SCOTIA HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
October 3, 2006
COMMITTEE ROOM 1
Grey Seal Conservation Society
Printed and Published
by Nova Scotia Hansard Reporting Services
Mr. Leo Glavine
Barnet was replaced by Hon. James Muir.]
MacKinnon was replaced by Mr. Charles Parker.]
Ms. Deb Bruce,
Grey Seal Conservation Society
Ms. Debbie MacKenzie, Chair
Ms. Ronda Brennan, Vice-Chair
Mr. Ian Bruce, Director
Ms. Hope Swinimer, Director
HALIFAX, TUESDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2006
STANDING COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
Mr. John MacDonell
MR. CHAIRMAN: We will get started. Welcome, to the Grey Seal Conservation
Society. I'm glad that you were able to come on what probably seemed
like fairly short notice, but we knew you were kind of prepped some
time ago. You seemed like a logical group to come before us, simply
because we had planned for you before the election.
Usually the way the committee works is that the presenters make their
presentation and then we have a question period after that. We have
two hours, so we're not going to restrict you, but if you were going
to talk for two hours we wouldn't get in many questions. What I'll do
right now is introduce the members of this committee, then you could
introduce yourselves for the record, and then you can proceed.
[The committee members introduced themselves.]
MR. CHAIRMAN: Please, introductions and then you may begin.
MS. DEBBIE MACKENZIE: I'm the Chair of the Grey Seal Conservation Society.
We have here Hope Swinimer, who is one of our directors. Hope is a veterinary
hospital administrator and a licensed wildlife rehabilitation provider,
including marine mammals. This is Ian Bruce, another society director.
Behind us is Ronda Brennan, another member and wildlife rehabilitator
with credentials. And we have Deb Bruce as an observer, who is also
a member of the society.
MR. CHAIRMAN: If at some point, because we have Ronda down as a witness,
she wants to speak, then that standing microphone would probably be
MS. MACKENZIE: My speaking notes are in front of you, and I'll just
take it from there. Thank you for inviting the Grey Seal Conservation
Society here today to talk about seals. We recommend that the Nova Scotia
Government avoid any involvement in promoting the grey seal hunt. We
ask, alternatively, that the government review relevant federal law
and government policy, that you ask DFO to give Nova Scotia a comprehensive
report on the current status of the ocean ecosystem, along with a scientific
outlook or some forecast for the ecosystem. Please ask DFO scientists,
explicitly, to explain the implications of the status of the ecosystem
for fisheries management, and then ask DFO's fisheries managers to start
providing ecosystem-based fisheries management. Do you want me to stop?
MR. CHAIRMAN: No, I don't.
MS. MACKENZIE: Please consider taking these steps before this government
lends its support to any plan to increase the commercial use of seals.
The number of seals has increased over the last couple of decades, while
fishing prospects have decreased. We certainly appreciate the sense
of crisis and concern for the future that has been expressed by the
fishing industry. Please understand that if we believed there was any
possibility that removing seals might trigger an ecological shift back
towards the previous heyday of the fish and the fishermen, then we would
be in favour of the plan.
However, no scientific evidence suggests that will be the case, while
all the available evidence actually points in the opposite direction.
The crisis facing fisheries has been obvious and ongoing since the early
1990s, when we experienced the dramatic, unexpected collapse of the
cod stock. There was a fair amount of grumbling at the time, in retrospect,
that fisheries managers should have listened to scientists, that the
cod stock managers had made a terrible, reckless mistake when they assumed
they could ignore the advice of scientists in favour of giving the industry
what it wanted.
So have Canadian fisheries managers learned since 1993 to heed the
warnings of scientists? Did we learn anything from the cod collapse?
Well, it seems that Canada did learn something, on paper at least. In
1997 Canada enacted the federal Oceans Act, which then led to government
policy documents entitled Canada's Oceans Strategy and Canada's Oceans
The intent of these initiatives was very clear: to avoid any more reckless
errors and fisheries mismanagement in the style of the cod collapse;
to use science to gain a better understanding of how the ocean works,
in order to protect it; and to place the goal of protecting the ecosystem
above the goals of the fishing industry or the goals of any other ocean
industries. In other words, Canada resolved first to do no more harm
ocean. The ocean is legally considered to be the common heritage of
all Canadians, and protecting the future options of Canadians takes
precedence over the immediate wishes of any industry.
What does this have to do with the seal hunt? I am trying to bring
this around to show how a seal hunt plan can only be properly approved
in the context of the needs of the ecosystem overall. The Oceans Act
was clear, that Canada should increase its understanding of the ocean
ecosystem. DFO scientists have gone on to pursue that goal and they
have made important gains in knowledge. In the past few years, significant
original findings from the Maritimes have been published in top international
The crucial, unexpected finding was that sustained fishing can trigger
an entire suite of cascading changes that affect a great many species
besides the one that was directly targeted by the fishery. In other
words, collateral damage to the food web from fishing was found to be
surprisingly widespread and very significant. The removal of top ocean
predators, in fact, was shown to trigger ecological shifts all the way
to the base of the food web, changes that could actually lower the ability
of the ecosystem to support the continued growth of fish. The news was
quite bad, not only could this sort of thing potentially happen, but
this very scenario had already played out here in the Maritimes. The
food web on the Scotian Shelf has been seriously damaged because the
fishing industry has removed so many top predators. The bulk of those
were large fish.
If this knowledge was considered by resource managers concerned about
the ecosystem, then the fishing industry would be permitted to remove
no more top predators from the Scotian Shelf, i.e., there would be no
grey seal hunt, right? Well, we know that has not been a position taken
by the seal hunt managers, but why not?
Ecosystem science is now meant to be the fundamental foundation piece
that is used to improve the management of the marine environment. I
am quoting Page 5 of Canada's Oceans Action Plan. The change that fisheries
managers are supposed to make was plainly spelled out. They are to stop
using the traditional, single species management and to begin using
ecosystem-based management. Whenever the managers find uncertainty,
they are to make decisions that err on the side of caution, but this
is not happening.
We have run into a hitch here, because the ecosystem scientists are
saying that the top ocean predators are important for ecosystem health,
while fisheries managers seem unable or unwilling to understand what
that means. The managers are stonewalling against suggestions that they
now incorporate ecosystem science into fisheries management plans. In
this, the actions are too reminiscent of how fisheries managers ignored
scientists 15 years ago, in the days leading up to the cod crash. What
is different today is that there is much more at stake this time.
Before I go on about the damage sustained by the ecosystem and why
this argues against the seal hunt, I will interject a few separate issues
that may prove to be practical impediments to the commercial grey seal
hunt, for your information.
The first issue pertains to food safety. Because seals are mammals
and not cold-blooded fish, meat-related, human health risks are a natural
part of slaughtering seals and eating seals. Seals can carry various
bacteria, viruses and parasites that are transmissible to people and
that can make people sick. However, those human health risks have not
been addressed by Canadian seal processors to date. Seals are not screened
for infectious diseases that might threaten human health because seals
are considered to be fish under certain Canadian laws.
For this reason, commercially marketed seals are subjected only to
fish inspection rules. They are exempt from the biologically more appropriate
meat inspection rules that are used for all other food animals. This
exemption means that there's no veterinarian oversight of the health
of the seals at any time, either before or after slaughter, and that
no screening of their meat is done for mammal diseases. Calling seals
fish does not alter the biological reality that seals can carry dangerous
diseases that are never found in fish, and an industry that relies on
fish inspection protocols to process meat is cruising for trouble.
The Nova Scotia grey seal herd has been found to be infected with brucellosis,
but other disease threats are unknown because there's no program of
disease surveillance or health inspection for seals in Canada. Elsewhere,
seals and other marine mammals are screened routinely, whenever an opportunity
arises. These animals are known to pose significant contagious disease
threats to people who come into contact with them. From contact with
marine mammals, including seals, people have contracted many different
diseases, including brucellosis, tuberculosis, trichinosis, leptospirosis,
rashes, diarrhea, pneumonia and other problems.
Rather than monitor the disease status of seals, as is done in other
developed countries, Canada seems almost to be making a conscious effort
not to discover or reveal any consumer health threat that might lurk
in the seal herds. This approach seems obtuse, and it smacks of a theme
I described earlier, of fisheries managers determined not to hear any
scientific evidence that the fishing industry would rather not hear.
Secondly, the grey seal hunt could threaten the livestock farming industry,
if it carries on as it has begun. It has been shown, experimentally,
that the strain of brucellosis found in seals can infect cattle, that
it can be transmitted within cow herds and that it can cause abortion
in cattle. In other words, the seal strain of brucellosis may potentially
trigger the same farmers' nightmare as the bovine strain. Nova Scotia
farmers do not need a problem like that, but the recent activities of
fishermen in eastern Nova Scotia could raise that spectre. Seal offal
was left on beaches where seals were butchered, about
800 seals, and carnivorous scavengers like rodents could possibly carry
the brucellosis to farm animals. It should be further noted that leaving
seal offal on beaches contravenes the fish habitat protection provisions
of the Fisheries Act.
A commercial seal hunt in Nova Scotia would need to comply with humane
slaughter requirements under the marine mammal regulations. If sealers
increase the number they kill, they may find themselves challenged to
prove that all seals are being killed humanely. As you can imagine,
the province may experience negative international publicity should
animal rights protest organizations turn their focus on the Nova Scotia
grey seal hunt. Finally, harbour seals are a protected species that
may not be hunted, and not all fishermen can distinguish between grey
seals and harbour seals. So this could be another potential trouble
Returning to my main point, the failing health of the ocean ecosystem,
I would now like to briefly outline the pattern of ecological decline
of our shores by showing a few slides. I'll start with groundfish -
that's codfish - and my comment is that they're starving. That is supported
by the analysis of the ecologists who work for BIO. East Scotian Shelf
was subject to maybe the most detailed analysis of any piece of ocean,
with massive long data sets analyzed by scientists. All of the groundfish,
as a community, is now limited by a lack, a shortage of food. That's
what a starving codfish looks like. You cut it open, and there's no
food in the stomach. That's the stomach, the second part of the picture.
Sunken in, no food in the gut.
This is a graph from DFO, again the eastern Scotian Shelf. This is
showing four different species of groundfish, although pollock is only
semi-groundfish. It's about 40 years of data, showing the growth rate
essentially declining for every species, steadily, over time.
Closer to the shore long-term changes are evident to anybody who has
been taking notes for a number of decades. What this shows here is the
same rock at Peggy's Cove, two views, 55 years apart. The first view
is from 1948 and the white band above the seaweed is a barnacle belt.
Barnacles are plankton feeders; plankton feeding was more prosperous
then. We now have the same rock, this is the very same rock. We do not
have a barnacle belt. Barnacles are there but they are lower and they
are in the crevices. The decline in barnacles signals the decline of
the food value of the plankton, signals part of what has gone wrong.
This is part of what has come out in the ecosystem status report from
DFO. This is also why ultimately all the groundfish aren't growing as
Animal life beyond barnacles which is also plankton-dependent is also
known to be in decline; that is mussels, clams, snails, anemones. There
are even very few starfish to be found now. This is mussels, this is
some really tiny blue baby mussels. We see
occasionally this pulse of survival of a lot of young but they don't
mature. It is the mature ones that are declining - the mussels big enough
This is Irish moss and the changes in the marine plant life are very
telling of the full-scale, negative change in the ecosystem. Irish moss
was commercially useful to a much more significant extent than it is
now. This is well-known down around Lobster Bay and area, where mossing
on inside islands was profitable. Now some people who are turning back
to mossing have to go way outside, or to some rough water, to find moss
that is worth raking. Healthy Irish moss is actually not the colour
of the moss in my photo, it is a deep purplish brown and when there
is less fertilizer, it loses its pigment, like many plants do, and it
becomes susceptible to breakdown from environmental stressors like light
and wind and things like that.
The pattern is seen all along the shore because it is seen in Halifax
County too; where you could once rake moss now you have this. This is
the Irish moss, it looks as if it has been mowed. This is a place where
you could, 30 years ago, rake a dark moss and now it's pale, under-fertilized
and very, very stunted. This is a moss belt here, on a fairly rough
granite island, in clean water, that would have been harvestable in
the past. This is late summer and it's dying because it has turned white.
It dies and falls off.
This is Irish moss in the Spring, April of this year actually, dying
off. There is still some growth happening but it's being, like, pruned
back by adverse conditions so that ultimately you have just this little
bit of stuff. This is the most common rockweed on our shore and this
is in a sheltered inlet where it's not fertilized as well as in the
rough water. You can see red burn patches where this is also dying back.
This is an underwater shot of a shallow-granite bottom in a clean inlet.
Increasingly there is nothing growing on it at all. No plant life where
there should be plant life.
This is a view from my parents' kitchen. It used to be that you would
only ever dare to take your boat through there. Now you can see the
entire bottom, it is shallow granite that was always covered with dark
kelp, rockweed, plant life. Anyway, it's cleaned off. This is not a
pattern localized to one area that I'm showing; wherever I have looked
in a sheltered inlet, this is what I'm finding, white rocks showing.
That is similar; it shows you that the inter-tidal seaweed is familiar,
it looks the same. Below the surface here are rocks that should have
seaweed that don't. A closer look - again, this was taken right at low
tide - the seaweed is here; below the low tide, where it's not exposed
to the air, we have mostly bare rock and a little bit of fuzz.
I've been monitoring the same sites for a number of years. The sites
that are clean in my recent pictures, look like this as it's leaving
- a few years ago, it looked like this, which is some pale, low-pigment
Irish moss and kelp and a lot of fuzz, and you come
back in a couple of years and it's a clean rock. That, again, is the
stressed look that appears before the disappeared look.
So I'll tell you, the groundfish, the plankton feeders and the plants
are showing a pattern of decline. The plankton feeders offshore were
not emphasized in DFO's ecosystem analysis as being in distress, however,
they only studied offshore, from 12 miles off. They did not have good
data on plankton-feeding animals, but they have better information now
for two reasons. They are extending it to inshore, and we have better
information about plankton feeders. The main water plankton feeder would
be herring. Those of you who are acquainted with the herring fishery
know that the Scotia-Fundy herring stock has the lowest biomass estimate
of all time and the lowest quota they've ever been given. From what
I hear, they're having trouble finding the herring this summer.
Another plankton feeder is mackerel. This is a mackerel. Mackerel is
showing the same signs. I should say that groundfish and the herring,
mackerel, which they call small pelagic fish, similar patterns are showing,
which is less big ones, there may be a fair number of little ones, but
the big ones are kind of vanishing. So we have smaller mackerel, but
we still don't have adult mackerel. In the summer mackerel would always
have their stomachs full. This is a cut-open stomach showing nothing
at all inside, showing a green gallbladder. A green gallbladder in a
fish means it hasn't eaten for a week.
The most important economic fishery is probably the lobster fishery.
As you know, if you're familiar with the LFA 34, southwestern Nova Scotia,
which is the big one, there has been a problem mounting in recent years
of weak lobsters, dying lobsters, short-meat lobsters, low-protein lobsters.
This is another trouble sign.
This is from a book called In a Perfect Ocean, written by fisheries
scientist Daniel Pauley at UBC. He analyzed the trends in fisheries
and ecosystems in the North Atlantic Ocean over a century. This is his
graphic, showing a volumetric image of the amount of standing stock
of fish per square kilometre per year. This is in 1900, the Newfoundland
and Labrador food web, and this is how it has shrunken down between
1985 and 1987, when they did their comparison. So it shows that all
of the levels, this would be lower down feeders, higher - trophic levels
they call them, this one eats this one, that one eats that one - just
a general shrinking of life as a whole.
Those images provide a glimpse of what the collateral damage looks
like of broad, insidious, unexpected changes of fundamental damage to
the food web that was unexpectedly triggered by removing too many top
predators. Given all of this, we really should now make our peace with
the top ocean predators. We should acknowledge their importance as a
group in maintaining ocean health, and we should acknowledge our own
role in degrading the ecosystem by fishing. At this stage of the game,
all surviving ocean
predators should be left alone, and this step should be taken for the
sake of our top ecosystem conservation goal, preserving the integrity
of the ecosystem itself.
The Canadian public is under the impression that with the Oceans Act,
it formally entrusted ocean management to ecosystem science. Therefore,
diagnosing the problems, prescribing the treatment, and making the prognosis,
these are all jobs that are supposed to be done by relying on the knowledge
of ecosystem scientists. The Canadian public has not entrusted the role
of safeguarding our common heritage to the fishing industry. That is
why it's inappropriate for a fishing industry association to try to
call the shots now and order a seal cull. The signs and symptoms of
an ailing ocean are mounting everywhere, and these signs, in combination
with fisheries managers disinterested in knowing what it means, this
suggests that Atlantic Canada might now be on the brink of another fisheries
mismanagement disaster. However, it is our hope that this outcome can
yet be averted if publicly-funded science is now used to guide the use
of a public resource.
Please understand that turning a blind eye to the ecosystem and carrying
on instead with old-style fisheries management, that this choice will
come with a high price; degraded ocean conditions will intensify and
this will be manifest in weaker, thinner fish and lobsters and an increase
in a whole assortment of problems related to microbes. The list of problems
is likely to include increased bacterial contamination of beaches, infections
in fish, marine mammals and crustaceans, more extensive shellfish closures
due to toxic algae blooms, fish kills, dead zones and mass die-offs
of seabirds and marine mammals.
Could ocean ecosystem mismanagement really turn out that bad? Absolutely,
yes. Our advice to the Government of Nova Scotia, ask DFO for a formal
consultation with their ecosystem scientists and then ask those scientists
to give the news to the province straight, what exactly do they know
about the changes in the ecosystem and what do they see as the prognosis
for ocean life? What recommendations to fisheries management would the
ecosystem scientists make on the basis of their work? The province needs
this information as soon as possible, so that realistic plans can be
made for rural economies that depend on fishing.
Nova Scotia should then formally notify DFO that this province is interested
in getting with the program of ecosystem conservation. You may want
to consider drafting a memorandum of agreement with DFO regarding implementation
of the Oceans Act, similar to what British Columbia has done in this
regard. Finally, it may be that one of the most sensible proactive steps
that can be taken is to invest in the development and expansion of low-impact
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Are there any members with questions?
MR. STERLING BELLIVEAU: The last one, you got me, the last bullet,
". . . it may be that one of the most sensible proactive steps that
can be taken is to invest in the development and expansion of low-impact
aquaculture." Explain, what is low-impact aquaculture?
MS. MACKENZIE: What I mean by low impact is aquaculture that is currently
being done is coming under criticism for causing ecological damage.
Probably the best example is the salmon pen, salmon aquaculture, where
Atlantic salmon are grown by feeding them fish meal pellets from dragger
fish. That also has been claimed to cause some local damage to the bottom,
below those fish pens, unless it is really well flushed, like down at
Now, when I say low impact, there is some clever research being done
in places, including actually New Brunswick, where it is marine animal
aquaculture - I think they are just using mussels - but is in a closed
system where they are also growing a marketable plant with the waste
from the animal, more like a natural thing. There is no effluent that's
full of nutrients coming off.
I think some things could be done, aquaculture, with marine fish, could
be done and should be done. I think we would all like to have ocean
fish stay in our diet. Did that answer your question?
MR. BELLIVEAU: Well, partly, but I would like to get a broader range
of what you're talking about, that's all.
MS. MACKENZIE: Low impact is not counting on wild capture for the feed.
Low impact is not dumping a polluted effluent and it's probably going
to be closed-contained. It's possible.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Muir.
HON. JAMES MUIR: Thank you for the presentation, it's very interesting.
One of the things - and I read some background information before coming
in the meeting today - it seems to me that the fundamental thing starts
with the plankton and plankton is the feeder. Yet you're called the
Grey Seal Conservation Society and they are what you call top predators
and they have multiplied tenfold over the last number of years. I guess
I see them from time to time in the summer and where I am in the summer,
they don't have a whole lot of friends. Is that right, Charlie?
MR. CHARLES PARKER: No comment. (Laughter)
MR. MUIR: Yes, anyway, it looks as though the ecosystem has changed
somewhat. What is the answer to getting this plankton back in the system?
You know, you talk about the bottom predators being - and I guess that's
the cod, halibut and these other ones. What do we do about that? I guess,
it seems to me that's a fundamental thing that's missing.
MS. MACKENZIE: You're correct. That is a very good question because
that's the line of questioning that needs to lead to a sensible answer.
What is it that increases the plankton or would give the plankton a
kick? The plankton is weakened. The sea animals, themselves, recycle
materials into the plankton more quickly than bacteria does. The function
of the top predator - we'll talk about the seal - is to eat fish. There
are a whole lot of fish that need to be eaten on a yearly and constant
basis. They're worn out fish, fish that have lived out their time. They
need to be eaten. So do young fish, because there are too many at the
What the seal does is - it's a warm-blooded incubator and, actually,
as you know and as you've heard, it's got worms in its stomach. These
are the most reproductive invertebrates in the sea, probably, because
they're incubated. I did the math one time. A grey seal can easily create
5 million worm eggs into the sea a day. Those are plankton. That enriches
the plankton. They're linked. Fish and seal invertebrates are linked
in a way that's self-sustaining. The predators eating the fish whose
time has come is a plankton stimulant. Does that make sense?
MR. MUIR: I'm just trying to figure out - it seems to me, what you
said, is if you leave the seals alone, it's going to increase the plankton.
MS. MACKENZIE: It's one drop in the right bucket. The seals are part
of the answer; they're not part of the problem.
MR. MUIR: I had trouble when I read that stuff, trying to make that
connection, so thank you.
MS. MACKENZIE: Yes, it's a thing that works - it's very complex, how
it works together, but it all works together. These animals were all
integrated together over 25 million years ago in a thing that worked
fantastically. The plankton was really rich when it was full of fish,
whales, seals, walruses and birds galore. The plankton was top speed.
MR. MUIR: I have one more question, Mr. Chairman. It appears now, from
the information that we read in the seal population - you indicated
it's the most prolific predator in the sea right now, in terms of multiplication.
What kept the seal population down before, or at least kept it in balance?
I mean, that . . .
MS. MACKENZIE: Well, the seal population, if you just want to look
at the seals, they were heavily used, commercially. After whales, they
and the walruses were targeted for blubber, right?
MR. MUIR: And seal oil and stuff like that, yes.
MS. MACKENZIE: Who knows how many. I've heard us mention there were
40 million seals in Atlantic Canada at the start. We don't know but
it was a very common animal.
The reason all of us, when we were younger, didn't see many seals is
because the commercial sealing had removed them. Then there was a bounty
up until, I believe, 1984. We hardly ever saw a seal because there was
a bounty. And there was a belief then, by fisheries managers and fishermen,
that removing the predators helped the fish. The fisheries managers
even thought that when they looked at a fish stock, removing all the
big old ones was desirable. The big old ones are going to grow slow
and when they get big, they don't pack on the cod flesh very fast. We
thought that they should be pruned off. Now, of course, the big old
fish were the big predators. The main bulk of this predator role was
always carried by fish, even when we had 40 million seals. How many
big fish were there?
What happened is, the big fish are gone. The seal was more or less
a redundant player when there were a lot of big fish to go around and
eat the spent herring and eat the cod that looked like my first slide,
whose time has come. When you had lots of big halibut and cod and hake
and sharks, all these things prowling around to eat those fish, there
was less impact from taking out the seal herd, because the seal herd
was virtually eliminated.
MR. MUIR: You're talking about - we used to talk about biology selection
- natural selection, the predators would eat the ones which were a little
MS. MACKENZIE: Yes, that needs to happen. If the predators don't eat
them, they just die of old age and lay down on the bottom. They could
rot and then bacteria gets a hold, and you can start to get degraded
water, degraded in the important context of losing the oxygen, and then
you can get kind of a snowballing dead bottom. The worms and things
will all die, all in the area. That's the kind of thing that can happen.
That's why the fish have to have the predators, it keeps it clean.
MR. MUIR: I understand that, but with the diminishment of those fish,
then the predators would now not just be eating the sort of weakened
fish or the ones that need to be - they would be looking for anything
that moved, I would think.
MS. MACKENZIE: I think they're still eating the weakened fish, and
I think they're finding a lot of weakened fish. Fish are weakened way
earlier than they used to be weakened. Adult cod is weakened now . .
MR. MUIR: They're a lot smaller.
MS. MACKENZIE: It used to be quite big before it got bit off and weakened.
It was this big and it was in its prime and it could get away from anything.
MR. MUIR: So they could flee.
MS. MACKENZIE: Yes. On the talk of the predators, we need the seal
because it's the only predator left. The increase in seals has been
really easy to see and to not take note that all other animals that
share the role, perform the same function, they're gone.
MR. MUIR: I was just wondering if there was a limit.
MS. MACKENZIE: When you start out on plankton, you're exactly right.
I've been trying to ask DFO and the government to please turn their
attention to the plankton. I was a little bothered that there was $6
million found a few years ago to study what seals eat. We all know what
seals eat, they eat fish. I suggested that they find a little money
to study the plankton, and they didn't.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Gaudet, Mr. Parker, and then Mr. Belliveau on for
a second time. If somebody else who hasn't had a question yet puts their
hand up, Mr. Belliveau, you're going to keep getting bumped down the
MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Thank you for your presentation. In your opening
comments, you indicated that this year's herring season was probably
less productive than in past years. I don't know; I'm just asking. Something
that I do hear from fishermen, especially from my area, the grey seal
herd population is increasing, and when an increased population keeps
on growing - and I don't know what the number is today, I anticipate
that will keep on growing - isn't there a danger that they're going
to practically eat everything there is to be had down there?
MS. MACKENZIE: I don't think so.
MR. GAUDET: You don't think so?
MS. MACKENZIE: I don't think so, because there were always natural
predators in the sea, in the Bay of Fundy, et cetera. There are less
now. The coverage by predators is less, even though there are more seals.
Sometimes you'll hear, well, the seal doesn't
have a natural predator, so they're just going to mushroom out of control.
The seal numbers will be controlled by . . .
MR. GAUDET: How?
MS. MACKENZIE: . . . food availability and disease susceptibility,
microbes complete the loop. That's what takes down - the top predator
ultimately does get weakened. They always did. There was never a shark
bigger than the great white to eat the great white. I know it's hard
- on the surface, it looks like the seals are a big problem, but you
have to go and look at the shore and see that the whole system is weakened.
I find that really scary. It's the ecosystem, and the plankton. Remind
yourself that the seals are turning worn-out fish into plankton.
MR. GAUDET: But that's not the trend that's happening out there now.
There are more seals and more seals, and less fish. That's assuming,
and I don't know how many pounds of fish they would consume, that one
big mammal would consume in the run of the day, so multiply by thousands,
how much do they need in order to continue to live? I'm just trying
to get a sense - when some fishermen do raise this, from listening to
what they have to say, the seal population keeps on increasing. Isn't
that going to have an impact on how many fish are going to be available
to catch and be brought ashore, and processed, and create jobs, and
what have you?
MS. MACKENZIE: The seal contribution has a positive impact on the whole
system. If you take the seals out, let's say, will you catch more fish?
Maybe very briefly. Probably the halibut won't be bitten off the longline
this year. But what you'll find is that the fish are thinner and weaker
even than they were before. Thinner and weaker and fewer. Fish don't
exist without natural predators. They never did, for 400 million years.
They need them. To the fishermen, I understand where they're coming
from and why it looks like that.
What I wish would happen is that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans,
Science Branch would communicate this to the fishermen, tell them about
the ecosystem, tell them about the predators, tell the fishermen what
they have written. When they find a cod like that - they find it all
the time in their offshore trawls, in the Gulf, in the Maritimes - you
all know that - the scientists call that a deceased-like fish. Then
they observe that they're probably finding deceased-like fish, because
of a shortage of natural predators. That's a sign there aren't enough
I wish, though, that the ecologists would be allowed to speak, would
be allowed to communicate to the fishing industry, because I totally
understand their frustration and the worries of fishermen. Does that
MR. GAUDET: Yes, thank you very much. I appreciate it.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Parker.
MR. PARKER: I'm Charlie Parker, MLA for Pictou West. I was late coming
in, so I didn't get a chance to introduce myself. I'm going to ask you
in a minute about your organization, your society, your history and
that kind of thing, but I just wanted to comment that along the Northumberland
Strait where I come from the herring catch this year was probably better
than ever. They had tremendous catches night after night. It was very
good. I just wanted to make that comment.
I want to ask then, what is the history of the Grey Seal Conservation
Society? How long have you been going? How many members do you have?
Who is involved, that type of thing?
MS. MACKENZIE: We've been incorporated for about two and a half years.
We don't actively seek members, and we have about as many formal members
registered as the Grey Seal Research and Development Society. We're
not providing member services. We maintain a Web site, and we try to
stimulate dialogue on the issue that we brought here today, around the
ecosystem. The reason we probably put grey seal in the title was because
it's kind of a timely topic, and people talk about seals. We could have
put porbeagle shark, the porbeagle shark conservation society, because
that, too, is a top ocean predator that's now targeted commercially,
even though it has been assessed as threatened under the Committee on
the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
MR. PARKER: Are you a group of scientists or are you lay people, or
MS. MACKENZIE: I'm the main researcher and spokesperson. My background
is in nursing. My last job was the public health nurse in Shelburne
County. I was born and raised in the fishing industry, a fishing village.
My father was a fisheries scientist. I'm very close to the fisheries,
very concerned about the fisheries and the fish. That's where this came
MR. PARKER: So you have a different perspective on conservation and
on fishing than many Nova Scotians, but I guess you're trying to educate
the rest of us or trying to bring a new angle or a new light to the
ecosystem. But you're relatively new and you're working on public relations,
I guess, is part of the reason you're here today.
MS. MACKENZIE: It's raising public awareness that there are broad signs
that are worrisome of change in the ocean life. If the public understood
we're getting in dangerous, unprecedented territory, ecologically -
the scientists will say, this is unprecedented. This is their assessment
of the Scotia - it's an unprecedented situation
with all the big fish missing. Unprecedented for how long? I don't
know. Probably hundreds of millions of years. We're on real shaky ground.
It's a crisis. The public is largely unaware that things like sea birds
are going to get in trouble, and whales.
I should mention something that bothered me after a previous meeting
of this committee to discuss the grey seals in the Spring. I can't remember
who mentioned it but one of the MLAs mentioned going to look at an island
where sea birds were breeding. It might have been Green Island in Yarmouth
County. Anyway, the observation was that - whoever it was, was used
to going out in the summer and seeing sea birds - puffins and whatnot
- that bred on this island - went out last summer and didn't see them
and was concerned, of course, that the grey seals had eliminated the
In the Gulf of Maine last summer, there was a large breeding failure
noted of sea birds from lack of food, lack of small pelagic fish. They
need to feed their young. If they can't feed the young, they abandon
the effort and leave the island. A breeding failure of sea birds isn't
going to eliminate sea birds if there's one bad year or two bad years
because, often, the adults can live for decades. But breeding failure
of sea birds is a warning sign.
MR. PARKER: Okay. You mentioned DFO earlier as having, maybe, a mandate
or a role to talk to fishermen's organizations and explain about the
ecosystem. Have you or your society attempted to do that yourselves?
Have you been invited ever to speak with the fishermen's group or have
you actively sought to meet with them?
MS. MACKENZIE: I have made presentations to the FRCC, the Fisheries
Resource Conservation Council, a few times. I have been invited to speak
to the - is it the Atlantic Salmon Federation? - the salmon protection
group. I've concentrated my efforts on the DFO scientists, themselves,
actually, because I think it's their role - and I've gone to the Bedford
Institute of Oceanography to speak with a room of Ph.D. scientists about
these matters, what I raised here today.
It's very disturbing, what the scientists said to me. They said, we
agree, but we're not allowed to say that. They're not allowed to say
that, that's the thing. They're publicly-employed, highly-experienced
scientists who are being paid to do expensive research to study the
ocean. When it comes to what the implications are of your work for fisheries
management, they're not allowed to say it.
MR. PARKER: Interesting. One more question, Mr. Chairman. I understand
the fishery industry in Norway and in Iceland is, perhaps, much healthier
than here. I don't know what the relationship between the fish stocks
and the amount of predators in those two countries would be, but can
you shed any light on that? Are there more grey seals or less grey seals,
perhaps, in those fishing countries? And why is their stock so much
MS. MACKENZIE: I'm not terribly familiar, but a bit. Iceland has been
a good place to grow fish for a long time. I think it's because of the
geographic location, where the Gulf Stream comes over and hits this
up-draft on the Iceland Shelf. It has always been a good place to grow
cod. However, recently, despite the measures they have taken in Iceland,
their cod stock is in decline. I don't know what their seal population
is, but it's more relevant to know what the predator population is.
I can't really comment on the state of fisheries in Norway. I haven't
done any research, but I've been told, informally, that it's not doing
well, compared to the past. Since you mentioned Norway, I'm just going
to put in one little item about Norway. Norway has a commercial seal
hunt and they market seal products commercially for human consumption,
and a veterinarian goes on every sealing vessel. That's not to do PR
about the Canadian slaughter, that's to do food safety.
MR. PARKER: Okay, those are all my questions for now. I might have
a few in the second round . . .
MR. CHAIRMAN: You may not get them, either.
MR. PARKER: You never know.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Theriault.
MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Debbie, for
coming in today and doing this presentation. I agree with you on one
thing so far, that is DFO managing this fishery from Ottawa, never doing
a good job and probably never will. You say you have a little background
in the fishery; I have 15 generations in the fishery here in Atlantic
Canada - I am 13th, my grandchildren are 15th.
Hopefully that will continue on to 30th or 40th,
and I believe it will.
You've got it pretty doom and gloom here on this paper, everything
from stuff missing off the beaches to - I've watched the fishery all
my life, and my father before him and his grandfather, my grandfather
before him. I don't know where you've ever seen 40 million seals in
Atlantic Canada, but that's something I've never seen or heard tell
of in my lifetime, or my grandfather's lifetime or my father's lifetime.
Anyway, that's pretty interesting.
I do remember seeing very small herds of seals all my life, but in
these last 15 years we've seen it 10 times bigger anywhere and everywhere
you want to go, that's for sure.
We've also seen in the last 15 years the only fish - we blamed it on
the fishermen and the fishermen will take responsibility, we did bring
it to its knees - the ground
fishery. But these past three to four years, especially these past
two years, you could jump in a boat and start sailing to Georges Bank
150 miles away and you might run across a fishing boat and you might
not. There are no fishing boats left out there. The fishing boats can't
catch their quota, they're all tied up now. So another great brainwave
that DFO had with the ITQ thing. Anyway, we won't go into that.
The only fish we see surviving in the Bay of Fundy is the dogfish.
There are more dogfish in the Bay of Fundy now than ever recorded in
history. They are washing up on the shore, there are so many of them
in the Bay of Fundy. The seals won't go around them. The seals get that
bone in their nose and their mouth would be swollen shut for a week
and they would starve to death - poison. They can't touch the halibut
too bad. The halibut hide on the bottom and when they're on the bottom,
the halibut can't be seen, the same as the flounder. The flounder is
thriving. The lobster is thriving fairly good and, like you say, there
has been a soft-shell problem, but we believe that has been climate
change in the last couple of winters and I think we're going to see
a big difference in that this winter. I may be wrong, but will be proven
right in December and January, right or wrong. That's what fish are
left in the Bay of Fundy.
The plankton, as you talk about it - the red feed we used to call it
- we used to steam out across the Bay of Fundy just coming daylight
in the morning, the sun just coming up, and look beyond your boat and
the wake which should be white could be blood red from plankton across
the Bay of Fundy. Tiny, shrimp-like stuff everywhere - fathoms and fathoms
deep, the Bay full of it. You could sail clear to Georges Bank now before
you find any of that feed that's in the water, the red feed we call
I don't know what has killed that, We certainly never caught any of
it; we never fished for that. I don't know what happened to that, that's
a good question, that's a big question. That's one you certainly should
be finding out about.
The seals are a problem. Even the few halibut and flounders that are
left, when the fishermen try to bring them up through 50, 60, 70 fathoms
of water, on their hook from the bottom, where they were good and healthy,
by the time they get to the surface the seals have them stripped, and
that's a fact. They can't even fish for them anymore. We fish for the
lobster, because they're in a trap and they can't get at them. But when
the small lobsters are thrown back, there are seals following the boat
because when the lobster goes down through the water column, it floats
down through with its claws stretched out. The seal gets them in the
back. They can't get them on the bottom. Once they get on the bottom,
the lobster is pretty safe.
The fishermen are saying, why are we bringing these small lobster up?
How are we going to stop that? They're always working around, trying
to deal with these seals. When there were a few of them, we used to
know how to stop them. I said, if you can't outsmart a seal, it's time
to get the hell out of the fishery, as a human being. But there are
so many of them. We could outsmart them when there were a few of them,
we could deal with it. But now you can't outsmart them. They're outsmarting
us, the fishermen, the fishing industry. Big time, Debbie.
When you live out there, it's just like a farmer in his garden, he
knows where every carrot is. When you live out there on that ocean,
day in, day out, all your life, you know where everything is, you know
where every rock is on the bottom, you know where every piece of kelp
is, you know where every speck of mud is on that bottom and what lives
on it and how it works. You see it, day in, day out. How people can
sit in a building, in a room, a scientist, and tell me what's out there
in the ocean, I don't know how they do that, that's beyond me. But when
you live it, see it, breathe it, eat it, you know it.
I want to go to Iceland for a second, to Norway. Iceland and Norway,
15 years ago, the fishery was depleted worse than ours. While it was
depleted down and out like ours is, the seal herd was growing. All of
a sudden, one day they started seeing seals washing up on the shore.
Ninety-five per cent of the seal population in Iceland and Norway died
off. I believe that. It died off. Once they did, they got a distemper
in them, I'm not sure about the scientific name they used, but it's
a distemper they got in them, the same as any wild animal will that
When the seals died off, they started seeing the fishery come back,
the ground fishery, the haddock, the cod. In Norway alone, they have
an over-200 ton a year fishery in the haddock and codfish right now,
one of the biggest in the world. But they knew when that ground fishery
started coming back, back the seals started coming, the 5 per cent that
never got the disease in them. They knew they had to do something. They
knew they couldn't let that seal - they had to try to hold a balance
So the balance was - they figured out in their wisdom - to harvest
those seals when they got so abundant. How they harvest them is, the
veterinarians, the scientists see how many worms are coming into the
fish, and once there are so many worms - there are always worms in codfish
- but when you see more and more and more of an abundance, it's a sign
of more seals around. So when they get so many, they bring the harvest
up on the seals.
They harvest the seals in Norway and Iceland exactly the way we harvest
our deer population in Nova Scotia. We hold the deer population between
46,000 and 54,000 animals, by harvesting 18 per cent to 24 per cent
annually. If you didn't harvest those deer in this province, we would
not grow a vegetable in this province to eat. Do you believe in the
hunt, the harvest of our deer herd in Nova Scotia?
MS. MACKENZIE: Yes, I don't have a problem with that. I don't think
that the terrestrial ecology has been weakened like the sea has been.
I don't see the hardwood tree leaves losing their colour too soon. I
don't see dieback signs extending as far as the plant life lacking fertilizer.
I'm not seeing that terrestrially. I think probably we've reduced the
predator on the deer - there's not much here for a natural predator
- and that the hunting, yes, keeps them down. I don't have a problem
MR. THERIAULT: I believe we reduced the predator of the seal, too,
and that's our shark. We have shark derbies in this province that, personally,
I don't like. I don't like to see those sharks coming out of the water
like they do. Those mako sharks and blue sharks, 8-, 10-, 12-feet long
- their main food along the shoreline was baby seals, small seals. We've
seen that. We've seen these sharks eat these small seals. They never
go after the big ones. One of those 200-pound, 300-pound sharks is not
going to tackle a 1,000-pound grey seal. No, I don't believe. There's
not too much out there that will tackle a 1,000-pound grey seal, not
that I know of, in these waters. But they ate enough of the young to
keep that population at that 30,000 to 40,000 of them per year. That's
what there was out here, for generations.
Today, this Spring, the count will be - it's over 400,000 - 450,000,
because they thought 50,000 would be born this Spring, the grey seal.
They're eating a minimum of 20 pounds of something a day. I'm not too
sure what they eat. I won't go into that. I don't think they're eating
ice cream cones or anything, it has got to be fish. We'll say 20 pounds.
The scientists say they'll eat up to 40 pounds a day. So at 20 pounds
a day, you're talking over 3 billion pounds of fish per year out here
on this coast being eaten by the grey seals. The whole Nova Scotia fishing
industry is 200 million pounds, which the fishermen can't catch.
Something is wrong out there, Debbie. Something's wrong. We've created
it, and I agree with that. DFO is the mastermind of most of it. So we'll
give them the most credit. But anyway . . .
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Theriault, are you . . .
MR. THERIAULT: That's good. I'm done.
MS. MACKENZIE: Thank you, Mr. Theriault. I'll try to address your points.
Going right to the red feed, on the disappearance, what happened to
the red feed, you're getting to the heart of the problem there. That's
very alarming. The barnacles - I found scientific research on shore
life from Nova Scotia in 1948 that included observations from Halls
Harbour, inside the Bay of Fundy, and Meteghan, more or less at the
mouth. I went to the exact locations for comparison monitoring, years
in a row. The Bay of Fundy was so rich in the past. Meteghan had incredible,
unusually thick barnacle belts across all the tops of the rocks, according
to scientific records made in 1948. I found the
same rocks, they're at Smugglers Cove, Meteghan is mostly a beach,
and there are no barnacles there. I find that horrifying. Again, that
shows the slowing of the system.
The comparison with the deer, I won't go any further. The seals eating
longline fish, of course. Yes, there's a lot of conflict with the fishermen
over that, and we need to get our priorities straight. What is important?
Again, do we need these predators? I think we do. To talk about Iceland
and Norway, 15 years ago, they were severely depleted, and then the
seals had a distemper. Most of the European seals died at that time.
Now they've got 200 million tons of ground fishery. But we don't know
- it's too simplistic to suggest that this is a balance with the number
of seals. Seals are not the only predators. You have to have some predators.
That's just not what's running it. It's more realistic to say, does
this work in balance with the abundance of the red feed? Yes, you're
When you talk about a balance, a balance in the sea comes into this
argument all the time. The balance is, animal life does things to sustain
and make life possible for animal life. That's how it works and it all
works together. If animal life loses strength, you have microbes - bacteria
is going to step right in and take over. So if all the animals are weakened,
as a group, then microbes are going to start to become prominent. If
this is a problem, you should let the animals, as a group, come back.
Taking a predator out is not going to help.
Now I want to address something that you said very clearly, that the
math has been done on the seal herd. The last estimate is 225, based
on the Sable Island pup count, which showed a decline in the increase.
They aren't still increasing at 13 per cent annually. The last count
showed a shortfall of 20,000 pups on Sable Island; 60,000 were predicted,
41,000 were found. It's slowing up, that's the scientific evaluation
of the seal herd.
Now, as far as eating their young by sharks, yes, there are no sharks
to eat their young, but what may be limiting the young is starvation.
I have found dead seal pups without a mark on them. Now I don't know
if they're infected with brucellosis that causes weak young, I don't
know if they're inexperienced, rapidly growing young seals that can't
find enough to eat. That would also cause dead pups in the water. This
is what's happening, the seal herd is slowing up. Don't worry, it's
not going to go shooting through the roof, the numbers.
Speaking of young mammals, the young is a population control point
for mammals, and whales, too. If you watch the strandings that are reported,
what's showing up is recently weaned fin whale that turns out to be
starving. It was nursed by an older, experienced, fully-grown whale,
it finds itself weaned, it's a rapidly growing, adolescent almost whale,
suddenly it has to feed itself and there are very few fish around. These
kinds of animals are dying.
Now, we have heard it again that there are a certain number of hundreds
of thousands of seals that are going to eat 20 pounds or maybe 40 pounds
of fish a day and then you do the math and you say they're eating more
than the whole fishing industry is landing, as if that was significant
- I'm sorry, that's not significant. They are part of what naturally
runs the system. They are part of the recycling, keeping it clean and
healthy, program in the sea. They eat the fish piecemeal, as they need
to be eaten, and if a whole new class of herring poops out at five years
of age - which is what happened - they're all going to be seal food
at five. Herring used to live to 20. The tonnage that goes down the
throat of the seal and back out into the plankton, there's no point
in comparing that to the tonnage landed by the fishing industry. The
fishing industry is not just like another predator. The other predators
are part of what makes it work. Okay?
MR. THERIAULT: You talked about it being unhealthy now, you're saying
it's unhealthy, that the pups are starting to die and stuff. If that
herd was culled to a proper balance out there, to the proportion of
food there is to take care of it, wouldn't that make for a healthier
MS. MACKENZIE: I don't think we should do that. I think we should let
the natural checks and balances work.
MR. THERIAULT: Why let 95 per cent of those animals - maybe 100 per
cent - die off from a disease, which is going to happen? It will happen.
MS. MACKENZIE: Because they are part of what strengthened the fish
in the first place. The fish are in trouble, the plankton is in trouble,
the whole thing is in trouble. We very well may see around the corner
the herring fishery collapse and then maybe the lobster fishery collapse.
There are warning signs that haven't been seen before.
I have been told there are fishermen in Woods Harbour who have put
thousands of dead lobsters in the landfill, thousands of pounds, is
that right? The canneries can't keep up with the weak and dying lobsters.
I've been told a boat is coming into Cape Island, lobster boats - they
fill their holding crates with live lobsters, as they have for generations,
they get to the wharf and one-third is dead. These are unprecedented
MR. THERIAULT: Thank you.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Belliveau, you're the last person on my list, so
I'm putting my own name on.
MR. BELLIVEAU: I have quite a list. There is an issue with soft-shell.
We've talked about it, and I've asked the minister to come down to southwest
Nova Scotia to
address it but, anyway, that's another issue for another day. There
are a number of things here. The first two paragraphs, I'm intrigued
by the statements in there. First, if we understand and would believe
that there was any possibility that removing the seals might trigger
an economic shift back towards the previous heyday of fish and fishermen,
then we'd be in favour of that. I'm intrigued by that statement.
I grew up on the Bay of Fundy, and I spent 38 years fishing at Lobster
Bay. The last three or four years, the first time on record, this is
the first time I've heard of a fisherman going out longline, and I think
that you may not agree with that particular fishery, but it's the first
time in my knowledge that fishermen have seen seals strip their halibut,
which is $5 a pound. I've been fishing for 38 years, and previously
been recording these last three or four years. So there's something
going on there.
Your earlier statement talked about the ecological system around Nova
Scotia, and I believe that we have one of the best, if not the best,
in the world. I think I can give you the stats that show that, that
the grow-out salmon farms in southwest Nova Scotia are one of the best
grow-out sites in Atlantic Canada. I'm intrigued by that statement,
because my previous colleague suggested that Norway and Iceland went
through a similar collapse that we have in the ground fishery, over
basically the same period of time. It's interesting to see that their
fishery has rebounded.
I'm intrigued by that, because I'm sitting here saying, if we have
this political will to put enhancement programs in place, then we can
get this fishery back. I'm hearing you say - basically the first question
I asked you, if there was, I forget, low-impact aquaculture you could
actually enhance the fisheries. We know that we have one of the best
grow-out sites there is. I feel that there's a problem with the predator,
the seals, and the fishermen are recording this now. To me, there's
something going on there.
What I'm not hearing from you is the recognition that I feel there's
a problem. The Europeans basically said their seals died off and the
fishery has come back. I'd like to have that question first addressed,
why did theirs come back?
Is it directly related to the seals dying off? If you come back here
in Canada, is there something we can do to create a program and a political
will to bring this fishery back? I would love to see the scenario that
you're saying, that you would actually encourage the possibility of
a seal harvest. I would just like for you to paint that scenario. I
think I'm close on that.
MS. MACKENZIE: Your fishery can't come back while the groundfish cannot
get enough to eat. It's just not possible. Regarding the . . .
MR. BELLIVEAU: What are they eating in Norway and Iceland? We have
to define that.
MS. MACKENZIE: I'm not an authority on Norway and Iceland, but I have
read some of the science from the area. Unofficially, I've seen lists
or discussions on-line with fisheries scientists for years. I know a
couple of Icelandic fishery scientists through there, who assure me
it's in trouble. Not just me, the whole list. The groundfish in Iceland,
the cod is not doing well. Part of what I know for a fact exhibited
in Iceland and Norway is biological change patterns that we've seen
here in fish. Slowed growth and younger-age maturity, these are parts
of the picture that has happened to our groundfish that they have too.
It suggests a common theme, but they're actually geographically better
situated, relative to other fishing grounds, to grow fish, just as the
Bay of Fundy is geographically better than the East Scotian Shelf and
it always has been.
MR. BELLIVEAU: If I could just interrupt here, how can you eliminate
the idea that the statement is being made that the Bay of Fundy, because
of its geographic location, is one of the best grow-out sites for salmon?
It's proven. Under your scenario, you're saying that Iceland is geographically
the best location in the world, then the argument or the discussion
of saying southwest Nova Scotia is one of the best grow-out sites for
salmon would, to me, not be possible or it would not be relevant. I'm
having a problem being told that Norway and Iceland are the best in
the world, yet we have the statistics showing that southwest Nova Scotia
- the Bay of Fundy because of its geographical location and the tidal
- is one of the best in Canada, if not the world.
MS. MACKENZIE: Okay, the best . . .
MR. BELLIVEAU: The point I'm trying to make is that if we put the programs
in place, we can enhance the fisheries and get it back. That's what
I'm trying to get to.
MS. MACKENZIE: The best is a relative observation. The best isn't as
good as it used to be, the Bay of Fundy or Iceland. The fishery is growing
slower, the barnacles are gone, the snails are gone - not gone but diminished.
Everything is kind of crumbling around the edges of the full range it
used to occupy. The Atlantic cod used to be all the way to northern
Labrador and all the way to the southern Atlantic United States. It
has left its northern regions and southern regions a long time ago.
There's only a little bit left inshore, in the best, relative locations.
The Icelandic cod fishery is much diminished. Now, I'm not going to
say anything about their crash 15 years ago and recovery, because I'm
not aware of that. I know I have read some of the papers, some of the
science papers from over there that show the same biological warning
signs in individual fish as have been shown here. The last slide that
I showed you, with the pyramids, that was a study that included Iceland
and Norway, that was the whole North Atlantic Ocean. The whole thing
has shown a decline.
When you said about stripping the halibut from the longlines, I'm not
going to argue, of course they would do that, they're hungry seals.
I just want to say that a similar problem has occurred in the Bering
Sea, where there's longline fishery there for black cod. They're finding
that sperm whales are stripping their longlines. The sperm whale is
actually even straightening the hooks, cleaning them all off, they go
right up the line. Nobody is suggesting they kill the sperm whales for
The marine mammal predators are shifting with the times, doing things
that they wouldn't have done before. Those longline fishermen, they're
saying the sound of their motors is calling the whales, and they're
coming and they're just cleaning off the longlines. There's probably
a shortage of their natural prey.
MR. BELLIVEAU: I'll let some other colleagues have some questions.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I have a couple of other interveners after me. I want
to thank you for your presentation. I have to say I'm surprised. You
went where no one has gone before, I think. No one has really touched
on the biology of the problem. My background is biology, so I understand
the food chain. I'm really worried about the plankton. I didn't understand
what you said about the seals and the worm eggs. I'm assuming you were
going with, they are food stuff for this plankton level, although that
doesn't address photosynthetic plankton or algae.
I'm really curious about the nutrient level, what you said about the
seaweed and the barnacles, and the fact that if Mr. Theriault is right,
and I almost never second guess him, if we take the number of fish that
he says is being consumed by the seals compared to the catch that's
landed, it would seem to me that we should have fish that have so much
food that they should all be healthy. Anything that's not eaten by a
seal or caught in a net or trap or whatever, should be a really super-healthy
fish because their competition is gone, really.
If all these fish are being consumed and we have a good food supply,
then we should have a lot of really healthy fish out there, and we don't
if what you're saying is accurate, that we have fish that are starving.
If we have fish that are starving, that means there's nothing for them
to eat. So the question has to be - and they aren't eating seals, obviously
- what is happening to the food chain? That's a very serious issue.
Looking at your questions, "Our advice to the government of Nova Scotia
. . . Ask DFO for a formal consultation with their ecosystem scientists,
and then ask those scientists to give the news to the province straight
. . ." Well, if you met a whole room full of Ph.D.s and they said we
can't tell anybody, I'm thinking if the province does ask them, they
might give it to the province straight, but it might not get out of
the room. So that's kind of my worry. If, in actual fact, scientists
are saying this to you but they aren't saying this to us, that is a
bit of a concern.
The issues around the harvest of the seals, with a veterinarian, CFIA
basically in the Norwegian style or whatever, that's a fairly sensible
approach, food inspection, basically food security. That's what we do
in our slaughterhouses, in our inspected facilities.
I tried to pursue the brucellosis thing a bit on my own and didn't
- actually the information I got from CFIA, no flags were going up on
them as far as incidents of anybody ever being sick, compared to cattle.
I think there were something like six cases per year nationally, never
been one related to a seal although we aren't consuming seal like we
consume beef or anything else. So in that regard, I'm not sure that
you can get much traction. I mean if the kind of health, food security
officials don't - no flags are going up for them so I'm just wondering,
do you have any comment or anything to add in terms of the brucellosis
MS. MACKENZIE: Okay, I see you have a couple of questions here. Yes,
you want me to elaborate on the seal, worm egg plankton?
MR. CHAIRMAN: I don't think. I think I understand that it raises some
issues for me the way you've explained it. The whole basis of the food
chain is photosynthesis, so anything coming down through the chain,
that energy is starting there so I understand that and I'm . . .
MS. MACKENZIE: Right, they do stimulate photosynthesis because they
are in the upper water column and they are exuding ammonia, which is
fertilizer. You asked a very good question, what is a nutrient level?
My power point won't come back up because I have the nitrate graph from
DFO on there.
This is the bottom water nitrate level. Nitrogen is the key, limiting
nutrient for photosynthesis in this part of the world's oceans. It has
fallen, with no explanation. They just know this doesn't look good.
The nitrate was stuttering along and then around 2001, it comes down
almost by half, a very slight recovery. It's down substantially, the
bottom water nitrate, which is the nitrate released by bottom decomposition,
that's when the winter overturn of the water column brings it back up
and then it's available to the sun.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Isn't that the lack of feces, or I mean, isn't it the
lack of organisms?
MS. MACKENZIE: I think it's dilution of life in general. This decrease
in the nitric concentration is entirely consistent as an explanation
for those seaweed changes I showed you.
Your comment that with all the fish that are being eaten, the few that
live should be in good shape, you're exactly right. That's called density-dependent
was a principle accepted by fisheries scientists as part of what was
always the case, as far as they knew. If a particular fish population
suffered some poor survival, or whatever, a few numbers, if there were
only a few herring that came back, they were very fat; if there were
only a few cod this year, they were fat. If there was a high survival
of the young and they come in a really thick school, they're thin -
Twenty years ago the relationship started to fall apart - few fish,
in poor shape. It was puzzling in 1985 and it's still puzzling, except
that they now know there's just not enough food, it's unexpected but
that's what it is. So you're right in that.
The brucellosis, okay, nobody wants to touch that. What can I say?
The studies that I put in the binder from The Journal of Wildlife Diseases
show that a serosurvey found the brucellosis in every type of marine
mammal tested, whales and seals, including the commercially harvested
seals in Atlantic Canada. The subsequent actions of the Department of
Fisheries and Oceans, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, are hard
to understand because following that, they identified this as a food
threat in the Arctic. They published a guide for subsistence hunters
up north on how they could screen marine mammals that they are thinking
of eating, for contagious disease threats. The booklet actually was
reproduced in your binder, but it comes out as a nice, colour-illustrated
thing if you get the original. There are various findings wherein hunters
are told, if you find this, don't even feed it to your dog.
This information wasn't given to the sealers in Atlantic Canada, which
puzzles me. Also, the Food Inspection Agency has international expertise
in diagnosing brucellosis in marine mammals. It's a little harder, you
have to culture it for more days because it's cold-tolerant so this
strain has to be watched a few more days. At CFIA we test seal tissues
from Hawaii. The Hawaiian monk seal is starving and sick and facing
extinction. They send samples to Canada to be diagnosed for brucellosis
on Hawaiian seal.
The U.S. has an import barrier against marine mammal tissue. There
is a researcher in the United States who has a special permit to import
marine mammal tissue from Canada. She is a brucellosis researcher. She
can import whale and seal, and she does, from Canada to test for brucellosis.
DFO has a marine mammal disease specialist on their staff - they have
one, based in Quebec. There is one marine mammal disease specialist
employed by DFO. This hasn't led to any screening program for diseases
in seals. This source has, in fact, said there should not even be any
wildlife rehabilitation initiative in Atlantic Canada for marine mammals.
I have the licensed wildlife rehab people here who have done seals
and marine mammals, who should know, and the protocol should be, as
it is in other countries, to screen for listed diseases, including brucellosis.
We have DFO saying, don't do wildlife rehab, just stop it. So it's blocking
any potential diagnosis of diseases in the seals. Other countries -
the United States, the U.K., et cetera - deliberately screen to see,
and brucellosis is high on everybody's worry list because the strain
in the seals can make people sick. I showed you a paper with human neuro-brucellosis
from the seal strain.
When there are strandings, rehab centres, the data is collected - what
have these seals got? There is a protocol, it's done everywhere except
in Canada, and we even have the expertise. It's just very strange.
The seal products - I have tried to chase this too, to have the Food
Inspection Agency or Health Canada, somebody, admit that this is not
adequate for this product for human consumption. It seems that the seal
oil is in some kind of a limbo between - it's not food, the Food Inspection
Agency says it is not food. It's going to be regulated under the Natural
Health Products Directorate of Health Canada, but they haven't approved
it and they haven't given it a licence number, so it is in some kind
The seal meat question nobody will touch, other than to say that legally
it's fish, that's the whole discussion. Human brucellosis in Canada
is really rare. I discussed this with the provincial medical officer
of health who said well, I have never seen a case, and I said well,
I have never seen a case either. It's a problem in developing countries,
and the food and agriculture organization has guidelines for developing
countries on how to avoid it because it is a serious disease. Doctors
in Canada might not know it if they fell over it, frankly. They would
have to have a very high level of suspicion; it can mask as chronic
fatigue and lymphoma and all kinds of things - arthritis and headaches
and bellyaches, it goes on for a long time, just a chronic illness that
you might not nail down what it is. Did I answer your questions?
MR. CHAIRMAN: I think you answered a couple I didn't ask, but thank
I have Mr. Fage and Mr. Dunn, in that order.
HON. ERNEST FAGE: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and thank you
for your presentation. Just a couple of quick questions. I think most
of my colleagues have extensively covered many of the areas and certainly
brucellosis and the discussion there and CFIA, I think there obviously
needs to be some clarification and generally brucellosis that would
affect human health in Canada, there are no major reports out of the
north or Newfoundland and Labrador, or anywhere. It is generally associated
with bison herds in western Canada, so I think you have pretty well
My concern, though, is the premise of your presentation in regard to
the upper predators in the Bay of Fundy and globally, oceans and their
health. I tend to adhere much more to the theory and the research of
climate changes, it has been very well documented. What we can do about
it is the huge debate that is certainly raging in Europe and North America,
primarily on the globe. When you look at issues dealing with food sources,
predators reach a balance and when it's on land, coyotes, once they
exhaust the food source they fall prey to themselves. That's a generally
Have you examined, in your discussions or thoughts, the ecosystem out
of balance, and when I say that, you tend to look at what other species
are in the ocean that were of lesser numbers or recessive numbers and
cod stocks - or pick the species of fish or pelagic that you want -
it seems amazing that snow crab has suddenly bloomed, or a crustacean
that cod normally would have fed on, right? Those stock numbers have
gone up, they have hit their plateau and now they are peaking back down.
Some of the research on climate change and the utilization of nutrients,
the absence of them or the presence of them, is much more associated
with a temperature change in the water, salinity changes, the amount
of freshwater coming into the ocean from polar ice caps or natural phenomena
because there is more annual rainfall, all those types of things appear
to have much more direct influence on plankton and photosynthesis, or
the basic building block of the food chain that appears to be in the
most trouble. The large predators or large fish are the symptoms of
harvesting, but the one that really concerns me is that balance, or
the lack of that balance, to the entire ecosystem. It's the food source
being generated. From my point of view, I think it has more to do with
climate change than the simplistic case of too many seals eating too
MS. MACKENZIE: Regarding climate change, you're right, there's a lot,
globally, that is sort of being explained that way, a lot of negative
changes in the Tropics and even in the Pacific, the North Pacific, too.
One thing that was clear in the Atlantic Canada analysis is that these
trends are positively associated with prolonged fishing and not with
climate change, because we haven't had global warming affect the water.
In fact, in the early 1990s there was a little cold spell on the Scotian
Shelf and for a little while they thought maybe it had been too cold,
that maybe that has depressed the growth of the fish, but then that
reversed . . .
MR. FAGE: If I could interject there, research shows that the temperatures
actually are colder on the Labrador Shelf, which is a strong indicator
- if you put ice cubes in a glass of water, it initially doesn't get
warmer, it gets colder first. Cod, when you look at their physiology,
live in a very narrow temperature band. With the temperature actually
getting colder, that would indicate the theory of global warming, that
the ice caps and the freshwater contained north is coming down.
MS. MACKENZIE: I showed you a graph with 40 years steady decline in
the growth of fish. During the 40 years, there have been some flips
above and below the norm in the climate indicators. It was cold in the
1960s and then it was warmer, then it was cold in the early 1990s and
then it was warmer. The system isn't really responding to that. There's
something else. Like I said, the ecological analysis by the scientists
showed, they concluded it was the bulk removal of the big fish - removing
that from the picture triggered changes throughout. What's unique about
the Atlantic Canadian insight is that this doesn't link to climate change
data, and it doesn't link to pollution. The decline in nitrate is the
opposite of pollution. Does that make sense?
Again, when you say a lack of balance, the balance is how you visualize
the balance. There is a balance between all of the animals and all of
the bacteria. That's the balance that's being lost. The animals are
too thinned out. There's danger of the bacteria getting the upper hand.
The snow crab bloom, you're right, in the North Sea this was very evident
as well, when there was a big decrease in the fish in the water column,
when they kind of diminished, bottom dwellers had a boom. This is a
shift in the energy pathway, because a lot more of the food generated
at the surface doesn't go through the route that sustains fish that
swim around, it falls right to the bottom. So there's actually a little
more food that hits the bottom. So you get the snow crabs, you get the
scallops, things like that, looking good.
The snow crab bloom and the lobster bloom, it was explained as possibly
due to the loss of their predators, which was the cod that eat a lot
of little lobster and crab, which sounds like a sensible explanation,
but what didn't happen was the other things the cod eat, the herring
didn't also bloom. I suspect that the bottom crustacean bloom was more
along the lines of more energy going straight from top to bottom by
sinking and less swimming around in the middle.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Dunn.
MR. PATRICK DUNN: Once again, thank you for your presentation, it was
well received. In the early part of your presentation, the correlation,
the information that you gave since has certainly covered what I was
thinking. In the early stages, fewer seals, rich plankton; an abundance
of seals, fewer fish and less plankton. I was going to get you to comment
on that, but, again, you gave additional information after the fact.
I would like you to comment on this question. Would it be your belief
that there's no negative spinoff from the rapid increase of seals over
the past, say, three decades, up until recently where you suggest that
it seems that there could possibly be a slight decline? I would just
be looking for a comment on that.
MS. MACKENZIE: No, I certainly see a negative spinoff, because what
I see is all this conflict with the fishing industry. That's negative.
There's this huge misunderstanding about what's going wrong and why
won't the groundfish come back. I do not think there has been any negative
ecological occurrence because the seals have increased. The seals have
partly compensated for all the big fish being gone, they haven't completely
compensated by a long shot. The predatory power is reduced despite an
increase in seals. Ecologically, that's what matters, how many animals
are out there that are doing this thing. Much fewer than there used
to be, is the answer. Yes, humans are having trouble with all the seals.
MR. CHAIRMAN: There are no other questions by any members. I just wonder
if you have a wrap-up or if you have any comments you would like to
give. We have a little bit of business for the committee when we're
done, so I'm trying to save a few minutes for that. So I just wondered
if there's anything else you'd like to add.
MS. MACKENZIE: I guess I would just like to bring you back to my recommendation.
It would be extremely helpful, I believe, if the provincial government
would try to make sense of the ecosystem changes, and try to get something
out of the science branch. Anybody can come here and make a pitch to
you, except a professional ecologist, the oceanographers who know. That's
ridiculous. I don't know if you can have them here. I don't know why
you couldn't have them here. I can suggest names of scientists and questions.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I have a couple of gentlemen who I think want to make
a comment, and then I'd like to make a comment.
Mr. Fage, you had your hand up first.
MR. FAGE: I looked at your recommendations, and I wanted to make the
comment, if the committee, as well as yourself, share concerns about
DFO's recommendations, Mr. Chairman, I would suggest that on a future
day we have a presentation from DFO on their eco-management plan, dealing
with grey seals and certainly other issues pertaining to the management
of the fishery.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I was going down that road myself. I'm curious if these
would be the people you would suggest, you said you could suggest some
names, would they be DFO scientists?
MS. MACKENZIE: Yes.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Theriault.
MR. THERIAULT: I would like to make a motion that this committee put
a workshop together in western Nova Scotia or southern Nova Scotia,
or somewhere in Nova Scotia, bring together fishing industry, environmentalists,
Department of Fisheries and Oceans science, and the Nova Scotia Department
of Fisheries, and get us all in one room for a day or two to hash all
this out. That's my proposal, that this committee do this.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, I'm not sure if we're going to have a conflict
of two similar - I know what Mr. Fage is saying would seem to me that
probably the people we were thinking of possibly bringing before this
committee are probably the people we're going to want to involve in
your forum. So, Mr. Fage.
MR. FAGE: If I might suggest, honourable colleague, certainly in my
view it would be nice to have the DFO scientists, the people whose profession
it is, to allow committee members to have their questions answered here,
and obviously that is public record. Then it would be easier to move
it, have that first and then move into a forum after that with the Nova
Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture. I think we would have
a lot more database information presented to all concerned, before we
had the conference with the fishery groups and other interested groups.
MR. THERIAULT: I agree.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I'm told that we can probably put something together.
The location might be here, rather than southwestern Nova Scotia or
somewhere - the Red Room. If you want to withdraw your resolution and
your motion just for the moment, I think if the committee is in agreement
about having scientists from DFO speak to this issue, we can get the
names from Debbie.
MS. MACKENZIE: Can I butt in at this point? Yes, when you say DFO scientists,
ensure that you don't have only those who do single-stock assessments.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I'm not hearing you.
MS. MACKENZIE: Ensure that you don't have only the scientists who do
the single-species counts and assessments. Ensure that you have the
ecosystem scientists - they are different people.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I want the names from you.
MS. MACKENZIE: Yes, and then beyond that you should ask the Department
of Fisheries and Aquaculture management division to also contribute
to your discussion.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Is the committee in agreement to ask these people for
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Agreed.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, we'll do that and thank you very much, I appreciate
MS. MACKENZIE: Thank you very much.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I'd ask the members please don't leave. We have a couple
of issues to deal with.
[2:49 p.m. The committee recessed.]
[2:52 p.m. The committee reconvened.]
MR. CHAIRMAN: We'll try to get members out of here by 3:00 p.m. We
have to make a decision, actually, on a potential witness for our next
meeting on November 14th. I think Mora has taken the number
one group for the NDP and the Liberals, since it was the same, Pork
Nova Scotia. I'm just wondering what the committee's view is on that.
MR. FAGE: Can I make a suggestion? Mr. Chairman, when you take the
top two from each caucus, you have five choices. Let's just take those
five choices and you decide what order you want them in, and let's have
MR. CHAIRMAN: How is the committee with that? Obviously Pork Nova Scotia
will be next, if that's okay. Then we'll just pick the rest out of the
MR. FAGE: We'll do those five in that order, and you decide the order
they come in.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I think the next one would probably be one we would pick
from the PC caucus, since the November 14th one is from the
New Democrats and the Liberals. We could either pick the winery association
or the wild blueberry producers for after that.
There is a view toward the ATV Association of Nova Scotia concerning
recent regulations. Mr. Theriault, was that you?
MR. THERIAULT: Yes. Mr. Chairman, I've had a request from the ATV Association
of Nova Scotia. Scott MacInnis, director of Zone 1, would like to come
and do a presentation to the committee on the feelings of their members.
I think they have 4,000 or 5,000 members. I said I would see what I
could do for them.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I guess it's up to the committee. I think we're looking
at about five months, one group per month, what we've kind of decided
MR. FAGE: If I may, Junior, if it's okay on the ATV Association, let's
have him but we should have their provincial association at the same
time, so we get the whole story. If there's any dichotomy between a
local zone and the provincial organization, I think it would stand all
the membership better if we had their provincial in along with that
MR. CHAIRMAN: Are we to assume that if you're a member of this local
organization that you're a member of the provincial? Are we going to
have two completely different groups?
MR. FAGE: That's what I think we should find out, to make sure.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I guess if it turns out . . .
MR. THERIAULT: They're located here in Halifax, the ATV Association
of Nova Scotia.
MR. FAGE: That's what I mean, rather than one zone, we might as well
have the provincial association.
MR. THERIAULT: Scott MacInnis is just the director who brought it to
my attention, but I believe it's the whole association . . .
MR. CHAIRMAN: That's for the province, you mean. Okay.
Is the committee fine with that, to add this group to our list?
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Agreed.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay. The Sou'West Nova Metis Council, Cape Sable Island
would also like to make a presentation to the committee.
MR. BELLIVEAU: I was hand-delivered this particular letter yesterday.
I haven't seen the public announcement yet, but I understand there was
a court decision in their favour, or recognizing that they have some
merit to their court case. I would just make the chairman aware of that.
This particular organization would be anxious to make a presentation
before the committee. I'm just making you aware.
MR. FAGE: I'm just a little concerned, if an organization that has
no status in the province, if we're going to start having groups with
no standing, it makes it very difficult to run a proper agenda and keep
the magnitude of issues we should be dealing with . . .
MR. CHAIRMAN: I think I understand where you're going. The legal context
of standing, I'm not sure if it necessarily applies in this case, because
if you consider the group that was just before us, it's a group that's
self-identified, basically incorporated under the Societies Act, I believe,
so I'm not sure if anyone calls himself a group, that we can . . .
MR. FAGE: My concern is this group has been before the courts, has
court actions and is dealing in a negotiating position. It makes it
very difficult if we're providing a forum.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, well maybe we'll hold this over until another day
because it's the question that if they have been before the courts and
there has been a decision, then they aren't before the courts, if the
decision has been rendered. So I think we can seek some advice in this
regard and come back to this for our next meeting. Are you fine with
Mr. Theriault, did you just have your hand up?
MR. THERIAULT: Yes, on a different matter. We just took a recommendation
from Ms. MacKenzie to have a meeting here with DFO scientists. She's
going to suggest a name or two. May we have a name suggested from the
Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association also, to be fair?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, I didn't know we were going to be unfair.
MR. THERIAULT: Well, I mean both the Grey Seal Conservation Society
and the Grey Seal Research and Development Society, too, if you want
to put it in those words.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Well, I was more concerned about DFO. I mean, it is a
federal department. I would think that we should be able to rely on
what their scientists would tell us. Her point was to the ecological
side of this, ecological scientists. I'm not sure, unless those people
you're referring to are what we would refer to as specialists in the
MR. THERIAULT: But she just said that she was going to recommend names.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Right, but they have to be scientists - are we going
to have a problem with the scientists?
MR. THERIAULT: I'm not sure.
MS. MORA STEVENS (Legislative Committee Clerk): Traditionally anyone
who would suggest names, that would come back to the committee so the
committee can approve those names. So these were the people who were
suggested and then I would send it out to committee members and that
way everybody is aware.
MR. THERIAULT: Okay, that'll be fine.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, we'll do that, if you don't mind. Mr. Parker and
then Mr. Fage.
MR. PARKER: A different thought - I'm not a regular member of this
committee but I have been on the committee for a number of years previously.
I remember, Mr. Chairman, you were going to check out the possibility
of a tour to Maine on the forestry industry. Is that still on the table
or is that still a possibility?
MR. CHAIRMAN: That's no longer the main tour. I did speak to the Speaker,
we sent the request to the Speaker because he would have to fund it.
It became a very grey area, I think, due to an impending springtime
election, but I never actually received anything to indicate a decision
on that, although I just had . . .
MR. PARKER: It seemed like a good initiative and maybe it's something
that the committee could re-investigate. That's just my thought on it.
MR. CHAIRMAN: If the committee would like me to pursue that again,
I can do that.
MR. PARKER: They are doing some good things up there, I think.
MR. FAGE: I think we should have a discussion with the Internal Economy
Board and the Speaker's Office.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Well, that's why we sent it to the Speaker, because he
was going to make that decision and then get back to us.
MR. FAGE: That's the question we would ask first, before we plan a
MR. GAUDET: I would suggest for that discussion to take place with
the regular members of this committee first.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Sure, okay.
MR. PARKER: I was just throwing it out as food for thought.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay. Mr. Fage.
MR. FAGE: Just back to the DFO witnesses. I agree with Mora that the
names she would suggest would come back here for the committee, but
is it possible to have a list of DFO's research scientists here in Atlantic
Canada provided at the same time to us, so when we evaluate the list
we might want to include one or two other ones, besides the exclusive
MR. CHAIRMAN: I don't see any problem with that. I don't know that
I know enough about the credentials of the scientists to evaluate them,
but I would be glad to take a look at a list.
MR. FAGE: It'll give us a strong idea of whether they are single-species
or ecosystems, Mr. Chairman, the scientists, what their responsibilities
MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, I'll take your word for that. Thank you. Any other
business for the committee?
Okay, thank you very much. I appreciate your standing in, Mr. Parker.
[The committee adjourned at 3:01 p.m.]