One brave decision… and one absurd, pathetic, lost federal Ministry

After much back and forth between various media, communities and opinions from all ‘wings’ (left, right, etc.) the federal government finally made a decision on the fate of the Prosperity project in Tsilqot’in Territory in central B.C.

It appears that mining proposals to kill pristine lakes are just not going to fly in B.C.

First, Northgate Mineral’s proposed Kemess North project, which had slated to use Amazay (Duncan) Lake as a tailings facility. That proposal was turned down by an Environmental Assessment panel in 2007 and supported by the Federal government a few months later.

Update: Northgate is now proposing to go underground at the proposed Kemess North project.With gold at $1300+ an ounce things start looking a little more economic.

Today: the federal government decided to support the findings of a federal Environmental Assessment panel on Taseko’s proposed Prosperity Project, which proposed to turn Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) into a tailings facility.

Ottawa vetoes controversial Prosperity mine project in B.C.

Quite amazingly, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) maintained opposition to this project for close to a decade. Even with a revolving door of officials within the bureaucracy, opposition remained.

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In other headlines today:

DFO restructuring emphasizes ecosystem management, panel told

I don’t whether to laugh or cry at some of the DFO statements…

…Department of Fisheries and Oceans testified Monday [at the Cohen Commission] that the agency is undergoing major changes.

Claire Dansereau, DFO deputy minister, told the Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River that her department is in the process of restructuring to put more emphasis on ecosystem management.

Wow, Ms. Dansereau… have you actually read your Ministry’s Wild Salmon Policy?

You know… that document that was instituted in 2005 and has been floating around since 1999. It’s plastered with the term “ecosystem-based management”. It seems, in fact, that over five years ago (at a minimum) that DFO was supposed to be “restructuring”.

Ms. Dansereau, who appeared with a panel of top DFO officials, said that in the past the department has been too concerned with managing individual stocks of salmon, and with allowing fisheries based on the numbers of fish in a given stock.

“If we do what we did in the past, which is count fish [for harvest] … and forget oceanographic conditions, etc., we could be taking too big a risk,” she said.

Geee, do you think?

And this year’s fishery on the “historic” Fraser run was managed differently — how?

200 distinct Fraser sockeye stocks… somewhere between 35-40 separate Conservation Units (nobody in DFO has been able to give me an accurate count on how many CUs exactly)… and only 19 stocks with sufficient data over the last few decades to actually “manage” fisheries.

And how does DFO currently contemplate environmental conditions (such as “oceanographic conditions”) and ecosystem components… well… it has a Management Adjustment (MA) that is factored into four groupings of stocks.

What is an MA?

Well… it factors in river conditions such as flow and temperature.

Wow… this is serious “restructuring”…

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But Brian Wallace, senior commission counsel, wondered why DFO’s new commitment to ecosystem management isn’t spelled out in departmental documents that set the goals for 2010-2011.

“I was struck by one specific … under the heading departmental priorities … I don’t see anything that talks about conservation, ecosystem management … could you explain the omission?” he asked.

Excellent question — thank-you Mr. Wallace.

The Cohen Commission counsel is supposed to represent the public’s interests throughout the process of the Commission — hopefully the honest, hard questioning of DFO can continue. As this is the same Ministry that lackadaisically managed the North Atlantic Cod to near extinction — largely because of bureaucratic bafflegab, bumpf, and political dillydallying.

“I wouldn’t characterize it as an omission … for us the notion of conservation … permeates everything we do,” she said. “It is part of our DNA.”

Ummm, sure, yup… but since when is “conservation” the only component of ecosystem-based management?

And “conserve”? By who’s definition? For whom or what? and Why?

Why conserve?

Ms. Dansereau said DFO was due for an organizational overhaul because it has had the same structure for a decade, and “it was my belief we should be better organized around ecosystem management.”


Give me a break.

Is it going to the be case of the classic ‘organizational consultant’ that comes into ‘overhaul’ an organization and moves everyone out of cubicles, more horizontal management, open, transparent, etc. etc.


five years later comes back and put’s all the cubicles back in: more structure, and accountability, and roles and responsiblities, etc. etc.


five years later comes and takes the cubicles out again: more open, flowing, dynamic… etc., etc.

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Maybe third-party management for a little bit would ship things into shape?

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