DFO stifling research… ‘deja vu all over again’?

Politicians and bureaucrats and bureaucracy stifling scientists…

…say it ain’t so…

DFO-related politicians and DFO bureaucrats and DFO bureaucracy stifling scientists…

…stop the shock…

Is anyone really all that surprised?

Mr. Hume in Globe and Mail again:

DFO’s stifling of research a case of déjà vu

When a federal commission investigating the collapse of Fraser River sockeye stocks heard recently that a Fisheries and Oceans scientist who has done groundbreaking research was being silenced, it gave Jeffrey Hutchings a bad case of déjà vu.

“Your recent articles on DFO’s muzzling of Dr. Kristi Miller remind me of similar attempts by DFO to stifle the imparting of science from government scientists to other scientists and to the Canadian public,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Prof. Hutchings, a widely respected fisheries scientist, holds the Canada Research Chair in Marine Conservation & Biodiversity at Dalhousie University, in Halifax. In 1997, he, Carl Walters from the Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia and Richard Haedrich, Department of Biology at Memorial University of Newfoundland, set off a media firestorm with a paper that ripped DFO for suppressing controversial science.

Writing in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, they outlined two cases – the collapse of Atlantic cod stocks and the diversion of the Nechako River, in B.C. – in which they maintained research was stifled because it didn’t conform to political agendas.

They argued that, on the East Coast, DFO silenced scientists who warned Atlantic cod stocks had been devastated not by seal predation, but from overfishing. And, in the West, they stated that DFO rejected research that showed an Alcan plan to divert the Nechako River would damage Chinook stocks.

In both cases, they wrote, hard-working scientists had their findings suppressed by DFO managers who didn’t want to see research that clashed with political goals.

“We contend that political and bureaucratic interference in government fisheries science compromises the DFO’s efforts to sustain fish stocks,” Mr. Hutchings and his colleagues wrote.

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Sadly, just like politics and business don’t mix so well… neither do science and politics; especially science that paints a picture of decisions needing to be made that aren’t popular with various industries (which, not coincidentally, often have high powered lobbies and political contribution campaigns — or simply have been granted access to something that they begin to figure is a ‘right’… not a privilege).

Hard decisions are called that for a reason… they’re “hard”.

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