Monthly Archives: December 2011

Wild Salmon get lumps of coal for Christmas (billions and billions of them)

BC's coal plan?

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Interesting article at the Co.Exist blog ["World changing ideas and innovation" is their tagline] part of the magazine: Fast Company.

China’s Massive Coal Habit, Mapped

The U.S. could switch to to 100% renewable energy tomorrow, but it wouldn’t make a huge difference in the grand scheme of coal consumption. An animated map from the U.S. Energy Information Administration reveals just how fast Asia’s coal consumption is growing–and specifically, how China’s growing coal use threatens to double CO2 pollution levels compared to the U.S. over the next 15 years.

In 1982, Asia’s coal consumption was on par with the U.S. Fast-forward 20 years, though, and demand has grown over 400%.

This growth in Asia’s coal use isn’t spread equally among all the countries. North Korea, South Korea, and Southeast Asia consume very little; even India doesn’t consume nearly as much as China. This shouldn’t be surprising. China’s economy is growing so fast that it has no choice but to suck up more energy resources. And while the country is a leader in renewable energy installations, it’s also a rapidly growing coal consumer…

Co.Exist blog article -- map of global consumption

China’s insatiable coal appetite could jack up the price of coal so much that many seemingly pricey renewables look more attractive. But if that happens, it only means that China is using an even more outsized amount of coal.

So if there’s any hope of staving off severe climate change, China has to be at the center of the process. Otherwise, we’re (mostly) wasting our time.

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As much as “Harper’s” Canada took an unpopular position at the recent climate change talks… maybe they aren’t really that far off the mark?

Not that I support the idea that ‘if other big polluters are going to keep polluting, then we’ll just keep polluting’ — in other words: if China doesn’t curb coal burning then we’ll continue to rip up the sub-arctic boreal forest tar sands.

Looking at these numbers for coal burning — one of the worst greenhouse gas emitters — makes much of the climate change talks seem akin to talking about quitting smoking while you’re mouth is over your tail pipe sucking on the exhaust of your car…

Add in that British Columbia’s government is hot to trot on opening more coal mines — to supply those Chinese numbers.

See no evil, hear no evil…

How’s that ever-growing cliche go…?

something like: “think globally, act locally”

hmmmm…

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Don’t matter how much habitat preservation/restoration/rehabilitation goes on for wildlife that depends on glacial fed streams… it those streams stop being “glacially-fed”… then ‘houston… we have a problem…’

However, as a high-end investment advisor told me at a recent talk when I asked him about their Canadian resource extraction companies heavy portfolio and things such as pipelines and Canadian tar sands operations… “technology will fix everything.” He then proceeded to tell me about CO2 sequestration projects (e.g. pumping it back into the ground) and… well… he didn’t have anything after that.

Nice fellow… but misguided maybe? Or, simply following the herd?

His big shtick was: “if there’s anything I can leave you with, think of the 4,000,000 Chinese people that move from the country to the city every year… as they move to the city, their lifestyle will change and their demands for resources will increase.”

Sure sounds like a great investment strategy for my apparent pension plan… but then what’s the world going to do as the huge percentage of the world’s population that lives on coastlines has to mitigate a global disaster as sea levels rise…? (and water supplies dry up…)

Anyone wondering why the world’s insurance businesses are in a major tizzy about climate change and the potential mass impacts as the climate quickly warms?

Here’s a quote from a report easily found online:

Mainstream insurers have increasingly come to see climate change as a material risk to their business. The worldwide economic losses from weather-related natural disasters were about $130 billion in 2008 ($44 billion insured), and the losses have been rising more quickly than population or inflation.

A 2007 PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of 100 insurance industry representatives from 21 countries indicates climate change is the number-four issue (out of 33); natural disasters ranks number two. The majority of the other issues are arguably compounded by climate change.

The following year, Ernst & Young surveyed more than 70 insurance industry analysts around the world to determine the top-10 risks facing the industry. Climate change was rated number one and most of the remaining 10 topics (e.g. catastrophe events and regulatory intervention) are also compounded by climate change. [you know... like the magic of compound interest]

The investigators note that ‘‘it was surprising that this risk, which is typically viewed as a long-term issue, would be identified as the greatest strategic threat for the insurance industry’’.

[Global Review of Insurance Industry Responses to Climate Change_2009 The Geneva Papers, 2009, 34 (323-359).  The International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics]

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Apologies for the dark, smokestack-emitting, coal-burning, coal mining holiday message — however maybe in 2012 there will be some more of that other cliche: ‘waking up and smelling the coffee…’

 

SALMONGATE: ‘Joe’ at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says: “It is clear that we are turning the PR tide to our favour… and we will win the war, also.”

This is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency: responsible for your food safety!

“Concentrate on the headlines — that’s often all that people read or remember” says Cornelius Kiley at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Well, ‘Joe’ & ‘Corny’ (and other CFIA and DFO staff) this headline goes out to you…. cheers, salmonguy.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

“It is clear that we are turning the PR tide to our favour… and we will win the war, also” says ‘Joe’ [Joseph Beres] the BC manager of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

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How are you feeling about the safety of your food now?

And to think that Joe and Corny and others included in the email (including Stephen Stephen from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans) are most likely in the high $100,000+/year wage scale. Take a look at the wage scales in the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for the highest executive levels…

Performance Pay – Levels EX-05
Effective Date Minimum Maximum
From: Effective April 1, 2010 $163,100 $191,900
Effective April 1, 2011 $166,100 $195,300
Effective April 1, 2012 $168,600 $198,300

 

If the Canadian Food Inspection Agency top staff and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (and the BC Government) think that it’s about headlines and winning PR wars… what does that say about the safety of our food in Canada?

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It’s been said on this blog a lot: “marketing is everything and everything is marketing”

It seems quite clear that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans fully agree — and add in the Privy Council Office that answers directly to PM Harper (but then we know that they fully subscribe to the “marketing is everything, everything is marketing” school-of-thought. [Hence, why one of PM Harper's main staff people moved over from one of Canada's oil companies...]

CBC is running an article on this issue today:

Government email makes waves at salmon inquiry

“It is clear that we are turning the PR tide in our favour, and this is because of the very successful performance of our spokes at the tech briefing,” CFIA B.C. manager Joseph Beres wrote.

“One battle is won, now we have to nail the surveillance piece, and we will win the war, also.”

“Spokes” most likely refers to spokespeople. [that's so cute]

But then… what well paid public/civil service employee then sends out an email like this, knowing full well that it can be accessed through Freedom of Information (FOI) or government sponsored judicial/public inquiries?

Along with the 400 pink slips being handed out to DFO employees, maybe there’s another one coming to this group of CFIA employees and to Stephen Stephen at DFO (no that’s not a typo, that’s his real catchy name).

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The CFIA home page states:

Welcome to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Dedicated to safeguarding food, animals and plants, which enhances the health and well-being of Canada’s people, environment and economy.

[So I'm wondering 'Joe' and 'Corny' and Stephen Stephen at DFO -- how does farmed salmon from the BC Coast laced with both ISA and heart and skeletal muscle inflammation virus (or HSMI) ENHANCE the health and well-being of Canada's people (let alone the environment and economy)?]

&

Accountability

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) continuously strives to be transparent and accountable in how it does business.

The CFIA is accountable to Canadians and reports to Parliament through key documents.

[So how is the CFIA and Parliament going to account for this accountability? -- this is a cover up, and it's shameful... more so through the arrogance of civil service employees...]

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Scroll down a little here and you’ll see good ol’ Infectious Salmon Anemia (anémie infestieuse du saumon) tucked in between things like: “highly pathogenic avian influenza” “Foot and Mouth disease” “koi herpesvirus disease” and “lumpy skin disease.”

Nasty stuff!

And, yet Senior managers at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency figure this is a “public relations war” where we manipulate news headlines for that silly, dumb public…

embarrassing, shameful, and worthy of serious repercussions — wouldn’t you say?

Reportable Diseases Regulations

Health of Animals Act (S.C. 1990, c. 21)

SCHEDULE

(Section 2)

REPORTABLE DISEASES

 

  • African horse sickness
  • peste équine
  • African swine fever
  • peste porcine africaine
  • anaplasmosis
  • anaplasmose
  • anthrax
  • fièvre charbonneuse
  • bluetongue
  • fièvre catarrhale du mouton
  • Bonamia ostreae
  • bovine spongiform encephalopathy
  • bovine tuberculosis (M. bovis)
  • brucellosis
  • ceratomyxosis (Ceratomyxa shasta)
  • chronic wasting disease of cervids
  • classical swine fever (hog cholera)
  • contagious bovine pleuropneumonia
  • contagious equine metritis
  • cysticercosis
  • epizootic haematopoietic necrosis
  • equine infectious anaemia
  • equine piroplasmosis (B. equi and B. caballi)
  • foot and mouth disease (FMD)
  • fowl typhoid (Salmonella gallinarum)
  • Haplosporidium nelsoni
  • highly pathogenic avian influenza
  • infectious haematopoietic necrosis
  • infectious pancreatic necrosis
  • infectious salmon anaemia

  • anémie infestieuse du saumon
  • koi herpesvirus disease
  • lumpy skin disease
  • Marteilia refringens
  • Marteiliodes chungmuensis
  • Mikrocytos mackini
  • Newcastle disease
  • Perkinsus marinus
  • Perkinsus olseni
  • peste des petits ruminants
  • pseudorabies (Aujeszky’s disease)
  • pullorum disease (S. pullorum)
  • rabies
  • Rift Valley fever
  • rinderpest
  • scrapie
  • sheep and goat pox
  • spring viraemia of carp
  • swine vesicular disease
  • Taura syndrome
  • trichinellosis
  • Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis
  • vesicular stomatitis
  • viral haemorrhagic septicaemia
  • whirling disease (Myxobolus cerebralis)
  • white spot disease
  • white sturgeon iridoviral disease
  • yellow head disease

 

SALMONGATE! Testimony today and yesterday at Cohen Commission demonstrating DFO and Canada Food Inspection Agency willingly hiding salmon disease from public.

An email entered as evidence at the Cohen Commission today (#2110) from a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) employee, Joseph Beres, states (in relation to the DFO and CFIA public relations efforts to stifle news of Infectious Salmon Anemia on the Pacific Coast in wild Pacific salmon):

 It is clear that we are turning the PR tide to our favour…one battle is won, now we have to nail the surveillance piece, and we will win the war… Concentrate on the headlines, that’s often all that people read or remember. Both the “Top Stories” and the “Related Pieces”.

This appears to be in support of a press release on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans website dated Oct. 24, 2011 stating, and this is a direct quote from the DFO press release:

 In short, there has never been a confirmed case of ISA in British Columbia salmon – farmed or wild.

It would appear that, in short, this is an absolute and complete LIE.

(aka: “An intentionally false statement.”)

I did a quick search for what it means when public service/civil service employees lie. Came across a curious quote:

Sir Henry Taylor argued that though the first principles of morality in regard to truth are plain and definite, the derivative principles, and their application in practice are not so: ‘… falsehood ceases to be falsehood when it is understood at all levels that the truth is not expected to be spoken.’

[the other mind blower in here... do public service employees not understand that emails can be requested under Freedom of Information or otherwise... are there not courses on "don't say stupid shit on email"?]

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An article in the LA Times in early December coined the phrase: SALMONGATE.

Did Canada cover up deadly salmon virus? Report suggests yes

Call it Salmongate. The deepening controversy over who knew what and when about a deadly virus that may or may not have been detected in West Coast salmon would be obscure fodder for biologists if there weren’t so much at stake — the health of the West’s dwindling stocks of wild salmon, for one. And Canada’s $2.1-billion fish farming industry.

Testimony today at the Cohen Commission into Fraser River salmon declines — being streamed out on social media, as there is no public streaming of the hearings — as well as on an article relased on the Globe & Mail website just a little while ago, is demonstrating willful misleading of the public and international trade partners.

And not just misleading the public, but intimidating various individuals trying to get this information out to the public and into scientific circles so immediate action can be taken:

Federal agency accused of intimidation over salmon disease

Scientists who uncovered the first signs that infectious salmon anemia is present on the West Coast have found themselves shunned and intimidated by federal government officials, the Cohen Commission has heard.

Dr. Kibenge said shortly after SFU went public he was called by government officials who had questions about how his lab operated.

Dr. Kibenge told the Cohen Commission, which is inquiring into the collapse of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser River, that he initially thought the CFIA was interested in finding how his lab could work co-operatively with a DFO lab they use for ISA testing, in Moncton, New Brunswick.

But he said after officials arrived, he realized they were really more interested in finding faults with his operation as a means to undermine the credibility of his ISA virus findings.

His lab is one of only a handful certified by the World Organization for Animal Health for ISA testing and he is a recognized expert on the virus.

Mr. McDade suggested to Dr. Kibenge that had he reported negative results for the ISA virus, he wouldn’t have been subject to any CFIA scrutiny.

“I agree, yeah,” he said. “Negative findings are very easy to deal with. . .it’s the positive findings that are difficult to accept.”

Dr. Kibenge’s lab in 2007 confirmed the first occurrence of ISA in farmed Atlantic salmon in Chile, where the virus triggered a disease outbreak that killed millions of salmon.

The Cohen Commission has also heard that Molly Kibenge, Dr. Kibenge’s wife, had found evidence of the ISA virus in 2002 and 2003 while doing research at the Pacific Biological Station. But DFO denied her request to publish that research, saying her findings were in doubt because another lab failed to repeat her findings.

_ _ _ _ _ _

If heads don’t roll over this, I’ll be floored.

Infectious Salmon Anemia is listed right up there with foot-and-mouth disease, mad cow disease, and others — as diseases that need to be reported to the public and to trade partners… immediately.

Denial is not an option.

Plus, with ISA on the coast, and senior government managers purposefully misleading superiors on this issue, and then the story coming to light, and DFO and the CFIA spend their time mounting a credibility attack and public relations campaign — as opposed to immediate direct and affirmative action to act upon the disease.

Maybe there is an imminent shake up coming to a government ministry near you…

 

New York Times and others reporting on ISA issue and Cohen Commission special hearings

"DFO" -- Disconnected Forever On.

The New York Times ran an article late yesterday on the continued hearings into Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) at the Cohen Commission into Fraser River sockeye declines.

Canada Holds Hearings on Suspected Virus in Salmon

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The fate of wild salmon is a sensitive topic in the Pacific Northwest and arguments often end up in court in the United States, whether over threats to endangered fish by hydroelectric dams or sea lions swallowing them along their migration routes.

But on Thursday, a new and particularly bitter dispute began playing out in a very different kind of judicial venue across the Canadian border: a provincial Supreme Court justice held a hearing into questions of whether a potentially lethal virus had been detected in wild Pacific salmon — and whether the Canadian government was responding adequately.

The virus, infectious salmon anemia, has devastated farmed Atlantic salmon stocks in Chile and elsewhere. Some conservationists and scientists have long worried that the virus would spread from farmed fish to wild ones. Those fears escalated in October, when opponents of British Columbia’s ambitious farmed Atlantic salmon program, which is heavily promoted by the government, presented lab results they said showed an asymptomatic form of the virus in wild Pacific salmon.

Several more reports of the virus have emerged in the past two months, including a draft paper suggesting that the virus was detected as early as 2002 but not revealed by the government, further angering farming opponents.

The developments have prompted passionate debate on both sides of the border, with reaction veering from accusations that the Canadian government is covering up evidence of the disease to claims by Canadian officials that the reports are based on poor science.

The most combative exchanges occurred during testimony by Kristina Miller, the head of molecular genetics for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans laboratory at Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island. While previous reports of the virus had surfaced from sources outside the Canadian government, only to have Canadian officials question them, Dr. Miller testified that she also had received positive results when she tested for the virus, known as I.S.A. She said that when she reported her work to a superior last month, she was asked why she had conducted it at all.

“Nobody in the department talked to me about disease or I.S.A. after that,” Dr. Miller testified. At one point, she said she was frustrated at what she called “flippant dismissal of pathogens” that could be harmful.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is charged with promoting aquaculture but also with protecting wild fish, a dual mission that some critics say creates conflicts. Agency officials are scheduled to testify in the next two days…

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It doesn’t only create “conflicts”; it is a fundamental “conflict of interest”.

Some suggest that “conflict of interest” means: “We can define a conflict of interest as a situation in which a person has a private or personal interest sufficient to appear to influence the objective exercise of his or her official duties as, say, a public official, an employee, or a professional.

Enter government agency in there that is providing massive amounts of funding (over $100 million in recent years) to the salmon farming industry in Canada — and yet this week, DFO is starting the process of handing out pink slips to over 400 employees, mainly in the science and conservation sectors.

Is there a disconnect here?

The central mandate of the publicly funded Department of Fisheries and Ocean is “conservation” of wild fish populations, and yet it is now laying many people off that are in fact key in that function — all because of apparent “budget cuts”.

Yet… yet… how many employees would the $100 million or so given to the salmon farming industry in recent years, which most certainly does not play a role in “conserving” wild populations — how many employees would that support?

Government cover up coming to light at Cohen Commission today…? Check that: this has been a cover up!

Social media at work is suggesting that the government has indeed been involved in a cover up of Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) on BC’s coast.

The Cohen Commission into declines of Fraser sockeye has convened a couple of days of special hearings, which are underway right now.

On the stand this morning was Dr. Kristi Miller the DFO scientist (head of Molecular Genetics Laboratory at DFO Nanaimo) who has had her research muzzled by the Privy Council Office of the Prime Minister.

Salmon farming on the hot seat at Cohen Commission

Today, as being reported on different social media circles, here are some quotes:

Dr Miller is blowing the whistle big time…

An email from a few days ago is marked as Exhibit #2055 – Dr Miller explains the ISA testing she’s been carrying out. “It’s an important question to find out how long ISA has been here,” says Dr Miller. “We went back to our samples from 1984 and we found that we could amplify PCR products in 1986 and thereafter. The patterns were very similar to now – with positives for ISA. ISA has been here for at least 25 years

“I had a meeting with the BC Salmon Farmers Association,” says Dr Miller. “But at the very last minute they took Atlantic farmed salmon out of the testing. The BCSFA did not want their farmed Atlantic salmon to be tested”.Dr Miller describes the Government’s testing of farmed salmon and asked to test farmed Atlantic salmon but Dr Miller was only allowed to sample for parvovirus NOT ISA. And the samples that were given were useless as the samples were degraded…

Dr Miller testifies that her lab only received half the funding her lab needs

Mr Taylor asks Dr Miller about ISA being in BC since at least 1986. “Given those 1986 samples showed divergence it would suggest it has been here longer,” says Dr Miller.

“There was a threat that I could lose samples that I rely on for my genomic profiling,” says Dr Miller. She was basically threatend by the Government that her research would be closed down and blocked for testing for ISA.

Dr Miller refers to a jaundice-project with Creative Salmon in Clayoquot Sound – she tested their farmed chinook salmon and we identified ISA-positive farmed salmon (sampled last Winter and close to market size). ISA in farmed salmon in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve!!!

Kristi [Miller] tested a Chinook farm at Creative Salmon farms and they tested positive for ISA on that farm. These fish were also jaundice. So far they are the only company willing to give them samples. Question from commission: You testified earlier saying that the farms would give you samples. Kristi- Yes I had a meeting with BC salmon farmers association and we agreed upon a proposal that I would test their salmon but at the last moment they pulled this from the proposal and said we could not test any of their fish.

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After lunch Greg McDade, lawyer for Alex Morton and others will be questioning government scientists for 15 minutes — approximately 1:45 this afternoon.

Will be interesting to see what media stories come out of this tonight and tomorrow…

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Update: 2 pm Thursday.

CBC is apparently already on it:

Salmon virus in B.C. for decades, say biologists

Department of Fisheries (DFO) biologists have told a federal inquiry that fish samples, dating back more than two decades have tested positive for a potentially lethal wild sockeye fish virus — but that fact wasn’t publicly reported.

Dr. Kristi Miller, the head of molecular genetics for DFO in Nanaimo, told the Cohen Commission on Thursday that frozen samples dating back to 1986 have been tested, and show infectious salmon anemia (ISA) has been in B.C. waters for at least 25 years.

The public inquiry into the decline of the Fraser River sockeye salmon stocks was extended for three extra days after ISA was detected in wild B.C. salmon two months ago by Simon Fraser University Prof. Rick Routledge.

That revelation put the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and B.C.’s fish farming industry on high alert, but those results couldn’t be confirmed and government scientists announced earlier this month that extensive testing came up negative.

The alleged presence of ISA in B.C. salmon stocks is controversial because the virus had never before been found in salmon off B.C.’s coast, either in the Atlantic species that are farmed in ocean pens or in B.C.’s indigenous wild salmon.

The virus is known to be devastating to farmed Atlantic salmon and opponents of the fish farm industry have suggested farmed fish could spread ISA to wild stocks, with catastrophic results.

The virus has been linked to the destruction of the salmon farming industry in Chile and Europe.

The crisis has prompted the Canada Food Inspection Agency to develop a regular surveillance program for ISA, that is expected to be in place as early as next spring.

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Please stay posted for SPIN Machine coming from DFO, Canadian Food Inspection Agency and BC Salmon Farmer’s Association… that should be hitting the airwaves any time soon.

See if DFO and the CFIA have another mis-guided, disconnect, press conference…

Editorial: It’s not the time to gut [Department of] Fisheries

Here’s an editorial from the Victoria, BC Times Colonist the other day:

Editorial: It’s not the time to gut Fisheries

With declining salmon stocks and concerns about fish farms and the impact of climate change, we are going to need to more knowledge than ever before. This is not the time for a dumbing-down of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Yet the federal government has sent letters to 400 DFO employees, including about 200 scientists, warning them that they could be affected by a pending “workforce adjustment,” the usual term for a large-scale termination of employees.

In other words, the government is looking to get rid of some of its experts, just when they will be needed the most. Remarkably, officials within the department insist that it is still determined to have strong fisheries research — research that would be more difficult to complete without enough staff.

The department’s stated mission is to deliver safe and accessible waterways, healthy and productive aquatic ecosystems and sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. It will be guided, it says, “by the principles of sound scientific knowledge and effective management.”

The federal government pledged in the 2011 budget to cut costs in the department through a strategic review, and further cuts might be coming next year. The government wants to find another $4 billion to cut from its annual expenditures.

It would be foolish to think that governments exist to provide employment, or to provide services that are not really needed. It is just as foolish, however, to believe that governments can keep cutting bodies and slashing spending in a desperate attempt to keep taxes low.

There is a rational limit to cutting; beyond that point, ideology is being allowed to prevail over common sense and effective, efficient government.

We could mention Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s use of a government helicopter to save him a short commute by car, or Treasury Board president Tony Clement’s liberal spending on a single Ontario electoral district under the guise of G8 security needs. But those would be cheap shots.

Instead, we will note that the Cohen Commission, which was set up to examine the reasons for the decline of the Fraser River sockeye salmon, is widely expected to call for more research and more information — not less.

The government might believe that it can rely on independent researchers and laboratories, but that would be wishful thinking. For consistent, objective research, the federal government needs to set the standard.

If it guts its research offices, it would be hard to restore them when common sense returns. The top scientists would have moved on — and being logical thinkers, they would not risk giving up their new roles to go back to a department that is little more than a political football.

This is a critical time for our oceans — a time when smart people should be cherished, not shown the door.

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It’s often a curious thing when the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is everyone’s whipping puppy on many fronts, then news of layoffs come and folks start saying: “no, no, no… not layoffs… we need those employees.”

Sure brutal timing for the folks getting layoff notices… nothing like that pink slip coming a couple weeks before Christmas. Way to go Grinch Harper.

I suppose the swifter kick in the nether regions comes on top of stories like this today from the Globe and Mail:

MacKay spent $1,450 a night while staff settled for $275 hotel rooms

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is accusing Defence Minister Peter MacKay of living like a king while attending conferences in Europe.

The watchdog group has uncovered hotel bills through access-to-information laws that show the minister spent $1,452 a night for a two-night stay at a luxury hotel in Munich and $770 a night for three nights in Istanbul, Turkey.

So MacKay is apparently getting picked up by rescue helicopters from posh fishing lodges on the taxpayer bill, and the Conservative government is sprucing up the Muskoga region with $50 million spent building gazebos and however much spent on building a fake lake for a G-20 summit, and the other excesses in Conservative MP Tony Clement’s riding.

I can simply add on here that I’ve attended enough ‘fisheries-related’ meetings where DFO will arrive with upwards of fifteen staff members, which ends out being half of what was already attending the meeting from other organizations. So a meeting of say thirty representatives all of a sudden balloons to forty-five when DFO arrives. Sometimes DFO folks have taken two flights by jet, rented a car, got hotel rooms, etc. so that the numbers can simply be ballooned.

It often makes little sense — and they continue to do it, even though it’s been suggested many times that there really isn’t that much need for that many Department employees at some of these meetings. And, in fact, it can take away from the productivity of the meeting. Simply running through introductions ends out taking more time then required.

So, yes, very unfortunate for those receiving pink slips — Yet, at the same time just more disconnection notices within the civil service of Canada and Provinces, and complete disconnect amongst politicians.

Why not cut the bonuses and salary increases of senior bureaucrats, cut down their travel budgets and expenses and keep some scientists and conservation staff working…

Plus, senior DFO bureaucrats seem to have a hard time listening to their scientists in the first place… look no further then the North Atlantic Cod collapse, or… or…

Which drugs do the DFO and Canadian Food Inspection Agency need for their premature communication issue? (hairtrigger problems anyone?)

As things lead up to the special hearings at the Cohen Commission in to Fraser sockeye declines this week, the heat is turned up…

More information suggesting that Canada and BC’s regulations to protect BC’s and the North Pacific’s wild salmon stocks from Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) — are not good enough.

As per usual, it’s taking ex-DFO and ex-Provincial scientists to blow the whistle… because, as pointed out in the previous post, there are most likely many that don’t want to sacrifice their healthy public servant wages and pensions by speaking out and facing repercussions?

Here’s an article out of Victoria, BC’s Times Colonist today, as well as the leaked report from the ex-Provincial government scientist — a report which has been submitted to the Cohen Commission.

Canada’s fish health regulations are not stringent enough to prevent viruses from being imported to West Coast fish farms on Atlantic salmon eggs, says a former high-level provincial government fisheries biologist.Sally Goldes, fish health unit section head at the B.C. Environment Ministry for 17 years, has submitted a paper to the Cohen Commission on the decline of Fraser River sockeye that says iodine treatment of eggs and the testing of overseas providers of salmon eggs – Canada’s defence against disease transmission – are inadequate…

…”The data – [inadequate sample sizes, ineffectiveness of iodine disinfection, etc.] suggests that the current Canada Fish Health Protection Rules do not provide a high level of regulatory security against the introduction of ISAV into British Columbia,” the paper concludes.

“It is important to remember that iodine disinfection does not kill ISAV present inside the egg and it is unknown whether ISAV is in this location.”

Iodine treatment is designed to rid egg surfaces of bacteria.

This sort of sounds like thinking that would suggest that if you give your newborn baby a bath that it won’t come down with infections or illness…

Isn’t this something that would have been learned in every other place that farmed salmon have had ISA breakouts?

Guess not… the article continues:

Salmon farms in B.C. import Atlantic salmon eggs from such countries as Britain, the U.S. and Iceland.

The virus has devastated fish farms in Chile and Norway and is also present in Atlantic Canada.

She is concerned ISA could be introduced to B.C. waters and spread to already stressed wild salmon populations.

“If you really look closely at the regulations, from a scientific basis, there is not the high degree of protection that the government, and particularly DFO, states that they have,” Goldes said. “It’s an issue of trust.”

Hmmm, one could maybe do a poll of Canadians and ask how much trust they have in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans — and maybe even the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, in this particular case.

Let’s just say it’s probably at an all time low.

Especially, after it came clear that the Food Inspection Agency mounted a big communications campaign with Canada’s trade partners, after the first reported ISA findings in wild Pacific salmon — as opposed to the Canadian public.

And now, both DFO and the CFIA mount denial campaigns.

The problem with denial campaigns is that if you get proven wrong, and in fact are not only proven wrong in your denials and that you held the responsibility in the first place — it’s sort of like a double whammy.

_ _ _ _ _ _

The article continues:

“I think DFO and CFIA have a lot more work to do. I think that press conference was entirely premature,” she said.

[nothing like premature communication]

“The problem is that DFO has a dual mandate for aquaculture and wild fish, and the decisions are political.”

Amen to that Ms. Goldes — as the old cliche goes: you hit the nail on the head…

And as we’ll all find out soon enough, DFO and the CFIA most likely missed the nail head completely and hit their thumbs… and if it does turn out that they are denying something that is in fact true (e.g. ISA is in wild Pacific salmon — and that better safeguards needed to be in place, and should be in place) — then they’re should be several ‘nail’ heads rolling in the circle of civil servants and Ministers, and deputy ministers, and assistant deputy ministers.

The decisions are political is always one to keep in mind… look no further then Harper’s government/Canada’s removal from the Kyoto protocol (a vote of confidence for oil and gas companies and pipeline companies). Or the current situation in the northern Ontario First Nation community of Attawapiskat — shameful

The federal government can spend $50 million+ on frigging gazebos for 2-3 days of meetings in Ontario’s cottage country, build a fake lake (at what coast?), and so on and then set out on trying to shame a northern community for how it manages its money. Money spent that is audited yearly more heavily then any other government financing handed out in this country.

(Especially money handed out to particular ridings held by Conservative MPs that may be threatened in an election…)

Ahhh, the twisted priorities of the political game… (but I digress…)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Here is the leaked report from the Fishyleaks site:– the report that the Salmon Farmer’s Association is whining about being prematurely released.

Hmmm, all this talk of premature… maybe the salmon farming industry was given free reign to BC’s coast prematurely?

Dr Sally Goldes report

The abstract for the report suggests:

Atlantic salmon eyed eggs have been imported almost yearly into British Columbia during the period 1985 until 2010 from a number of countries including the USA, UK , Iceland and also from Atlantic Canada  (BC Atlantic Imports).   Source aquaculture facilities, except for more recent imports from Iceland (where the definition of lot was not achieved, however the rest of the procedures were the same) were certified free of specified piscine pathogens of concern according to testing protocols mandated in the Canadian Fish Health Protection Regulations (CFHPR).  Immediately prior to shipment, eyed eggs were disinfected according to the CFHPR iodophor disinfection protocol.

Certification and iodine egg disinfection together are the main pillar’s of Canada’s defense against the introduction of exotic piscine diseases such as Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA).  In order to protect British Columbia’s wild aquatic ecosystems and aquaculture industries these measures must provide a high level of security.   Close scientific examination of these regulatory measures however raises concerns that in-practice, these measures fail to provide the high level of protection required.  This discussion focuses on certain concerns with: (1) ISA detection using cell culture, (2) sample size, and (3) iodine surface disinfection, however there remain many other weaknesses.

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Could be an interesting week at Cohen Commission — stay tuned…

Public sector wages… are they-we losing touch?

I was forwarded links to two websites this week: one in Ontario and one in B.C. that have databases showing public sector employee wages. In Ontario there is actually legislation in place mandating that public sector employee wages be publicly available.

In B.C. the Vancouver Sun reports it had to file over ninety Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to compile it’s database of BC’s public sector employee wages.

You can search all sorts of BC organizations, here is a sampling of what can be seen there, with a search within the BC Government salaries:

BC public sector salaries

more BC Public sector salaries

I’m sure that some of these jobs are difficult, demanding, and time consuming… but $250,000 for Deputy Ministers?

All in all, in B.C., Deputy Ministers (DM) appear to be making more then judges. Not to mention that the DM’s are making far more then the elected MLAs, with salaries in the $150,000 range.

Continue down the list and one starts running into some University professors above $200,000.

_ _ _ _ _ _

Go take a look in Ontario’s database and there are some rather shocking results, and it seems a bit of a disconnect.

Look at some of Ontario’s Children Aid Societies, important organizations doing important work, however, look at some of the wages (click on image to see full screen).

Children Aid societies in Ontario

Or another Canadian icon organization that has been in some hot water recently — for pulling off rather contradictory partnerships with organizations such as Enbridge Pipelines — The Nature Conservancy of Canada:

Nature Conservancy of Canada wages

Thus, if the President of Strategic Philanthropy is making almost $140,000 a year plus expenses, plus full benefits, etc. That individual would need to do quite a bit of fundraising just to pay for their position alone — let alone the President’s position at almost $200,000 per year plus all expenses.

Or take a look at Ontario’s Cancer research branch:

Ontario's cancer research branch

Yes, important work… but how much of fundraising, etc. is going simply to pay for inflated wages?

Yes, we need good people in these positions… but with wages far, far beyond the averages of everyday folks, and far, far, far, far beyond the increasing number of people living below the poverty line?

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What does this have to do with wild salmon?

Go try and find the wages of DFO employees. Nada.

No requirement for that sort of disclosure.

Maybe those from DFO that comment on this site will disclose wages paid within the organization — plus the nice healthy pension plans of the close to 50% of the organization set to retire within the next 10 years.

Glad myself and especially my kids will be paying the pensions on all of these inflated public sector wages… As opposed to paying for environmental stop gaps, health care, education, and vital things such as housing in both First Nation and non-First Nation communities.

Seems much of the public sector is on a serious disconnection notice… The first excuse given when questions are raised on this issue: “we have to stay competitive.”

Interesting… how do we stay competitive if most governments will be running significant deficits?

Think average folks in Greece or other austerity-measures hit countries are all that concerned about being ‘competitive’.

There’s a place for competition, and there’s a bigger place for common sense.

SFU: Managing for Uncertainty: Pathogens and Diseases in Pacific Salmon Invitational Scientists’ “Think Tank”

Salmon Think Tank?

Simon Fraser University in Vancouver convened a “Think Tank” of leading scientists a little over a week ago to discuss: Pathogens and Diseases in Pacific Salmon. The event, part of SFU’s “Speaking for the Salmon” was touted as an Invitational Scientists Think Tank.

I’m not a huge fan of the term: “think tank”… as it hints to some of those rather ‘right-wing’ entities in BC, one in particular named after an early ‘explorer’ and BC’s largest river… and ending in “Institute”… it also touts itself as a “think tank”.

There’s also the old cliche about ‘thinking outside the box’… well… if you’re stuck in a tank, it might be hard to do that.

Salmon think tanks?

However… some decent recommendations coming out of this group — and well timed for the Cohen Commission’s upcoming ISA-days. [Infectious Salmon Anemia Days... sounds attractive doesn't it...?]

SFU Salmon Think Tank Recommendations from Think Tank Convenors

SFU Dec. 2011_Think Tank Consensus Statement

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Out of the recommendations in the Consensus Statement is a bit of the usual… ‘more research’…

New technologies are providing means to discover and describe new disease organisms. However, it has proven more difficult to link specific disease organisms to health and disease, and even harder to link particular disease organisms to salmon population dynamics. [aka Data GAP]

Furthermore, it has proven challenging to move beyond the study of individual disease organisms to managing for multiple risk factors that can collectively compromise the resilience of salmon populations. [a.k.a. we've been screwing with salmon populations for far too long to actually isolated impacts.]

Combining modern methods, such as molecular assays and telemetry, with classic pathology, on‐the-ground population monitoring and large‐scale experiments can provide the needed insight into the risk factors associated with disease in wild fish [curiously many of the folks participating in the event have companies that specialize in exactly this...not that that is necessarily a bad thing, however might be important to point out].

However the statement finishes with an excellent recommendation:

It is time to develop new collaborative and independent infrastructures for addressing these challenges.

This sort of rings of the announcement in BC this week:

Independent police monitor coming from Denver to start B.C. office

…Richard Rosenthal is coming to police British Columbia police.

He is leaving Denver to head B.C.’s new Independent Investigations Office, a watchdog to probe police incidents that result in serious harm or death. The office will also be able to recommend criminal charges.

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Interesting… what if we had an independent office in BC that could investigate and monitor the Department of Fisheries and Oceans? And other government institutions responsible for salmon habitat?

It would be like a permanent Cohen Commission… or… Auditor General for salmon.

Then things like the handing over salmon farming regulations to the Province, which was against the Canadian Constitution, probably wouldn’t have happened. And an expensive Supreme Court challenge would not have occurred and all the costs of DFO developing new aquaculture regs.

Just a thought…

 

 

 

“DFO says Cohen Commission to blame for delay”… nothing like half-facts to assist in denial… One more disconnection notice for DFO and salmon farmers

There’s an article running in national news cycles today that suggests the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is trying to blame others for what might be their own inadequacy…

One of the top 5 rules for PR when you’re in a hole: Deflect Blame.

Another… when in doubt: deny, deny, deny.

Otherwise known as: “I’m sorry sir, I cannot recall the details of that contract…”

Or… as the embroiled Conservative government Defence Minister right now… spin, spin, spin… back-peddle, back-peddle… spin, spin, spin…

DFO says Cohen Commission to blame for delay

Blame the Cohen Commission, in part, for delays in processing amendment applications for fish farm licenses, says DFO.

Last week, in the wake of announced job and production cuts from Marine Harvest Canada, a number of fish farmers said a slow regulatory process is hurting efforts to improve efficiency.

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Hmmm… damn government red tape… always the barrier to “efficiency” isn’t it?

If we’d just let those ultra-trustworthy corporations do what they want to to do for ‘maximum efficiency’ then all would be great!

Isn’t that kind of like saying: “hey olympians, just use whatever performance-enhancing drugs you need… that would be so much more efficient…”

Just think, running races like the 5000 metres, or 10,000 metres or the marathon for that fact would be over so much quicker then now. That’s efficiency isn’t it?

Then the corporate sponsors could get more ads in, thus more sponsorship dollars, more efficiency, more jobs, more sponsorship…

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BRRAAAAANNNGGGGG!!

goes the annoying buzzer.

Yes, a question down here in the front, yes you sir… what’s your question?”

“Ummmm, I was just wondering, doesn’t more ‘efficiency’ usually result in a loss of jobs?… you know like NAFTA, or otherwise?”

“OH NO… not at all… i mean… ummm… let me be clear here… ummm… I mean… with more efficiency we could produce more fish, have more farms in operation, etc., way more benefit to local communities, you know… i mean…”

“Huh… interesting… so how does more fish being produced mean ‘more jobs’…  how many more farmed salmon does it take to create another job?… say for example, those 60 jobs you’re cutting right now, Marine Harvest?”

“Well… ummm… i mean… you know… let me be clear… this is a very complex issue… ummm… you have to understand…”

{personally… I’m a huge fan of that statement “you have to understand”… as I am when a politician (e.g. our current PM, with his media and communications clamp down starts an answer with: “let me be clear”…}

{Yes, Mr. PM… please be clear… is generally my answer..}

{here’s to dreaming…}

_ _ _ _ _

From the article:

MHC [Marine Harvest] announced late in October that it will shed roughly 60 jobs from its total of about 500 and cut production by 30 per cent in reaction to decreasing prices stemming from an increase in global production.

Mainstream Canada said it wasn’t planning any layoffs but it could be much more efficient if it was allowed to increase production at some of it’s farms. Applications for approval to do that remain stalled with DFO.

OH…. hold on a second Mr./Ms. Salmon Farmer… you’re saying that:

“We should have a world-leading, positive, responsible farming community here,” he said. (Mr. Hawthorn from Grieg Seafood) “Instead, we’ve been stuck with no growth for more than 10 years now. You’ve got no way of getting your costs down because your regulations are stuck 15 years ago.”

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Hmmm… let’s get this straight… you say that you had to do the layoffs because of “increased global production“…. BUT… If DFO would just get going on approval then you’d be “more efficient” ?

I’m no “economist” but I do seem to remember some basic concepts of supply and demand…

Doesn’t the above suggest that more efficiency, means for production…? But if layoffs are coming because of increased global production… meaning somewhere else (most likely the same multinational company — e.g. Marine Harvest) is producing the same fish for cheaper somewhere else (e.g. Chile) because labor is cheaper and enviro laws are more lax (and there aren’t any of those pesky wild salmon runs and wild salmon advocates)… then how is being “more efficient” and producing more fish, help the company bottom line, or result in ‘more jobs’ in BC?

If there’s a glut of farmed salmon on the market — e.g. “increased global production” — then how is more approvals for more salmon farms and more efficiency on the BC coast going to assist that?

Getting costs down… doesn’t that mean cutting jobs?

And didn’t those jobs getting cut have to do with a glut of fish on the markets, meaning lower prices, meaning lower profits, meaning job cuts?

And so this is the Cohen Commission’s fault… how?

And DFO, ummmm… you seem to forget to mention, the fact that you just took over Aquaculture Regs. in BC because you wrongfully gave the Province of BC the responsibility of aquaculture regulations some time back — which in fact was against the Canadian Constitution and the division of powers between the feds and the Provinces…

And you lost your argument in the Supreme Court? RRRRiiight. forgot about that for a bit…

Hmmm. right… and that you yourself, as a federal ministry, have had your struggles in getting those aquaculture regulations back under federal control where they belong (according the Canadian Constitution)… no, let’s just forget to mention that bit, and simply blame it on the Cohen Commission.

Maybe not the wisest strategy considering that the Cohen Commission holds the pen at the moment in making recommendations to your ministry’s operations…

Plus the disrespect that the Cohen Commission is supposed to be an independent review in potentially highlighting your mis-management in the first place.

Maybe take that ‘strategy’ back to the drawing board… because I thought the Department of Fisheries and Oceans was supposed to look to conserve fish first… then look at opportunities for economic development or otherwise… twisted priorities maybe?

Maybe time for another disconnection notice for salmon farmers and DFO…?