I call this meeting to order.
Welcome to meeting number 44 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.
This meeting is taking place in a hybrid format, pursuant to the House order of June 23, 2022.
Before we proceed, I would like to make a few comments for the benefit of witnesses and members.
Please wait until I recognize you by name before speaking. For those participating by video conference, click on the microphone icon to activate your mike. Please mute yourself when you are not speaking.
There is interpretation for those on Zoom. You have the choice at the bottom of your screen of either floor, English or French. For those in the room, you can use the earpiece and select the desired channel.
Please address all comments through the chair.
Finally, I'll remind you that it is not permitted to take screenshots or photos of your screen. The proceedings will be made available via the House of Commons website.
In accordance with the committee's routine motion concerning connection tests for witnesses, I am informing the committee that all witnesses have completed the required connection tests in advance of the meeting.
Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2) and the motion adopted on October 4, 2022, the committee is resuming its study on the impacts of climate change.
I would like to welcome our first panel of witnesses.
Back with us once again, representing the Maritime Fishermen's Union, is Martin Mallet, executive director, and Luc LeBlanc, fisheries advisor. We have with us as well Robert MacLeod, president of the Prince Edward Island Shellfish Association, .
Thank you for taking the time today. You will each have up to five minutes for an opening statement.
I will invite the Maritime Fishermen's Union to begin, please, for five minutes or less.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to the committee, for allowing us the opportunity to present again today on a very important file and the situation on the east coast.
My name is Martin Mallet. I'm the executive director at the MFU. I am accompanied today by my colleague, Luc LeBlanc, our fisheries advisor at the MFU.
I'll be doing my presentation in French.
The MFU, the Maritime Fishermen's Union, is an organization that represents over 1,300 inshore owner-operator fish harvesters in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Since its foundation in 1977, its mission has been to advocate for Maritime inshore fishers and their communities.
The most recent tropical storm that passed through Atlantic Canada is the second to have hit us hard in only three years. There was Dorian in 2019, and this fall there was Fiona. Climate change is no longer something to be predicted just for the future, because we have been living with it for several years now in our maritime regions on Canada's east coast.
Fiona is now recognized by experts as being one of the most intense and destructive storms in recent Canadian history. Our members in southeastern New Brunswick, the Gulf of Nova Scotia, and Cape Breton took a direct hit. Harbour infrastructure, waterways and fishing gear were all damaged to varying degrees, depending on regional circumstances and the trajectory of the storm.
I would like to share a few recommendations with you.
First, we think that DFO, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, should invest substantially in harbour infrastructure throughout the maritime provinces and Quebec, to protect wharves and fishing vessels against increasingly frequent and progressively higher storm surges. In particular, the ability of the seawalls to stand up against this type of tide needs to be reinforced, and the height of wharves increased to prevent them being submerged during storms. Actually, the wharves in our regions that had been renovated for that purpose over the last ten years mostly survived Fiona with only minor damage.
Second, the MFU recommends adding resources to the dredging program for navigation channels leading to fishing harbours. Silting in the harbours and navigation channels is a historical problem on New Brunswick's east coast and in part of the Gulf of Nova Scotia. The sandy geology of the region means that storms like Fiona and Dorian significantly exacerbate the situation and are increasingly preventing our fishing boats from getting out to sea. In particular, the MFU deplores the lack of dragging crews that are able to respond rapidly, especially in the case of silting during the fishing season. We therefore recommend that DFO create a rapid response team dedicated to emergency dragging of harbours and navigation channels with the ultimate goal of limiting economic losses to the fishing industry, whose operating seasons are short, most of the time lasting only about two months.
Third, since fishing enterprises are losing more and more operating days at sea because of bad weather, we recommend that DFO adopt a more flexible approach when it comes to fishing season opening and closing dates. In particular, we recommend that DFO add the fishing days lost because of bad weather to the end of the season, so the season is not reduced by these increasingly frequent storms.
Fourth, we recommend that DFO's efforts in conducting operations to recover lost fishing gear continue in the long term, in collaboration with the fishery associations. There will be more big storms in the years to come, which will exacerbate the problem of lost fishing gear, and we will have to make every effort to limit the impact of that gear on marine ecosystems and species.
Fifth and last, we recommend that a financial assistance program for fishing enterprises directly affected by Fiona be created. The fishing enterprises that harvest lobster in fishery area 25 in the Northumberland Strait suffered major losses this fall, because the fishing season was underway and that area was in the direct trajectory of the storm. We think this assistance program should help cover damage or loss of fishing gear, lobster traps in that case, as well as damage to boats and lost income resulting from days and traps lost.
I will conclude here, and thank you. We will be happy to answer your questions on this subject.
I would like to thank everybody for inviting us to this meeting and giving us a chance to speak.
Unlike the Maritime Fishermen's Union, at the Shellfish Association we don't really have wharves or any gear to get lost in a storm, but we require a lot of access roads to get down to different rivers. Our equipment is our hands, basically. In the storm, Fiona, the tide was so high that it caused a considerable amount of the island to be closed down for the shellfish fishery.
We represent soft-shell clam fishermen, quahog fishermen, who require getting into the water to harvest, because there's no equipment other than your hands. These fishers lost two weeks of their season, which represented considerable income. With the higher EI qualifications, that was a critical time of the year when they were trying to get the rest of their stamps, because it takes all year to do it. You have to fish the tides. The tide before the hurricane was off. That week after that was when the tides were on, and the waterways were closed for two weeks. It was a significant financial loss to those fishermen.
As for the oyster sector, three-quarters of the island was closed, so there were a lot of fishermen who couldn't fish. In our case, our buyer wouldn't buy because the labs weren't open to do any tests on the oysters, and he wouldn't buy until he was sure that it was safe to ship. We lost a week of income also over this.
I don't know what the recommendations would be. You can't fix Mother Nature. On our part, as far as raising wharves or anything goes, some of our access roads definitely need work. A lot of the erosion is silting over our beds. The areas have to be de-silted as a result of these storms. We suffered a lot of financial loss. A lot of fishermen were hurt badly over this.
I'd like to thank everybody again for letting us take part. I'll be open to any questions.
I'll probably share that answer with my colleague here, Luc LeBlanc.
In the last ten years—and I'll speak for eastern New Brunswick and parts of Nova Scotia on the gulf side—we've had investment in many of our important wharves—those with anything between six and 75 boats per wharf—to raise the height of the ocean walls, the seawalls, and there's also been some work done around the internal wharf infrastructure. Among the wharves that were damaged in eastern New Brunswick, for instance, many of the wharves had minor damages. A lot of the tide levels were at a level that put most of the wharves were under water for a few hours, but even with that effect, most of the equipment was saved.
However, we have some wharves that had not received any investments for a long time. Many of the smaller wharves, especially those that have been divested through the DFO small craft harbours program, have not received these types of investments over the past 10 to 20 years. Especially in areas like Cape Breton, there are many of these smaller wharves. These are an issue moving forward, because how do you help this infrastructure when it is no longer within the authority of DFO to do anything about it?
Thank you, Mr. Morrissey.
As I said, the oyster fishermen suffered financial losses. For instance, we were only in our second full week of the fall season when it happened. The previous week, a lot of fishermen had a really good week, probably four or five thousand dollars. The next week, when you couldn't sell, you had nothing. There was no income.
I was after Minister Fox here on the island, and Innovation PEI, to offset it. They gave us $1,000, but it took three weeks for us to get it, so it was pretty tight going for us financially.
I would like to mention that we have been relatively lucky, because the storm mainly struck eastern New Brunswick.
As Mr. LeBlanc said a little earlier, what causes the most damage is the storm surge. In some cases, for Fiona, the tide was so high that it almost pushed the fishing boats onto the wharves, which meant the owners, the masters, had to park their trucks on the wharf to stop the boats from landing on top of the wharves. In the future, there are certainly going to be problems associated with the height of the wharves. As Mr. LeBlanc said, adding a second seawall would make it possible to reduce the effects of the storm surge. This needs to be examined.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, its small craft harbours program, and harbour authorities are in constant discussions to establish a list of priorities in terms of the wharves that are the most affected.
With that said, there is a shortage of workers and contractors to repair the wharves most damaged by the storm, whether in the Maritimes or Quebec, as Mr. Morrissey spoke about earlier. We are going to have to address this major problem in the coming months, because the fishing season is going to start next spring in most regions.
Thank you so much to the witnesses today. I will have some questions for Mr. LeBlanc and Mr. Mallet on infrastructure, if I have time, but I'd like to start with Mr. MacLeod.
You made some interesting comments, Mr. MacLeod, about employment insurance. I'm actually thinking about workers, their families, their homes and what happened in the community. We know that EI was born over 50 years ago. It probably wasn't thinking about climate change and the impacts on workers during climate change, and we know the frequency with which these events are happening.
Could you give us some thoughts on that? These committees can make recommendations. If there are some changes that need to be made to EI to accommodate climate change, I would love to hear your thoughts on that, and also on the impacts. How did this affect workers, their families and their homes? What happened to workers over this one?
Yes, the unemployment rate went up this year. The fishermen actually needed more income to qualify. With lobsters, you can make a lot of money pretty quickly, but when you're dealing with clams, quahogs and oysters, it takes a full two seasons to get enough money. You're not making the money there.
When the climate changes and you get these storms, it affects not only those areas being closed for two weeks and the fishermen but also the buyers. When the buyers are affected, they can't ship their oysters, so there are that many more oysters left in their beds. In return, they won't buy this late in the fall. Our fall season is still on, and it's on until the end of the month, but there have been buyers who quit buying two weeks ago. With that closure, they're not moving any product, so they're not going to continue buying.
You can't sell for those two weeks, and then your buyer quits two weeks early. There's a month of your season gone, and you're required to have more EI to draw on. It's a real hardship for a lot of fishermen.
On the island, with the two zones, especially in Charlottetown, it's a really bad situation there. You have the price of gas, having to travel around when you're not making a lot, but you need that income for your EI, and then your buyer quits. There was a lot of financial hardship in the shellfish fishery over Fiona for sure.
I really don't know for sure what the answer on this would be, but there have to be exceptions when something like this happens. It's not your fault as a fisherman when you lose two weeks because your area is not open, the buyer quits two weeks early and there's a month of your income gone.
I'll put it this way: With the cost of everything and with everybody trying to raise their family, it definitely was not a good situation for a lot of people.
Thank you to all the witnesses for being with us.
Before anything else, I want to tell Mr. Perkins that I am proud of the investments we have made in the small craft harbours. If Mr. LeBlanc had not been Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard at the time, I think we would not have received that $400 million in additional investments for small craft harbours. We would probably also not have had the $400 million for the fisheries or a modernized Fisheries Act that protects owner-operators.
My region has received $75 million for wharves, but that is still not enough. The wharves in my region had been in disrepair for several years before I was elected and we are trying to rebuild them.
Mr. Mallet and Mr. LeBlanc, as you said, northern New Brunswick was a little less hard hit by the storm, but it still caused damage.
I noted in your presentation that you were talking about dragging. What makes me angry is that every year, the department's officials know very well what harbours in my region will need dragging for the opening of the fishery, but they wait until the last minute, when the fishery should be starting, to do it.
Have you observed that, and do you share those concerns with the department officials when you meet with them?
Obviously, Quebec was less affected by that storm, but the rising sea level is staring us in the face. Where I come from, for example, in L'Isle-aux-Coudres, there are times during the day when cars and ambulances or other emergency vehicles can't even get across, because the water level gets higher than the wharf and so the ferry can't load and unload the cars. So people are negatively impacted by the disorganization of the emergency services caused by climate change.
If we add in the fishery-related problems that you encounter farther away in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, in the Maritimes and in the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, it is obvious that we have to adapt to climate change. We have just come from COP27, where we heard that Canada did not put on a good showing when it came to the environment and fighting climate change.
Do you think we should simply mitigate, or do we need to launch a massive attack against investment in fossil fuels, for example? Do you think we should take strong action on both fronts?
Yes, maybe one option would be to look at the model that was used just recently with the COVID crisis, when there was some access to a loan program with part of it being forgivable as a grant.
The difficult thing here is to try to gauge the actual need per harvester. Every harvester has a different situation to address, and in some cases, such as in our case in LFA 25, where the fishery was going on during the storm, some fishermen on the eastern part of that zone had very little damage to their gear, whereas most of our fishermen on the western side of the zone were very affected.
In some cases some of the lobster traps being used were new or were just a few years in. Usually they have a five- to six-year lifespan, but with this storm, even if harvesters recuperated their equipment, the lifespan of their equipment was shortened by a few years already. Therefore, they'll have to reinvest in their equipment much sooner than was anticipated, and that was not part of their business plan, I would say.
Access to loans or access to some support like that so that they can reinvest in their businesses is very important moving forward.
Thanks, Mr. Chair, and hello to the witnesses. MP Zarrillo, thanks for joining us today.
One of the many things that you learn in a committee like this and with a vast array of expertise is that oftentimes there are common themes. We had four ministers of fisheries in the Atlantic provinces speak to the fact that we're in a climate crisis and that we need to adapt. We've heard that from fishers, fishing associations, processors and NGOs.
Some of common themes there were, number one, we're in a climate crisis; number two, they have the largest industry in Atlantic Canada that is impacted by those fisheries; and number three, we need more investment. We've given about $1 billion since 2015 into small craft harbours. As MP Cormier said, that's not enough. We need to do better, and we also need to adapt how we do things.
With all of that in mind, there's a lot of food for thought here, and I particularly liked the conversation between Martin and MP Cormier about a strategic committee. I thought that's an interesting approach.
I want to take some time to unpack the whole concept of climate-resilient harbours. My dad, when he worked in mine rescue, would often have these bigwig engineers from Montreal come and meet with the miners to tell them how the mine was going to be run and how to have structural integrity, and oftentimes the miners would say, “Come here, buddy. I want to talk to you about how we think we can make this work.” The practitioners—that is, fishers and fishing associations—know how to make things work.
When it comes to the environmental resiliency of the small craft harbour, I'm wondering, Martin, Luc, and Mr. MacLeod, if you can give us an idea of what that means to you in terms of creating resilient small craft harbours, or for that matter other coastal infrastructure, such as processing plants that are mere feet away from the ocean. What do you mean by creating environmentally resilient small craft harbours and other infrastructure? What does that mean to you and what are the steps that need to taken, say, in the next year or two or three?
We'll start with Martin.
We will call the meeting to order again, as we have everything done to be ready for the second panel.
I would like to make a few comments for the benefit of new witnesses.
Please wait until I recognize you by name before speaking. For those participating by video conference, click on the microphone icon to activate your mike, and please mute yourself when you are not speaking.
For interpretation for those on Zoom, you have the choice at the bottom of your screen of either floor, English or French. For those in the room, you can use the earpiece and select the desired channel. All comments should be addressed to the chair.
I would now like to welcome our witnesses. Representing the Fisheries Council of Canada and here in person is Paul Lansbergen, president. He, of course, is no stranger to FOPO. Representing Sogelco International Incorporated, we have Richard Ablett, vice-president and chief science director.
Thank you for taking the time to appear today. You each have five minutes for an opening statement.
We will begin with Mr. Lansbergen, please, for five minutes or less.
Thanks to the committee for the invitation to appear. It's a great pleasure to be back here in person for the first time in this Parliament.
As many of you know, the Fisheries Council of Canada is the national trade association representing processors across the country. All of them also harvest.
For the topic of the study today, I'd like to say that I have personally worked on climate change policies for three different sectors over the last 20-plus years, to varying degrees at times, and I have looked at mitigation, adaptation and resiliency-directed policies through them. I am pleased that you're conducting this study. It's a big topic, and every little bit helps.
To give context on how hurricane Fiona affected my members, I should first describe a bit of where they operate and how.
My members operate processing plants at wharves, and their harvesting is largely done, though not exclusively, using frozen-at-sea vessels. If the plants receive harvests from frozen-at-sea vessels, the wharves are largely privately owned and are correspondingly large and on deep water. For the plants that rely on smaller vessels and/or independent harvesters, the wharves can be much more vulnerable to extreme weather events, as you've heard from other witnesses.
I'd like to report that my members were graciously only indirectly affected by Fiona. My heart goes out to all those who were much more directly affected. I can only imagine how devastating it can be to have your homes, your businesses or, worse, your loved ones lost because of Fiona.
However, there will be knock-on effects through the supply chain, because harvesting capacity is diminished. This means that processors won't have the same level of product to supply their customers and they could lose shelf space, which is always difficult to get back.
Earlier this week, you heard from Oceans North. While I may not always agree with Dr. Fuller, I would like to say that in her opening remarks, she gave an accurate characterization of the challenges we face with climate change.
With your indulgence, I have some brief comments on broader climate change through the lenses of mitigation, adaptation and resiliency. After that, I welcome your questions.
In terms of mitigation, actions that can be taken across the sector and the coasts will be differentiated based on the circumstances inside and outside our sector. For example, electrification is an effective option for the inshore fleet, but not necessarily for the offshore fleet. Hydrogen might be a more appropriate alternative fuel for offshore vessels.
Within my membership, companies have largely picked the low-hanging fruit, which are the actions that conserve energy and cut costs. The more transformative actions are slower in coming because they require more collaboration and involve considerably more risk and a lot more money. However, the Ocean Supercluster and other efforts are advancing new technologies, such as replacing doors on trawl nets. This could improve fuel efficiency upward of 30%, because it drastically reduces the drag on the vessel.
For adaptation, we are experiencing climate change impacts already on the oceans and our fish resources, and these impacts will only get more pronounced in the decades to come.
DFO has been working with the FAO and allied jurisdictions to better understand these climate impacts on our oceans and the corresponding adaptation strategies. I applaud that collaborative approach. A lot of this relates to how DFO manages our fish resources and the broader ocean ecosystem, but it also includes regulations that govern our sector.
I look forward to ongoing dialogue on these complex issues. A good example is how the fisheries science and management decisions that follow will incorporate climate impacts. It will be paramount to engage the sector as this is done, so that we can understand and buy into it.
Thinking more broadly than just DFO, a national adaptation strategy was released yesterday. I am glad that it is there, but I have to say that its development lacked meaningful engagement with the ocean sector, and particularly the fisheries sector. In fact, with all the attention to the blue economy and oceans, one could have expected that the ocean would have been its own theme in the strategy. Instead, it was mostly implicit, not explicit, across the five themes.
Quite frankly, I was quite disappointed in the process and the draft strategy. I'm still reviewing the final version, but from a quick scan, I didn't see a whole lot that had changed in how oceans or fisheries are considered.
In terms of resiliency, true resiliency is all-encompassing and includes the sector's assets, community infrastructure and, in fact, the global supply chain. You've heard considerable testimony from others on this.
We, individually and collectively, need to consider how and where we build infrastructure. For example, our building codes, our engineering standards for where and how we work and live, need to better incorporate resiliency.
Thank you. I look forward to your questions.
Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and honourable members of the committee.
My name is Richard Ablett. I represent Sogelco International, a seafood processing and marketing company operating in Montreal, or based in Montreal, and owning and operating two factory units in the Maritimes.
One is in New Brunswick, as Bolero Shellfish Processing in Saint-Simon, a factory operating on the basis of traditional lobster and sea cucumber processing products. A second plant, where I'm based today, is in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. That's Summerside Seafood Supreme. Our plant is involved with the production of specialty products, including a range of chilled, pasteurized seafood ready meals. They're marketed throughout North America as mass retail products. Together these two plants operate on a year-round basis, with about 280 employees. Sogelco has sales in the range of $50 million to $60 million. It's a family-owned business. It's been in business for 46 years.
Today what we're trying to do is provide a perspective for consideration by the committee from the viewpoint as downstream, value-addition secondary processors. We operate at the end of the value chain within the P.E.I. seafood sector, and with an emerging threat of market loss.
Over the last few days I've been listening to the deliberations of the committee. I see a lot of direction towards the primary end of things, the requirements for rebuilding infrastructure. Our company is very much at the end of the chain, in a sense, as an ingredient purchaser in the aquaculture sector in P.E.I., specifically with mussels. Live mussels constitute the basis of a range of our products. If you just look behind me, you see, as an example, “mussels in garlic butter” types of products, with a high content of Prince Edward Island cultured mussel. These are selling across Canada and into the United States, effectively through the Costco chain and Walmart marketing outlets. Walmart and Costco are major customers for our products. Our sales are growing.
The interesting feature of the product base coming from this factory is that they are pasteurized, chilled products—never frozen. This allows us to produce and market a product into specialty niches inside these mass retail chains without the competition from frozen product. Our plant is able to make 20,000 units a day.
Behind all of that, we recognize that hurricane Fiona has had a massive impact on infrastructure and the primary resource of fishery and aquaculture based in Prince Edward Island and the region. Obviously, recovery assistance is needed for what we call the front end of the value chain.
Summerside, our plant here, represents a real-time example of an unforeseen impact of the hurricane at the downstream end. I'm sure that many other secondary processors in the region will have similar problems. We try to bring this to your perspective as an example.
This particular factory in Summerside has a long-term supply arrangement with Prince Edward Island north shore mussel growers and processors, specifically with Prince Edward Aqua Farms, one of three of the larger operators in P.E.I. It's been in place for 12 years, with an understood supply chain that's been uninterrupted and can provide mussels to the plant of a high-quality nature and meet our specifications. In the last year we purchased 1.1 million pounds of mussels from our supplier. We're scheduled to move up to 1.7 million this year on the basis of expanding sales for the products you see behind me, but also for three new products that will be introduced in the 2023 season. Not to get into it, but these would be additional mussel retail products—mussels arrabbiata, Thai curry and a seafood boil product.
What I want to try to do is tell you what our emerging dilemma is, as an example, and then try to say what might be provided as some kind of mitigation approach.
Currently the plant is challenged with a reducing supply of up to 500,000 pounds of mussels due to losses in the resource space behind us, so dropping from 1.1 million pounds down to 700,000 is really sitting in front of the company right now. Obviously, the supplier needs to look after its own resources and its own customers, primarily as a live-market supplier. Mussels are moved out across North America, as you know, and something like 80% of the Canadian supply comes from Prince Edward Island.
This reduction to our processing operation can result in a problem with our firm's capacity to meet the customer agreements that were set last summer with mass retailers on pricing and availability. This is really an issue that can significantly impact the business, and we're probably [Technical difficulty—Editor] on launching new products if the supply to the operation is actually reduced.
Suppliers raised their price to the factory here due to the impacts of Fiona, and the need for cleanup costs.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and it was such good testimony that I'm sure it's okay to hear it a second time.
Thank you to our witnesses who are here today for taking the time and sharing valuable insights about the effect that hurricane Fiona and its aftermath has had on your respective sectors.
We've heard a lot from the witnesses so far. They've made it very clear regarding the absolute need and urgency around adaptation and making sure we have resiliency of infrastructure in place to handle and deal with the ever-changing climate that we're facing. Everyone we've heard from has emphasized that.
I want to get your individual perspectives as to whether you feel there has been an adequate response and an urgency to the response thus far from the government in relation to making sure we get the infrastructure back up to where it needs to be. It needs to be at resilient levels in time for the coming seasons to adequately support our fishing sector and those at all points in the cycle, whether on the water, on the processing side or on the storage capacity side. It should also include those in marketing, sharing around the world the good-quality fruits of the sea that we produce here in our region.
I would like to get both your perspectives.
I'll start with you, Mr. Lansbergen, and then move to Mr. Ablett.
I don't know if Mr. Ablett would have any familiarity with it.
He's saying no. Okay.
It's one of the ones that there has been a lot of talk about. It's to make sure that we have sustainable small craft harbours and make sure that we have good infrastructure in place going forward.
I think this has been the repeated message. We hear a lot about climate urgency and we hear some promises, but it seems like the response so far has been inadequate and not enough to meet the urgency of the moment or especially the need to get our infrastructure in place, as well as the equipment the harvesters need to do what they do best, which is get out there and harvest the fruits of the sea that we love to see harvested. It's bringing that urgency to the table that's going to matter the most.
I think we've heard and we can gather from this that there's a lot of talk around taxation as it relates to climate change. I think we need a whole lot more talk around adaptation and resiliency of infrastructure and making sure the immediate investment is put where it needs to be to get things to market on time and get these harvesters back on the water.
Thank you for your time today.
Is that all my time, Mr. Chair?
Thank you for your question. My French is not very good, so I'm going to answer in English.
It's a good question.
I haven't looked too closely at the agriculture programs, because I felt like they were an apples-and-oranges comparison to the wild capture fishery. Having looked at it in preparation for this appearance, I think there may be some more relevant aspects to the insurance programs that they have, which, even if they aren't exactly the same, may still be very helpful in the seafood sector.
I think the market impact.... The loss of income, whether it be for harvesters or processors.... The capacity can't be replaced immediately. You've heard the challenges of the delay in getting dredging, rebuilding the harbours and replacing the vessels.
I'd have to have a deeper look at it to see what that means, but I think there is some possibility there.
I'm going to start my questions with Mr. Lansbergen.
I appreciate the little bit of a shift of the lens this afternoon with this second set of witnesses. I want to talk specifically about food security. There was some mention of downstream. It doesn't get more downstream than whoever's eating it.
Mr. Lansbergen, we did hear some testimony today about testing, and we know that it can be very dangerous to have product that hasn't been tested. That was in my mind when I was thinking about these questions.
On the food security front, are there some safeguards that should be recommended in light of what happens with climate change and the lack of maybe power generators for refrigeration?
What infrastructure is needed to protect the supply chain? We heard a little bit about roads and washouts.
On the safe consumption of goods, what are the kinds of things we can do to make sure that we plan for food security? We are relying on these goods for consumption.
Our products are in the cold supply chain, so they have to be refrigerated or frozen. For that cold storage, they need to have backup power to maintain the product. If it's frozen, then, yes, for a certain period of time they can be without power, but if it's fresh, live, then there's a much narrower bandwidth of thresholds that need to be met.
In terms of testing and things like that, the labs would need to have backup power so they wouldn't lose their capacity.
How often do we expect to lose power for a week in such vast areas? Maybe our expectations and backup plans need to change because of that.
Thank you for the question.
I feel that there's not enough attention addressed to the idea of the impacts of Fiona on downstream marketing. There's a lot of attention, obviously, paid to infrastructure rebuilding, but the entire value chain obviously consists of primary resources going through to products that go to the end consumer. Marketing positioning and trying to maintain brand and sales are obviously issues that are going to evolve with time as these climate change impacts increase.
In the particular case of our company, we're threatened right now. We may be able to manage our way through it, but definitely a lot more attention is needed in order to understand what's going on once you leave and get into the export market and mass retail situation and try to maintain your supply chain. There's no mercy with the mass retailer buyers when you can't supply them.
In the case of, let's say, the mussel industry or the oyster industry, it's two to four years to reinstate the biomass that can feed through to maintain these export products to the consumer.
I feel there's a need for what I would call a market loss or risk mitigation program specifically. Try to be very focused on the concepts that obviously people are losing market position and suffering brand damage, and that there are issues there from the processors to maintain and preserve their businesses during the recovery period.
This could run as a two-year to three-year program, essentially providing support to the industry and maybe representing about 10% or 15% of what is being allocated for the total recovery fund. It's not the main part, but it's one part, an important area. It's end-of-chain assistance, if you like, for market preservation and the maintenance of companies that have been damaged by the unfortunate loss of their raw material.
This might be a two-year renewable-type program, run through ACOA, in my mind, and not so much the DFO. The DFO is more on the infrastructure support end of it, but ACOA understands the downstream requirements, so it's essential to the maintenance of the value chain from raw material supply to finished goods and market distribution. That kind of program could be quite well defined, and I'm sure there would be a lot of uptake on it or requirement for it.