining the type of information critical for informing fishery participants and other stakeholders as well as ensuring better informed and more transparent resource management decisions. An example of changes already made as a result of the Departmental Assessment and Alignment Project (DAAP), is the sentinel survey program, which is now being administered under the Fisheries Science Collaborative Science Program. This program has been restructured to strategically fund emerging issues in fisheries science.
DFO intends to work more closely with parliamentarians and in particular SCOFO and the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans as it moves forward in the development of policy governing the fisheries. As you are aware, the recent Speech from the Throne also indicated the Government will place increased emphasis on opportunities to add greater value to natural resources through the application of advanced technology and know-how; on opportunities to be a leader in environmental stewardship; and on opportunities to maximize the potential of our vast coastal and offshore areas through a new Oceans Action Plan. The Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries and Oceans, who is a member of the SCOFO, has been tasked with leading the development of the Action Plan.
Once again, the Government wishes to thank SCOFO for its report. The Minister and departmental officials look forward to answering questions the Committee may have related to this response or any other issue of interest to the Committee.
That before finalizing the Atlantic Fisheries Policy Framework, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans conduct a further round of direct, timely and meaningful consultations with stakeholders, including public forums with fishermen themselves. The Department should complete this round no later than May 31, 2004.
The AFPR has involved the most extensive and open public engagement process ever held by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). It has been a collaborative process comprising extensive external consultations and partnerships. Formal consultations, held in 19 coastal communities and well attended by fishers themselves, were supplemented with numerous meetings with industry groups, Aboriginal organizations as well as with Members of Parliament. Extensive consultations with the Atlantic provinces, Quebec and Nunavut also supported the AFPR process. Provinces have cited the AFPR process as one of the most positive examples of an initiative carried out in accordance with the Agreement on Interjurisdictional Cooperation.
AFPR consultations built support throughout the Atlantic region for the proposed direction, vision and guiding principles. While the process has revealed wide differences of opinion on several fronts, including those outlined in the SCOFO report, it has also broadened and deepened the department's understanding of these issues. Consultations with stakeholders will continue to be a central element in its successful implementation following the release of the Policy Framework.
During the 2001 public consultations, inshore fleets expressed their concerns to DFO, echoed in the SCOFO report, that the fleet separation policy is being undermined. DFO responded to these concerns by holding another round of consultations on the AFPR with Atlantic fishers and others in January 2004. These consultations focused on a discussion document developed in December 2003 (available at www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/afpr-rppa) and will inform our approach to preserving the independence of the inshore fleet. With the Policy Framework now approved, the Department will consult broadly with the provinces/Nunavut, Aboriginal groups, fishers and other stakeholders as we implement the objectives and strategies in the Policy Framework.
Attached in Appendix A is a summary of the AFPR consultations.
That the loopholes in the owner-operator and fleet separation policies described previously be closed by making the appropriate regulations under the Fisheries Act, so as to prevent undue corporate concentration of the resource.
DFO is committed to preserving the independence of a strong, viable inshore fishing industry, and to developing specific measures to strengthen the vitality of inshore fleets. A discussion document released in December 2003 formed the basis of public consultations on these matters.
The discussion document provided an opportunity to examine all options available for strengthening the Owner-operator and Fleet Separation policies, including the possibility of regulations to deal with the issue of so-called "trust agreements". It is important to state that the Owner-operator and Fleet Separation policies are integral elements of the Commercial Fisheries Licensing Policy for Eastern Canada, 1996, and remain in effect. The discussion document also sought to identify a transparent and legitimate process whereby fleets can submit proposals on the application of Owner-operator and Fleet Separation policies.
Public consultations were held in each Atlantic Province, Quebec and Nunavut in January 2004 to discuss specific measures to enhance the independence of the inshore fleets in Canada's Atlantic fisheries, which are the backbone of the fishing industry. A broad cross-section of those with an interest in the Atlantic fisheries came to the sessions and expressed their views, both through formal presentations and during open sessions. Others provided written submissions through the web site and via regular mail. The discussion document is available at DFO regional and area offices and on the web site at www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/afpr-rppa.
Based on these consultations, DFO intends to finalize and adopt an approach to preserving the independence of the inshore fleet.
- DFO will finalize and release "Guidelines for the Application of the Owner-Operator and Fleet Separation Policies".
- DFO will post "What We Heard on Preserving the Independence of the Inshore Fleet" on the web site at www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/afpr-rppa.
- If a proposed regulation is found to be the most effective means to preserve the independence of the inshore fleet, DFO will circulate a draft regulation that reflects the results of these consultations, and consult on the proposed change. Once consultations are complete, and DFO has analyzed the results, the Minister will be in a position to make policy changes or propose regulatory change. The length of time it takes to implement either may vary depending on a number of factors such as how complex the proposed change would be. However, if a regulatory change is found to be the most effective option, DFO must undergo a process required by the Government of Canada Regulatory Policy that includes drafting a regulation, undertaking public consultation on the draft and performing an impact analysis. Once these steps have been completed, the federal regulatory process generally takes between eight to 16 months. A policy change without new regulation could be implemented more quickly as the procedural requirements are less stringent.
That the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans revisit his decision to impose a moratorium on the 2J3KL and 3Pn4RS cod stocks and that the Minister give serious consideration to the conservation measures recommended by the Newfoundland and Labrador All-Party Committee and the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council.
The decision to close the northern cod (2J3KL) and northern Gulf of St. Lawrence (3Pn4RS) cod fisheries was not taken lightly or in isolation. Input from many sources was considered in taking the decision and in putting together the package of additional management measures for the benefit of both cod stocks.
It should be noted that last year, the Newfoundland and Labrador All-Party Committee, the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council (FRCC), the Groupe de travail sur le poisson de fond du Québec, and the Eminent Panel on Seals all made recommendations that were taken into consideration and many of the recommendations from these groups have been or are in the process of being implemented. With advice from these four groups, the Department has been able to implement a comprehensive plan to assist in the rebuilding of cod stocks.
Some of the key measures that have been put in place and that [are in line with recommendations from the Newfoundland All-Party Committee and the FRCC] include:
- the closure of recreational cod fisheries in areas where the commercial fishery is closed;
- an extensive study of the relationship between seals and cod and experiments with seal exclusion zones;
- the closure of Hawke Channel and the Bonavista corridor to trawling for other species in order to protect cod; and,
- a reduction in the capelin fishery.
An added complication to the process is that the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada has since designated the Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic cod stock as endangered, and the Laurentian North cod stock as threatened. DFO will be consulting with all interested parties to determine whether these species should be legally listed under the Species at Risk Act.
For this coming season, the Minister is receiving advice from scientists, other advisory groups, including the FRCC and interested parties, which he will consider in making his decision regarding the fishery. Joint federal and provincial teams have been put in place to develop rebuilding strategies for these cod stocks, in consultation with key stakeholders. Essential elements of the plans will include the establishment of stock rebuilding objectives, the requirement for an ecosystem approach and the identification of science objectives and priorities.
These stocks must be given every opportunity to rebuild and DFO remains committed to rebuilding these stocks for the benefit of all.
That the Government of Canada actively promote the growth of a sustainable seal harvest by working with the sealing industry to expand markets in order to enhance economic opportunities in Atlantic Canada and Quebec.
The Government of Canada recognizes that sealing is a legitimate use of a renewable resource, as Canadian seal populations are stable and not endangered. It is committed to promoting the interests of Canadian stakeholders with respect to the sale of seal products.
However, a number of obstacles exist in potential markets. For instance, although the United States is seen to offer a large potential market for Canadian seal products, U.S. legislation (The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) of 1972) prevents the importation of Canadian seal products into the U.S. Canadian stakeholders and Government officials agree that informing U.S. interests about sealing in Canada, rather than a legal challenge of U.S. legislation, is the strategy most likely to succeed in opening this market to Canadian seal products.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), DFO and the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs are working with industry stakeholders to develop an approach to expand the market for seal products to the U.S. that will include communications, and research and development components. The communications program will convey messages that: 1) seal populations, due to responsible resource management, are robust and generally increasing in Atlantic Canada; 2) harvesting methods are humane; and 3) sealing is important to coastal communities in Canada.
The research and development component of this approach will focus on the development of seal oil, collagen and protein products that will generate demand in the U.S. and worldwide. To this end, DFAIT is organizing a conference in the spring of 2004 with the objectives of outlining the findings of current research, determining scientific needs and generating interest in the scientific community and multinational companies.
The Government will continue to pursue opportunities for improved access for exports of seal products.
That the Department of Fisheries and Oceans conduct another round of groundfish licence buyouts
The federal government does not plan to offer any new licence retirement programs (LRP, commonly referred to as "buyouts") to reduce fishing capacity or restructure the inshore fishing industry on the Atlantic coast.
Between 1992 and 2001, the Government of Canada spent $3.9 billion in adjustment and development assistance to the fishing industry in Atlantic Canada, which included licence retirement programs. Following the 1992 groundfish moratoria, 3,686 Atlantic groundfish licences were purchased under three separate programs: The Northern Cod Adjustment and Restructuring Program (NCARP), The Atlantic Groundfish Strategy (TAGS), and the Canadian Fisheries and Adjustment Program (CFAR).
CFAR, implemented in 1998, included a Groundfish Licence Retirement component and was billed as the last opportunity to exit the fishing industry with some form of government assistance. All inshore licence holders were informed of the termination of the program. At the time, it was recognized and made clear that the groundfish stocks were not going to rebuild for many years and that the fishery would not be able to support as many persons.
LRPs have proven to be ineffective. Although a significant number of licences were removed, departmental reviews and reports by the Auditor General of Canada have shown that past licence retirement programs did not result in the removal of a significant portion of harvesting capacity. Licence holders with relatively low capacity were removed, and the catching effort was simply transferred on to those remaining. Furthermore, LRPs are known to skew the perception of risk on the part of fishers. LRPs are difficult to contain to a single fishery due to the uncertainty stemming from the natural cycle of resources, and because they support expectations of government assistance on the part of fishers.
DFO will continue to work towards promoting an industry that is self-reliant, sustainable and economically viable without special government assistance.
That the Department of Fisheries and Oceans consider the feasibility of cancelling groundfish licences that are deemed to have been inactive for two or more fishing seasons.
The Government does not agree with this recommendation. Whether fishing activity is conducted or not, DFO intends to continue issuing commercial fishing licences. This is consistent with positions put forward by industry. In 1995, DFO conducted extensive consultations on the licensing policy for the commercial fisheries of the Atlantic coast. The question of whether a fisher should be required to participate in order to retain a licence was addressed during these consultations. The broad consensus from the industry was that fishers should not be obliged to participate, that is the Department should not adopt a "use-it or lose-it" policy. When stocks are low, a requirement for participation creates undue pressure on the resources as fishers will partake in the fishery rather than take the risk of the licence not being issued the following year because of inactivity. This has the potential to lead to conservation problems.
In the absence of a participation requirement, fishers who do not need the revenues from a specific fishery will not participate in that fishery. The consequences are that these fishers will have lower expenses thus improving their economic viability, leaving those fishers that do participate with access to a larger share of the quotas and thus better income. This policy must be considered in conjunction with the overall commercial licensing policy that promotes multi-licensed enterprises. Fishers are encouraged to hold different licences and to decide annually in which fisheries they will participate.
That the Department of Fisheries and Oceans properly fund scientific research and that results are made available both to fishermen and the public as soon as they are available.
Since 2003, DFO has been conducting a department-wide assessment of its programs in order to better align resources to priorities. The results of the exercise are beginning to bear fruit. For example, the optimization of the sentinel survey program, now being administered under the Fisheries Science Collaborative Program (FSCP), has been restructured to strategically fund emerging issues in fisheries science. New funding has also been made available over the 2003-04 and 2004-05 to support research on seal populations in Atlantic Canada. This funding is allowing the Department to update estimates of abundance for the three principal species of seals in the Northwest Atlantic and to evaluate their impact on other populations. Further realignment of resources is expected in 2004-05.
The Department seeks to ensure that fishers and the public receive scientific information as soon as possible. For several years, DFO has adopted a Regional Advisory Process (RAP) based on principles of rigor and impartiality, openness and transparency. This process was developed under the guidance set by the federal policies in the Science Advice for Government and Effectiveness (SAGE) Report and the Social Union Contract. Members of the fishing industry and other interest groups are invited to participate in RAP meetings to evaluate the status of all fish stocks, and to participate in the review of all the science information that is available on each stock. One of the key products of the RAP has been to make this scientific research available to the public as soon as possible through status reports, research documents, and proceedings. Status Reports, containing all the key information and conclusions based on DFO's scientific research on fisheries, are generally completed and released within one week of conclusion of the RAP meetings. All of these documents are readily available to the public through regional RAP offices or through the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat website. Applications of this peer review and advisory process have expanded to address a much broader scale of scientific results than just stock assessments. In June 2001, the Department's National Science Directors Committee confirmed that scientific advice on Habitat, Aquaculture, and Ecosystem Management issues was also to be provided by the RAP framework. This expansion of the RAP into all areas of scientific research conducted by the Department and by its partners will continue to communicate this information to the public as soon as possible.
That the Department of Fisheries and Oceans provide some financial support to the Fishermen & Scientists Research Society with a view to promoting mutual understanding between scientists and fishermen; and
That the Department of Fisheries and Oceans consider promoting similar societies in other regions of the country.
Since 1994, the Fishermen and Scientists Research Society (FSRS) has developed into a unique and effective body for conducting collaborative fisheries research with industry involvement and for maintaining good communications on science and research issues in the Maritimes Region.
While Federal departments, including Fisheries and Oceans, provided early funding to establish the Society, DFO's current and long-standing policy is not to provide ongoing direct organizational funding for industry groups. The department values its relationship with the FSRS and has supported it by involving the Society in collaborative work. In recent years, FSRS has managed and delivered the Groundfish Sentinel Program on the Eastern Scotian Shelf, which has provided the organization with its primary means of support. The FSRS has also had some success in diversifying its sources of support to include more industry financing, and contracted research programs on other species groups.
In recognizing the changing needs for science information about resources in the Scotian Shelf area, the FSRS and the Department are now looking critically at the research agenda of the Society. Given that it is contracted and collaborative research which provides support for the continuance of the Society, these discussions will reflect carefully on the continuing benefits to be gained from such an approach in seeking a new direction for the Society.
The FSRS is unique in Canada. For the Department to promote similar societies in other regions would require similar collective support and energy of fishers and local scientists. The Department would applaud the formation of any similarly effective group elsewhere, but in accordance with current policy, the approach to collaboration would have to be the same.
That, where possible, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans encourage the use of sentinel fisheries and that it ensure that they are adequately funded.
Sentinel activities have been in use since the 1980s, beginning with "index fisherman" programs. The formal Groundfish Sentinel Program on key distressed stock has been in place since 1994, and is now providing well established inputs to those assessments.
The Groundfish Sentinel Program was reviewed in 2001-02, for the purpose of ensuring the program remained effective and efficient. A number of changes were identified, and a streamlined design instituted for 2003. This streamlined Groundfish Sentinel Program continues to provide the essential monitoring results and in a substantially more efficient manner.
Sentinel activities fall under the broad banner of collaborative science, where both the department and the industry take a meaningful role in the accomplishment of the research objectives. Considerable collaborative research is now in place. For instance, industry surveys for species such as flounder, plaice, cod, and redfish continue in the Grand Banks area with direct industry input.
New collaborative research models are also being introduced that can facilitate sentinel-type activities or other research on questions of common high priority to the industry and the department. Funding saved by streamlining the Groundfish Sentinel Program has been re-directed to the new FSCP, which invites industry to play a joint role in establishing research priorities and in accomplishing the necessary research activities. This proactive approach can be used to permit fishermen to monitor the resources they consider most important to their interests and to engage in joint DFO-industry surveys.
The committee recommends that the Department establish multi-year fishing plans that would be clearly understood by all the participants and which would be subject to adjustment only in the event of changing scientific information about the status of the stock.
DFO endorses the general approach stated in this recommendation. Multi-year plans have been instituted for most key fisheries in Atlantic Canada including: northern shrimp; bluefin tuna, crab, lobster, mackerel, herring and seals. The Department is planning to introduce additional multi-year management plans in the future for groundfish stocks, including cod. One of the objectives of multi-year plans is to bring stability and allow industry to plan their harvesting and marketing operations in advance.
While multi-year management plans have been introduced in many fisheries, the processes involved will require improvement. Virtually all of the current multi-year plans allow for an annual review of the level of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC). Experience to date has shown that these annual reviews do little for stability in the fishery, but instead lead to lengthy debate on the level of catch between different fleet sectors. The Department is taking steps to ensure multi-year plans include decision rules for changes in the TAC, a policy with respect to access to the resource and implementation of performance measures through the Objective Based Fisheries Management (OBFM) process.
While the Committee has also expressed concerns related to stakeholders' understanding of management plans, there is widespread and ongoing public consultation and ample opportunity for harvesters and processors alike to participate in the management plan process. Fishers are not only involved in sentinel fisheries that provide scientific data and in the assessment of some stocks but, they can also participate with Departmental scientists in the assessment of stocks through the Regional Assessment Process. Fishers also participate in many species-related Advisory Committees.
That there be a reallocation of human and financial resources from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' national headquarters in Ottawa to the five regional offices and that those five regional offices be given the appropriate managerial authority.
DFO is in the midst of a broad review of its priorities and resource allocations. One of the key principles underpinning this review is that service to Canadians should be preserved to the greatest extent possible. Based on the review, resources will be allocated within the department in a manner that strikes the best possible balance between headquarters and field operations, and places an emphasis on high-priority activities, which have a direct impact on the well-being of citizens.
It should be noted that in comparison with most federal departments, DFO has a relatively small proportion of its resources devoted to headquarters' functions such as policy development, communications with national media, human resources strategies, reviews and audits, national-level budgeting, and reports to Parliament. In fact, fully 85 percent of the department's employees already work in regions outside the National Capital. In light of the government's desire to ensure transparent and rigorous management of programs and budgets, we are likely approaching a threshold below which the resources allocated to such activities cannot fall.
It is also worth mentioning that the authorities exercised by DFO's six Regional Directors General (RDGs) are already extensive. DFO's management structure for sectors other than the Coast Guard – which is organized on a national basis – assigns to Assistant Deputy Ministers (ADMs) the role of providing functional direction, but leaves full operational authority with RDGs. For example, Fisheries Officers and marine biologists report to RDGs, not ADMs. This arrangement has been deliberately designed to leave significant scope for the adaptation of national programs to regional realities.
Thus, while some adjustments to the distribution of resources or authorities within DFO are certainly possible, major changes in the proportions allocated to headquarters and regional operation are not currently anticipated.
That the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans examine:
Whether the creation of permanent shares to the non-traditional crabbers is consistent with the conservation and viability of the resource;
Whether the current distribution of the 15% permanent share allocation among the non-traditional crabbers is equitable; and
Whether the giving organizations a share of the catch to distribute promotes stability of the industry; and
The Committee urges the Minister in the strongest possible terms to consider these issues early and carefully so as to avoid a repetition of the violence that occurred in 2003.
On May 2nd, 2003, DFO announced the new multi-year snow crab management plan for Crab Fishing Area (CFA) 12, with a 2003 TAC of 17,148t. This represented an exploitation index of 38.5 percent, the average exploitation rate from 1991 to 2001. This TAC is consistent with long-term conservation of the resource.
Snow crab allocations in CFA 12 have been important to help inshore and groundfish-dependent fishers through periods of decline and to deal with overcapacity. Over the past eight years, the inshore fleets have held, on average, approximately 15 percent of the TAC.
The new multi-year snow crab management plan establishes a 15 percent share for these fishers. The transition from temporary shares to regular shares will allow fishers to plan for the long-term.
The involvement of the inshore fleet in the crab fishery will also be used to help those fishers rationalize the lobster and groundfish fisheries. The associations representing these fishers will be expected to submit rationalization plans for approval prior to the 2004 season and their allocations will be dependent on the production of satisfactory plans. This rationalization is essential to the creation of a more stable fishing industry in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. For the above reasons, DFO has no intention to reconsider the sharing arrangement at this time in the southern Gulf of St-Lawrence snow crab fishery.
That the Department of Fisheries and Oceans conduct a scientific study to determine whether the Confederation Bridge is affecting the surrounding marine environment and, if so, what actions can be taken to mitigate the impacts.
Currently, the Government of Canada has a dual role with respect to the Confederation Bridge. Transport Canada (TC) is the Government department responsible for overseeing the operation of the Bridge while Fisheries and Oceans Canada is responsible for the conservation and protection of fish (including shellfish) and fish habitat in the waters traversed by the Bridge.
Prior to the design and construction of the Confederation Bridge, extensive environmental baseline data was collected under the direction of Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC). In 1993, this, along with additional information and extensive public consultations, was used to conduct a design-specific environmental assessment in which all Federal government departments participated. The conclusion of this assessment was that, with the proposed design, the mitigation measures for the construction and operation would result in no significant adverse environmental effect. To verify this prediction, an arms-length advisory committee was formed to provide input on the scope and to review the results of the Marine Environmental Effects Monitoring program. This program and associated review operated from 1993 to 1998 and covered the pre-construction, construction and post-construction phases.
The conclusions outlined in more than 20 scientific studies commissioned for the construction and operational phases of the Confederation Bridge determined no significant adverse environmental effects. Furthermore, there is a compelling body of scientific evidence from Fisheries and Oceans associated with the regional changes in stock abundance of the species in question to conclude that the vast majority of the effects observed in the area of the bridge are a part of a much broader phenomenon that has little or no bearing on the physical presence of the Confederation Bridge.
Based on the results of the Marine Environmental Effects Monitoring Program and data from continued monitoring of oceanographic conditions and stock abundance information provided by Fisheries and Oceans, the Government of Canada does not intend to conduct further scientific studies that are specific to determining whether the Confederation Bridge is affecting the surrounding marine environment. However, DFO, in the normal course of its mandate, continually monitors the status of fish stocks and this includes the views and concerns of local fishers.
That the Department of Fisheries and Oceans cooperate with the Department of National Defence in locating weapons dumpsites and that it encourage National Defence to provide information on dumpsites in order for the Canadian Hydrographic Service to update its nautical charts
The Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) has always charted ocean munitions dumpsites on its nautical charts when and as these are officially identified and validated by the Department of National Defence (DND). When charted these dumpsites are clearly marked with the warning "Explosives Dumping Ground" in a magenta colour that indicates a warning to mariners. Mariners are required under the Canada Shipping Act to use the largest scale chart available for navigation in a specific area and subsequently CHS has elected not to show any type of dumpsites on the smallest scale chart (e.g. 1:400,000) that would be used only to plan a voyage. These small-scale charts typically have minimal navigation and hazard features such as navigation aids and wrecks.
DND is reviewing information related to military dumpsites, as well as to shipwrecks potentially containing weapons, which may provide information on the nature and locations of these sites. This information will be validated by DND. From the outset of these reviews, DND has intended to share the validated information with CHS to ensure that these sites are charted and, if not, to ensure that mariners are made aware of these sites through the appropriate marine notices.
That the federal government establish, in cooperation with the Atlantic Salmon Federation, a wild Atlantic salmon endowment fund to be used to assist volunteer organizations to implement Atlantic salmon conservation and habitat stewardship programs.
That the federal government use the Pacific Salmon Endowment Fund as its model to establish the equivalent fund for wild Atlantic salmon; and
That the Department of Fisheries and Oceans increase permanent funding for research directed toward conservation of fish and fish habitat, particularly with respect to wild Atlantic salmon.
In February 2001, the Pacific Salmon Endowment Fund (PSEF) was created with a contribution of $30 million from the Government. The Fund, which has a charitable status and is held in trust, now draws on contributions from other public and private sources. The Fund's annual interest (currently about $1.5 million) is used to finance salmon initiatives. PSEF is managed by a stakeholder organization that is responsible for the development of recovery plans, selecting projects, allocating funds, monitoring and evaluating projects, and entering into arrangements with community-based organizations and individuals. Eligible activities include: protecting and restoring habitat; restoring fish access to critical habitat; restoring adequate water flows; improving fish survival; providing information about fisheries management; and, education.
The idea of establishing a similar Atlantic Salmon Endowment fund has been raised in the past by the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF). They would see such a fund being based on the Pacific Salmon Endowment Fund model. The Minister is aware of the ASF's endorsement of a fund based on the Pacific Salmon Endowment Fund model; however, to establish such a fund would require funding from outside DFO's current fiscal framework.
The ASF has also suggested the need for increased spending for research related to the conservation of Atlantic salmon and its habitat. As stated in some of the responses above, DFO has been undergoing a department-wide assessment to better align its priorities with its resources. Any additional spending on research concerning the conservation of Atlantic salmon and its habitat must be done as part of that priority-setting project.
SCOFO also raised a concern in its report regarding the quarry and marine terminal at Whites Cove, but this issue was not a specific recommendation. DFO is taking this opportunity to update the Committee on this issue:
DFO is well aware of and acknowledges the issues raised by the witnesses. The Minister referred the project to the Minister of the Environment for referral to a Review Panel under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, to ensure that all potential impacts of the project are properly assessed. The assessment is being conducted jointly with the Province of Nova Scotia.
DFO would also like to highlight the department's work on seismic exploration. SCOFO expressed its view about seismic testing and the need for scientific information to assess the impact of oil and gas exploration on fisheries resources and the marine environment. DFO is conducting a review of available knowledge on the effects of seismic activity on the marine environment as well as review of global best practices for mitigating the effects of seismic activity on marine species. This review will form the basis of the establishment of seismic standards and guidelines.
Summary of AFPR Consultations
Part I - Initial Engagement (1999 - 2000)
- Open public meetings in each of the Atlantic provinces, Quebec and Nunavut, to seek views, discuss key issues, build support for the need for a policy review, and seek input on the process for the review. This phase also included bilateral sessions with individual Atlantic provinces, Quebec, Nunavut, Aboriginal groups and key stakeholders.
- Creation of interactive web site which has been available since 1999
- Creation of an External Advisory Board (EAB) to act as an advisory body and a sounding board to the AFPR initiative. Board membership includes leaders of the fishing industry and Aboriginal organisations as well as of other key associations (aquaculturists, recreational fishers and environmental groups). Provinces are ex-officio members of the EAB. Meeting Summaries are available at: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/afpr-rppa.
Part II – Public Consultations Guided by a Formal Discussion Document (2001)
- Open, public consultations were held in 19 communities throughout Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Nunavut to educate and inform on fisheries issues, to build a consensus on problems to be addressed in the Atlantic fisheries and to seek views on possible solutions. Also included were formal and informal written and verbal submissions through a toll-free number, the web site, e-mail and regular mail. This led to an analysis of more than 150 written submissions. Meetings were also held with Editorial Boards throughout Atlantic Canada and Quebec.
- Public consultations were supported by a comprehensive discussion document describing the proposed direction for fisheries management: "The Management of Fisheries on Canada's Atlantic Coast, A Discussion Document on Policy Direction and Principles". This document, available at www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/afpr-rppa/context_e.htm, was distributed to over 15,000 stakeholders and an accompanying brochure was distributed to 65,000 registered Atlantic fishers.
- A report summarizing the public consultations was released publicly: "What we Heard, Summaries of Public Consultations Conducted by the Atlantic Fisheries Policy Review, March-April 2001". Document available at www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/afpr-rppa/context_e.htm.
- To accelerate part of the implementation phase of the AFPR, the Minister created the Independent Panel on Access Criteria (IPAC) to provide recommendations on access criteria. IPAC held consultations with provinces and Nunavut, Aboriginal groups and key industry stakeholders throughout Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Nunavut during August-October 2001. The IPAC Report, the Minister's response to that Report and a New Access Framework were released in 2002. Documents are available at www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/afpr-rppa
Part III - Finalizing the Policy Framework (2002 - 2003)
Meetings with the EAB, information sessions with stakeholder groups, and discussions with provinces and Nunavut were held to discuss and facilitate debate on unresolved issues in the draft version of "The Management of Fisheries on Canada's Atlantic Coast, A Policy Framework Document". Time spent on these issues has also helped to validate what was captured from public consultations and set the stage for the implementation of the Policy Framework.
Part IV – Consultations on Preserving the Independence of Inshore Fleets in Canada's Atlantic Fisheries (2004)
- As part of the implementation phase of the Policy Framework, a discussion document entitled "Preserving the Independence of Inshore Fleets in Canada's Atlantic Fisheries" was released (December 2003), which was followed by public sessions held in Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Nunavut (January 2004). The purpose of these consultations was to seek advice on options to preserve the independence of the inshore fleet, and to deal with so-called "trust agreements". Based on these discussions, DFO will release "What We Heard on Preserving the Independence f the Inshore Fleet", and will develop "Guidelines for the Application of the Owner-operator and Fleet Separation Policies"; both of which will be available on the web site.
Throughout the consultative process, AFPR presentations and updates were provided to Atlantic provinces, Quebec and Nunavut during regular meetings of the Atlantic Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers (1999-2002) and the Federal Provincial Atlantic Fisheries Committee (1999-2003).
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