About the Committee
INTRODUCTION TO THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE
ON FISHERIES AND OCEANS
The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans has the mandate to study all issues relating to the fisheries and oceans generally. The committee is interested in matters pertaining to the maritime and fisheries sectors; oceans management, aquatic resources and fisheries; aquatic life and ecosystems; the fishing industry; and safe and secure waterways . The committee is also interested in the federal government’s current and evolving policy framework for managing Canada’s fisheries and oceans.
The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries was created in May 1986 to deal exclusively with matters relating to fisheries, which were, until that date, the purview of the then-Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. The name of the committee was changed to Fisheries and Oceans on December 5, 2002, in order to better reflect what the committee had been studying for many years.
Over the last 10 years, the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans has published more than 15 substantive reports. Its special studies have dealt with numerous aspects and issues pertaining to Canada’s fisheries and oceans.
The committee has examined issues affecting fish habitats and fish stocks. In 2012, it studied Atlantic groundfish and h ow the grey seal population was a key factor limiting the recovery of these stocks since their collapse in the early 1990s. In 2007, the committee studied the management of Atlantic fish stocks beyond the 200‑mile limit. In 2003, it studied straddling fish stocks in the Northwest Atlantic. In early 2002, the committee undertook a study in order to promote awareness of issues, government programs and strategies pertaining to fish habitats.
In March 2010, at the request of the Fisheries and Oceans Minister, the committee agreed to examine Canada’s lighthouses and the services provided by lightkeepers. The committee broadened the scope of its study to include the implementation of the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (HLPA), which came into force at the end of May 2010. These matters are important to the users of lighthouse services, to the Coast Guard and to the lightkeepers themselves. Beyond their traditional role as navigation aids, lighthouses are monuments to Canada’s proud maritime heritage. The committee found that staffed lighthouses and lightkeepers play a crucial role in public safety and could not support the Canadian Coast Guard’s 2009 lightstation destaffing plan. In response to the committee’s report, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans cancelled the program to destaff lightstations in British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador .
The Arctic is becoming increasingly important, on several levels, from strategic and economic standpoints . In the last years the committee on Fisheries and Oceans studied Canada’s Arctic and, in particular, the role of the Canadian Coast Guard and the management of the region’s fisheries and oceans. The seven reports published on this subject called for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to improve management of the fisheries and of the region’s emerging development opportunities. The committee’s recommendations also stressed the importance of defending Canada’s sovereignty in the Arctic and providing support, in various areas, to the Coast Guard, which is responsible for protecting the economic and environmental values and interests of Canadians, especially in the North.
The committee recognizes that the fisheries are a vital part of the economic, social and environmental sustainability on the Canadian coasts. It regularly examines the impact of policy changes on coastal communities and their residents as well as the state of the fisheries in those regions. For example, the committee recently studied the lobster fishery in Atlantic Canada and in Quebec to conclude that t he lobster fishery must stay on course and continue to make needed changes to ensure stability and sustainability in the future . Studies have also touched on issues related to freshwater fisheries and aquaculture.
In the past few years, the committee also examined the Atlantic snow crab fisheries; the management of Atlantic offshore fisheries; hunting and management of beluga whales in Nunavik; the development of the commercial fisheries in Nunavut; and the renewal of the Pacific fisheries.
SELECTED LEGISLATIVE WORK
The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans generally conducts special studies and is rarely called upon to consider legislation. In the last three years however, two bills were referred to it – Bill S-13, An Act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act (2013) and Bill S-220, the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (2010) .
For information on the current work of the committee, you may wish to review the orders of reference the committee has received from the Senate, or review the committee proceedings. Detailed information on current work of the committee can be found on the parliamentary website at http://senate-senat.ca/pofo.asp .