The DFO is Harshly Criticized in the Canadian Senate
The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans
OTTAWA, Thursday, February 10, 2005
The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans met this day at 10:45 a.m. to examine and report on issues relating to the federal government’s new and evolving policy framework for managing Canada’s fisheries and oceans.
Senator Gerald J. Comeau (Chairman) in the Chair.
The Chairman: I call the meeting to order. Welcome, everybody. Senator Merchant, I believe that this is your first time here.
Senator Merchant: It is baptism by fire.
The Chairman: Welcome aboard. We appreciate your joining the committee.
Honourable senators, in October of 2004, the Senate gave this committee an order of reference to examine and report on issues relating to the federal government's new and evolving framework for managing Canada's fisheries and oceans. We are very pleased to have Dr. Daniel MacInnes appear before us this morning. Dr. MacInnes is a well known professor of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Saint Francis Xavier University. He has taught for some 35 years and has made the unique traditional character of Canada's Atlantic provinces his life's work.
He has been the principal investigator or co-investigator for a number of grants awarded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. All of those studies involved at least some aspect of work with fisheries and, I should note, communities. Dr. MacInnes's research expertise includes comparative regional fisheries, which will be especially useful to this committee as we try to look at jurisdictions that have struggled and as we consider the decisions that are now before the Government of Canada regarding the question of the allocation of fish and the management regime.
Dr. MacInnes, welcome to the committee. We look forward to your presentation, which will be followed by a series of questions and answers.
Mr. Daniel MacInnes, Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Saint Francis Xavier University: Thank you, Senator Comeau. It is a real pleasure and an honour to be here as a citizen of Canada and as a scholar. It is somewhat satisfying to be able to report on one’s work in a body that is connected to power, and the connection to power is the point I want to emphasize.
In preparing for today, I looked at the previous submissions made to this committee on this issue and then reviewed the work that you did on the ITQ question. I reread the policy work done by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in 1977, when they went out to the communities and allegedly brought to them a series of propositions about the need to change policy.
Next, I spent some time looking at the actual policy. I should not say I looked at it. The notes are fairly significant on that. At that time I looked at the Pearse-McRae Report, Treaties and Transition: Towards a Sustainable Fishery on Canada’s Pacific Coast. I read the relevant sections, the beginning sections. I read the response to that by the Ecotrust report, Catch 22: Conservation, Communities and the Privatization of BC Fisheries, which is a brilliant report that responds in kind and in detail to the positions advanced by Professor Pearse.
Next I read the comments of the Fundy group, which is involved in the whole co-management matter.
After reading all of that, and having started this work in 1968 and having travelled around the world thinking about and researching these issues, I was wondering about what I should say. I did not script my response largely because I am too busy to write right now.
I am going to talk from notes and I am going to say a few things.
I think that rural life is exceptionally important for Canadians. I think that for too long we have accepted the idea that economic dictates will empty the rural areas. Actually, right now we are having a race between Saskatchewan and Newfoundland, one agriculturally-based, the other fisheries-based, as people leave these provinces because there is no work or because the nature of agricultural development or fisheries development is such that there is less work.
I think coastal communities are a special case, because the diversity of lifestyle that is afforded by marginality is something that we have to grasp as a people. It is odd that on the one hand we grasp diversity linguistically, which is so evident here in Ottawa. For that reason it really is a pleasure to visit here, to see French and English used all around with such facility. Diversity not only of language but also of culture is in all aspects perceived to be a very good thing. Yet, on the other hand, we allow our economic system to reduce diversity of occupation and of culture.
The marginal areas have had an ability to retain culture, to retain ways of doing things that are somewhat at odds with the efficiency brought to both industrial production and advanced service industries that are highly digitized, computerized, et cetera.
I believe that we ought to keep this point front and centre: what we are talking about is an opportunity at this moment in history to affirm rural peoples through coastal communities. The opportunity is great because we can affirm democracy in a new way. Democracy must be reinvented. There are a lot of conversations about this in the European community. There are conversations about proportional representation throughout the world. All of these discussions are about trying to renew democracy. When applied to rural areas, this issue gives us a great opportunity.
I want to point out that rural communities are not impervious to the issue of globalization; rural communities have far more in common with each other than they do with metro poles. I really believe that Iceland has far more in common with Newfoundland in the outports than Newfoundlanders have things in common with people in the outports in Ottawa or Toronto, even though they may speak different languages. Their reality and their culture is different, as is their economic lifestyle. That must be understood.
I read that DFO feels that 136 years of the Fisheries Act or a bunch of fisheries acts are out of date and must be modernized. It is not the fisheries policies that must be modernized; rather, DFO must be modernized. It is an anachronism and has been since the British North America Act was first developed.
When Canada emerged as a nation in 1867, the oceans indicated where our boundaries were and the oceans were the strength of Canada in our linkages to Britain and to the West Indies, for example, through the fish trade. The fish trade was the essence of our wealth.
It is a long time since that has been the case. Fisheries were brought under the federal government because they were so important for wealth creation for the new nation. But since that is no longer the case, we now have a department that is under the federal government and a long way from the communities with which it does most of its work. The problem is that the department has no accountability.
What is accountable in Canada goes on in other buildings around here. For example, there is the inquiry regarding the scandal that Mr. Chrétien talked about yesterday. That issue is of major importance as indicated by the newspapers; everyone is talking about it because it relates to the question of Quebec and Confederation. There is a whole bunch of attention on it. But if fish disappeared in the Atlantic, there would not be a headline. That is what I mean when I say that DFO’s accountability is almost non-existent. Here you have the power to do policy, and yet there is no legislative power to actually put DFO in its place. The legislative power to put other departments in their place is very strong, which is evident in the discourse of the nation. I would argue that DFO is anachronistic because it reflects 1867 thinking, not the thinking of today. That is my first point.
My second point is that the economistic thinking in DFO is out of date. For a long time, those of us who live in Atlantic Canada have been insulted by the idea put forward repeatedly by DFO that we have a social welfare fishery. I was shocked the other day to hear Mr. Bevan say to this committee that UIC is still a major issue in the fishery. Does he know what is going on? Lobster fishermen make $50,000 in a few weeks. Crab fishermen can make $100,000 in ten days. They are not worried about their UIC. That is not what the issues are all about. You cannot go through the old social issues any more. That argument is dead. We have a new fishery in Atlantic Canada.
Another argument that is constantly made is that ITQs are the silver bullet and will solve the problems for the day. This is a straight economic argument, not a conservation argument. Time and time again it has been shown that it is an economic argument.
That is the answer to a whole series of things that have not worked out. I will go through them briefly. The first is resettlement. I went through this in Newfoundland when I was a graduate student in 1968. I cut my teeth in rural sociology there. I love Newfoundland. I was 20-something years old and I had just finished teaching two years of high school in St. John’s and I thought Newfoundlanders were the best people in the world except for Cape Bretoners.
There was something about Newfoundland that was so captivating because it was so different. By that time, I had lived in several cities in Canada and in the United States. I saw developing in Newfoundland the idea that people would have to leave because the communities were uneconomic. We all recall that kind of an experience. I think many of us would be able to recall it, at least in headline form.
Then there was the whole issue of core licensing. Core licensing basically meant that we threw out all the part-timers. I was on a committee at the time. I was the academic representative with fishermen to throw out B class licences.
I will never forget an interview with an old man in Antigonish. He has since died. He said, "Look, I left the farm today. I have three cows. I have four boys. Two boys died in the war." He said, "I fish mackerel for bait and they want to take away my licence because I am not a full-time fisherman." He said, "If I cannot have mackerel for bait I have to buy the bait, and then it is no longer efficient for me to go lobstering. If I cannot go lobstering I have no money." He said, "I think I made a contribution to Canada. Why does Canada want to take away this licence?"
To me, what was going on at that time and is still going on today is a constant assault on the idea that if fisheries are part of your life you are not a professional fisherman and you should not be in the fishery. Since too many people are chasing too many fish, let us cut out the number of people chasing the fish.
I cannot go on at great length. I am just getting wound up because now I am beginning to think about the other kinds of assaults that happened at the same time. Let me shorten this.
The economistic thinking of DFO is very well established and its effects are very much negative effects on rural communities, on coastal communities.
DFO is having a rebirth. Since 1992 they have lost the cod on the East Coast. They are subsequently losing salmon on the West Coast. It is the end of science in DFO. It used to be that science in DFO was first of all predicated totally on fin fish. There was almost no lobster science or crab science. It was all fin fish science. They found out that single species science is stupid. They should have known this. They did know this. We told them years ago, "You guys are idiots. The world does not work like that. There is not a single species that you can study." It is like studying hockey and looking at three things — skating, anticipation and something else — and spending the whole time talking about anticipation. Anticipation is no good if you cannot skate.
It is no good at all looking at fin fish and ignoring the rest of the ecosystem; it is especially useless to look at cod and haddock as if they are not related to the rest of the ocean. That science failed. It failed miserably, not because the scientists did not do their job but because of the context, because of trying to operationalize a science that was not actually rooted in all of the things it needs to know.
Science is now finished. DFO is giving up on science. What are they moving to? They are moving to experts, people like myself. That is very dangerous. See, you have experts. I am a lefty expert. You can get a righty expert. You can get a rural expert. You can get all kinds of experts so you pick your experts. And the worst thing, which the man who faced you last warned you about, is that the experts are coming from the ranks of retired DFO people. Not only do they get the first kick at the can, they get the second kick at the can when they come back late. It is unbelievable.
Not only that, but because of the decline of fin fish, there is a shift to crustaceans. Crustaceans bring back the whole inshore. What a change. The inshore had been parcelled out in the previous policy, yet it rises again from the ashes. Why? Because no longer are the fin fish eating the little baby lobsters and the crabs and the shrimp; instead, those things are flourishing in the new environment. As a consequence, the value in the fishery now is in the crustacean side.
Is this a happy story? No. What does DFO want to do? It now wants to move in on these people and reorganize them. Why? Because of failure — no money for monitoring, no money for anything — and the allegation that people want it.
Sure, there are people who want a reorganization — the fat cats that were created on the way up. The fat cats, in my estimation, are the people who got the licences, stacked them up under DFO policy, and are now in a position that they want to keep other fishers out.
I will end my remarks with a comment on the implementation of the AFPR — the Atlantic Fisheries Policy Review. I was especially scared when I read about that. If I am going to say anything to you today, I will say this; I want you to stop this.
I would very much appreciate it, speaking on behalf of a lot of people that I have worked with over the years, if you could do anything in your power to stop the implementation of the Atlantic Fisheries Policy Review, because they are talking about implementing this. As Catch 22 points out, many of the major reforms in the BC fisheries in the 1990s represented a catch 22 for communities; in effect, the solutions became part of the problem. That is where we are right now.
I was in New Zealand around 1986-87 when they implemented the ITQ strategy. I had gone to the south island first, and when I came back to the north island, they were moving closer toward the implementation of the ITQs. I realized then that the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) was setting up a New Zealander fisherman by putting him in game-theory mode.
Game-theory mode means that fishermen had a TAC, a total allowable catch, which would be determined after the decision was made for the quota allocation. Fishermen had to choose whether they would stay in or take a buyout. If you stayed in the fishery, and everybody stayed in the fishery and the TAC went way down, you would end up with nothing. Therefore, you would not want to let your neighbour know what you were thinking of doing, because there was a possibility that if all your neighbours dropped out and you stayed in, you would end up with a good TAC.
That is game theory all the way. That is how they were strategizing to get rid of a number of fishermen. They hoped that people would panic and bail out and take the reward, because once the reward was given, you were out.
We are facing a similar situation right now in our communities. If the policy review goes through, the people who got the crab licences, and who are now sending former DFO people to hearings on new entries, will be trying to keep new entries down because they do not know if they will have to pay the cost of the science or the wharves — because DFO is divesting itself of all these things; all of these things are going to be done by the fishers themselves.
As a consequence, I think that, as in New Zealand’s case, the fishermen will be panicking. They will think that the guys who are in there at the table or the trough who got free licences and allocations that are now worth millions will be very concerned.
Finally, I will cite Iceland. I was in Iceland in 1992 for conferences for a couple of weeks. We got a good introduction to the scene there. It was really terrible, because in Iceland, you do not go out to drink until about 12 o'clock at night because the liquor is so expensive. When you go out to drink, you are already hammered.
What was so delightful and so sad at the same time is that when the Icelanders sing a song — and they sing a lot; they are not as bad as the Welsh but they do sing a lot — they tell you all about the communities first. And then afterwards in the sessions the next day they told us that these communities now have no livelihood. When the ITQs were introduced, communities had the choice either to go the freezer-factory trawler route or to go for smaller, locally owned vessels. The fjords that had local ownership often ended up competing against freezer-factory trawlers, because neighbouring fjords decided they did not want to fish and gave all their allocations to freezer-factory trawlers to fish for them.
The consequence then is that you have small people fishing against large interests, which we know all about in Atlantic Canada. That was our history. We had a kind of fleet separation, but we did not separate the difference between processors and fishermen who went out and caught the fish. Therefore, the processors would take losses on the catches coming in and they would transfer the profits to the other segment so that they would keep the price of fish down.
This situation will lead to what I would consider to be a very negative reason for implementing, under the present circumstances, the policy review in Atlantic Canada. I think it would be the last nail in the coffin of many rural communities, besides all the other assaults that have happened in the last number of years. I apologize for going over my time.
The Chairman: Professor, it has been a delight listening and I think we could have kept on going. We will try to keep this going with the questions.
You mentioned earlier how great the people were in Newfoundland and Cape Breton. I would like to present our next questioner, Senator Hubley, who is from the great province of PEI, also a wonderful group of people.
Senator Hubley: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I hope I was not interrupting you when you were singing the praises of PEI. If you would like to try that again, you are welcome.
On behalf of many people on this committee who are not only committed to a fishery but who come from and are committed to many areas that face challenges that we feel are perhaps unfair, I am wondering if you would comment on what happens to people in a community when the ownership of their livelihood is taken out of that community. In other words, how are people affected when somebody else tells them when and how and what to fish? Then they are hit again when they are not working. Like it or not, they are hit with the stigma of EI.
You gave us a wonderful description of the people of Newfoundland and their resilience, strength and character. How long will that last? How long can our coastal communities continue not sharing in some of our Canadian wealth?
Mr. MacInnes: As a matter of fact, I wanted to bring with me today the recent work that we are doing on coastal communities in the province of Nova Scotia on burnout on wharves, which we are trying to measure. Since the wharves have been given to the community — what a gift — the communities are running them as volunteers and they are burning out.
Your question gets at a whole variety of other relationships that come to be extinguished. There is probably a point at which communities begin to self-destruct before they go off into the night. Canso, Nova Scotia, is the test case but it is not the only one. I was looking at the figures the other day to try to get a sense of the dependency ratio. I do not know how these communities can be sustained as that ratio goes up. I can see it happening in the trailer parks ringing Antigonish. They are filling up with elderly people from Guysborough County and with single mothers, and it is largely because social services have been centralized. Everything is being centralized, including snow plows. There is not enough money for so many things. Somebody from the Shetland Islands once described rural economy as a three-legged stool; he said if you take a leg out, you don't have anything to sit on.
We are more fragile economically speaking. Over the years people have used all kinds of strategies including going away, but the communities are breaking down because there has to be at least a minimum number of people; there is a minimum level for services. We no longer have post offices, as you know. You are aware of all of the services that have disappeared in PEI.
We are talking about more than the fisheries, but the fisheries are the reason we ought to be out there. Had we not blown it, we would still have fin fish out there. In fact that wealth would have been there forever. When I flew up here yesterday, a man from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada was going to Halifax from Ottawa at DFO's request to talk about quality processing. Quality processing of fish is an argument that should have been made years ago.
Had we taken each cod out instead of letting them die and rot in the bottom of the boat and then selling them for fish sticks in Boston, had we used it in an inshore fishery, we would have fish today and wealth today. I am not entirely certain that our rights to that fish were not traded away by our government with other nations.
I wonder why these nations were there for so long fishing so many fish. I truly have to wonder about that. I think that in one of the papers I sent to the committee I say that 100 years ago they said that it was impossible to fish all that fish out. My answer would be, yes, people in rural areas are going and will go down the tubes at a new rate. There is such a thing as a demographic platform. There is a point at which once you start, you cannot stop. Canadians are not reproducing themselves right now in Canada and the rural demographics are worse than that. You have to look at that.
Senator St. Germain: Welcome, professor. I agree with you about Newfoundland. I used to be the national president of a national political party and travel to Newfoundland always brought me to the nicest folks in the world. I spent time in Frenchman's Cove and other small communities. The people are truly interesting and sincere.
You described yourself as a lefty and I describe myself as a righty. How can we ignore economics? You cannot, because these communities have young children. In our own admission, we have blown it on the fin fish. How can we sustain these rural communities? I am from Manitoba originally, and I live in British Columbia now. I see what is happening in Saskatchewan, as you so adeptly pointed out. The economics cannot be ignored. EI and any form of government assistance is debilitating for any individual. I happen to sit on the Aboriginal committee where I have seen an entire society virtually relegated to welfare as a result of government policy that is not partisan because it has been government after government.
How do we maintain these rural communities as a basic necessity to the well-being of the country if there is no economic base to work from? Unless I missed the message, how do they survive?
Mr. MacInnes: That is a great question. You have to look at the question in two different ways. On the one hand, I would agree entirely with you that within a society, generations of welfare cause all kinds of bad things to happen. The economic issue is clear. On the other hand, what we are experiencing now is not necessarily the way we will always be. When you look at our economic situation, you have to say something like this: factory freezer trawlers are fantastic instruments of productivity; productivity always concentrates; and wealth always concentrates. That is the general rule — Marx was right. You cannot argue with Marx on this. Everybody would agree that wealth concentrates. However, factory freezer trawlers are terrifically inefficient at allowing the bottom to reproduce itself. DFO did not study this, unfortunately. The Canadian government banned trawler fishing for ten years between 1928 and 1938, after the MacLean Royal Commission, and we have not even examined this question.
Something that is economically efficient could be ecologically disastrous. This frequently happens. My question to you is this: to what extent are rural areas repositories of ways of living that may be needed again? For example, take the western experience with BSE.
It makes a lot of sense to feed dead cows to cows if you want to fatten them up quickly. That makes economic sense. However, enter BSE and suddenly the whole equation changes.
People living in rural areas are practising lifestyles and various other kinds of activities that may be worth looking at in respect of how to add more value to fish and how to create other workable strategies. I do not think those elements were considered. The only question asked was how to get the fish into the boat and to market no matter the quality, so long as it was as fast as possible with as much profit as possible in the short term.
As well, the other difficult questions were not asked. For example, in the paper I gave, which I passed along to the committee, I mention in the last part that more money must be spent on capacity building in these areas. Capacity building in communities has a lot to do with other kinds of issues. I am asking for a tolerance, or a niche, within capitalism. Not everything ought to be cut from the same cloth.
Senator St. Germain: As a righty, I will agree with a lefty. I need only look at the seiners in British Columbia, where the incidental catch is simply horrific, to know how bad it is. They are scraping everything right off the bottom of the ocean. About the herring fishery, many people have said to me that the depletion in the wild salmon stocks is due to their feed being greatly disrupted. At one time in the Straits of Georgia, there was a tremendous amount of herring. Some would say that there is still a lot of herring. However, where it was at one time it no longer is, and any sport fisherman knows that. I agree that science has failed miserably. Do you think that science, regarding crab and lobster, is doing exactly what it did with fin fish? This is key, because, as you pointed out, earnings of $50,000 or $100,000 per year are nothing. It takes only two weeks to one month to generate that kind of income in the lobster and crab fishing milieu.
Mr. MacInnes: Some science is currently concerned with soft shells. They do not know if it is because of the numbers, but population size could be bad. The soft shell issue is huge. There is the question of the morbidity rates that would be occasioned by the new conditions of the ocean. Science is currently preoccupied with these kinds of questions — the numbers and the way in which they are doing the crab counts.
The oil people are telling them what is out there now, because they do not have their own scientists to send into the field. The oil people are going out there and reaping all the baseline information. They are telling the scientists that there are lots of crabs off the rigs. The indications of the numbers are coming from the oil people on the rigs, who gather this information for their drilling purposes.
Senator St. Germain: Is there a comparison between the East Coast and the West Coast with respect to privatization of the fishery?
Mr. MacInnes: I went out to B.C. in 1990 to address the union. I gave a talk on ITQs in New Zealand at their invitation. I was surprised, frankly. I do not know much about the West Coast and I realized how ignorant I was of their problems. Their problems are quite different.
The Chairman: One of the marvellous things about this committee is that righties can agree with lefties and with the centres as well. We seem to be on the same song sheet for some reason.
Senator Phalen: There will be overlap in these questions, but for the committee's sake, I would like to read a few sentences from the submission that we have from you, Mr. MacInnes. It says that in 1895 one of the first scientific reports on the Grand Banks Atlantic cod stock stated that despite a few bad years in the fishery of the early 1890s, it would be physically impossible to overfish the stock. That was 100 years ago. We know that did not happen and here we are. You indicated that there are too many fishermen chasing too few fish. I suppose it would follow that too many fishers threaten the sustainability of the fishery. I seem to believe that you do not agree with quotas.
Mr. MacInnes: I do not agree with Individual Transferable Quotas, ITQs.
Senator Phalen: You would agree with a quota that was not transferable. Is that what you are saying?
Mr. MacInnes: There are conditions under which quotas have to be set — total allowable catches, TACs, for one. You have to have those kinds of understandings. I have been thinking about lobster fishing. The control over that fishery used to be such that people would have 300 traps and they would fish within a season. However, no one believed at the time that anyone would fish 24 hours per day, seven days per week. They are doing that because they are not owner-operators and because DFO is letting it happen.
DFO claims that it cannot do anything because it is busy taking people to court. That is what courts are for: if people break your rules you take them to court. Yet DFO is saying, no, it has too many people to take to court. That is what someone from DFO said to this committee. I read it.
Senator Phalen: Do community quotas work?
Mr. MacInnes: Now we are getting into an area where I believe that quotas can work. Should communities have some kind of role in the fishery? I would say absolutely yes. How would they work? You would have to have a different form of democracy. You would have to have fishing communities as the centre of the fishing industry, because they would have to be related in some way to each other so that they could work out these problems and even without enforcement still be able to control the amount of fishing. That is totally different from trying to centralize all the fisheries.
Senator Phalen: I asked this for a reason. What is the resolve if there are two many fishermen chasing too few fish? We then have to look at reducing the amount of fishers. My first question: How do we do that? My second question: When we do that, where are we and what are we left with? What is the answer? We have all these problems and all the problems are on the table. How do we resolve them? You must have some thinking on that.
Mr. MacInnes: We solved the lobster fishing issue by saying that there was no fishing outside the season of May 1 to June 30 and the limit was 300 traps. That solved the problem because lobster were conserved. Lobster were pretty well fished out in 1939. They came back and they have done very well under the regulations established subsequently throughout these areas.
You can resolve these issues sometimes. To some extent, this was done for economic reasons because it allowed fish to go to market over a continuous period of time. However, they worked out which region fished when, based upon local conditions.
These decisions are much better made when communities are empowered. The empowering of communities is the trick here. It is how to get the thinking changed. You could say too many people are catching too few fish and you could impose ITQs as if that will solve the problem. However, we know that it has not solved the problem in many jurisdictions. Orange roughy disappeared in New Zealand.
Why not try to decentralize decision making on these questions and have the people in the community be involved? Ultimately, that is what the powers that be are arguing: they say that we ought to move this down to the community level because we do not have any more resources and we ought to give decision making power through ITQs and other kinds of quasi legal arguments; throw that at the people and let them fight over it. At the same time, they still want to be in charge. And, unfortunately, they have already created giants. They have already created monsters that are just lurking there, waiting for this very unfair situation to happen.
Senator Phalen: Let me cut in. Does that refer to inshore?
Mr. MacInnes: My position is that there ought to be a preferential option for the inshore.
Senator Phalen: Is that manageable?
Mr. MacInnes: Yes.
Senator Phalen: What do you do with offshore?
Mr. MacInnes: I am not worried about the offshore, because right now there is not much wealth out there. There is no fish. I am not worried about the offshore nearly as much as the inshore.
The offshore has been worried about enough. Besides, right now National Sea Products is selling pizza anyway. That is the nice thing about the concentration of capital: if you run out of fish you can go to pizza. But people who live in the inshore cannot. I am sorry if I seem to be flippant, Senator, but from where I sit I do not have a burning consideration to save the offshore. I think Fishery Products International will do well enough.
Senator Phalen: Is that what they are doing in other countries, such as New Zealand, Iceland and Norway?
Mr. MacInnes: The trouble with New Zealand is —
Senator Phalen: I am asking if there is a model for this?
Mr. MacInnes: Yes and no. Norway does some good things. Iceland was for a while and then Iceland blew it.
I do not even know where to start on New Zealand. New Zealand had a huge crisis. It was an agricultural society that lost its only market. When Britain joined the EC, all of the dairy goods that used to go to Britain in preferential treatment of New Zealand were cancelled. Overnight, the whole economic structure of New Zealand was cast into doubt. They had no markets in the rest of the world. They had to struggle. The fishery was so insignificant in New Zealand. They do not have shelf; New Zealand just drops off into nothingness. There are a couple of little shelves, and where mountains came up, orange roughy had developed over a period of time. The trawlers were deep enough that they just cleaned off the top of the mountains. It is an insignificant fishery compared to our fishery.
While I was in New Zealand, a man from Canada, a student of Peter Pearse — Rick Boyd, I believe — headed the project implementing the GST and the fisheries policy. That was October of 1986. Everyone was using plastic; for the first time in my life I used plastic for everything. You could buy an ice cream with plastic because they were testing it in New Zealand. New Zealand wanted to show that it was going to face the world with a whole new way of thinking.
Iceland was very similar. Somebody in Iceland said to me, "See those two rooms over there? That is where the whole ITQ program was all hatched out, those two rooms, that coffee bar and those three restaurants." They said that the people who made the ITQ program were believers that Iceland had to show the world that they had brand spanking new ideas, none of this Norse saga foolishness, none of those old ideas from the rural places. All those people could go out to pasture. They were going to show the new Iceland, the trendy Iceland, Reykjavik Iceland. They were really forward thinkers.
There are certain situations in political landscapes where those kinds of things can happen. People took advantage in New Zealand and they took advantage in Iceland. We can take advantage in Canada by creating a new form of democracy starting in coastal communities by overturning some of these policies. But it will take a lot of clout.
Senator Watt: This is an interesting topic.
Along the same line as Senator Phalen’s question, what do we do with this predicament that we are in now as a country? DFO seems to have an idea that the only way to look at the situation is strictly economically. In other words, they advocate privatizing the fisheries and allowing the appropriate structures to take on the management and the control and to make a profit from it. That is very much getting away from the community-based model, and it is already having an effect on the coastal communities, and that affect will increase more and more in years to come.
I am not necessarily of the same frame of mind as DFO. They are not taking the right approach in terms of how to save the fish and how to make the fishery beneficial to the people. In a sense, the government is allowing the corporations to take control and take the fishery away from the people. I believe we will have a crisis on our hands. I think we already do in some communities along the coast, due to the fact that they have nothing left to fish.
How could we get back to community-based fishing? I know we cannot turn the clock back, but certainly we can try to correct the mistakes that have been made in the past and then go from there. Perhaps there is a solution. It might take time for the fish to come back, but allowing communities to have more control would empower the communities.
How do we stop the government from doing what it is doing now? How do we make this issue well known so that the general public of Canada will be alarmed and will force the government to take action correctly, even though at this present time our department seems to be going in the wrong direction? I wonder if you could elaborate a bit on that.
Mr. MacInnes: Thank you, Senator Watt. I think the solution is what you call a livelihood fishery. A livelihood fishery means that you understand that here is a resource that could be used and should be used for people's livelihood.
This brings up what the Marshall Inquiry said about a modest income. It is astounding that DFO took on the implementation of the Marshall decision. If there was any group that was more incompetent to deal with rural communities, it was the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. There is nothing in their track record that would indicate that they had the competency to deal with this.
If you take the idea of livelihood seriously, you ask yourself what would livelihood would mean. What would a livelihood fishery look like and why would you have a livelihood fishery? If you are in the North, I would say for sovereignty. If you are in Atlantic Canada, I would say for sovereignty also.
Aside from the issue of diversity, why would you not want people living along your coastline? Why would you not want people to be environmental monitors? Why would you not think that rural people could be canaries in the mines? We put canaries in the mines to tell us where the methane was. Why wouldn’t rural people have a fairly sensitive attention to what is happening in the oceans?
Look at what is being talked about by the United Nations and at all of the literature on the oceans and preventive ideas. That body of work suggests that we ought to be worried, not because people who are using the oceans are less careful — they are more careful — but because they are using them so often today. The potential for disaster is much higher.
I would argue for a livelihood fishery in part because there are communities living in these places, and those communities have a net good for Canada on a lot of other issues.
How do we get there? DFO cannot do it. They cannot deliver. They cannot deliver on the Aboriginal thing. As a matter of fact, I would argue that they are really messing that up.
I am concerned that the Aboriginal communities may take the option to have somebody catch the fish, and then in three years DFO will come in and tell the government that it does not have to spend as much money under the Indian Act anymore because they are getting the fish. What a mess we will have then.
What is there in their history that would indicate that they would not take this direction? The thinking is that this is an opportunity for Aboriginal communities to get employment. How are you going to deal with that? Does it mean throwing boats at communities along with a few programs? I think it was called the sunset clause in your presentation last time.
Senator Watt: Coming back to the community-based fishery, I know there is a reason for fishing. One is for the economy and one is to feed the people. The fishers who work for the economy make a good living and make big money out of it; we know that. If it was well thought out and well structured and well organized, if we began to focus on the communities and production came from the community rather than the offshore freezer trawlers and so on, do you think that in due time eventually they would be able to feed the world?
Mr. MacInnes: Feed the world is a big —
Senator Watt: In other words, have you looked into the way that the fishing practice is taking place now, comparing the trawlers and the community-based fishery? Have you done any economic feasibility studies to see whether there are advantages and disadvantage on both sides? Have you looked at that side?
Mr. MacInnes: That question is beginning to get beyond — no, I do not look at it that way.
Senator Watt: Unless we have that information, we may have trouble and difficulties convincing the authorities to look at it the way that we want them to look at it, from the community-based perspective. That is why I am raising this. Would you agree that is an area we should be focussing on?
Mr. MacInnes: I think Senator St. Germain is quite correct that it will come around to that. I cannot imagine the Senate committee or anybody else talking about this issue not facing the question about the economics of it. Senator Phalen is correct in this respect as well. You will have some pretty big opposition, as Senator Phalen pointed out; you will have the offshore fishery saying, "How about us?"
That is where ultimately you have to come down to faith in people. I do not think there has been much evidence of faith in Newfoundlanders or faith in people in BC or faith in Aboriginals in the decision making up to now. Ultimately, somebody in Canada has to say that we think that people living in rural communities should have a say — a big say, not an engineered say. Now they have only a constructed say, so their choices are very limited. To broaden this debate and to introduce true democracy will be tough.
Senator Watt: I do believe that the communities today are very discouraged by the actions that the government is taking in regard to privatization; and they will not have any more livelihood left. We need to inject innovative ideas to boost them up. Closing the towns and moving the people and not finding another job for them, which is happening now, is very scary.
I will leave that with you.
The Chairman: Before I go on to the next questioner, I want to raise a point that Senator Watt mentioned. DFO has been after us for a number of years to pass amendments to the Fisheries Act. They have been resisted at the parliamentary level by both houses — both in the House of Commons and in the Senate — because many parliamentarians do not trust that DFO is asking us to change the legislation for the right reasons. In other words, if we thought that the minister really needed the tools to do what is in the best interest of our communities, those legislative changes would have passed a long time ago. There is resistance because there is no trust in what the legislation will be used for. I wanted to pass that on.
I think the response to Senator Watt's question about what we can do as parliamentarians is that we have been doing something over the last number of years by not acting on the legislative changes.
We now go on to Senator Adams.
Senator Adams: Thank you. Professor MacInnes, I come from a small community in Nunavut. We have 26 communities and only one is on the mainland; the other 25 are coastal.
The federal government signed the Nunavut agreement about 13 years ago; the Nunavut government elected members in 1999, and it has been operating for seven years. In the last four or five years DFO gave out to some of the communities the OA and OB areas in the arctic up as far as the 200-mile limit. We know it all belongs to Canada. Since operations began on those quotas in the last three or four years, part of those quotas has not been coming into Canada but instead has mostly been going overseas to Europe. I could not figure out what was happening, so I asked the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans. Each time quotas were given out there was no OA or OB. It said Nunavut quotas. What does that mean? The OA area is now called experimental and no people are allowed there. No people from the community are allowed to get that quota because it is experimental quota. Some of OB was allocated to some of the community for the quotas. In the last three or four years we were fighting the government here in Ottawa. How are we able to develop more economy to those quotas for the community?
In Newfoundland, 11 members were elected for the BFC, the Baffin Fisheries Coalition. The government does not give out the quotas to the community. They gave out some in Newfoundland. Last year 11 Canadian shippers asked for those quotas and they did not qualify for them. Instead, fishers from Denmark and Iceland were hired to fish it.
The government gave out $6 million to train Inuit. Those fishers from Iceland and Denmark could not even speak English to train the Inuit on the ships. In the meantime, the government says we will train 25 Inuit every year. Do you know how many people were trained last year? About nine got into those ships. This year I asked them: "Are you going back there this year?" They said: "No way. We cannot understand what they are doing. They do not treat us very well." DFO will do nothing. Why have a policy like that for Canada where the foreigners have control? They just put a flag on the ship and do what they want.
How are we to develop more economy for the people in the community? DFO is not helping the community. They are not giving out quotas to the community, but at the same time they are giving out quotas outside the community. I do not know if you are able to answer that.
Mr. MacInnes: Senator Adams, you bring up a very important problem which must be dealt with at some stage. That is the problem of globalization. I mentioned earlier that in Iceland I was most shocked when we drove from Isafjordur, which is up in the north western section of Iceland, to a community where the mayor said that millions of dollars were spent to put a nine-kilometre tunnel through the mountain to connect communities so that they could have soccer practices and choir practices in the winter time. The tunnel hits a Y in the middle of the mountain and goes off to one community in one direction and to another community in the other direction.
Everyone on the bus was shocked because these are communities of 500 or a thousand people. I cannot think of any other place in Canada that would build a tunnel nine kilometres through a mountain so that they could have soccer practice and choir practice. We just do not have that tolerance for culture or sport.
It was interesting that the first factory there had all Filipino women working in it. Out of 15 people, there was not one Icelander working in the factory. The other factory had all people from Kosovo. They were packing fish and they had three grades of fish. It was the same factory but with three different packages for the grades of fish.
The fish were all sold to England. This is the reality that you were talking about, whether the fishing is done freezer trawlers or by locals. It is a global industry today. In my paper I argue that that is why rural people in the North of Canada should be meeting with rural people in the Maritimes and with rural people in Scandinavia. As a matter of fact, I am appalled that for kids’ tours we send so many rural kids to Ottawa and Toronto. Why not send them to Nunavut? What are we telling kids when we send them off to the city to watch Mama Mia? We take up a lot of money to send them off to Toronto so they can see something like that, instead of sending them over to PEI or some place else.
The rural areas around the world have to understand that there are problems and they have to talk to each other. There could be parliaments or something of that nature between the rural peoples. In Scotland they used to have the Parliament of St. Kilda; it was a bunch of old men sitting on the steps and talking. Iceland uses the idea as well.
Senator Adams: Maybe we could study it. The minister gave those quotas to Nunavut. There is no benefit for the community. There should be some way we understand what the minister means. The quotas are not coming into the community and do not benefit the community. Why are they giving up quotas there and the people in the community are not benefiting? The Government of Canada should have some kind of say. There should be a certain percentage for Nunavut. They should find out every year before any fishermen go up there. Does this belong to Canada or to Europe or to people in the community? I cannot understand it. Foreigners are catching those quotas up there. It makes it very difficult for you. Maybe DFO is not doing its job.
The Chairman: The conversation regarding the idea that coastal communities should be able to contact one another more leads me to thinking about the resistance that this very committee faced when we requested to go outside our jurisdiction to have a look at the impact of privatization on communities. We mentioned New Zealand at the time. The Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration quickly put a stop to that, so we have to do our work out of Ottawa now, but that is another story.
Senator Mahovlich: Mr. MacInnes, you spoke about New Zealand and privatization and you were very negative. From what I hear, many people speak very positively about what they are doing in New Zealand in that area. I agree with you that our country is different in that we have rivers that New Zealand does not have and our fish go up these rivers. I agree that we should do things differently. We have not had the opportunity to travel to New Zealand to witness first hand what it is all about. I was most interested to hear that you did not think highly of the direction they are taking with their fisheries. You also mentioned that it would not work here because our country is much larger and spread out broadly. Is it worth our while to go to New Zealand to study their system?
Mr. MacInnes: There is a quick answer to that question. I made two very long drives, which were terribly boring. I went from San Francisco to LA by the inside highway so that I could see the San Joaquin Valley and a concrete river and 250 miles of nothingness. That is where all the food for the west coast comes from. It is massive production and you have to see it to believe it.
The other one went from Nerja to Alicante in Spain. I wanted to see what Europe was doing where they turned the desert into greenhouses, and it is all plastic; they have plastic Quonset huts. I have witnessed scientific agriculture gone to extremes. I can see how fragile our industrial economy is. Having seen the planes crossing the road and having seen other things in Spain, I am frightened now for the future of our cities. The pesticides, herbicides and indeed genetics you have to see for yourself, because it stays with you in your heart.
It is possible for disasters to happen in the food chain. New Zealand is a small place, just a bit bigger than Nova Scotia. There are no harbours. On the west coast there are 20-foot waves of water coming to shore all the time. Their fishing industry is small. It is more experimental than industrial. You can see so many things about it. It is lauded as being a great achievement but I did not see much of an achievement. They lost their orange roughy and red snapper. If only they could have kept a couple of snappers alive because it was worth about $37 per pound; something we could only dream about. They kill the fish with a spike, and there is a Japanese advisor onboard to show them how it is done. It is a totally weird place compared to the kind of fishing we do in Canada.
One great thing is that New Zealand is like Newfoundland was in 1966. It is so accessible. You can see such a variety in such a short period of time, including the scenery. There are many benefits to New Zealand life. I think we tested our Canadian ideas down there.
If you go to New Zealand, you should go to Iceland. You should have two places of reference. Iceland is also very small but the nice thing about it is that you can catch many people in a short period of time. You cannot go to America and catch the same number of people on one visit. Rather, you get lost in the corridors in Washington. In New Zealand, by contrast, they take your visit as a complement. It is like rural places or small towns that are not in the lime light. There is an agreeable milieu which you can actually utilize. They have 70 million sheep and 4 million people, and 1.8 million live in either Auckland, Wellington or Christ Church. Reykjavik is in Iceland, which is like Newfoundland. In such places you can see policy pictures because you can get so much variety in such a short period of time. That is the advantage. You will be able to find people to talk to you about privatization or about the tribunal hearings. You can find someone in half the time that it would take to do it in other places. That would be an advantage to a Senate committee and the travel experience and education would be a collective experience.
Senator Mahovlich: Where are we heading with aquaculture? Will it be a big problem in the future? It began in Norway and moved on to the southern hemisphere. We became concerned because we were losing the market.
Mr. MacInnes: The problem is disease. Perhaps they control the diseases and all the other problems that are appearing.
Senator Mahovlich: Are they affecting our other fish?
Mr. MacInnes: That is the big question. We not know what the science is on that. That is not my area. I can only speak to what I saw in Scotland, and I was not impressed. You can lose a great deal of money very quickly in aquaculture.
Senator Mahovlich: I know many people who were not fishermen who made fortunes in Toronto on fisheries on the West Coast, by selling their business.
Mr. MacInnes: It is a money maker, no doubt, but communities cannot do it. You have to have union labour. They are the ones doing it in Scotland. In Norway it started out as small concerns but now they are pretty big.
Senator Mahovlich: Will there ever be a world fishing organization, like we have the World Health Organization? Fish swim all over the world, especially whales.
Mr. MacInnes: Tuna, for example, are everywhere. Generally, though, it is more localized. I remember the big fight that occurred in Rimouski, Quebec, between the scientists trying to decide whether there was such a thing as local stock of northern cod and whether there were bay stocks. After fighting about it for two days, a little man came in and told them to stop the argument and give him the total allowable catch. That was the way academic arguments ended, I thought. That man said he did not care about any of it and to just give him the TAC. They were not even close to reaching unanimity on what a stock was because they had lost a group of scientists who had defected from DFO over disputes on the stock question.
I cannot answer your question on whether there will be a world fishing organization. Will that happen?
I went to a fisheries conference in Greece. Five thousand people were there. Peter Pearse drew 1,200 people; my paper drew 20 people. Go figure.
There are lots of fishery scientists. Is the United Nations interested? Yes. Are other people organizing? At our university, from which you are an honourary degree recipient, John Carney is working with people in India. There are one million people in the inshore union in India. There are attempts around the world at these kinds of things.
Senator Mahovlich: Should we try to make fisheries and agriculture important priorities with our government? Do you think they rate over defence and other ministries?
Mr. MacInnes: I think they are in the same category as defence except that everyone talks about defence. They talk about what happens to our defence, but we do not talk about what is happening to rural communities in the same way. They think it is terrible if helicopters do not work, but if whole rural communities do not work, that is not terrible. We have a 30-year-old helicopter and it takes so many people hours to keep it in the air. I have a truck like that.
The Chairman: A number of senators have very quick questions. Professor, I would like to tackle a few items.
In your discussion with Senator Mahovlich, you were talking about the New Zealand experience. I happen to have a newspaper in front of me dated February 3, 2005; it is very recent. I will read a number of comments that were raised by the New Zealand First Leader in Parliament on that day. I will not read all of it but just a few quotes.
"There are now about 3,000 cheap foreign workers in the fishing industry now — all here at the expense of New Zealand workers." This is Parliamentary stuff. "It’s a disgrace — and some of these overseas workers are living in old containers on the waterfront…. How can that be? Why is New Zealand fish processed in Thailand? …This is not the New Zealand way."
Another article, dated December 14, 2004, states, "This comes amid revelations that 152 foreign fishermen have illegally jumped ship in New Zealand during the past year. Sixty-two of them, mainly Vietnamese and Indonesians, deserted their ships." So the Vietnamese and Indonesians are fishing off the quotas of New Zealand. I could go on. The quotes are there.
Have you looked at this and at what is passed off by the DFO as being the model of the future for Canada? What impact will that have? Would the same thing be doable here in Canada if we followed the DFO mode of endorsing the New Zealand model?
Mr. MacInnes: The first consequence of ITQs is concentration of quota and continuous concentration of quota. They anticipated this in New Zealand and they said that no company could own more than 20 per cent of the quota. How do you prevent companies from signing people up in trust agreements? You cannot get around it. That is exactly what happened.
If you go this route, how do you differentiate between a New Zealand company and an offshore company? I would think that under NAFTA agreements and so on, we could possibly prevent an American company from buying up the quota. I cannot see how that could happen.
Increasingly, in the globalized world you will not be able to prevent anybody from owning a quota or prevent any other country from bidding on your quota. That is what New Zealand's problem is now.
There are a lot of global issues involved in this. In a way, because fisheries are not as important as other matters in Canada and because we are not up there with defence, it is possible for more creative thought to take place.
Globalization will affect Ontario, for example. It already is. It is affecting the people in Quebec very seriously with respect to the textile industry, and the consequences of the recent agreements are going to be felt in the next few months, the next few years. Looking at the fisheries gives you an opportunity to think through these matters, and that is why there ought to be a very strong rejection of DFO's attempt to go ahead with a policy that will introduce this level of privatization and opting out without having explored some of the implications for communities, for our sovereignty, for the very question that you just raised.
The Chairman: Every once in a while I try to monitor what is happening in other jurisdictions, as I did with the New Zealand example.
I will go on to the UK and some of the testimony before the Sub-committee on the Future for UK Fishing. This is dated January 18, 2005. I will not name all the names, but here is a comment raised by one of the witnesses to the committee:
You are under a massive act of self-delusion if, as a Committee, you think that the quota system has anything though do with conservation because it just encourages to dump catch that would put us in excess of our quota, and to dump small catch in favour of larger catch which is at a better price, but the fish are still dead.
That is one of the quotes. Another quote during the same testimony states, "If we could return the fish held in private hands, slipper skippers, back to the industry then the quotas themselves would not be too low." He is referring to back-pocket fishermen. In the UK they call them slipper skippers.
I should like to raise another comment. This one is from a supporter of the ITQ system:
If you are going to introduce ITQs you must look to all the mistakes that have been made. Also, remember that ITQ is a generic name. ITQs have been introduced in New Zealand and Australia and Iceland, but all of these fisheries are different.
He is referring to the fears that the quotas could end up in the hands of foreign companies. You have to look at how the entitlement is shared out. Can we ring-fence ITQs? Is it legally possible to ring-fence ITQs around regional management or PO management? There is a minefield to slip through.
Some of the comments in here are almost the same kind of testimony that we could be hearing at this very committee. Further on, one of the witnesses says:
We had a paper commissioned by a gentleman called David Thompson, an expert consultant on fisheries all over the world, and he looked at a number of different management regimes in Canada, Iceland, New Zealand, et cetera, and in every single one of these the ITQ system resulted in considerable difficulties for the small coastal communities and the smaller operators when the power was channelled into the major operators.
The same message that you have been passing on today is being heard in other jurisdictions.
Mr. MacInnes: On the by-catch issue alone, you get a quota of, for example, two tonnes of snapper. When the first day of the ITQs came about in New Zealand, the boaters on the Haraki Gulf outside of Auckland thought there must have been an underground earthquake because of all the dead fish on the water. There were so many dead fish in the water because if you were going after snapper, then all your by-catch you put through the grinder out on to the water.
They have been doing that for some time, but under any quota system this is a problem. The difficulty with by-catch is a huge problem in an ITQ system, so you need monitoring. I do not know how DFO can say we will just have the ITQ. I guess they believe that somehow we will have a surveillance system that will pick this up.
The second point I want to make is that a couple of years ago we went to talk to the people in Scotland about fisheries there. The University of Aberdeen was doing a thing on the collapse of the fishery there. We went to the herring place, and we went into museums where they showed us pictures of what herring used to be like. There is no herring there anymore; it has all been fished out.
Their problem was that they could not keep anybody outside the six-mile limit. They had everybody fishing on their doorstep, and they fished it all out.
It is painful to see them catching lobsters. They have hundreds of traps and they will catch one lobster. I could not believe it. Why would anyone run all those traps for one or two lobsters? They think it is fantastic to catch six lobsters.
They are an example of how horrible it could become. You do not want to go near the British experience. They have tried some of these strategies, but they have never tried an ITQ that I am aware of. They may have it in fin fisheries somewhere in the south; I do not know. I only know Scotland.
Senator Merchant: I am from Saskatchewan so I will talk about people. In the mid-1970s, I travelled the province of Saskatchewan on behalf of a certain political party campaigning, and we went from farm to farm. At that time, I met many bachelors on the farms. I was told that young women were not really prepared to live on the farm anymore; they were becoming nurses and teachers and they were moving into larger areas. So, these men were left on the farm to manage for themselves.
Today, in Saskatchewan, we talk about our young people, and we have trouble keeping young people in Saskatchewan. Many of them go to Alberta, for instance, because they see more opportunity. In the coastal communities that you describe in Atlantic Canada, are you able to recruit young people? Is the fishery still the basis for the community to thrive? What is happening there?
Mr. MacInnes: I have to smile about the bachelors because I have a whole lecture on bachelors. We created lots after the 1930s right through the 1950s, when women were allowed to go work in the United States and men were not. We really picked up a lot of bachelors. It is one of the back road traditions also. It has a lot to do with land holding and things of that nature. I am digressing.
The main question was the latter part of your question. I forgot it.
Senator Merchant: What do you do to keep young people? Because if the young people are not going to stay and work in these small boat fisheries —
Mr. MacInnes: You have actually set me up for a very revealing insight into DFO policy. They have created the biggest nightmare of all because of licensing and the way it has worked. The way they have introduced the Aboriginal communities into the fishery has driven up the cost of licences to such a level that we are now having a serious problem about replacement.
We do not know how the next generation will inherit from their parents, because the expectation is that if you had a boat and you could pick up $500,000 on it and you have no pension plan, you will be looking for somebody to replace you, not your son.
Always in the past your fishing was passed to your son. My father inherited his father's boat and his father inherited his father's boat. My other uncle had no sons but his nephew got his boat. He got a fairly good price for it. He did not get an arm and a leg, but now it would cost an arm and a leg. Young people cannot go in. We have a problem because the average age is getting up there and who can take it over? Well, this is what the DFO policy is looking at, and I think those who want to stack licences are going to take over.
They will put four or five licences to a boat and fish two boats day and night. You can do that from anywhere. You do not have to live in the community. You can even do that with a Vietnamese worker coming in, a non-Canadian.
This is a serious problem, how we are going to get the next generation into the fishery. DFO says that that is their problem, but I do not think they have the solution.
Senator Merchant: We have the same problem in Saskatchewan with the farms. Now a lot of farmers say that they would not want their sons to stay on the land anymore because of the difficulty making a living. I would encourage my children to go out and become doctors or lawyers or something else.
You are saying the same thing, that there is not much incentive for young people to live in small communities. Do you think that small communities can attract the young people?
Mr. MacInnes: We have gone through periods in our history where land was cheap. In the 1950s you could buy a farm for the taxes. Now you cannot even look at the Cape Breton coastal area, the land that people bought then. Largely, Americans came up and bought the land in coastal Nova Scotia in the 1950s because it was such a bargain, and then the Germans came and they bought land. Local people would like to have land now but they cannot get land. PEI had to enact legislation so there were two kinds of tax systems to prevent this from happening. It comes and it goes.
There is cottage land. There is an older population in Canada. Will the older population move to rural areas? Some people think there will be some movement to rural areas; we see it right now in the province of Nova Scotia. We see it in Annapolis Royal; we see it down in the Bridgewater and Chester areas. A large number of people coming into these areas are coming back to rural areas to retire.
It is an interesting question. There are trends in this that we have to look at.
Senator Merchant: Thank you very much. I think we should turn back to fish.
Senator Hubley: I would like to note that the University of Prince Edward Island has an Institute of Island Studies. It might be interesting if Saint Xavier University had an institute of coastal communities.
Mr. MacInnes: Yes, Harry Baglole and David Milne did a great job setting that up. I have always been a fan of the island studies group. My paper on the Faroes was delivered at one of their forums.
The Chairman: It has been an absolute joy to have you here today. It is always a pleasure to see you again. Judging by the numbers of questions and the quantity of time that members wanted to spend with you, there was a lot of interest.
I hope you will give Professor Kearney our best. He has been a witness before this committee before and we wish him well in his work with coastal communities all over the world. I believe he has had good success on this. Give my personal best to your wife, Judy; I know her well, a good Comeau.
Professor, thank you again. Any passing comments before we wrap up?
Mr. MacInnes: No. It has been very interesting. I have enjoyed meeting you and having this marvellous opportunity to talk to you.
The Chairman: Honourable senators, next meeting is next Thursday, February 17, at 10:45 a.m. in this room. I encourage you to be here and we will hear more about how we can improve the lot of coastal communities.
The committee adjourned.