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Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans

In early 2010–11, the Committee on Fisheries and Oceans tabled two reports on Canada’s Western Arctic based on its work in the previous year. In April, it re-published a report from just before Parliament’s 2010 prorogation: Rising to the Arctic Challenge: Report on the Canadian Coast Guard. The report continues the committee’s long interest in the role of the Coast Guard in Canada’s North. It describes the impact of increased international shipping traffic in the Northwest Passage and recommends strengthening the Canadian Coast Guard as Canada’s first tool in surveillance and control of Arctic waters.

The committee tabled a second report on the Western Arctic in May, based on hearings in Ottawa and in Yellowknife and Inuvik, Northwest Territories. Management of Fisheries and Oceans in Canada’s Western Arctic makes 14 recommendations for sustainably developing both coastal and freshwater fisheries to the benefit of Canada and of the region’s citizens.

Members of the Fisheries and Oceans Committee meet with the local development committee in Crow Head, Newfoundland and Labrador, in October 2010. They learned that a lightkeeper-staffed, upgraded lighthouse could stimulate tourism and support the local economy.

In March 2010, at the request of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the committee began a study of Canada’s lighthouses and the services provided by their lightkeepers. It broadened the scope of this study to include the implementation of the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (HLPA), which was due to enter into force at the end of May 2010. The committee engaged lightkeepers, recreational boaters, commercial shippers and fishers, and business and community interests by holding hearings in Ottawa and fact-finding missions in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and British Columbia.

The committee published two reports on the subject: the first, on lighthouse staffing, in December 2010; and the second, on the HLPA, in March 2011. Seeing the Light: Report on Staffed Lighthouses in Newfoundland and Labrador and British Columbia reported that lightkeepers fulfill many — but not widely-recognized — services and add much value to light stations. It recommended changing the policy of de-staffing lighthouses to a case-by-case assessment of whether removing a lighthouse’s keeper is the right choice. The second report makes 10 recommendations to ensure that heritage lighthouses are protected.