‘This is not rocket science’ salmon inquiry told in Chilliwack

Quite appreciate much of the sentiment reported in this article from Chilliwack; common folks presenting to the Cohen Commission. Common folks, as in gumboot biologists and people with their hands and feets in the creeks.

Separate arms length operations for Department of Fisheries and Oceans to deal with enforcement, aquaculture, and other issues..?


I’ve asked about this at various meetings that DFO attends… “are you willing to set up funds for habitat management that would be managed by a third party?”

Nothing worse than having one arm of DFO handing out $$ for habitat work, then having a fish cop show up while you’re doing in-stream work, pepper spray in one hand, gun holster in the other asking: “what the hell you folks doing here?!”

Also curious that so many “former” DFO employees have some pretty darn good suggestions for improvements.

Maybe someone should set up a “former DFO employee” support group that explores various suggestions for improving the bureaucratic behemoth, financial sap, of an organization?

Maybe that could be tapped onto the back end of the 12 ‘scientific’ studies being conducted by the Cohen Commission?

3 thoughts on “‘This is not rocket science’ salmon inquiry told in Chilliwack

  1. Brian

    “One speaker recommended a separate enforcement arm for the DFO with its own budget to avoid “political interference” while another speaker suggested creation of a “department of aquaculture” so the DFO would no longer have a conflict of interest between protecting salmon and promoting sea farms – believed to be the source of sea lice and other diseases harmful to salmon.’

    More levels of bureaucracy….that’s not the answer…If anything it is going backwards rather than forward. If only the general public knew that people that do this work already deal with multi-levels of this and that already (i.e. provincial agencies, federal agencies, private consultants, First Nations, advisory boards, special interest groups, courts, yada…yada…….and yada). I find it kind funny that the public’s first reaction to fixing things is to automatically distance a particular group from the source and create something else because it must be “political interference” that is causing the problem. Then these same people (more or less) will complain about too much bureaucracy and adminstrative red tape.

    Those same gumboot biologists and technicians actually work for DFO right now. The impression protrayed most of the time is that these individuals sit by computer screens all day making up computer models and are constantly “on the take” from people with political influence. The opening quote from the newspaper above doesn’t surprise me. I suggest that commission needs to hear from those employees that bust their butts on a daily basis already – not just former employees (which is a good idea also don’t get me wrong). Perhaps they have some good ideas also, but governmental priorites (beyond the departmental level) limit their abilities to properly do their work. In addition, if employees were allowed to directly engage the public more to explain certain department initiatives and decisions instead of going through a “communications arm” this would help fill the void which is being quickly filled up by blogs, forums and misquoted media reports. Silence builds mistrust – this has to end.

  2. salmon guy Post author

    some good points there Brian. thanks for the continued comments.

    DFO does have initiatives where staff engage directly — for example, The Salmon Enhancement Program (SEP), and things like Salmon in the Classroom. The Classroom projects have been some of the best things to ever come out of DFO.

    I agree with your sentiment about not wanting to add layers of bureaucracy… I don’t necessarily advocate for a separate layer. More like outright third party management, until the broken bureaucracy can be fixed. It’s certainly a common, almost cliche, comment – however decisions on salmon can not, must not, and should not be made in Ottawa. Same goes for northern BC — decisions affecting northern rivers and salmon runs, should not be made in the hallowed halls of DFO Vancouver.

    DFO has been broken for decades. No question there are some great people in there busting butts… however Sisyphus busted his butt too, just pushing the big rock up the hill until the end of time…

  3. Brian

    What is “broken” is the ability for people to do their jobs. The people and talent are there, but the politicians at the federal level do not deem fisheries a worthwhile endevour. You should know that by now…lol. If DFO is “broke” it is primarily because it has taken a back seat to other departments. It takes money to do projects. It takes money to put gas in a boat. It takes money to hire people. It takes money to provide the necessary equipment to do the job. If you heard the last thone speech you will get an idea where the money is going and where it is not. This is where some of the futility can enter in, but the employees continue to put out the best product possible.

    From my perspective, no matter what the challenges are, the employees that I work with on a daily basis never compromise the quality of their work. On the Stellako River, you will also see DFO personnel out there helping install the fish fence, doing carcass recovery on the river, monitoring the First Nations fence crew, keeping track of the data along with First Nation technicians and reporting the data inseason. The staff up there (DFO and First Nations) are doing a fine job this season, so no matter what the challenges are outside of their immediate control, the quality of their work takes priority. I am surprised you never mentioned this collaborative involvement in your post. If you didn’t know….well…now you do…lol. This is why the “communications arm” need a major revisiting so that employees can take a more active role in explaining decisions, methods, and what they do without someone else filling the void.

    In some respects it is sort of like Sisyphus, more with the adminstrative side of things than the biological side. What would your reaction be if you were told that you had to purchase a inferior laptop computer for your project that was a couple of thousand dollars more than another laptop from Future Shop which had all the specifications you were looking for. The result is predictable…strugggle with an inferior product which was overly priced. When you purchase the “wrong tool” for the job you end up putting out more BTUs then you originally planned. This is not the fault of the employee who knows what he/she is doing, but rather the framework that is meant to be supportive.

    Sisyphus seemed like kind of bad dude who apparently wasn’t the most hospitable person – killing travelers and guests. So far I haven’t participated in any assaults or killings that I know of. Surely you could have used another example…lol.

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