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Mandate letter and other issues related to DFO/CCG
DFO Parliamentary Affairs, February 2022

Table of contents

Opening remarks

Good morning, Mr. Chair. It’s a pleasure to join you today in Ottawa, in the traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe peoples.

Having served on this committee in a previous Parliament, I would like to thank you for the invitation to speak with you today as the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.

I’m joined by senior officials from DFO and the Canadian Coast Guard, including:

After my remarks, we will be happy to take your questions.

As you know, Canadians are feeling the impacts of climate-related extremes first-hand, from devastating wildfires and flooding to heatwaves and droughts.

Our oceans play a critical role in climate change, and they are a source of sustainable rural economic opportunity, provided we pursue a transformational agenda.

This means prioritizing long-term success over short-term expediency.

In the years to come, and in alignment with my mandate letter, my focus and that of my department is on four key priorities.

Our Government is making generational investments to protect and restore Pacific salmon and their ecosystems, by working in partnership with Indigenous nations and other governments.

And, at DFO, we are creating a roadmap to transition away from open net-pen salmon farming in coastal BC waters, while introducing Canada’s first-ever Aquaculture Act.

On the East Coast, I fully support fishing opportunities for communities, aligned with the precautionary principle that serves to protect and regenerate marine environments and the lifeforms they sustain.

And our continued investment in Small Craft Harbours will support the commercial fishing industry.

Since the modernization of the Fisheries Act in 2019, millions have been invested to implement provisions of the renewed Act; this includes new funding for data collection and science for priority fish stocks and fish habitat Canada - wide.

Underpinning this necessary work are the learning, respect and partnerships DFO is developing as our Government delivers on our commitment to reconciliation through nation-to-nation relationships with Indigenous peoples.

This is why my department for example, created a standalone Arctic division to fundamentally reset the way the department coordinates and conducts business and to better serve Indigenous peoples and Northerners.

Mr. Chair, the blue future I envision is one where our prosperity is the net result of our efforts to achieve a healthier environment and a stable climate.

This means seizing emerging ecosystem-friendly economic opportunities that protect the long-term prosperity of coastal communities—new industries that make them more resilient and less dependent on vulnerable resources.

Canada’s Blue Economy Strategy for Canada must prioritize ocean health to drive ocean wealth.

In pursuit of this ambitious agenda we will:

This year we’re celebrating the Canadian Coast Guard’s sixtieth anniversary, as our government continues to renew the fleet.

The significant long-term investments in new ships for both the Canadian Coast Guard and the Navy will create good paying jobs for Canadians.

Across government we have the partnerships, science, political will, and financial resources to reimagine our future and solidify Canada’s reputation as a supplier of top quality seafood and a leading ocean nation determined to rebuild, regenerate, and restore that which has been lost. 

Thank you, and I’m happy to take your questions now.

Top issues

Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples

All Canadians have a stake in advancing reconciliation across Canada. My department is dedicated to advancing reconciliation and we will stay this course.

We know that fisheries, oceans, aquatic habitat, and marine waterways are economically, socially, and culturally vital for Indigenous peoples, which is why Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard play a key role in the transformation of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples.

As I move forward my mandate commitments, be it through the implementation of the modernized Fisheries Act, our Pacific Salmon Strategy, Canada’s first Aquaculture Act, or Canada’s Blue Economy Strategy, I am committed to doing so in a way that creates stronger partnerships with Indigenous peoples.

I am fully committed to implementing the Treaty right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood as it is critical to the work of reconciliation and is a key priority of mine, my department and the Government of Canada.

We will continue to move forward partnerships with Indigenous peoples not only to advance these shared priorities, but to advance reconciliation through: strengthening Indigenous-Crown relationships; recognizing and respecting Indigenous rights and self-determination; improving service delivery; and reducing unacceptable socio-economic gaps.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

We all need to work together to implement and breathe life into the United Nations Declaration in Canada.
Fisheries, oceans, aquatic habitat, and marine waterways are economically, socially, and culturally vital for Indigenous peoples.

First Nation, Inuit, and Métis peoples have unique rights that are recognized and protected by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. I am committed to supporting the exercise of those rights in fisheries, oceans, aquatic habitat, and marine waterways.

My department continues to work with Indigenous peoples to advance relationships, agreements and arrangements that are based on the recognition of rights and that foster collaborative approaches to governance, decision-making, and operations.

Implementing the Declaration means building off our current processes, partnerships, and collaborative arrangements with Indigenous peoples to look for new ways in which we can work together on key fisheries and aquatic resource issues in a manner that gives a voice to the Declaration.

Through programs that support capacity building, treaty tools, and reconciliation agreements, DFO continues to build strong relationships and strives to advance reconciliation, including upholding the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.


Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Blue Economy Strategy, including Oceans Act changes

Canada has a unique opportunity to restore and safeguard the health of our oceans, build opportunities for our coastal communities and sectors, and contribute to the fight against climate change.

With the ocean economy rapidly expanding globally, Canada must adopt a clear strategic direction to seize these opportunities for environmental and social benefits and inclusive growth.

That is why the Government will bring forward an integrated, whole-of-government Blue Economy Strategy for Canada.

A healthy ocean is critical to sustainably grow our ocean economy. Canada is well-positioned to demonstrate to the world that this can be done responsibly, with the longest coastline in the world, direct access to three oceans, cutting-edge ocean science, and a strong track record on oceans protection and conservation.

Importantly, this work will build greater resilience in coastal regions and communities that rely on and contribute to our blue economy.

Release of the Engagement Report

Canadians engaged actively in the Government’s extensive consultations to offer their ideas and advice on what should be included in the Strategy.

It is expected that the “What We Heard Report” will be released in the next few weeks.

Release of the Strategy

I expect that the Blue Economy Strategy will be released in the first half of the year.

Integrating climate change in the Oceans Act (If pressed):

Our government recognizes the important role that our oceans play in addressing the global biodiversity crisis and in mitigating the impacts of climate change.

We know that protecting ocean areas can mitigate or slow the loss and degradation of biodiversity and, at the same time, help maintain important carbon sinks or stimulate new carbon sequestration through the restoration of degraded coastal habitats.

This is why we have committed to amend the Oceans Act to meaningfully address climate change considerations.

Modernizing the Oceans Act will provide an opportunity to showcase global leadership at the unique cross-roads of marine conservation and climate change policy.


Oceans Act amendments

Pacific Salmon Strategy

The protection of wild Pacific salmon populations is a priority for our government, especially given complex challenges facing the species, including climate change and human induced impacts such as pollutants and changes in land and water use.

Supported by the $647.1 million investment in Pacific salmon, we are focused on delivering the comprehensive, long-term approach that is required.

Engagement and Collaboration

Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative early implementation is now underway, and involves engagement on many key initiatives with First Nations, followed by stakeholders and our partners. The Initiative provides a new framework to guide DFO’s Pacific salmon work now, and in the years ahead

DFO is interested in collaborating with BC and Yukon First Nations in a strategic and targeted approach to address the challenges facing Pacific salmon, while focusing on priority areas of interest.

Further engagement will support the Initiative’s implementation and identify where and how we can best work collaboratively with others across BC and Yukon to respond to Pacific salmon declines.

B.C. Floods

Our thoughts are with those who have been impacted.

The Department’s immediate focus is to continue to work with Emergency Management B.C., and other federal departments, to respond to the immediate emergency situation.

Assessment of impacts to DFO sites will occur as access restrictions are lifted. Once the impacts have been fully assessed, short and long term planning will be undertaken to address both damage to key salmon program infrastructure, and to determine key salmon restoration needs for damaged salmon watershed systems.

Big Bar Landslide

Sustained efforts have been undertaken to reduce the impact of the landslide on future salmon stocks.

While a permanent fishway was proposed as the best solution to restore fish passage, and a contract had been awarded in 2020 for design and construction, the contractor was unable to complete the project due to safety issues at the site.

Work is currently underway to complete the first phase of an analysis to determine a long-term solution for restoring a fish passage at Big Bar.

In the short term, planning for “trap and transport” operations is progressing to help fish move past the slide site during the 2022 salmon migration.

The emergency enhancement of at-risk upper Fraser salmon stocks and a comprehensive monitoring program remains as an integral part of the remediation efforts.

Chinook Salmon

The challenges facing at risk Fraser River Chinook salmon stocks are multi­faceted. The road to recovery requires a long-term view and the collaboration of all interested parties.

Chinook salmon management measures enacted in recent years have been difficult for harvesters, but will be necessary for many years to support conservation and rebuilding of these stocks.

The measures for Fraser River Chinook were developed following consultation with Indigenous communities, recreational and commercial fishing organizations, and environmental organizations.

Recreational Fisheries

Fisheries and Oceans Canada recognizes that recreational fisheries represent a significant economic value to British Columbia, especially the Chinook salmon fishery.

As part of the Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative, the Department plans to modernize and stabilize salmon fisheries.

Further consultation with the recreational sector is planned regarding the sector’s views and interests in the implementation of the Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative

Impacts of Covid 19

We understand the economic hardship that the fishing and ecotourism industries have experienced in regards to the conservation measures placed on recreational fishing and the potential impacts due to Covid-19.

Those economically impacted by Covid-19 should explore the numerous support programs that have been announced for small to medium businesses.

Mark Selective Fisheries

Some hatchery fish are marked before they are released.

While under the PSSI, MSF will be explored, we need to carefully consider the possibility of increased impacts on the wild stocks we are trying to protect, the additional costs to mark fish, and the importance of maintaining the integrity of scientific stock assessments.

Compensation for Recreational Stakeholders

We acknowledge that conservation measures have had negative economic impacts on harvesters, including the recreational sector.

We have worked with our partners and stakeholders to consider actions that help minimize these impacts while also achieving our conservation objectives.

In 2022, as always, our measures will take into account the feedback we receive from our partners and stakeholders.

Petition to the Government of Canada to Ban Gill Nets

Our government is committed to the implementation of sustainable fisheries management practices that protect our aquatic ecosystems and biodiversity, including the conservation of salmon populations.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada takes into consideration any impacts on conservation objectives when prescribing the type of gear that can be used by harvesters participating in a fishery.

Fisheries management decisions are based on the best available science, and are taken in consultation with all stakeholders and Indigenous peoples.

Pinniped predation on salmon

Fisheries and Oceans Canada takes an ecosystem-based approach to oceans management.

Our priority is to ensure that the best science is reflected, in consideration of the role seals and other marine species play in sustaining a healthy and productive aquatic ecosystem.

While seals and sea lions do eat salmon, salmon represent a small proportion on average of their diet.


Recent Salmon related investments

Atlantic salmon conservation plan

Our government is committed to making new investments and working with Indigenous people, provinces and stakeholders to restore and rebuild wild Atlantic salmon populations and their habitats.

To this end, we will work with all interested parties to develop a new conservation strategy which will advance objectives outlined in the Wild Atlantic Salmon Conservation Policy, and support its overall goal. 

The progress report on the Wild Atlantic Salmon Conservation Implementation Plan for 2019 to 2021 will be publicly released early this year. It too will inform the development of the new Wild Atlantic Salmon Conservation Strategy.

If Pressed on need to take action

I know that Atlantic salmon populations have declined significantly across their Canadian range, and am keenly aware of their social, cultural, and economic significance to Indigenous people and communities across Eastern Canada.

We have committed to investing in this species and to developing the conservation strategy, considering input received through ongoing engagement with Indigenous people and stakeholders, as well as recommendations made through the 2017 Report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans ‘Wild Atlantic Salmon in Eastern Canada’, and the 2015 Ministerial Advisory Committee on Atlantic salmon ‘Special report on Wild Atlantic Salmon in Eastern Canada’.

If Pressed on Listing under the Species at Risk Act

My department is developing advice on whether or not to list several Atlantic salmon populations under the Species at Risk Act. We checked in with Indigenous groups, provinces and key stakeholders in November 2020 and provided an update on the decision-making process. Feedback received during this check-in process is under consideration and will inform the final listing decisions.

If pressed on timing of decision whether to list Atlantic salmon

There are many considerations that go into the decision on what recommendation should be made to the Governor in Council. We are conducting the analysis as quickly as we can.


Implementation of the modernized Fisheries Act

The Government of Canada believes in the importance of protecting and conserving Canada’s fish and fish habitat for future generations.

To that end, we continue to deliver on our promise to implement a modernized Fisheries Act which supports sustainable, stable, and prosperous fisheries.

That is why our Government committed $284 million over five years to support modernization efforts, including protection for all fish and fish habitat, evidence-based decision making, improved enforcement and transparency, and collaboration with Indigenous groups, partners and stakeholders.

Indigenous funding program

We have also committed $50 million over five years for the Indigenous Habitat Participation Program, which supports the participation of Indigenous peoples in project reviews, monitoring, and policy, furthering our Government’s commitment to reconciliation.


Marine conservation

Our government recognizes the important role that our ocean plays in addressing the global biodiversity crisis and mitigating the impacts of climate change.

It is why we exceeded our 10 per cent marine conservation target in 2019, proudly protecting almost 14 per cent of Canada’s ocean.

This past summer we announced a historic investment in marine conservation, providing almost a billion dollars in funding over five years to reach our new ambitious target of conserving 25 per cent of Canada’s ocean by 2025.

We will continue to work with provinces and territories, Indigenous communities, and Canadians to increase marine protection to 25 per cent by 2025 and 30 per cent by 2030. 

Marine Protection Standards

In 2019, our government announced two new protection standards, following recommendations from the National Advisory Panel on Marine Protected Area Standards.

Under the protection standard for future federal marine protected areas, oil and gas exploration and exploitation, mining, dumping and bottom trawling will be prohibited.

Under the protection standard for other effective area-based conservation measures, including marine refuges, all activities will be assessed on a case-by-case basis to ensure that risks they may pose are effectively avoided or mitigated.

These new protection standards safeguard our ocean while providing greater certainty and clarity on how these conservation tools are designed.

Eastern Shore Islands area of interest

Our government recognizes the importance of protecting Canada’s marine and coastal areas, such as the Eastern Shore Islands area, and working together with communities while supporting a healthy oceans economy.

Next steps for this area include determining a path forward for the future conservation of this area of interest, such as through working with the local fishing industry to address issues of common interest.


Marine Conservation Targets

Marine Spatial Planning

Post-2020 targets and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

The Coastal Restoration Fund

Aquatic ecosystems are critical components of the global environment, as essential contributors to biodiversity and ecological productivity, and their protection is core to my department’s mandate.

Through the Coastal Restoration Fund, a $75 million contribution program under Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan, my department contributes to the: development and implementation of coastal restoration plans; identification of restoration priorities; implementation of projects; and addressing threats to marine species located on all three of Canada’s coasts. 

Given the success of the Fund, in December 2021, I was mandated to continue to protect and restore our oceans and coasts by renewing and expanding this program.

If pressed:

The Fund is currently slated to sunset March 31, 2022; however, the Department is considering options for the renewal and expansion of this program in order to support restoration efforts across Canada.


Ghost gear program

Canada continues to demonstrate leadership to address ghost fishing gear in our oceans, both within Canada and internationally.

Ghost gear is estimated to make up to 70 per cent of all macro-plastics in the world’s ocean by weight and has a direct impact on harvestable fish stocks and marine ecosystems.

We continue to invest in the Ghost Gear Fund—including a $10 million increase through Budget 2021—which helps fish harvesters acquire new gear technologies to reduce gear loss and supports the delivery of ghost gear retrieval and responsible disposal projects.

An important part of the program is a review of current regulations to examine the feasibility of in-season retrieval. This has been a challenge for harvesters, who have made it clear that season retrieval by harvesters must be part of the solution. It would add an efficient, cost-effective and industry led approach to ghost gear retrieval.  

Lost gear reporting is now mandatory in all commercial fisheries in Canada. To support this requirement, the Department has launched a new Fishing Gear Reporting System that makes the process of reporting lost gear easier. This tool is expected to increase compliance for reporting and will provide Canada with valuable data on areas of potential high gear loss and gear types most frequently lost. It will be used to inform future gear retrieval efforts and fisheries management decisions.

Sustainable Fisheries Solutions and Retrieval Support Contribution Program (Ghost Gear Fund)

Through Budget 2021, the Ghost Gear Fund received an additional $10 million towards the expansion of several existing projects and supported new efforts to address abandoned, lost, or discarded fishing gear. In total, 23 new projects were supported for fiscal the year 2021-2022.

Since the initiation of the Ghost Gear Fund in July 2020, $16.7 million has been distributed to support 49 ghost gear projects, and increased capacity at more than 27 harbour authorities.

All successful projects fall into at least one of four eligible categories:

  1. third-party gear retrieval;
  2. responsible disposal;
  3. acquisition and piloting of available gear technology;  and,
  4. international leadership.

Ghost Gear Fund Results

To date, over 1257 tonnes of lost or discarded fishing gear has been retrieved from Canadian waters since the initiation of the Ghost Gear Fund in July 2020, including over 125 km of rope.

Some Ghost Gear Fund highlights include establishing an end-of-life fishing gear recycling depot in Ucluelet, British Columbia; testing smart buoy technology in multiple locations in Nova Scotia; and, hosting several workshops using end-of-life fishing gear in Nigeria, creating economic opportunities for coastal communities.

New innovations in gear technology contribute to our blue economy, and are essential to the prevention and mitigation of ghost gear. The program supports fish harvesters looking to acquire market ready gear technologies to reduce gear loss.


Impacts of ghost gear

Canadian context

Oceans Protection Plan

At $1.5-billion over five years, the Oceans Protection Plan (OPP) represents the largest investment in marine safety ever made by the Government of Canada, and is an important step toward the realization of Canada’s blue economy potential.

We partner with Indigenous and coastal communities to develop a world-leading marine safety system that meets the unique needs of Canada from coast-to-coast-to-coast.

Among the many initiatives, we are investing in increasing our capacity in search and rescue, improving our environmental response capability and restoring our coasts by addressing ecosystem threats and biodiversity loss.

OPP Renewal

Increased congestion and new activity in our waterways, including the expansion of marine traffic into new areas, larger ships, and an increase in the volume of dangerous goods being shipped (such as liquefied natural gas), are just a few of the issues affecting the marine environment and ocean health across the country.  

These factors, along with recent events such as the ZIM Kingston spill near Victoria, British Columbia underscore the need for continued investments in ocean protection to ensure Canada’s marine safety system can withstand disruption and adapt to evolving changes to the sector.

Although the current OPP sunsets on March 31st, 2022, there is no expiry on the Government’s commitment to protecting our coasts, to supporting Canada’s Blue Economy, and to advancing Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples through meaningful partnerships in marine safety. To that end, my department is working closely with Transport Canada and OPP partners to develop the next phase of the Plan.

We know to accomplish this work we’ll need the support of Indigenous peoples, stakeholders, coastal communities and others across the country.


(a): OPP General

(b): OPP Renewal





Indigenous traditional knowledge in decision making

DFO remains committed to working with Indigenous partners to better consider Indigenous traditional knowledge in planning and policy decisions.

Across the Department, we can point to examples of Indigenous traditional knowledge being considered. Be it as an accompaniment to scientific research, applied as part of a marine protected area management plan, or employed in habitat or certain fisheries decisions.

The modernized Fisheries Act includes new provisions requiring the consideration of Indigenous knowledge when making certain decisions related to protecting our environment, fish and fish habitat and waterways, when it is provided.

The Act also enables the consideration of Indigenous knowledge for decisions primarily related to fisheries management, aquaculture management and certain decisions related to marine refuges.

We will continue to work in partnership with Indigenous peoples to develop a common understanding of how to consider Indigenous traditional knowledge in planning, policy and regulatory decisions, while recognizing the need for regional, cultural and distinctions-based approaches to Indigenous knowledge.


Collaborative fisheries arrangements with Indigenous and non-Indigenous fish harvesters

Fisheries are culturally and economically important to both Indigenous peoples and many rural and coastal communities throughout Canada.

My department consistently engages with Indigenous communities and the commercial and recreational fisheries sectors to collaborate on fisheries management.

My department also brings together Indigenous partners and industry in important fisheries management-based processes, such as when we develop Integrated Fisheries Management Plans that outline management objectives of certain fisheries.

For the past 30 years, DFO has supported collaborative management capacity for Indigenous partners through programs like the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy.

In the context of nation-to-nation processes, the Department is also negotiating agreements with Indigenous groups that recognize their rights and articulate the collaborative role they play in fisheries management.

For example, we recently signed a Fisheries Resources Reconciliation Agreement with the Coastal First Nations; a good example of a collaborative governance and fisheries management agreement. The governance model between DFO and the Coastal First Nations includes a collaborative engagement process with a wide range of stakeholders in British Columbia and consultation with other First Nations.

Through effective collaboration, we can respond to fisheries pressures driven by climate change, while also delivering on key priorities for my department, like the Blue Economy and Pacific Salmon Strategies, Marine Conservation Targets, and Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

My department tracks progress toward meeting mandate commitments such as this one through its senior executive strategic priorities exercise, and reports publicly on how collaborative arrangements seek to enhance relationships and improve outcomes for Indigenous peoples in the Departmental Results Framework.

DFO and CCG Arctic Region Reconciliation mandate

The creation of DFO and CCG’s Arctic Regions in 2018 was a significant step toward advancing the Government of Canada’s efforts on Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Extensive and distinctions-based engagement with Inuit, First Nations, Métis and Northern governments and organizations occurred regarding programs and services, boundaries of the new regions and alignment of priorities. These actions demonstrate commitment to the implementation of the Departmental Reconciliation Strategy.

Arctic Region Reconciliation Activities

Governance frameworks are being developed to advance collaborative decision-making, engagement, and governance with Inuit, First Nations and Métis governments and organizations. A Terms of Reference has been co-developed with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami for governance within Inuit Nunangat, and discussion are on-going with regional Inuit Land Claims organizations and other Metis and First Nations governments organizations.

CCG and DFO Arctic Regions have increased recruitment and engagement of Inuit, First Nations, and Métis. This includes the hiring of six Inuit Community Engagement Coordinators, who liaise with communities and support the use of Inuit traditional knowledgein the Department; the creation of the Oceans Council of Arctic Indigenous Youth that provides a platform for youth to share priorities in the Arctic; and the development of a Northern Recruitment and Retention strategy that seeks to increase the representation of Indigenous peoples in the Arctic Regions and reduce systemic barriers in recruitment processes.

DFO and CCG have identified three National Reconciliation Co-Champions: Arctic Region Assistant Commissioner Neil O’Rourke; Arctic Regional Director General Gabriel Nirlungnayuq; and Jean-Guy Forgeron, Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Fisheries and Harbour Management. The Champions have established an Indigenous Team to assist in implementing their work plan. This Team was recruited by an Indigenous Assessment Board. The work of this Team includes the development of Departmental competencies in Indigenous Relations and development of an enhanced curriculum on Reconciliation, and creation of department-wide Indigenous Employee Networks and, eventually, a department-wide Cultural Safety and Humility strategy. 

Local capacity for emergency response preparedness is supported and developed by the Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Program, the Inshore Rescue Boat – North Station, and the hiring of Environmental Response (ER) officers in Iqaluit and Hay River. Funded by the Oceans Protection Plan, the Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Program provides Inuit, First Nations, and Métis communities with funding to purchase vessels and other equipment. The Inshore-Rescue Boat – North station in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut is operated by Indigenous post-secondary students trained by CCG and improves marine safety in Arctic Waters in collaboration with Indigenous communities. The hiring of ER officers for Iqaluit and Hay River supports local capacity development and creates economic opportunity.


Collaborative fisheries arrangements:

DFO and CCG Arctic Region Reconciliation mandate

Investments in coastal and ocean areas for carbon sequestration

The global climate crisis demands bold and innovative action to help reduce and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, and my department is committed to demonstrating leadership on this front.

Ocean carbon is a vital piece of this puzzle; one that represents a potential opportunity to help us better understand climate change and further grow Canada’s blue economy. 

The North Atlantic Ocean is particularly important as it is the most intense carbon sink on the planet, accounting for about 30 per cent of the global ocean CO2 uptake.

My department is exploring the opportunity for foundational research to characterize the potential of Canada’s coastal and ocean areas for absorbing and storing carbon.


CCG Fleet Renewal

Coast Guard continues to make progress on renewing its fleet through the National Shipbuilding Strategy. Since 2019, the Government has announced significant investments into fleet renewal, including up to 16 Multi-Purpose Vessels, two Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships, up to six Program Icebreakers, and two Polar Icebreakers.

Additionally, in 2019, Canada announced the expansion of the National Shipbuilding Strategy with the addition of a third large Canadian shipyard. The Request for Proposal process to qualify a third shipyard is being led by Public Services and Procurement Canada and is expected to conclude in 2022. 

At the same time, interim measures, which include the acquisition of three medium icebreakers, and most recently one light icebreaker, have also been put in place to ensure that we can continue to deliver essential services for Canadians, while the new ships are being built.

Current Progress

In October 2020, the third and final Offshore Fisheries Science Vessel was delivered, representing the first class of large vessels delivered through the National Shipbuilding Strategy. Work continues to progress at both Vancouver Shipyards and Irving Shipbuilding on the next generation of ships for Coast Guard’s large vessel fleet.

Coast Guard is also renewing its small vessel fleet with ten Search and Rescue Lifeboats and two Channel Survey and Sounding Vessels delivered in recent years.



BC open net pen transition and the federal Aquaculture Act

I am committed to transitioning away from net-pen salmon farming in British Columbia by 2025.

We will move forward using the best available science, evidence, and input to promptly develop a plan for aquaculture in British Columbia that is environmentally responsible, economically feasible, and takes into account social considerations.

Former Parliamentary Secretary Beech held engagements in early 2021 and his report was published in July 2021. This will form the foundation of a responsible transition plan, which my department is working on. Broader engagement concerning the transition plan will occur in the very near future.

Federal Aquaculture Act

Our Government is moving forward in developing Canada’s first-ever Aquaculture Act.

The proposed Act would provide more clarity and certainty for the sector, while respecting existing jurisdictions. It would also foster a nationally-consistent legislative framework, taking into account regional differences, and enable the sustainable management of aquaculture.

We are committed to ongoing partnership and dialogue with Indigenous peoples, provinces and territories, and stakeholders; this will be essential to the successful development and implementation of the Act.

If pressed:

We will keep Canadians, and our stakeholders, informed as work on the Act progresses. Tabling in Parliament will follow the completion of engagement, Cabinet consideration and drafting of legislation.


BC open net pen transition:

Federal Aquaculture Act:

Investing in small craft harbours

In Budget 2021, our government announced it would provide $300 million over the next two years to repair, renew, and replace small craft harbours.

This would support Canadians in the fishing, aquaculture, tourism, environmental, recreational, marine engineering, and construction industries, and strengthen the resilience of rural and coastal communities.

With this new funding, our government has now announced $784 million in new funding for the Small Craft Harbours Program since 2016.

If pressed on financial pressures put on the SCH program

SCH officials estimate that approximately $250 million would be needed annually to properly maintain the program’s existing harbours.

Also, based on current technical analysis, an additional estimated amount of $20 million would be required to address the program’s dredging needs across the country.

These estimates do not include the additional pressures such as harbour overcrowding, aquaculture, Indigenous reconciliation efforts and the impacts of climate change on existing infrastructure. SCH continues to monitor and analyze the financial impact these may have on the program. 

If pressed on potential user fees

The day-to-day operations of Small Craft Harbours are managed by approximately 5,000 volunteers that are part harbour authorities around the country. 

Currently, harbour authorities raise $31 million in user fees and use these funds for minor maintenance and repairs. The amount each harbour authority raises depends on the reality and size of the harbours they are managing.

The department is reflecting on various options regarding the future of user fees at harbours but no decisions have been made.

Over the coming months, work will continue to analyze what impact changing user fees could have on the program. Decisions will be made once this analysis is complete

Benefits of small craft harbours to the fishing industry

From coast to coast to coast, Fisheries and Oceans Canada owns, operates, and maintains a national system of harbours to provide commercial fish harvesters and other small craft harbour users with safe and accessible facilities.

90 per cent of Canadian seafood goes through small craft harbours and Canada’s fish harvesters depend on these facilities to support their livelihoods.

Dredging / climate change

I know that expenditures related to dredging are increasing due to external drivers such as climate change, regulatory changes and increased vessel size.

While dredging operations represent a significant and ongoing pressure on the Small Craft Harbours Program, I understand that officials are doing their best to adapt to these new realities.

I also understand that Small Craft Harbours officials are keeping an eye on changes to sedimentation, ecosystems and fishing patterns that may result from climate change, as well as their impact to the Program’s plans and priorities.

Harbour overcrowding

I understand that a number of harbours, particularly in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, are facing overcrowding issues due to an increase in vessel sizes and larger vessel fleets.

I know that Small Craft Harbours officials are working hard to address the overcrowding and deterioration impacts on harbours and to recommend long-term solutions.

If pressed on projects at the three unique projects in PEI and NB

I’m told that the Small Craft Harbours program has undertaken advanced planning to address challenges and identify potential longer-term-solutions at New Brunswick’s Woodward’s Cove (Grand Manan) and Burnt Church harbours and at Malpeque harbour in Prince Edward Island. This work is being carried out in close collaboration with stakeholders with keen interest at the three harbours.

Harbour authorities

Harbour authority officials are on the ground, managing day-to-day operations of core harbours throughout the country. The input they provide to us through their knowledge and experience make them invaluable partners.

The Department will continue building its already strong relationship with harbour authorities.


Emergency response readiness

The Canadian Coast Guard (Coast Guard) is committed to ensuring the Government of Canada is prepared to proactively mitigate and respond to emerging marine incidents and hazards.

In delivering its mandate to ensure the safety of mariners and to protect our marine environment, the Coast Guard makes a significant contribution to emergency management, for example, providing search and rescue, responding to marine disasters such as oil spills, or by providing support for the safe and rapid movement of Canada’s maritime trade.

In addition, the Coast Guard is working to broaden its network of partners in emergency response, including Indigenous and coastal communities, by building their capacity to respond to marine incidents, increasing emergency preparedness and response readiness as a result.

The Coast Guard is also engaged with other federal departments to ensure Canada is ready for, and resilient to, the increasing frequency and severity of disaster events. This includes working to strengthen coordination and integration across all-hazards, as well as identifying and bolstering key capabilities and partnerships.


Issues raised by members this session

B.C. flood response - DFO federal role in mitigation

The protection of Pacific salmon populations is a priority for our government, given the historic declines due to complex challenges facing the species, including climate change impacts and related environmental events, such as the recent BC flooding.

The recent profound climatic events experienced in British Columbia has had a significant impact, and will continue to have on communities.

With respect to the recent flooding events in BC, the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) is responsible for the dam safety, flood safety and river forecast management programs in BC, including flooding streams and rivers.


Scientific Processes and Excellence at Fisheries and Oceans Canada

My department is proud to have implemented a policy on science integrity which is fundamental to making the right decisions for Canada’s fisheries and oceans.

The Department ensures high standards of scientific excellence, impartiality, and transparency in its scientific activities. 

I have every confidence in the integrity of Fisheries and Oceans Canada science and the rigourous peer review process that is used to generate science advice.

If pressed

More than 2400 DFO Science employees research and monitor our oceans and aquatic ecosystems across the country. Over 90 per cent of DFO Science employees work outside Ottawa.

In keeping with promoting women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics professions, more than 50 per cent of DFO Science employees are women.

DFO Science is a hub for ocean and freshwater science collaboration in Canada, with approximately 30 million dollars invested annually in external research projects led by Canadian universities, non-governmental and indigenous organizations, provinces and territories, and the private sector.

Between 2016 and 2021, this government will have invested over 500 million dollars in marine and freshwater science.


If pressed

Pacific herring

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is firmly committed to the conservation, protection, and regeneration of our marine environment and the lifeforms they sustain.

It is vital that we manage Pacific herring with the objectives of stock growth and cautious management of this important species, while supporting fishing opportunities where possible.

To support this approach, DFO is taking a more precautionary approach to this year’s Pacific herring management to protect future stock health. For the 2021–22 Pacific herring season, most commercial fisheries for Pacific herring will be closed.

This decision was made with the goal to provide renewable fishing opportunities and increase stock abundance, to benefit the entire ecosystem.


Prawn tubbing / West coast prawn fishery

The west coast commercial prawn fishery uses size limits to help manage the commercial prawn fishery and conserve prawn stocks.

Feedback from prawn harvesters over the course of the 2020-21 season helped inform DFO’s efforts to clarify existing regulations that apply to the practice of on-board freezing of prawns (known as prawn tubbing) in the commercial prawn fishery.

2022-23 Season

For the 2022-23 Prawn and Shrimp by Trap season, harvesters may continue using existing containers to package frozen prawn tails in liquid, such as seawater, on-board their vessels.

This decision gives harvesters adequate time to prepare for a transition to new standards for packaging frozen prawn tails in seawater on-board vessels in 2023.

2023-24 Season

The 2023-24 Pacific Prawn and Shrimp by Trap commercial fishery Conditions of Licence will specify standards for packaging frozen prawn tails in sea water on-board vessels, including a requirement for transparent containers and a maximum container volume of 710 milliliters.  

The Department will continue to work collaboratively with industry to prepare for the updated packaging standards in 2023-24.


Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing

Our government recognizes that illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing – or IUU fishing - is devastating to fish stocks, ecosystems, and economies around the world.

As a member of the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, the Prime Minister has endorsed priority actions to combat this harmful activity.

We have committed nearly $12 million to develop new surveillance technologies and improve information and intelligence sharing efforts to support vulnerable developing states, such as our cutting edge Dark Vessel Detection project.

Canada is active in multilateral operations to combat IUU fishing and protect migratory fish stocks in the Atlantic and Pacific, including the deployment of aircraft and inspection personnel to international waters.

Canada is a leader at multilateral international bodies mandated to manage fisheries in the high seas, where we actively contribute to strong efforts to curb IUU fishing.

Canada’s domestic licensing regime and management measures ensure that harvesting and trade in responsibly harvested Canadian fisheries resources accords with international requirements, while its implementation of the Port State Measures Agreement confirms that fisheries products entering the Canadian market are legitimately sourced.


Striped Bass, Gulf of St. Lawrence and Miramichi population

We are committed to ensuring our recreational fisheries, including the Striped bass fishery, are viable and sustainable for future generations and that management decisions are based on science.

The Striped bass population in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence has demonstrated a remarkable rebound in recent years and become a very popular recreational fishery as well as a pilot indigenous fishery.

Population numbers continue to fluctuate and we must make decisions to prevent a return to historic lows.

A number of questions remain unresolved about Striped Bass interactions with Atlantic Salmon.

Although striped bass coevolved with salmon and are known predators of Atlantic salmon smolts, recent research shows there are other more important factors contributing to the current declining trend in wild Atlantic salmon populations, namely marine survival.

DFO is continuing to conduct research and monitoring activities on Striped Bass.


Striped Bass and Atlantic Salmon Science

Seafood traceability

Seafood traceability is an important part of ensuring Canada’s leadership in promoting sustainable fishing, and in the continued prosperity of the fish and seafood sector.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada is working hand in hand with leads at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and Agriculture and Agri-food Canada on the boat-to-plate traceability program.

The public consultation that closed in December 2021 resulted in submissions from a broad spectrum of stakeholders. The Government is reviewing these submissions.


Fish Harvesters Benefit and Grant Program

The Fish Harvester Benefit and Grant (FHBG) Program launched its second phase in August 2021, and closed for applications October 31st.

The Program continues to process appeals and issue the second part of the benefit payment. The Program’s grant stream was completed in phase one, as was the first part of the benefit payment.

To date, the Program has paid out about $162 million in support of its target recipients in Canada’s fishing sector.

The sector shows encouraging signs of rebound. Export levels, prices, and quantities are starting to return to -- and in some cases exceed -- their pre-pandemic levels.

Overpayment letters to wage-earning crew

The Program provides assistance to self-employed fish harvesters and self-employed crew.

To issue phase-one payments quickly, applicants attested to: their income, employment status, and estimated COVID losses. They received monies based on this information.

Their information was subsequently reviewed against tax data they filed when it became available in summer 2021.

Some individuals who attested to being self-employed had filed tax information indicating that they were wage-earning employees, and therefore not eligible.

Those individuals received overpayment letters, for which they had a right of appeal. The appeal deadline was October 15, 2021.

Benefit Eligibility/Unclear Eligibility Criteria

The Fish Harvester Benefit and Grant Program fills a gap in the Government of Canada’s overall COVID-19 strategy.

The Program is aimed at supporting self-employed harvesters and self-employed shareperson crew who would not otherwise have received COVID relief.

Importantly, explicitly excluded from the scope of Program eligibility are wage-earning employees.
Individuals whose Canada Revenue Agency data indicated that they were wage-earning crew were not eligible.

These details regarding the Program’s scope have always been clear, and publicly posted on the Program’s website.

Applicants turned down

Based on the Program’s limited scope, a sizeable number of applicants were turned down during the Program’s first and second phases.

While applicants could be turned down for a number of reasons, the group most affected in each phase were crew members.

Crew members that filed tax information indicating that they were wage-earning employees were not eligible for the Program.

In making its decisions, the Program deferred to applicants’ Canada Revenue Agency data, with the exception of applicants who were tax exempt (see “Indigenous Applicants” below).

Indigenous applicants/alternate sources income information

While the Program was able to defer to applicants’ data as filed with the Canada Revenue Agency, obviously this option was not available for Indigenous applicants who were tax exempt.

In these cases, the Program worked with individual applicants, their community representatives, and Indigenous fishing companies to secure alternate sources of income information for tax-exempt applicants.

The use of alternate income data was restricted to tax-exempt applicants, and when Canada Revenue Agency information was available, the Program relied on it.

Appellants claiming their CRA information was incorrect

Some individuals said that their Canada Revenue Agency tax information did not accurately reflect the nature of their employment.

In response, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency developed a process to allow those who were appealing overpayment letters to request a change to their T4 information and advance their FHBG file at the same time.

The process involved the appellant and the employer sending the Program letters or emails with additional information about the individual’s employment status, and their intention to seek a T4 adjustment from CRA. 

The FHBG Program could then take this additional information provided into account when adjudicating the appeal, while CRA could start its review in response to the request for T4 adjustment.

Program tax expertise

The Fish Harvester Benefit and Grant Program is a partnership led by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and supported by Employment and Social Development Canada, and the Canada Revenue Agency.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has, through the course of the Program, drawn on the taxation expertise resident in the Canada Revenue Agency.

As well, since phase one of the Program, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has contracted expertise through Price Waterhouse Coopers, which has provided advice and guidance to the Program on taxation-related matters.

Program payments

The Program was initially approved for $439.4 million in grants and contributions over two years. To date, it has spent about $162 million in grants and contributions.

The Program’s initial budget was based on a worst-case scenario where the ultimate depth and duration of the loss of demand in the Canada fisheries sector was unknown, and unknowable.

In many cases, applicants did not ultimately lose the 25 per cent minimum amount of their annual income required to be eligible for the program.

This is not to say that harvesters did not suffer losses, but that often losses were below the Program’s threshold level. 

These lower-than-expected losses, necessarily reduced Program payments. And the sector does show encouraging signs of rebound.

Phase-two applications

A requirement of the Program was a second application. That application window opened in August and closed at the end of October, 2021.

Applicants were reminded about filing second applications through a number of means:


Great Lakes Fishery Commission

The Government is committed to preserving our freshwater resources and protecting the Great Lakes from invasive species.

The Great Lakes are important to the environment, economy, health, and well-being of both Canada and the United States.

The Commission’s efforts are vital to controlling sea lampreys, conducting scientific research, and maintaining cooperation among Canadian and American agencies in the management of the Great Lakes and its fisheries. 

For over 60 years, Canada, in close partnership with the United States, has directly supported the work of the GLFC to preserve our freshwater resources and protect the Great Lakes from invasive species.

In this regard, Fisheries and Oceans Canada plays a critical role across the Great Lakes through its responsibilities in managing impacts to fish and fish habitat under the Habitat Protection Provisions of the Fisheries Act; implementing the Aquatic Invasive Species Regulation; implementing the Sea Lamprey Control Program, administering the Species at Risk Act; and managing an Asian Carp Program. Nearly 60 DFO science experts and aquatic invasive species specialists are directly involved in the sea lamprey control program alone.

I know that the Commission and its secretariat staff is advocating for a governance change, and that a related motion was introduced during the previous session of the House. This is a more complex matter than it likely appears on the surface.

I assure you that we are assessing the implications and funding needs of the Commission and are in regular communication with the GLFC’s secretariat on the matter.

As officials conduct their analysis, we will ensure that the work of the Commission and DFO’s ongoing delivery of critical sea lamprey control measures are not adversely impacted or needlessly disrupted.

Our goal is to ensure that the Commission is best positioned to fulfill its mandate and receive the necessary support from our government to that end.

If pressed on the funding shortfall

I am fully aware of Canada’s funding obligations.

That is why departmental officials work closely with the Commission’s secretariat to establish an annual workplan and associated budget to guide sea lamprey control efforts and support related research and administrative costs.

While last year’s budget did not include new incremental funding for the Commission, this in no way diminishes the importance we place on our partnership with the United States and the value of the Great Lakes and the fisheries it supports. My officials are working with colleagues at Finance Canada to address our funding shortfall in the near term.


Foreign ownership

My department is aware of the concerns previously expressed by the Committee and some stakeholders about the degree of foreign ownership of Canadian fishing enterprises and concentration of fisheries access.

My department has launched an information-gathering exercise that will identify who is benefitting from commercial fishing licences. This information will be used to develop a baseline understanding of the extent of foreign control and concentration of access in Canada’s commercial fisheries.

Careful consideration of the potential impacts on existing licence holders across all commercial fisheries, as well as Canada’s international trade obligations, are required before any policy changes can be considered or introduced.

If pressed on foreign ownership restrictions in Atlantic Canada

On the East coast, DFO has long-standing policy that requires all Atlantic midshore and offshore licence holders be at least 51 per cent Canadian-owned.

In early 2021, DFO enhanced the application of this policy to ensure that prospective licence holders meet the 51 per cent requirement at all levels of their corporate structure.

If pressed on the West Coast Licensing Review

Our government is committed to supporting the economic viability and sustainability of Pacific fisheries and is committed to continued improvements in managing fisheries on the West Coast.

My department continues to engage with First Nations and key stakeholders in British Columbia to identify priority fisheries management and licensing concerns to further inform options to address the issue raised by the Standing Committee’s report and beyond.

If pressed on the 2020 Government Response to the FOPO report, “West Coast Fisheries: Sharing Risks and Benefits”

The Response to the Committee’s 2020 report highlighted how the Government’s priorities are aligned with several of the Committee’s recommendations. This includes strengthening the middle class, improving transparency in government, and sustainable and inclusive economic development.

DFO continues to advance work to support the Government Response to the FOPO report, primarily through the ongoing review of foreign ownership and the West Coast Licensing Review.

If pressed on the Beneficial Ownership Survey

The Beneficial Ownership Survey is a mandatory information-gathering exercise. The Survey was developed in partnership with federal forensic accountants and received support from key stakeholders during its development. Approximately 3000 unique licence holders and vessel owners across Canada’s commercial fisheries are expected to complete it.

Following the conclusion of the Survey on March 31, 2022, DFO will analyze the information and begin to prepare a report of its findings.


Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples

Food, Social, Ceremonial (FSC) fisheries

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) issues food, social and ceremonial (FSC) fishing licences to Indigenous communities to implement the communal right.

FSC fishing varies by community at various times of the year, and is not always aligned with commercial seasons or areas.

FSC licences reflect regulations and management measures to promote conservation and a safe and orderly fishery.

Fish harvested under an FSC licence cannot be sold. DFO takes enforcement action when required to address illegal fishing and the selling of FSC catches.


Indigenous moderate livelihood fisheries

As Minister, conservation is paramount to me and we must work together to ensure the protection and sustainability of our fisheries.

The Government is committed to advancing reconciliation and renewing the relationship with Indigenous peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation, and partnership.

The Supreme Court of Canada affirmed the treaty right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood. My department has been working with communities to implement the right.

I believe it is possible to have a fishery that is peaceful, productive, and prosperous, and that also upholds the Marshall decisions and overarching conservation objectives.

Implementation of the right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood

Over the past 21 years, DFO has invested over $550 million in fishing licences, vessels, gear, and training to advance the implementation of the right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood, for 35 rights-holding Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqey, and Peskotomuhkati communities in the Maritimes and Gaspé region of Quebec (Treaty Nations).

These investments have resulted in meaningful economic benefits which continue to increase year over year. For example, annual landed value among these Treaty Nations has increased from $3 million in 1999 to over $140 million in 2018, an increase of 4,600 per cent.

Currently we are using two approaches to further implement the Treaty right depending on Treaty Nations’ preferences: firstly, Rights Reconciliation or Rights Implementation Agreements; and more recently understandings with Treaty Nations on an interim short-term approach through community plans.

The interim approach is flexible and enables communities to implement moderate livelihood fishing plans, within established commercial fishing seasons. 

To date, three Rights Reconciliation Agreements have been concluded, and two understandings have been reached in Nova Scotia to recognize harvesters designated under Community based Moderate Livelihood Fishing plans.

Work does not stop there; DFO remains committed to continuing discussions with Treaty Nations to increase their access to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood.  As we continue with these approaches, the Department will consider all the tools in its toolbox to further implement the right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood. This could include instruments such as voluntary licence relinquishment and other access acquisition mechanisms.  Industry will be consulted on these measures should there be impacts.

DFO’s approach follows the Marshall decision and is based on three key principles: the implementation of treaty rights; conservation and sustainability of fish stocks; and, transparent and stable management of the fishery.

Moving forward we will consider how the application of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will help shape future mandates on the implementation of rights.

We are committed to continuing discussions with Treaty Nations to increase their access to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood and provide for safe, orderly, and sustainable fishing for all harvesters.

As we continue these nation-to-nation negotiations, DFO will continue its ongoing dialogue with the Atlantic fishing industry on implementing Treaty rights and reconciliation, and provide fora to hear industry’s views.

A very positive example of DFO’s dialogue with industry is DFO’s collaboration with the Canadian Independent Fish Harvesters’ Federation to deliver reconciliation workshops for the Federation’s membership since October 2020. DFO continues to meet with the Federation regularly to maintain dialogue, develop information for rank-and-file harvesters on Aboriginal and treaty rights and the Government of Canada’s reconciliation agenda, and consider initial steps in establishing tripartite fora for regular Indigenous-industry dialogue.

In addition to DFO’s ongoing dialogue with industry, DFO is encouraging collaboration between industry and Indigenous groups, including through the Lobster Science Partnership Roundtable, a collaborative table to explore potential science activities around lobster. This is consistent with some of the recommendations in the Federal Special Representative’s March 2021 report.

Communal commerical licences

A communal commercial licence is the instrument used to authorize fishing activity, including moderate livelihood.  Although there are certain management rules and conditions of licence that Indigenous harvesters must adhere to, fishing under communal licences is not subject to the same policies as fishing under commercial licences such as Fleet Separation, Owner-Operator or Preserving the Independence of the Inshore Fleet in Canada’s Atlantic Fisheries.


The Department’s priority while conducting enforcement is to consider the safety of all participants.

Fishery officers verify compliance with the Department’s regulations and legislation to support orderly and sustainable management of fisheries and support other agencies in delivering on their safety mandates.

The Department takes unauthorized fishing seriously and actively uses a number of means to deter unauthorized fishing, including education, voluntary compliance and enforcement efforts. In addition to the fishery officers from the implicated regions, additional fishery officers were brought in from all across the country to verify and monitor compliance to support sustainable moderate livelihood fisheries.

Fishery officers will continue to work closely with Indigenous communities to support the implementation of moderate livelihood fishing plans that authorize fishing within the commercial season. 

Any unauthorized fishing may be subject to enforcement action.

Enforcement by fishery officers will be, as it has always been, measured and proportionate.

This could include a variety of activities such as education, warnings, inspections, investigations, seizures, and prosecutions.


Ahousaht (Five Nuu-Chah-Nulth) First Nations

The Government of Canada is working collaboratively with the five Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations to advance reconciliation through negotiation of a Reconciliation Agreement for Fisheries Resources.

My department has reviewed and revised the 2021 Five Nations Multi-Species Fishery Management Plan (FMP) in light of the Court of Appeal’s decision. DFO’s review continues and any additional changes will be reflected in the 2022 FMP.

Neither party has sought leave to appeal the decision of the BC Court of Appeal in Ahousaht First Nation v. Canada to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Canada looks forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the Five Nations in implementing their right-based sale fishery.


Sale of Clearwater Seafoods Incorporated

Following the sale of Clearwater Seafoods Incorporated, and subsequently its request for the reissuance of fishing licences and associated quota to a Coalition of seven Atlantic Mi’kmaq First Nations, the Department engaged with stakeholders to ensure their views and all relevant treaty and land claims agreement obligations were considered.

The Government of Canada supports collaboration amongst First Nations and non-Indigenous harvesters, as well as efforts to create partnerships.

DFO will continue to facilitate the acquisition of fisheries access by Indigenous groups through various means which could result in licence redistribution in support of reconciliation.

Application for Judicial Review

As a result of the ministerial decision to approve Clearwater’s request for the reissuance of the fishing licences to the Coalition of Mi’kmaq First Nations, the Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI) and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) have initiated a judicial review application in the Federal Court.

Therefore, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further on this question while the matter is before the Court.


Aquaculture- other issues

Discovery Islands area announcement

My department is committed to the conservation and protection of our wild Pacific salmon.

The decision on the intention to phase out fish farms by June 2022 in the Discovery Islands was not an easy one. It was made based on the outcome of consultations, including those with seven First Nations in the Discovery Islands.

The farms in the Discovery Islands are a specific case; through consultations it was clear that many First Nations in this area do not support the continued operation of these farms.

We will continue to work with partners and key stakeholders to advance sustainable aquaculture in British Columbia.

If pressed on transfer applications made to date:

All requests to transfer fish to sites in the Discovery Islands were reviewed with an open mind, considering all relevant information, including input from First Nations, environmental and socio-economic considerations, and representations made by the applicant.

Each decision made is specific to the particular application put forward by a company. It does not affect other operators or farms in British Columbia.

I recognize that these decisions have implications for the companies, workers and communities in the region. We are engaging with partners to develop a transition plan for net-pen aquaculture in BC.

If pressed on the Judicial Reviews:

As this matter is before the court, I cannot comment on the matter.

If pressed on fish being culled:

Any decision to cull farmed fish is a business decision for companies to make, and is not an ordered destruction of fish by DFO, as DFO does not have this authority.

Licences in the Discovery Islands have been renewed on an annual basis for 10 years, always with the understanding that a decision on the future of net-pen aquaculture in that area would be made by the end of 2020.

If pressed on the matter of the economic impact of the decision

I acknowledge that this decision is affecting the local economy.

We offer a strong suite of supports for workers and communities. There is already a strong partnership with BC in place, including through the Canada-BC Workforce and Labour Market Development Agreements.

Our Government is committed to supporting the economic development of BC’s regions. As announced in Budget 2021, a new regional development agency for BC is being established to support economic development in more communities and to help develop businesses to create good jobs that people can rely on.


Aquaculture 2022 Marine Finfish Licence Reissuance

Sustainable and responsible management of our aquatic ecosystems, informed by sound science, is a priority for my department.

In June 2022, licences issued under the Pacific Aquaculture Regulations to produce marine finfish in British Columbia (BC) will expire.

The Department has begun the process to engage the Province of BC, First Nations, industry, and environmental groups to inform updates to the conditions of licence and licence reissuance.

We will continue to work with provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners on several initiatives to advance the sustainable management of aquaculture in Canada.


Salmon Diseases and Parasites (sea lice, infectious salmon anemia)

Sea Lice in Canada

My department is committed to the conservation and protection of our wild salmon.

In BC the Department continues to put in place measures to ensure that sea lice from salmon farms present no more than a minimal risk to wild salmon.

On the east coast, my department will continue to work collaboratively with provincial partners in the management of aquaculture and sea lice issues.

The extensive body of literature on sea lice is constantly evolving. As new scientific information becomes available, DFO reviews and acts on the information as part of its adaptive management process.

Infectious Salmon Anaemia

Infectious salmon anaemia is a viral finfish disease which can cause high mortality in affected fish populations. The virus is not a risk to human health.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, as the federal lead for the National Aquatic Animal Health Program, is responsible for management of federally regulated animal diseases like infectious salmon anaemia. This program is co-delivered with Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

In December 2021, Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s National Reference Laboratory for infectious salmon anaemia virus published a Short Communication about a new moderately contagious infectious salmon anaemia virus variant that was detected on the east coast.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency requires all strains of infectious salmon anaemia virus to be controlled in order to prevent the spread of the virus and maintain Canada’s trade position, so the discovery of this new variant will have minimal impact on this disease’s control program and will not change Canada’s international status.


Sea lice:

Infectious salmon anaemia

Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) - other issues

Environmental responses- MSC Altair, Bligh Island Shipwreck and M/V Kingston

Grounding of MSC Altair

The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG), Canada’s Port Authorities, and the Maritime Industry work collaboratively to ensure safe and efficient navigation through Canadian waters. During an unprecedented wind event in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, the container ship MSC Altair broke free from the dock. These organizations responded immediately to ensure the crew’s safety, that there was no damage due to pollution, and to minimize any delay in port and transportation operations.

Sub Issue: National Strategy on Emergency Towing

Canadians expect a high level of prevention, preparedness and response to marine emergencies. The Government of Canada is committed to protecting mariners and the marine environment on the West Coast, including Indigenous coastal communities and surrounding waters. To continue to meet this commitment, Transport Canada and CCG are developing a long-term national approach for marine emergency towing known as the National Strategy on Emergency Towing, including recommendations on how to best meet emergency towing requirements on all coasts. The strategy will consider regional needs, the perspectives of Indigenous peoples, partners and stakeholders, and lessons learned from the Atlantic Eagle and Atlantic Raven, which are the two emergency towing vessels leased by the government and currently stationed off the coast of British Columbia.

Bligh Island Shipwreck

The safety of mariners and the protection of the marine environment are the top priorities for the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG).

The Bligh Island Shipwreck was assessed as a source of pollution, and the CCG took action to mitigate the impacts on the marine environment.

The CCG worked expeditiously to address the threat of pollution from this vessel and ensured an appropriate response to this incident, including on-water containment and collection of fuel, shoreline assessments, environmental monitoring, and operational planning.

Operations to mitigate the environmental impacts of the spill concluded in July 2021, and cost the CCG $31.6 million to complete.

During the eight-month environmental response operation, costs included: the mobilization of response resources; contracts awarded; containment, collection and disposal of pollutants; technical assessment of the wreck; bulk fuel removal; and demobilization.

The Government funded these pollution response operations because the shipwreck occurred in 1968, which exceeds the time limitation to claim response expenses against the vessel owner under Canada’s Marine Liability Act.

Motor Vessel (M/V) Zim Kingston

In this large-scale international response, the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) worked closely with several partners, including other federal departments, the province, and indigenous communities among others.

The CCG and its partners responded quickly and efficiently to ensure the safety of the crew, responders, and the public while addressing potential impacts to the environment. This included working with the vessel owner to track, locate, and complete the clean-up of all containers and debris that washed ashore.

On December 3, the M/V Zim Kingston transited to the Port of Nanaimo to offload its cargo and underwent rigorous inspections.

Subsequently, the vessel owner contracted a firm to undertake an environmental risk assessment of the lost containers. CCG continues to monitor the situation and actively work with the vessel owner’s representative and partners to mitigate further damage to the environment.


MSC Altair:

Bligh Island Shipwreck

Zim Kingston

Coast Guard response practices for the M/V Zim Kingston:

Snuneymuxw First Nation engagement:

Under an existing protocol that is in place between Snuneymuxw First Nation and the Port of Nanaimo, the Port communicated its intentions to Snuneymuxw First Nation with respect to receiving the M/V Zim Kingston to offload cargo. An agreement was reached between both parties on December 2, 2021.

Container and Debris locations

Pacheedaht First Nation Marine Safety Centre

The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) and the Pacheedaht First Nation (PFN) are working together to advance the co-development of a multi-purpose marine response facility (Marine Safety Centre, or MSC) in Port Renfrew, located in PFN’s territory on western Vancouver Island in British Columbia.

The MSC will provide marine search and rescue and environmental response services, strengthening marine safety and response capacity in the Juan de Fuca Strait.

Collaborative discussions are ongoing to advance the establishment of the MSC. The Government of Canada remains committed to enhancing response capacity in the Port Renfrew region to keep mariners safe and protect the PFN’s territory and the coast of British Columbia.


Polar icebreakers

In May 2021, Canada announced it would be procuring two Polar Icebreakers – one to be built at Vancouver Shipyards, and the other at the to be determined third shipyard, pending completion of the selection process. The Request for Proposal process to qualify a third shipyard is being led by Public Services and Procurement Canada and is expected to conclude in 2022. 

Progress has been made with regards to the Polar Icebreaker at Vancouver Shipyards. The ancillary contract was awarded in July 2021 and work to finalize the design and prepare for comprehensive construction engineering is well underway. Work on the other Polar Icebreaker will begin pending successful completion of the third yard selection process.

Once delivered, the Polar Icebreakers will help strengthen Coast Guard’s presence in the Arctic. Their enhanced capabilities will help to ensure safe marine shipping, promote economic growth and year-round high   Arctic presence to support sovereignty and science.


Covid-19 testing of crew members

Keeping our employees safe is an integral part of the organizational culture at the Canadian Coast Guard. This is especially true now in the midst of the COVID pandemic, as we continue to deliver the agency’s programs and support partners, while keeping our economy running through open and safe waterways.

This winter with the onset of Omicron, Coast Guard initiated mandatory rapid testing as part of its screening procedures, in consultation with Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada. This has allowed Coast Guard to balance crew safety and operational needs, and has enabled us to continue to deliver our programs.

Regular rapid test screening allows us to be alerted as soon as possible if an employee tests positive.  This gives our staff more time to find a replacement crew member and reassign seagoing personnel, as necessary, to meet our critical Program priorities such as Search and Rescue and Icebreaking.

If pressed:

Regional implementation plans contain specific details regarding distribution of COVID-19 tests and personal protective equipment (PPE), testing coordination, as well as return to work conditions. These plans align with the various provincial, territorial, local and federal health and safety requirements.


Shoreline infrastructure

My department is aware of the concerns brought forward by property owners in Varennes, Vercheres and Contrecoeur along the St. Lawrence River.

While protecting structures against shore erosion does not fall under the purview of my department’s mandate, the Government of Canada (GoC) supports initiatives aimed at preventing shoreline erosion. For example, the GoC is working closely with the commercial shipping industry on the St. Lawrence River to monitor and promote voluntary speed reductions for vessels operating in erosion-sensitive zones.

If pressed

The Attorney General of Canada was served with a notice of application to certify a class action on January 29, 2020. The Superior Court of Quebec authorized the class action on August 17, 2021. The Canadian Coast Guard has received the judgment from the Superior Court of Quebec and will take the necessary time to review this decision.


CCGS Hudson decommissioning

CCGS Hudson suffered a significant equipment failure in November 2021, and is no longer economical to repair and operate. The ship will be decommissioned.

CCGS Hudson was a key platform for Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s oceanographic science program.

My officials are seeking to leverage vessel charters and leases to cover as much of CCGS Hudson’s planned science missions as possible until the new Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel is delivered in 2025.

Other important science missions will be covered to the greatest extent possible by existing Canadian Coast Guard vessels, including the employment of the recently constructed Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels.

Replacement Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel

The National Shipbuilding Strategy is delivering new vessels to Coast Guard so that they can keep our waters safe and secure. However, despite progress being made and new ships delivered, there have nonetheless been challenges over the first decade of the Strategy.

Initial schedules for National Shipbuilding Strategy projects were generally overly optimistic. The replacement Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel project has suffered from a number of delays. Most recently, delivery of the ship has been pushed back from 2024 to 2025.

The Canadian Coast Guard continues to work closely with all National Shipbuilding Strategy partners to find ways to minimize delays in the delivery of new ships wherever possible.

As the current fleet continues to age, the potential for service capability gaps increases. To mitigate this risk, Coast Guard has implemented a suite of interim measures, such as the comprehensive Vessel Life Extension program and the purchase of four commercial icebreakers, to maintain service levels until the new ships are delivered.


Implications of North Atlantic Right Whales (NARW) Protection Measures on the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) Operations

CCG vessels have been directed to not exceed a sailing speed of nine knots within the NARW dynamic shipping zones, lower than the ten knots requirement to ensure compliance and lead by example.

The CCG will only exceed speed restrictions when responding to an emergency call, such as a search and rescue incident.

The safety of mariners is the CCG’s top priority. The CCG provides 24 hours a day, seven days a week maritime search and rescue (SAR) services within Canadian waters.

Protection measures

The CCG uses electronic aids to navigation to delineate the boundaries of Transport Canada’s Dynamic Shipping Zones and NARW protection measures in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

CCG uses navigational warnings to inform mariners of the status of speed restriction zones and monitors vessel traffic in specific seasonal and mandatory speed restriction zones in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Vessels greater than 13 meters in length found travelling at a speed greater than ten knots will be contacted by the CCG, informing them of a speed contravention.


Sentry Barge Grounding in English Bay

On November 15, 2020, due to an atmospheric river incident, the Canadian Coast Guard was notified and responded, along with other emergency response partners, to a barge that had drifted across English Bay and ran aground at Sunset Beach, Vancouver, British Columbia.

The Canadian Coast Guard conducted a pollution assessment of the barge and determined that it did not threaten pollution.

To date, the barge remains aground despite numerous attempts by the owner to repair and salvage it.

Given the extensive damage to the barge, working with Transport Canada, the owner took measures to deconstruct the barge on-site to ensure it's safely removed from the environment.

Salvage operations are anticipated to take 10-12 weeks and are estimated to be completed by spring 2022. The project is currently in the permitting and planning phase. Once approvals have been received, a date will be confirmed to begin dismantling the barge.


Fisheries - other issues

Arctic surf clam

Issuance of a Fourth Arctic Surf Clam Licence

No decision has yet been made on the issuance of an additional licence in the Arctic surf clam fishery, as the Department continues to assess the need to broaden the access in this fishery.

It is important to note that the recent sale of Clearwater Seafoods Partnership Ltd. has resulted, amongst others, in the reissuance of the three existing offshore Arctic surf clam licences to FNC Quota, a company wholly owned by First Nations communities in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

2022 Arctic Surf Clam Quota Allocation

In the meanwhile, to support a predictable fishery, the employees, and the communities, the entire 2022 total allowable catch (TAC) for Arctic surf clam was made available to the three licences held by FNC Quota Limited Partnership at the start of the fishing season. This is in line with Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s (DFO) objective to allow for the economic benefits to remain in coastal communities.


Atlantic mackerel

The February 2021 stock assessment determined that the Atlantic mackerel stock biomass is at a new, historic low and fishing mortality has a significant influence on stock status.

We recognize the economic importance of the mackerel fishery to harvesters in Atlantic Canada and Quebec and I am committed to managing this fishery to ensure the long term sustainability of the stock for future generations.

Fishery management decisions are informed by scientific evidence and made in full consultation with stakeholders.

2022 Total Allowable Catch

The significant reduction in 2021 total allowable catch was a necessary step towards rebuilding the stock where the biomass is at a new historical low.

We are committed to a precautionary approach to manage this stock.

We will consult with Indigenous partners and stakeholders through the Atlantic Mackerel Advisory Committee process before any decisions are made for the 2022 fishery.


Atlantic herring

Herring is a forage species that serves as a source of food for many species and plays a critical role in our ecosystems. The Department will continue to make decisions based on the best available science.

Based on the latest science assessment, the Spring herring stock has been in the Critical Zone of the precautionary approach since 2002 with no sign for improvement, while the Fall herring stock has decreased and remains in the cautious zone since 2017.

The Department recognizes the importance of the Atlantic herring fishery in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. I am committed to managing this fishery to promote the long-term sustainability of the stock for future generations.

2022 Total Allowable Catch

Consultations on Spring herring took place in November 2021 via the Gulf Small Pelagics Advisory Committee.  Input from stakeholders was provided following this meeting and I am considering recommendations while being mindful of the critical state of this stock.  

Indigenous partners and stakeholders will be consulted on the Fall herring stock through the same advisory committee at the end of March 2022, with a decision planned for the spring/summer of 2022.


Elvers: Anticipated Unlicensed Fishing in Spring 2022

The management of all fisheries is undertaken with conservation as the primary objective. Given the conservation concerns associated with American eel, an increase to the Total Allowable Catch in the elver fishery is not being considered at this time.

My department will continue to carefully monitor the elver fishery and take measures necessary to ensure the conservation of the American eel, and a sustainable and orderly fishery.

Strengthened management measures were introduced for the 2021 season, following consultations with Indigenous communities and engagement with the commercial industry.

If pressed on the Fisheries Management Order that prohibited fishing for elvers in 2020

The commercial elver fishery is a directed fishery for juvenile eels and must be managed in a manner focused on conservation.

In 2020, fisheries management orders were implemented to support the proper management and control of the elver fishery. These orders resulted in closure of the fishery for the season, effective April 27, 2020.

Efforts to support the sustainability of this species are ongoing, which includes a review of the Department’s current management of the American eel fishery.

Listing under the Species at Risk Act

Following the recommendation made by COSEWIC in 2012 that American eel be listed as Threatened under the Species at Risk Act, the Government of Canada is analyzing the possible listing of American eel.

This is a very complex decision, with many social, cultural, and economic implications.

Reconfiguring access to further implement treaty rights

The Department is currently assessing all options, including voluntary relinquishment, to build on progress made to date in support of rights-based fishery access for First Nations.


Fraser river steelhead trout

The Government of Canada values working with the Province of British Columbia (BC), First Nations, and stakeholders on the complex issues concerning Interior Fraser River Steelhead trout, including the Thompson and Chilcotin populations.

In August 2021, the 2019-2021 Provincial Action Plan and Activities Report was released by the Province of BC which encompasses the 2019 BC-DFO Action Plan and provides an update on the activities taken to reverse the decline of Interior Fraser Steelhead.

As part of the Action Plan implementation and in coordination with the Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative, DFO has continued to implement significant restrictions in commercial salmon fisheries where Steelhead trout could be intercepted as bycatch. 


Northern cod management plan

Our government recognizes the cultural and economic importance of the 2J3KL (Northern) cod stock to fishers and communities in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Northern cod management plan is informed by annual stock assessments and engagement with stakeholders through a groundfish advisory process. The stock is currently under moratorium, and access is limited to inshore harvesters through a stewardship fishery. After extensive engagement with stakeholders a rebuilding plan for Northern cod was implemented in December 2020. The Rebuilding Plan includes a Harvest Decision Rule (HDR) that calculates the Maximum Authorized Harvest (MAH) for the stewardship fishery. 

Timing of decision

I will take a decision on the 2022 Management Plan by the end of May. This decision will be informed by the latest available science advice and will consider input received from stakeholders.


Unit 1 Redfish

The Unit 1 Redfish fishery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence has been under moratorium since 1995. In recent years, the stock shows signs of recovery and a commercial fishery can be considered.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is currently undertaking consultations with Indigenous groups and other stakeholders on an access and allocation regime for this fishery.

No decision has been made on access and allocations and I will consider all relevant information with conservation being my top priority.

Consultations - Access to Redfish

Our government understands the importance of the fishing industry to the Atlantic provinces and Quebec.

Given changes that have occurred since the moratorium in 1995, the Department is currently consulting with Indigenous groups and other stakeholders on whether the access and allocation key at the time of the moratorium requires any modifications.

We are committed to taking the time necessary to collect views before moving ahead with a commercial fishery in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence for Redfish.

Commercial Fishery

The biomass of Redfish in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence has increased in recent years, and a commercial fishery can now be considered.

DFO has been working with the Redfish Advisory Committee, Indigenous peoples, scientists, stakeholders, provinces and non-governmental stakeholders to consider an appropriate access and allocation key for a post-moratorium commercial fishery in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

While conservation of the stock and its continued recovery are paramount, some other challenges to a potential post-moratorium fishery include current market conditions, redfish size, and conservation concerns of bycatch species.


Gulf shrimp

Departmental scientists have indicated that the biomass observed since 2017 in the Estuary, Sept-Îles, Anticosti and Esquiman areas is very low and compared to the values of the early 1990s. Warming of deep waters and predation by redfish appear to be important factors in the decline of Northern shrimp.

The Department is committed to work with industry and Indigenous groups on challenges and ongoing adaptation that fishery sector is facing due to climate and ecosystem changes, including a review of the precautionary approach for this fishery.


Access to B.C. recreational fisheries

We acknowledge the challenges being faced by all Pacific Salmon fishery participants, including recreational anglers, to protect at-risk Southern British Columbia salmon stocks, including Fraser River Chinook stocks.

Conservation is our highest priority and requires a precautionary approach to managing these stocks given the risk of extinction.

The Department provides recreational harvest in areas where fishery impacts on species and stocks of concern can be avoided.

Mark Selective Fisheries (MSF)

Consistent with Harvest Transformation Pillar of the Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative, DFO will work together recreational with harvesters to modernize how salmon fisheries are managed.

The PSSI will support further development of tools such as mass marking (MM) and mark-selective fisheries (MSF) that provides for conservation of stocks of concern and supports sustainable harvesting opportunities.

Further consultations are planned in 2022 to seek input on benefits and challenges of these mass marking and mark-selective fishery approaches to inform further decisions.


Hatcheries and Salmonid Program

The Salmonid Enhancement Program (SEP) plays a critical role in conserving, managing, and rebuilding Pacific salmon stocks and supporting sustainable fisheries across British Columbia (BC) and the Yukon.

The SEP employs a unique combination of Indigenous public engagement and education, habitat restoration activities, and a variety of hatchery and spawning channel facilities to support this critical role.

The Pacific Salmon Strategic Initiative (PSSI) supports new investments in hatchery facilities and science to increase support for the conservation and rebuilding of Pacific Salmon stocks.


Category B licences

The categorization of licences in the lobster fishery began in 1976.

Category B licences allow for modest levels of harvesting and are held by harvesters who have a historical attachment to the fishery.

Category B licences cannot be reissued and extinguish upon the death or retirement of the licence holder.

There are no plans to revisit the existing policies for category B licences at this time.

Federal Court Decision

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is aware of the Federal Court decision on Publicover v. Canada. Given this is active litigation, I have no comment to make at this time.


Category B Lobster Licences


2022 Canada-France 3Ps Cod Fishery

The Government of Canada recognizes the cultural, economic, and historical importance of cod to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

The Government also has a duty to manage resources and ecosystems responsibly for future generations. This includes ensuring the long-term sustainability of the oceans and restoration of fish stocks.

As Minister, I am committed to making decisions based on the best available science, being precautionary when science is uncertain, while taking into consideration the views of all stakeholders.

The latest stock assessment shows that 3Ps cod remains in a critical state. My department’s policy in this situation is clear: when a stock is in a critical state, growth is to be promoted and removals from all human sources are to be kept to the lowest possible level.

My officials and I are engaged with our counterparts in France on the path forward for this jointly managed fishery.

Efforts are also well underway, including engagement with stakeholders, to develop a rebuilding plan for this stock.


Forage Fish

Forage fish play an essential role in ocean ecosystems. Some small pelagic forage fish stocks are seriously depleted and have fallen into the critical zone, a designation meaning that there is a high probability that productivity may be impaired such that serious harm to the stock occurs.

DFO’s Precautionary Approach (PA) Framework states that for fish stocks in the critical zone, fishing must be kept to the lowest possible level to promote stock growth and that there should be no tolerance for preventable decline.

The Government of Canada is committed to conserving and rebuilding fish stocks, so they can support stable and prosperous fisheries in the long-term.

Management Implications

Rebuilding is our clear priority and, should the scientific outlook remain the same, it is not my intention to contribute to further declines by authorizing directed commercial, bait, or recreational fishing on small pelagic forage species in the critical zone.

The Government of Canada is aware that these species are important commercial stocks to Atlantic Canadians, particularly as a source of bait. The early indication of our intentions on these stocks provides time for harvesters to make arrangements and we will support processes to identify and develop alternative sources of bait.


BC Salmon Closures (PSSI)

In June 2021, the Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative was announced as a $647 million investment in the future of Pacific salmon populations. Harvest Transformation was identified as one of 4 pillars of this key initiative.

As part of Harvest Transformation, an initial step was taken towards longer-term reductions in fishing pressure on stocks of conservation concern, with significant commercial salmon closures for the 2021 season.

Consultations with First Nations, the commercial industry, and others are currently underway regarding potential closures for the 2022 season and beyond.


Area E crab

In April 2021, the BC Court of Appeal decision directed DFO to increase the crab allocation for the Five Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations within the Court Defined Area. The Department is continuing to consult with the Five Nations and engage with industry to implement the court decision.

The Department is working to mitigate the additional crab access provided to the Five Nations through voluntary licence relinquishment; however, this will take time and full mitigation for the overall crab amount is not likely to be in place for April 2022. The Department remains committed to the policy of using voluntary licence relinquishment to mitigate allocation increases for First Nations participation in commercial fisheries wherever possible.

Without full mitigation in place, commercial trap allocations for commercial licence holders will need to be reduced for the 2022 fishing season to ensure the total trap limit for the management area is not breached. Increasing the overall number of traps in the area is not an option as it will increase fishing pressure on the stock, and will not meet our sustainability objectives.

In April 2022, the final 2022/23 Crab Integrated Fisheries Management Plan and the Five Nations’ Fisheries Management Plan will be implemented and will reflect the final allocation for the 2022/23 fishing season. 


Fish Stock Rebuilding

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is committed to rebuilding and restoring fish stocks that have declined, as it is important both ecologically and economically. Healthy fish stocks support more resilient ecosystems while improving the potential for economic returns in the long-term. While fishing restrictions aimed at rebuilding fish stocks can have economic impacts during the rebuilding period, more significant impacts can result from delaying action or not taking sufficient action to promote the rebuilding of stocks.

Since 2009, DFO has required the development of formal rebuilding plans for depleted stocks on a priority basis. In recent years, the Government of Canada has made key investments to support the development of rebuilding plans to promote the recovery of fish stocks.

If Pressed, Stocks in Critical Zone

Currently, 23 of 180 of Canada’s key harvested stocks are in need of rebuilding. Nine of these stocks have rebuilding plans in place, and another eight plans are in development. While rebuilding plans are being developed, DFO uses the best available science to ensure that strict fishery management measures are applied and any fishing does not compromise rebuilding.

In addition, we are working towards fully implementing the Fish Stocks provisions of the Fisheries Act, which will strengthen Canada’s fisheries management framework by providing new legislation to ensure the conservation of fish stocks, promote their rebuilding when necessary, and manage fisheries sustainably.


Status of Rebuilding Plans and Critical Zone Stocks

Fish Stocks Provisions

Investments for Rebuilding Plans

Oceans and aquatic ecosystems - other issues

Aquatic invasive species

Our government understands the importance of protecting the biodiversity and quality of Canadian waters. As such, we are focused on coordinating our efforts to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species in Canada.

Aquatic invasive species pose a serious threat to Canada’s freshwater and marine ecosystems, and preventing negative impacts to our biodiversity, economy and society is a priority for this Government.

The management of aquatic invasive species is a responsibility that the federal government shares with provincial and territorial governments, and we continue to work closely with them and our U.S. counterparts to support prevention and response activities to protect our mutual resources.

Zebra and Quagga Mussels

Zebra mussels are established in the Lake Manitoba watershed, which is the current western invasion front in Canada. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is collaborating with provincial governments in the Prairies and has developed a framework for response plans with them.

In Quebec, Zebra mussels are established in the St-Lawrence river, have been observed in Lake Memphremagog since 2017, and were newly detected in Lake Massawippi in the Estrie in 2021. DFO has partnered with the Quebec government and local stakeholders to prevent the spread of the species to other water bodies and to respond to new detections.

In British Columbia, the provincial government leads the management of aquatic invasive species. DFO supports British Columbia’s invasive mussel management by providing scientific advice and conducting risk assessments.

DFO is working closely with the Canada Border Services Agency to improve enforcement of the Aquatic Invasive Species Regulations at international borders, with a focus on preventing prohibited species from entering Canada, including invasive mussels.

In March 2021, DFO conducted emergency response activities in partnership with the Canada Border Services Agency and provincial and territorial governments to stop the importation and distribution of invasive mussel infested aquarium products across Canada. DFO continues to work with the Canada Border Services Agency to prevent illegal imports of these infested products into Canada.

Invasive Smallmouth Bass in the Miramichi System

DFO recognizes the seriousness of the threat that the Smallmouth Bass represents since it is considered an invasive species in the Miramichi River watershed.

In September 2021, DFO issued a new authorization under the Aquatic Invasive Species Regulations, authorizing the North Shore Micmac District Council, an Indigenous organization, to use a pesticide to eradicate Smallmouth Bass in the Miramichi River Watershed in the Summer 2022.

During its review of the project proposal, DFO consulted extensively with stakeholders, including First Nations groups, through virtual or physical community consultation sessions, and the Department will continue to collaborate with all partners involved on this project.

European Green Crab

DFO is concerned by the significant impacts that European Green Crab, found on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Canada, can have on estuarine and marine ecosystems, and fisheries and aquaculture industries, by consuming and / or out competing indigenous species such as shellfish, crabs and lobsters and disrupting estuarine habitats such as eelgrass and saltmarsh in their quest for prey.

DFO is collaborating with partners including Indigenous governments and communities, provincial governments, environmental non-governmental organizations, fisheries unions, stakeholders and U.S. state and federal governments to try to address the threats that this species poses to Canadian ecosystems and fisheries.

DFO continues to generate scientific research or advice, and leads or supports prevention, early detection and control activities on both Atlantic and Pacific coasts, to manage the spread and the impacts of this invasive species in Canada; however, the species continues to spread and impacts on marine resources are anticipated to continue and increase.

Asian Carps

In 2017, our government invested $16 million over five years and $4 million ongoing in the Asian Carp Program to ensure Canada’s Great Lakes are protected from the harmful impacts of Asian carps.

Our government takes a comprehensive preventative approach to addressing the threat of these species, especially Grass Carp, and works collaboratively with American, Ontario and Quebec partners. DFO is available to assist in lab analysis should a fish be caught there.

To date, Asian carps have not established in the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes thanks to structured, organized surveillance and response efforts. 


Goldfish, a non-indigenous species, have been released into Canadian waters where they have been reported to reproduce and could therefore impact ecosystems and native fish species.

Introducing fish in areas where they are not native is not only harmful to ecosystems, but also illegal under the Aquatic Invasive Species Regulations, and DFO continues to promote education and outreach materials with the public to prevent introductions of aquatic invasive species.

The presence of Goldfish in freshwater systems in Canada is an issue that the Department is continuing to monitor. A study in Hamilton harbour is tracking how goldfish move and feed and whether their presence is affecting other fish species. 

Vase tunicate

Vase tunicate is an invasive species present on the Atlantic coast. Once established, it has important repercussions on aquaculture (mussels and oysters).

In Québec, it is only established at one port of the Magdalen Islands since 2006. In 2021, the DFO monitoring program detected its presence for the first time in two of the islands’ lagoon marinas.

The Department is working with local partners to prevent the spread of the species through the archipelago.


Aquatic Invasive Species

Zebra and Quagga Mussels

Miramichi Lake and River

European Green Crab


Vase Tunicate

Northern Shelf Bioregion MPA Network Action Plan

Sustainability of the world’s oceans is a critical concern.  Canada supports marine protected areas (MPAs) to address multiple ocean stressors and threats, as well as the development of MPA networks to enhance the effectiveness of existing and future MPAs to achieve multiple goals and objectives that no one single MPA could achieve.

An area where MPA network development is underway is in the Northern Shelf Bioregion (NSB). We support and are committed to the NSB MPA network planning process and the overall conservation objectives.

Network Action Plan

The Department supports and is committed to the NSB MPA Network planning process and the overall conservation objectives.

The Department is supportive of the Network Action Plan vision and goals, as well as the collaborative process that has been put in place with British Columbia and Indigenous partners.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is ready to continue to work collaboratively to make required revisions to ensure that the MPA Network Action Plan can be implemented in a manner that supports marine conservation, reconciliation, and economic opportunities for coastal communities.


Marine Spatial Planning

Marine Conservation Targets

Northern Shelf Bioregion Network Action Plan

Northern Shelf Bioregion Network Action Plan – next steps

Énergie Saguenay Project

Protecting our aquatic ecosystems while considering economic interests of communities who rely on these industries for their livelihoods is a priority for our government. 

My department actively participated in the federal environmental assessment for the Énergie Saguenay project and I support the decision announced yesterday.

While impacts of terminal construction on fish and fish habitat could have been mitigated, DFO is of the opinion that noise associated with project shipping could have had negative impacts on the survival and recovery of the beluga, an endangered species protected under the Species at Risk Act.


Baffinland: Mary River project

Protecting the marine environment and marine mammals is a top priority, which is why we are ensuring projects are thoroughly assessed.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada ensured that conditions are in place to protect the environment and marine mammals in Phase 1 of the project, and participated in the review of the potential impacts of the Phase 2 development proposal.

The Department will review the Nunavut Impact Review Board report and recommendation when it is issued and will work with the other implicated departments in making a timely decision on Phase 2 of the project thereafter.


Roberts Bank Terminal 2, British Columbia

My department is actively participating in the environmental assessment for the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project.

Protecting our aquatic ecosystems while considering economic interests of communities who rely on these industries for their livelihoods is a priority for our government.

My department will continue to undertake meaningful consultation with Indigenous peoples and stakeholders as well as continue our work to ensure that fish, marine mammals, and their habitats are protected.

Southern Resident Killer Whale

Our government is committed to the protection of Canada’s resident killer whales and to the recovery of these populations.

We will continue to work in partnership with Indigenous peoples, key stakeholders, international partners and the Province of British Columbia on immediate actions to reduce the impact of marine shipping and assist in the recovery of the Southern Resident Killer Whale.

Our Government has advanced initiatives to address the three key threats to the Southern Resident Killer Whale through the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan, the $167.4 million Whales Initiative and $61.5 million in additional measures specific to the Southern Resident Killer Whale.


Highway 101 Twinning / Avon River Tidal Gate, Nova Scotia

Protecting the environment and biodiversity is a priority for our government, and we remain committed to ensuring adequate passage for fish at the existing Avon River tidal gate.

My department is currently reviewing a Fisheries Act authorization application from the Government of Nova Scotia for a replacement to the existing tidal gates. The project will be evaluated for fish passage for all fish species likely to use the Avon River.

My department is committed to working with the province, Indigenous groups and other stakeholders to find solutions that protect fish and fish habitat in the Avon River.

Ministerial Order

To address concerns about fish passage, my department has issued a Ministerial Order to the province on the operation of the tidal gates.

The Order will be reviewed every two weeks and adjusted in the event that additional information demonstrates potential impacts to safety or property.


Existing structure (Ministerial Order):

New structure:

Kudz Ze Kayah Mining Project

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is committed to continuing its work to support the review of this project.

Federal Decision Bodies required an extension to evaluate all potential decision pathways.

We will continue to work closely and in partnership with the Yukon Government, as well as through continued engagement with affected First Nations.


Northwest Arm, NS – Infilling of Private Water Lot

Fisheries and Oceans Canada conducts regulatory reviews under the Fisheries Act of projects that could result in death of fish, or a harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat. This includes projects like infilling of coastal fish habitat.

If an application for authorization under the Fisheries Act is received, my department will consult with potentially impacted Indigenous groups.

My department remains committed to working with provincial officials and local stakeholders to protect fish and fish habitat.


Trans Mountain Expansion Project

Through application of the Fisheries Act and the Species at Risk Act, we are working with Trans Mountain Corporation, the Canada Energy Regulator, Indigenous groups, and other partners to ensure that fish, marine mammals and their habitats are protected.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has issued seven Fisheries Act authorizations for watercourse crossings and an authorization for the Westridge Marine Terminal.

We continue to engage with Indigenous groups to advance accommodation measures that focus on building capacity and long-term relationships, spill prevention, response capacity and cumulative effects to fish and fish habitat.

Southern Resident Killer Whale 

Our government is committed to the protection of Canada’s resident killer whales and to the recovery of these populations.

The Government has advanced initiatives to address the three key threats to the Southern Resident Killer Whale through some elements of three separate investments: the $1.59‑billion Oceans Protection Plan, the $167.4‑million Whales Initiative, and the $61.5 million in additional measures specific to the Southern Resident Killer Whale population.

We are addressing the recommendations of the Canada Energy Regulator, including implementing multiple initiatives intended to offset the impacts of project-related shipping to the Southern Resident Killer Whale.


Ocean mining

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is not aware of any requests to pursue seabed/ocean mining in Canada.

Seabed mining would be assessed based on best available scientific knowledge to ensure that any activity related to it can be done in a way that is ecologically sustainable.

Approving applications for seabed mining projects in Canada would involve a number of departments, each overseeing various Acts that protect Canada’s marine environment.

If pressed

A key DFO role in assessing seabed mining would be to review applications in line with the Fisheries Act, which contains prohibitions against causing the death of fish by means other than fishing and causing the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat.

In April 2019, the Government of Canada announced a new protection standard for all future federal marine protected areas (MPAs). This standard prohibits mining in such MPAs, in addition to oil and gas exploration and exploitation, dumping, and bottom trawling.  


Bay du Nord development project

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) was an active participant during the entire environmental assessment process, which still awaits final decision.

Should the project receive environmental assessment approval, my department will work with the proponent to assess whether or not a Fisheries Act authorization would be required.

In addition, we will continue to collaborate with the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, the proponent, and other stakeholders in the follow-up program that the proponent would be responsible for implementing if the project receives a positive environmental assessment decision.

If pressed:

While the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat report on the project was published in January 2022, it reflects information available in 2019 and does not provide comments on subsequent information provided during the environmental assessment process.

The findings of the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat report formed part of DFO’s initial advice provided to the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada in the spring of 2019, and were taken into account throughout the environmental assessment.


Salmon Habitat in the Fraser River

Sustainable and healthy ecosystems are both economically and culturally integral to the people of British Columbia and Canada.

The Heart of the Fraser is an area of importance to both salmon and white sturgeon, and am committed to protecting fish and fish habitat in this area.

To that end, we continue to deliver on our promise to implement a modernized Fisheries Act which supports sustainable, stable, and prosperous fisheries, while we also work with our partners to explore additional avenues to protect this important area.

Ecologically Significant Areas

My department is considering how certain species and habitats that could be sensitive, highly productive, rare, or unique, like those found in the Heart of the Fraser, could benefit from designation as an Ecologically Significant Area under the Fisheries Act.

We are engaging Canadians on concepts for a national framework to govern the identification, establishment, and management of Ecologically Sensitive Areas. 

While this work advances, fish and fish habitat within the Heart of the Fraser continue to be protected under the Fisheries Act



North Atlantic right whale

The protection and recovery of the Endangered North Atlantic right whale is a priority of mine.

In 2022, our fisheries management measures will continue to focus on preventing right whale entanglements by getting fishing gear out of the water where and when these whales are detected. We will also continue to take action to address lost or derelict gear (ghost gear) and support our national network of marine mammal responders.

Our world-class adaptive management measures, which incorporate the best available science, were developed through close collaboration between our department, the fishing industry, Indigenous communities and leading right whale scientists to achieve the goal of right whale protection while upholding our reputation for sustainably-sourced seafood.

These measures include gear marking requirements, reduction of floating rope at the surface, lost gear reporting requirements and retrieval efforts, and near-real time removal of gear from fisheries like crab and lobster where and when right whales are detected. These locations remain closed as long as right whales are detected in the area.

Our fisheries measures are supported by a robust monitoring regime to detect the presence of whales, including flights, vessels, and acoustic monitoring. This monitoring regime lets us both protect whales while also helping to ensure that we aren’t closing areas where whales are not present.

Fixed gear fisheries in Atlantic Canada and Quebec will be required to incorporate low breaking strength elements into their fishing gear by 2023. This will help reduce entanglement harm to North Atlantic right whales and other whale species, and will complement our efforts to prevent entanglements.

It will also help Canadian fisheries meet the import provisions of the US Marine Mammal Protection Act, and thus maintain access to an important market for Canadian seafood products. 

Adapting fishing gear technology to reduce entanglement risk is a growing field in which Canadian fish harvesters and researchers have taken a leading role. Our harvesters and experts have been developing and testing “whale friendly” technology. This includes gear with low breaking strength to release entangled whales, and “rope on demand” systems that remove rope from the water.

Some harvester groups have expressed concerns about their readiness to adopt whalesafe gear. We have heard concerns about the cost of new fishing gear, and about potential safety issues. Our department continues to work with fishery groups throughout Atlantic Canada and Quebec to identify the most suitable options for each fishery.

Fisheries and Oceans launched a new funding program in August 2021, the ‘Whalesafe Gear Adoption Fund’, providing up to $10 million a year for two years. This Fund will support the purchase, development, and testing of innovative gear technology to reduce whale entanglements. This funding is open to fishery groups, Indigenous groups and First Nations, researchers, and gear manufacturers.

MMPA and US engagement

The Department continues to collaborate with US counterparts to establish a gear investigation process to deal with high-profile, cross-boundary cases to ensure the analysis is accurate for determining entanglement origin and does not impact access to markets.

On November 26, 2021, Canada submitted final applications for comparability findings for its 323 fisheries and aquaculture operations that export their products to the US, an important milestone on the way to meeting new import requirements under the US Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA).

Deaths and entanglements for the 2021 season

The Department continues to prioritize the recovery of NARW population numbers and is thrilled there were no deaths reported in Canadian waters for the 2021 season.

For the 2021 season there was one new entanglement reported in the Gulf of St. Lawrence on July 13, 2021. This incident involved NARW #4615 and was monitored closely by the Department. NARW #4615 was last seen in Canadian waters on July 14, 2021 entangled in rope. The Department continues to work with US counterparts to locate this individual and continue disentanglement efforts when safe to do so.

Additionally, previously entangled NARW #3560 (Snowcone) was detected in Canadian waters May 10, 2021. The entanglement was first observed in U. S waters in March 2021. Throughout the summer the Department attempted numerous disentanglement operations, allowing for the removal of some of the rope. NARW #3560 is currently detected in Florida as recent as January 19, 2022, where she appears in good health with her newborn calf. It is expected #3560 and her calf will return to Canadian waters in the 2022 season. As such, the Department is prepared to monitor the entanglement situation closely, and attempt further disentanglement operations when safe to do so.

Scientific support of measures for NARW

The 2021 NARW population estimate indicates that approximately 336 whales remain. This is a decrease from the 2020 estimate that identified a population of 356 whales. Since 2018, Canada has implemented mandatory measures with the objective of protecting NARWs when and where they are found in our waters. The Department’s protection and recovery strategy is founded on peer-reviewed Fisheries and Oceans Canada science advice, as well as advice from external NARW experts and research publications.

Impacts to harvesters

Canada’s NARW protection measures are based on extensive engagement with partners and stakeholders. On November 30 and December 2, 2021, the Department held the annual NARW Advisory Committee meeting to engage the Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishing industry representatives, provincial government, non-government organizations, and other right whale experts on Canada’s right whale measures.

Cost of protecting Right Whales

Our strategy to protect right whales is supported by the $167.4m Whale Initiative, announced in Canada’s 2018 Federal Budget. This includes funding for science activities to help better understand factors affecting the health of whale populations, as well as support for targeted and immediate actions to help address the threats arising from human activities. An additional $20M for the Whalesafe Gear Adoption Fund was announced in August 2021 to support harvesters and partners to reduce harm and risk of harm to whales from commercial fishing activities. The Program consists of contribution funding over two years (2021-2023) to support projects that advance the adoption of methods to prevent and alleviate whale entanglement.

Will the whalesafe gear modification requirements for crab, lobster and other fisheries in Atlantic Canada and Quebec lead to more ghost gear?

DFO has heard harvesters’ concerns that whalesafe gear may lead to more ghost gear. In response the Department has been holding discussions with harvesters in all regions to identify the best gear modifications to suit the specific conditions of their fisheries. Departmental officials are also seeking technical input on meeting the challenge of developing whalesafe gear that fishes effectively under normal conditions.

United States NARW protection measures

United States NARW protection measures focus largely on reducing vertical lines in the water for lobster and crab fisheries, implementing whalesafe gear modification requirements and some seasonal closure provisions.

Transport Canada vessel management measures

Transport Canada vessel management measures will continue to be the same for the 2022 season. This includes mandatory static and dynamic speed restriction zones in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, a seasonal restricted area in the Shediac Valley and a voluntary speed restriction in the Cabot Strait for the beginning and end of the season. Fishing and shipping activities have been put under public scrutiny since the unusual mortality event of 2017, leading to the implementation of NARW related measures on an annual basis to address these threats.


Marine Mammal Protection Act and US Engagement

Deaths and entanglements for the 2021 Season

NARW #4615 Entanglement

Southern resident killer whale

Our government is committed to the protection and recovery of the iconic Southern Resident killer whales, and has taken significant steps to address key threats to the population, that is currently a total of 72.

The Government has implemented enhanced measures since 2018 to stop the decline of this species through management measures to protect Chinook salmon and minimize disturbance from vessels.

We are now consulting with Indigenous groups,  stakeholders and the public on potential measures for 2022 which build on work in collaboration with Indigenous and stakeholder experts, past efforts, and new scientific information.

SRKW births and deaths

Over this past summer, K21 and L47 were reported as missing and presumed dead. A third individual, L89, has been missing since November 5, 2021. His absence is worrying as his pod has been sighted without his presence.

My department is aware of the recent photogrammetry studies indicating that J19 and J36 appear to have suffered miscarriages. J37 is still pregnant. This is unfortunate, though not unexpected, as the failure rate of pregnancies in Southern Resident killer whales is high.

The Government of Canada remains focused on our long term plan to help support the protection and recovery of the Southern Resident killer whales.


U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act import provisions

Our government, working with Canadian industry, is committed to protecting marine mammals from entanglement in fishing gear and maintaining access to the Unites States (US) market.

We continue to work closely with Canadian harvesters, and other stakeholders to meet the new US import requirements coming into force in 2023.

When it comes to the protection of North Atlantic right whales (NARW), we are proud of the robustness of our measures and are confident that they meet or exceed the US standards.

Prohibiting the lethal removal of nuisance seals

The US Marine Mammal Protection Act(MMPA) import requirements include a prohibition on the intentional killing of marine mammals during commercial fishing activities.

Canada prohibits this type of activity through the Marine Mammal Regulations (Section 7). Moreover, my department has ceased issuing Nuisance Seal Licences since 2020.

The US has advised that these measures meet their import requirements under the MMPA.


Whale sanctuary

The conservation and protection of marine mammals is a top priority.

The Whale Sanctuary Project is a US organization that is working to establish a facility along the coast of Nova Scotia, with the intent to provide an ocean environment for previously captive cetaceans to live out the rest of their lives.

Our government believes whales and dolphins should not be kept in captivity, this is why we introduced provisions to support this in the modernization of the Fisheries Act, which became law in the summer of 2019.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is working with the proponent and other orders  of government as appropriate to assess the project as it continues through the planning phases.



Pinnipeds (seals and sea lions)

There are 11 species of pinniped in Canada. These include healthy populations, like grey, harp and harbour seals as well as others species that are considered at risk, such as Steller sea lions and northern fur seals.

DFO scientists are actively involved in research to better understand the role of pinnipeds in marine ecosystems, including the potential impacts of seals on commercial fish stocks.

Sustaining healthy and productive aquatic ecosystems is a priority for this government and we rely on the best available science when management decisions are taken.

Atlantic Seal Science Task Team

The Atlantic Seal Science Task Team was launched as a direct response to concerns raised by commercial fish harvesters in Eastern Canada on the impact of seal predation on fish stocks.

Members of the Task Team include fishing industry representatives and experts as well as other stakeholders from the Atlantic provinces.

I am looking forward to the seeing the recommendations from the Task Team on the Department’s seal science priorities and how we can increase opportunities for collaboration with the fishing industry.




Task Team

Climate change and ocean acidification

Canadians know that climate change is real; we are witnessing important impacts that are directly affecting Canadians and our coastal communities.

Our department continues to research and study the impacts of climate change including ocean acidification, low oxygen levels and changing sea ice, as well as impacts on our fisheries and aquatic ecosystems.

Understanding the ocean and how it is changing is more important than ever as we work to protect and recover fragile ocean ecosystems.


Microplastics in the Aquatic Environment

Microplastics have been found everywhere in the environment - in every ocean, lake and river that has been sampled. 

Understanding the effects of microplastics on aquatic ecosystems is a priority for Fisheries and Oceans Canada; my Department is supporting research at universities and research organizations that will increase our understanding of the effects of microplastics on aquatic animals in Canadas’s freshwater and marine ecosystems.

Since 2016, my department has committed over $2 million in research to increase our knowledge about the impacts of microplastics on our aquatic ecosystems. For example, we are investing over $400 thousand to McGill University for research in the detection of micro and nanoplastics in aquatic animals and their related health impacts.


Lobster assessment and basis for season and the impacts of concentrated effort

The Department continues to regularly monitor and assess Canadian lobster stocks to support management decisions. The outcome of these assessments are shared publicly on DFO’s website.

We also continue to increase the scientific monitoring of lobster in all four Atlantic regions to strengthen our understanding of this valuable resource.

Lobster fishing seasons vary by area. An important conservation consideration is seeking to minimize the interaction of the fishery with important life history stages, including mating and moulting.

Impacts of concentrated effort

Lobster stocks in Atlantic Canada are doing well; throughout the Maritimes Region, stocks are in the healthy zone with many near historic high levels.

While there is uncertainty around the impact – particularly over the longer-term – that a significant increase in effort could have on lobster populations, we know there are a number of risk factors that need to be considered (including level and timing of additional harvest, population size and the amount of lobster habitat available).

Additional science work is required to assess the impact of incremental and localized effort on lobster population health.


Impacts on concentrated efforts:

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