“Scientist muzzled over missing-salmon study”

Is this not deja vu all over again?

I am curious what the lengthy commenter “Brian” who apparently works for the Department of Fisheries and wow)) viagra federal express Oceans has to say about this one…

The Province/Vancouver Sun, 26th July 2011

 Scientist muzzled over missing-salmon study

Privy Council Office gags B.C. biologist, dismisses her findings, blacks out documents

Margaret Munro (Postmedia News)

VANCOUVER — Top bureaucrats in Ottawa have muzzled a leading fisheries scientist whose discovery could help explain why salmon stocks have been crashing off Canada’s West Coast, according to documents obtained by Postmedia News.

The documents show the Privy Council Office, which supports the Prime Minister’s Office, stopped Kristi Miller from talking about one of the most significant discoveries to come out of a federal fisheries lab in years.

Science, one of the world’s top research journals, published Miller’s findings in January. The journal considered the work so significant it notified “over 7,400” journalists worldwide about Miller’s “Suffering Salmon” study.

Science told Miller to “please feel free to speak with journalists.” It advised reporters to contact Diane Lake, a media officer with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Vancouver, “to set up interviews with Dr. Miller.”

Miller heads a $6-million salmon-genetics project at the federal Pacific Biological Station on Vancouver Island.

The documents show major media outlets were soon lining up to speak with Miller, but the Privy Council Office said no to the interviews.

The Privy Council Office also nixed a Fisheries Department news release about Miller’s study, saying the release “was not very good, focused on salmon dying and not on the new science aspect,” according to documents obtained by Postmedia News under the Access to Information Act.

Miller is still not allowed to speak publicly about her discovery, and the Privy Council Office and Fisheries Department defend the way she has been silenced.

But observers say it is indefensible and more evidence of the way the government is undermining its scientists.

“There is no question in my mind it’s muzzling,” said Jeffrey Hutchings, a senior fisheries scientist at Halifax’s Dalhousie University.

“When the lead author of a paper in Science is not permitted to speak about her work, that is suppression,” he said. “There is simply no ifs, ands or buts about that.”

The Harper government has tightened the leash on federal scientists, whose work is financed by taxpayers and is often of significant public interest — be it about fish stocks, air pollution or food safety.

In one high-profile case reported by Postmedia News last year, Natural Resources Canada scientist Scott Dallimore had to wait for “pre-clearance” from political staff in the minister’s office in Ottawa to speak about a study on a colossal flood that swept across northern Canada at the end of the last ice age.

Researchers, who used to be free to discuss their science, are now required to follow a process that includes “media lines” approved by communications officers, strategists and ministerial staff in Ottawa. They vet media requests, demand reporters’ questions in advance and decide when and viagra overnight delivery if researchers can give interviews.

Environment Canada now even has media officers in Ottawa tape-recording the interviews scientists are allowed to give.

Yet transparency as well as open communication and discussion are essential to science, Hutchings said, and Ottawa’s excessive control over communication is “really poisoning the science environment within government.”

“An iron curtain has been draped over communication of science in the last five to six years,” he said.

The Privy Council Office and the Fisheries Department said Miller has not been permitted to discuss her work because of the Cohen Commission, a judicial inquiry created by the prime minister to look into declines of the famed Fraser River sockeye salmon. She is expected to appear before the commission in late August.

The Privy Council Office has “management responsibility” for the commission and decided Miller should not give media interviews about her study because of the ongoing inquiry, said PCO spokesman Raymond Rivet.

“Fisheries and Oceans Canada is conscious of the requirement to ensure that our conduct does not influence, and is not perceived to be attempting to influence, the evidence or course of the inquiry,” department spokeswoman Melanie Carkner, said in a written statement.

Hutchings doesn’t buy it, saying he finds it “inconceivable that the Cohen Commission would have viewed the communication of brand new scientific information as somehow interfering with its proceedings.”

To Hutchings, the muzzling of Miller is “all about control — controlling the message and controlling communication.”

The government released 762 pages of documents relating to the Miller study to Postmedia News. Many passages and pages were blacked out before they were released.

The documents give a glimpse of the way media strategists, communication specialists and officials control and script what government scientists say — or, in Miller’s case, do not say —about their research.

The documents show the Fisheries Department wanted to publicize Miller’s study, which raises the spectre of a mysterious virus killing huge numbers of Fraser River salmon before they reach their spawning grounds.

In November, two months before Miller’s findings were published in Science, Fisheries Department communications staff started preparing “media lines.”

The lines said Miller’s findings “demonstrate unequivocally that salmon are entering the river in a compromised state and where to canada levitra that survivorship can be predicted based on gene expression more than 200 kilometres before salmon reach the river.”

Miller’s team has not yet identified a culprit, but her Science study said one possibility was a virus associated with leukemia, which can be transmitted from fish to fish.

Reporters from Postmedia News, CBC and many other media, including Time Magazine, asked to speak with Miller after receiving the Jan. 9 notice from Science.

The documents show DFO communications staff firing off a series of “URGENT” emails as they tried to get clearance from Ottawa for Miller’s “media lines” and the OK for her to speak with reporters.

They eventually got approval from DFO’s deputy minister and the federal fisheries minister’s office but then had to go “to PCO for sign off,” the documents say.

“You need to write a note for hot-button approval,” Rhonda Walker-Sisttie, director of DFO public affairs and strategic communications in Ottawa, told the Vancouver communications branch by email, advising them to use the “PCO template for media requests.”

As the reporters’ deadlines loomed, Terence Davis, DFO’s Pacific regional director of communications, implored Ottawa to clear Miller to talk.

“If we are unable to set up a technical briefing or interviews for later today, the opportunity for DFO to gain the profile we would like for Kristi’s work may be lost or very much diluted,” Davis said in one email.

“We are pushing hard,” Walker-Sisttie assured the Vancouver communications office.

Then, weeks after the department learned Miller’s findings were to be published in Science and several days after 7,400 journalists were notified about the study, the PCO decided not to let Miller talk about her findings and their significance.

“PCO has decided that we can only respond in writing,” Walker-Sisttie reported from Ottawa. Another explained: “Kristi was not approved to provide interviews.”

The reporters, who the documents show were baffled and miffed by DFO’s inability to get Miller on the phone or on camera for interviews, filed stories based on her highly technical Science report and interviews with some of Miller’s colleagues at the University of B.C.

Miller is still not allowed to speak about the Science report, which she wrote in a Nov. 12 memo “reflects only a fraction of what we know.”

But Miller will finally be able to discuss her work in late August, when she is scheduled to testify at the Cohen Commission.

Hutchings said government communication strategists are likely now busy telling Miller: “Here is what you can say. Here is what you can’t say. Here is what we want you to stick to. Don’t talkabout this.”

“I’d be amazed if she is not receiving such quote, unquote ‘advice,’ ” said Hutchings.

 

When is it that publicly funded institutions can start muzzling publicly funded civil employees from releasing information rather vital to the public interest?

15 thoughts on ““Scientist muzzled over missing-salmon study”

  1. Will

    Sorry, Salmon Guy, I can’t wait for Brian to comment.
    To quote from the Postmedia News report; “Fisheries and Oceans Canada is conscious of the requirement to ensure that our conduct does not influence, and is not perceived to be attempting to influence, the evidence or course of the inquiry,” department spokeswoman Melanie Carkner, said in a written statement.

    And yet, still on their own website (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/aquaculture-eng.htm) DFO still has the link to a 2010 National Post article; “This Science is Fishy” that Greg McDade brought attention to early on in the Inquiry. The comment at the time of cross-examination was that the page is refreshed periodically.

    Also, let’s not forget the testimony that Dr. Laura Richards gave about not letting Miller participate in the Canada/U.S. think tank into the 2009 collapse.

    There is definitely something fishy going on in DFO and PCO.

  2. Dave

    The thing about this that blows my mind is that Dr. Miller’s work could actually put to bed the conspiracy theories from the Mortons et al that have been predicting an industry-driven annihilation of the salmon population with DFO silently backing it. Both Dr. Laura’s bumbling testimomy, as well as the crap from the PCO seem to follow the standard crap that DFO communications puts out i.e. let’s keep quiet and let the peanut gallery continue to flog their uninformed and relatively inaccurate potshots at the department.

    What’s the flavour of the week? Lice? IHN? Atlantics displacing Pacifics in the rivers? Oh wait, now it’s ISA. Brian’s bang on, it just seems to go from one red herring to the next. 30 million pinks coming back this year? Nah, must be a fluke.

    There was a great editorial cartoon in the Province today. It’s been photocopied and printed out many times over in my office (a DFO office). Despite what you all seem to think you have figured out, the vast majority of us (Brian included) care as much or more about these fish as the rest of you, but we are privy to more information and data than most of you. And because of this, most of us also see that the Morton camp et al are a misguided propaganda machine. Congratulations, you got rid of the sea lice! Guess what, while you were busy beating that horse to death many of the other real causes for this decline have been ignored or brushed aside.

    Without a doubt there are clowns in the senior bureaucracy in DFO. In my experience, the higher you go in the Department, the less likely you are to find any “fish people”. Luckily our top dog right now is someone that has been through the ranks and dealt with their share of fish, but too many other ladder climbers have never even seen one, let alone worked with them on a day to day basis. Instead of bashing those people (Brian) that have 10X more experience than yourselves with this stuff, maybe pay a bit more attention. I bet that he is expressing the views that you would too if you were seeing this stuff from the inside. Well, maybe not Morton. I’m sure she would find a way to blame anything and very good site cialis free sample canada everything on ISA, MArine Harvest, Paul Sprout, Wayne Wouters, the dude that delivers my mail at DFO, or anything else remotely associated with the department. Wolf! Wolf!

  3. twitter

    Dave said:

    we are privy to more information and data than most of you

    That seems to be the principle complaint. Why don’t you publish what you know instead of censoring it?

  4. joe

    Brian does seem to have expertise with stock assessment , blogging and promoting DFOs policy on various fish oriented websites, and some data, but to say he has 10x more experience, than other posters, with his other topics mentioned seems to be quite a stretch of imagination.
    Can always depend on the DFo posters to take a shot at Morton to try to attack her credibility, rather pitiful.

  5. Brian

    Thanks for the plug Dave.

    First, people need to be careful what they get from the media. If you think they are always factual then you are mistaken. When they are factual they often omit certain things that can bring a certain context to the issue. Here is a recent example of why you need to be careful of what you pull out from the media:
    http://www.globaltvbc.com/Natives+others+have+right+fish+says+negotiator/5033243/story.html

    Now if you read this article you will be left with the impression that this particular employee is trying to screw recreational fisherman over and that First Nations are getting preferential treatment because of this individual. Also it tries to connect First Nations to illegal activity and say that “First Nations are inherently better than everyone else”. All this article did was to cause a further rift between First Nations and non-aboriginal sport anglers. It really did nothing to inform, because if it did then the reporter forgot some very important court decisions which basically govern how this particular employee goes about his work with First Nations. He is not trying to screw non-aboriginals over. First Nations have an inherent right to fish (this is what this particular employee was trying to convey). If sport anglers do not like these court decisions that this particular employee has to abide to then they can try to make their own case to the highest court in the land.

    In this particular case (muzzling of scientist) the media could have done something responsible themselves and actually posted a link or reference to the published report from Dr. Miller. However, some media folk find it better to get a reaction by throwing out language that will incite a mob mentality then to actually try to inform. I believe this is more about some media folks having a hard time dealing with rejection than anything else. Considering some of the stuff I read from them I do not have much sympathy for many of them.

    Second, I wanted to mention is that public service employees (and even some private companies) cannot partake in media interviews like this whenever they choose. Employers have the right to restrict an employees right to talk to the media or to the public in any other fashion about issues realted to their work, the employer and so forth. This is one of the basic conditions of employment. I fully understand that many will see this as anti-democratic, but government employees (including government scientists) are not doing this to piss people off or hide something. They would probably really appreciate talking about their work – not only to inform, but to educate.

    I think there is a fear sometimes that when you release information people will make up their mind about a particular issue too soon. On the other hand, when some people feel that information is not forthcoming or timely there will be people that will gladly come up with whatever information to fill the appetite of the general public – whether it is factual or not is irrelevant.

    I do not think that communication personnel purposely want to mislead people. They feel like they have a job to do to protect information that could possibly be controversial and pedemonteasoc.com.ar lead to the wrong conclusion. What they likely do is make poor decisions in how information is relayed to the public. Instead of trying to facilitate information they actually hinder it. They likely do not think about how their decisions will be interpreted later on down the road. Some people believe that by centralizing where information is being fed from there is greater control and the public is served better. However, many in the general public are viewing this very differently and see this as Big Brother hiding things. Again, I do not see this as some grand conspiracy to mislead people – it is more like poor decisions and too many people in the mix that have or want control on what is being presented. I think if you were to ask some of these communication experts now they probably would have rather had Dr. Miller do interviews on this study than have some unknowledgeable individual like Alexandra Morton talk about it. I think there is a possible advantage with having people that are actually doing the work or research talk about it than have a communication person to go through. The media might still get it wrong, but at least the public can hear it from a knowledgeable source rather than from a pretender.

    Quote from Will: “And yet, still on their own website (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/aquaculture-eng.htm) DFO still has the link to a 2010 National Post article; “This Science is Fishy” that Greg McDade brought attention to early on in the Inquiry. The comment at the time of cross-examination was that the page is refreshed periodically.”

    You know what also gets refreshed? If you go to David Suzuki’s website you might have a hard time seeing any reference to how bad farm salmon is for your health. As you know, Mr. Suzuki referenced a 2004 study on how farmed salmon had PCB levels that made it too unsafe to eat. His website has now been revised. I wonder why? However, fish farm critics and Mr. Dade will never mention that because it goes against all the fear mongering they have been professing for years. You should also be aware that the DFO site you mention was probably revised because the predicted local extinction of pink salmon to the Broughton area is….probably “fishy”.

    Quote from Joe: “Brian does seem to have expertise with stock assessment, blogging and promoting DFOs policy on various fish oriented websites, and some data, but to say he has 10x more experience, than other posters, with his other topics mentioned seems to be quite a stretch of imagination.
    Can always depend on the DFo posters to take a shot at Morton to try to attack her credibility, rather pitiful.”

    Well, Joe, from what I have gathered from many bloggers is that they “think” they have lots of experience on these topics because of Google and Wikipedia, but very few have actually worked with fish. They feel like they are an expert after reading some websites. I can understand why you would think I would be promoting DFO’s policy, but I suggest that you think that way because of your already preconceived opinions about the department – many of them are false and poorly misinformed. If you wish to question me about my knowledge about these topics (within reason of course) feel free. I have no problem with that as long as you are fairly respectful. If you want to take me to task on what I posted then go ahead and argue your point. You may see these as attacks on Morton, but when she claims to be a register professional biologist, hold a doctorate degree (even if it’s honorary), make very controversial claims in fisheries biology, attack other scientists and cialis for order from canada industry, attack front line government employees doing their jobs, make erroneous statements about stuff she does not have a clue about (i.e. stock assessment) and make predictions about extinction that do not pan out then that makes you fair game to criticism in my books. If you cannot stand the heat – get out of the kitchen. What is “pitiful” is that you and many like you do not question her conduct or her theories. Have a good day.

  6. Dave

    Quote
    “we are privy to more information and data than most of you

    That seems to be the principle complaint. Why don’t you publish what you know instead of censoring it?”

    Sigh…..
    PCO did the censoring, DFO management encouraged Miller to speak. Miller published in Science. You want me to “publish” some of what I know? OK, here’s a start. Morton has been banging the sea lice drum for years, only stopping now when it’s become painfully obvious that lice are a localized issue, not a coast-wide problem. Miller’s research is from 2006. It was becoming well known in DFO to many of us informally for the past few years, and it looked like it was on the right track in determining where all the “missing” sockeye had gone in 2009. But guess what the media kept focusing on? Ms Morton’s agenda.

    All of us at DFO (well, maybe not Brian lol) have, and continue to publish our work. You don’t hear about it because DFO Communications Branch is a relatively useless, reactive, amateur operation. Have a look around on the website, do some searches in the primary literature, don’t just wait for what the media serves up. Like Brian says, they like to focus on the controversy, not the underlying science and fact.

  7. Will

    Brian,
    It seems that you missed my point. My apologies if I was not clear. The point I was making is that, despite the fact that after being brought to DFO’s attention during cross examination last November at the Cohen Inquiry (http://www.cohencommission.ca/en/Schedule/Transcripts/CohenCommission-HearingTranscript-2010-11-02.pdf#zoom=100) and the DFO Pacific RDG’s testimony stating; “…the Communications function relates to providing context, both to people inside and outside the Department on current media. And these are changed from time to time when new articles come up.” (page 29, lines 4-8) and despite the fact that there must have been a lot of articles about “Aquaculture in the World Media” published since the National Post article which points readers to very dubious website “For a comprehensive record of science and other documents related to the B.C. fish farming industry,” was published, it remains up over a year later. It has not been refreshed or revised, as you say (above). Those are the facts. You and I can interpret the meaning of those facts differently or in any way we choose. My point has nothing to do with what has been refreshed or not refreshed on the David Suzuki Foundation’s or any other website. That is an entirely different issue. My point is entirely about what DFO chooses to communicate.

    I am aware that the pink salmon population crash in the Broughton has not occurred as was hypothesized in the Krkosek et al 2007 paper, but it has not yet been four salmon generations and things have changed in the area i.e., different sea lice management actions on salmon farms (Krkosek et al hypothesized the population crash if things remained the same) since the paper was published in Science. I also know that Krkosek responded to Riddell’s critique of his paper and that was not reported in the National Post article. Perhaps Krkosek’s response to Riddell’s critique occurred after the NP article was printed the same as the disappointing returns of Broughton pink salmon in 2010 occurred afterwards. The NP article on DFO’s website is just another example of how media distorts the research. It happens all the time on both sides of the coin. My point is, that appears to be about the only aquaculture news in the world media in the last year that DFO chooses to communicate.

    What we all seem to agree on is that DFO’s Communications Branch leaves a lot to be desired.

  8. salmon guy Post author

    thanks for another blog post/comment Brian.
    you raise a fair point with the article quoted — however, personally, i’m not much of one to buy what Christie Blatchford has to say on First Nations rights, nor a variety of other issues that she chooses to comment on. Some of her social commentary comes in a flavor similar to the fine social commentators that FOX TV in the U.S. enjoys airing. And much of this type of ‘media’ comes with a purpose, basically propaganda from the flapping wing on the right.

    However, at the same time, the particular DFO employee quoted in the article probably should have been more prepared and viagra rx in canada approach better prepped by handlers and DFO lawyers so as to better face the range of questions that folks must have known were coming. The comments were ripe for skewing and questioning…

    And yet, I fully agree with your comment, that folks that disagree with previous court decisions also have the right to challenge those decisions through a range of actions from court action to civil disobedience — as demonstrated by former MP John Cummins and co. in their “protest fishery”… As I also agree with some of Mr. Huber’s comments quoted in Blatchford’s article, eg. the lack of knowledge in the general public surrounding court decisions involving First Nations right to fish and fishing. But then doesn’t some of the responsibility for communicating this better lie with DFO?

    If DFO has to design specific policies and practices following court decisions, should they not be clearly communicating this in a wide variety of forums and contexts?

    And this is where the severe disconnect begins to occur. On one side, DFO special advisor Huber has an opinion about ‘rights and privileges’ and yet when legal challenges hit the courts regarding aboriginal fishing rights, the Department of Justice, assisted by Department of Fisheries and Oceans staff largely deny aboriginal rights and title. For example, in the Ahousaht case the Canadian government denied vehemently that First Nations on West Coast Vancouver Is. participated in trading of fish.

    And, thus, the left hand and right hand denying each others’ existence continues…
    ________

    I am, Brian, quite surprised by your apparent naive comment to suggest that you don’t think communications people purposefully ‘mislead’…

    But then what is Ms. Blatchford, the reporter referred to in your comments… but a ‘communications’ person? And it appears she is trying to mislead by not quoting or referring to some pretty important Supreme Court of Canada court cases surrounding aboriginal fishing rights, as you point out.

    I’m sure you’re familiar with the term ‘spin doctoring’ or even ‘public relations’ (PR).

    The real good ones are often employed or contracted by government or large corporations to ‘doctor up’ some of the most obtuse, opaque, absurd language and statements. Especially after large oil spills, or industrial disasters (e.g. Union Carbide an Bophal, India), or invading countries in search of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ (that don’t exist), or working for cigarette companies, and so on, and so on…

    they doctored those fine terms such as “collateral damage”, “human shields”, and “corporate/social responsibility”…

    And, sadly, politicians become the absolute best at saying a whole bunch of words, without saying much at all. We’re all familiar with it. However, who are the folks, that assist them in doing that?
    Communications people?

    Now, it’s not that all communications folks should be painted with a nasty brush — many do an excellent job, and many do an great job of taking complex material and presenting it in real words and real language.

    However, as i keep saying — marketing is everything, and everything is marketing…
    _ _ _ _ _ _

    Lastly, (for now), your comment to Joe on this alluding to people who ‘think they’re experts’ is exactly the issue i refer to over and over and over again… This high-on-the-horse, arrogance of ‘fisheries experts’ is absolutely exhausting. One does not need degrees, or published papers, or a job at the DFO to raise questions, make comments, and have an opinion on issues. Everyone is an expert in their own way (as cheesy and wishy washy as that may sound).

    If there’s one thing that is clear in B.C. and up and down western North America is that wild salmon have a special place in people’s lives, imagination, and backyards. That is enough to carry an opinion, publish that opinion, spout that opinion, get involved, question, comment, argue, etc. Just because someone studied with ‘preeminent fisheries scientists’ such as Dick Beamish or Bill Ricker or even Carl Walters, or [enter other fisheries guru here] makes them no more ‘qualified’ to comment. (and then there are those, even within DFO that question whether someone like Beamish should even have had some of his ‘science’ published, aren’t there?)

    Bottom line — institutions such as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans are funded by average and above-average and below-average folks across the country. And so anyone and everyone is open to comment on that institutions policies, practices and operations — and the joy of free speech (and now social media) is that these folks can publish it wherever the hell they please. And questioning, especially the largely ‘old boys club of DFO and senior government bureaucracy’ is something more folks who love fish should be doing.

    But wait, isn’t that the foundation of science: questioning others’ theories, publishing those questions and criticisms and openly discussing them…?
    Oh wait… was Ben Franklin a ‘scientist’ — an “expert”? Or, Alexander Bell?

    I didn’t realize we lived in a tiered society where only folks with certain credentials could have much important to share, or ask, or question…

    It must be rather exhausting; this campaign of leaving lengthy comments on many people’s website/blog who comment on fisheries issues — and essentially trying to police what folks are saying, and suggest they don’t know shit, and attack credibility and so on and so on. However, at the same time it is entirely your prerogative, as it is the owner’s of those/these sites deciding to publish (or edit) your comments or not.

    thanks for the comment.

  9. Salmon Fishing Vancouver Island

    Now if you read this article you will be left with the impression that this particular employee is trying to screw recreational fisherman over and that First Nations are getting preferential treatment because of this individual.

  10. A. Baker

    Dr Miller is on the witness stand for two days this week starting tomorrow and finally able to talk for the first time. in Vancouver at 701 West Georgia Street on the 8th floor. It’s public, so everyone is welcome to attend the hearings. (Aug 24 and Aug 25) see cohencommision.ca for details.
    Salmon Guy, will you be there?

    Regards,

    A. Baker

  11. Brian

    Quote from Salmonguy: “It must be rather exhausting; this campaign of leaving lengthy comments on many people’s website/blog who comment on fisheries issues — and essentially trying to police what folks are saying, and suggest they don’t know shit, and attack credibility and so on and so on. However, at the same time it is entirely your prerogative, as it is the owner’s of those/these sites deciding to publish (or edit) your comments or not.”

    I agree that it becomes rather exhausting; however, that nice long holiday did some good.

    I am not sure how I can actually police what is posted on your blog considering I do not have the ability to delete posts. What I do know is that I am providing my opinion like everyone else and if you believe that my posts are not appropriate…well you have every right to “muzzle” me. Ms. Morton and some of her dedicated following are already doing this on their blogs it seems. That is strange considering they are angry about Dr. Miller being “muzzled” by the Privy Council.

    I don’t suggest that people don’t know “shit” (by the way would be censored on some other forums….shame on you…lol); however, there are those that post that either do not know what they are talking about or speculate with no foundation. If people are going to say things that I don’t necessarily agree with I will tend to speak up and challenge that, but it tends to be a losing battle these days on the internet. Nowadays, perception has become truth and if facts do not fit other someone’s very strong opinion then they just get ignored. The public, like government, can do their own manipulation of information these days – right on their home computer. Hell, they can even start their own blogs.

    Attacking credibility? The way I see it….people doing fisheries work have had their credibility attacked repeatedly on this and many other blogs for years now. Meantime, these same critics have been able to say whatever they wish on whatever topic in fisheries and create whatever theories they want. They have also been highly critical of departmental staff in the media – while the average joe employee is just suppose to sit around and take it. If you and some others are attempting to cry foul now you definitely do not have my sympathy.

    Quote from Salmonguy: “I am, Brian, quite surprised by your apparent naive comment to suggest that you don’t think communications people purposefully ‘mislead’…

    But then what is Ms. Blatchford, the reporter referred to in your comments… but a ‘communications’ person? And it appears she is trying to mislead by not quoting or referring to some pretty important Supreme Court of Canada court cases surrounding aboriginal fishing rights, as you point out.”

    I was referring to communication people in Ottawa. I honestly do not believe that these individuals strive to mislead people. Your comments do not surprise me though because tend to believe that some people have nothing better to do than to willfully plan conspiracies to mislead people. I mean that is the common theme of your blog. You have not made a case for them being covert….all you have is speculation. I know you might find it hard to believe but sometimes the simplist answer is the correct one (I know…I know…it is not a juicy as having a conspiracy). As I was saying before, people can make poor decisions whether it is a communications person or a parent – it is not because they want to be deceitful. Some people believe that certain information should be more centralized and must be tightly controlled because that is what the job is. For them, they feel like they are doing their job; however, they sometimes do not look ahead to see what can result from their actions. Being able to think outside the box gets lost. I believe this was the case for those in council.

    Quote from Salmonguy: “Lastly, (for now), your comment to Joe on this alluding to people who ‘think they’re experts’ is exactly the issue i refer to over and over and over again… This high-on-the-horse, arrogance of ‘fisheries experts’ is absolutely exhausting. One does not need degrees, or published papers, or a job at the DFO to raise questions, make comments, and have an opinion on issues. Everyone is an expert in their own way (as cheesy and wishy washy as that may sound).”

    Arrogance?…Hardly…lol. Joe took direct aim at me in his post by stating that I have been promoting DFO policy. Somehow if I say anything contrary to the rest of the mob I must be promoting something. What I am doing is attempting to offer a different side to the story and educate. I realize that it frustrates you but I do have some knowledge about things I talk about. It wasn’t years working behind a desk either or just going to post-secondary school. It was being out in the field for many years working in fisheries doing assessments. It was being dropped in to remote areas by float plane or helicopter – left to camp in a tent for 16 days stints. It was never having a summer to just stay at home and party – instead it was 4 to 5 month of being away from friends and family (and even a computer). It was sampling many dead fish along the river bank, sampling fish from lakes using gillnets or electofishing juvenile fish in a stream. It was days of careful observation of fish from fish fences, seining operations, ground surveys and aerial surveys. It was many years of bushwacking attempting to access many areas to survey. It was also listening to mentors in the profession who would pass experience on to me. Of course you and many others will see me as this arrogant person because of my opinions. However, whether you want to respect it or just throw it out the window, when I speak on these fisheries matters I do speak from some level of experience. People like Joe can whatever opinion they want and can challenge whatever I say, but I also reserve the right to challenge his assertions also or any misinformed opinions I believe he has made. If individuals are going to quote something from website and use it in the defence of their position then it becomes fair game. It is not being arrogant – it is being fair.

  12. Brian

    Will,

    Sorry….I see what you are referring to now. I had a chance to read the transcript from the particular testimony you are referring to; however, you should have also keep reading into Page 30 for the explanation provided by Ms. Farlinger and Ms. Dansereau to put some context to this. This was one of the responses from Ms. Farlinger immediately following Mr. McDade’s line of questioning: “The purpose of the Communications aspect to this website is simply to provide information to people on information that is out there, and it certainly doesn’t purport to cover all articles. But I think you will find over time that the articles have been posted on this website cover the range of views and understandings around this (Page 29; Line 25 – 31). The site does try to cover the subject as much as possible, but expecting these communications people to cover all articles and be on top of this all the time is not reality (as Dave eluded to). It’s like expecting a 400lb person to deliver pizzas on a daily basis to high-rise buildings by taking the stairs – he will try but likely is not the right person to do the job nor can he figure out that perhaps taking elevator would be a better option. Thus, I would tend to agree that the DFO communication end of things is likely not the best way to obtain the type of primary literature on the subject as you would expect. I have no doubt that certain articles have not been refreshed (I won’t disagree with you on that) – not a big mystery considering the people maintaining the website. I realize that Mr. McDade is attempting to make the assertion that these communications people are doing this on purpose to be shady and to purely promote aquaculture; however, anyone that is a bit closer to this realizes that is definitely not the reason (see what Dave posted). Strange that Mr. McDade did not question the ability of anti-fish farm websites to cover the same topic. There are a few things missing from those sites as well.

    The average individual should not wait to see that these communications people or even the news media have to provide. Primary literature searches on the internet are relatively easy and free for the most part, Will. You can find out most of what you want without having to rely on the 300lb pizza guy for your delivery…lol. Even the commission’s own website contains reports. I would like to commend you for at least taking the time to review the testimony transcripts from the inquiry. There are many others that are just waking up now to take it all in.

    As for the Broughton, the “different sea lice management actions” you are referring to were actively going on well before the 2007 study by Krkosek et al was even published.

    http://www.agf.gov.bc.ca/ahc/fish_health/sealice_MS_2004.htm

    Despite this, the authors of the 2007 study chose to make predictions of localized extinction. I suggest this was not to further anything meaningful other than to scare people and gather support for the cause against salmon farming. Secondly, when you look at pink salmon populations whether they are in Broughton or in the Fraser you need to look at a larger time scale. The reality is that these populations have fluctuated before and after the start of salmon farming. Krkosek is not willing to admit defeat but his mathematical models are not reflecting what the actual populations have been doing for a long time. When you predict “extinction” in a biological study you best be prepared for criticism. Now sea lice are not getting the massive attention they once received. It is not a coincidence – think about it.

  13. salmon guy Post author

    thanks for the comment Brian,
    as i’ve mentioned before, maybe you should take your vast knowledge and experience and start a blog as well… really put yourself out there.

    I quite enjoy having your comments on the site, as they do such a great job of supporting pretty much what i’m suggesting or asking — even more so if your comments are coming on behalf of DFO.

    And come on Brian, folks deleting your comments on their personal or organizational websites is not ‘muzzling’ — it’s personal prerogative. The Prime Minister’s Office, through the Privy Council, barring a government scientist (paid for with tax dollars) from speaking to the media, that’s muzzling. Private dollars and decisions vs. public dollars, public decisions, public civil servants.

    Does it necessarily suggest a great conspiracy? Maybe not. I don’t think I have necessarily suggested that it has — yet the DFO defenders that comment on this site have certainly jumped to that conclusion — which is simply more fear-mongering.

    What it does do though… is beg the question: why?
    And I can’t say i’ve heard a very good reason yet. Nor, have i heard a very good reason on why Dr. Miller’s research is now being starved of funding. (Or, why she needed a bodyguard.)

    What does seem rather apparent, is the Harper government’s continued tight grip on any message leaving government departments or otherwise. (It’ll come back to bite them in the ass, and probably by an un-‘muzzled’ assailant.)

    It’s too bad that you honesty don’t believe that communications people in Ottawa don’t mislead — I suppose the same goes then for Washington, DC too…? (weapons of mass destruction in Iraq ring any bells?)

    “planning conspiracies”… uh, huh.
    I didn’t realize that asking questions was in fact “planning a conspiracy”. Maybe I’ll take your comments under consideration and rename the blog ” salmon conspiracy guy”…
    “what’s your salmon conspiracy?”

    And, yes you’re exactly right, sometimes the simplest answer is the correct one.
    I call it “mismanagement”.

    But, hey, I suppose if you look it up in the dictionary “asking questions of government departments” and “conspiracy” are most certainly synonyms…

    Not everything is personal Brian, but i’m glad you provided your resume here. You should really consider putting your fish stories on a blog… sounds like you have some great experiences to share.

  14. Eric Becherer

    Well, it turns out that she was not “muzzled”, “Miller also told the commission she hasn’t been stopped from publishing any research, even though some activists have suggested she has been muzzled by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.”

    This is from a CBC report found at…
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2011/08/24/environment-salmon-cohen-commission-kristi-miller.html

    “A fisheries scientist is suggesting fish farms may have nothing to do with the collapse of the Fraser River sockeye run, a conclusion bound to stun environmentalists who had heralded her as a hero for her work.”

    “Before Kristi Miller testified Wednesday, environmentalists held a rally outside the hearing to pronounce her “Scientist of the Year,” but Miller’s testimony didn’t go entirely to their script.

    The Cohen Commission heard that a genetic signature — a kind of genetic footprint — may be related to a virus that has been linked to the “poor success” of returning Fraser River sockeye.

    Miller said she’s now planning to research whether or not the parvovirus, an infectious viral disease, is that virus.

    But Alan Blair, counsel for the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association, asked Miller to confirm a statement she had made previously suggesting that her research doesn’t point to salmon farms as the transmitter of that virus.

    “We have no direct data on aquaculture fish,” said Miller.

    “However, the findings that fish are leaving the river with the highest prevalence of this would suggest that a lot of the transmission of the virus … seems to emanate out of the fresh-water environment.

    “That doesn’t mean that there couldn’t be a transfer in the marine environment but it does mean we do not have data pointing to that.”

    The open-net pens used in fish farming are located in the salt water of the ocean.

    Miller repeated the assertion later.”

    Ultimately, an unmuzzled scientist, that states she has no proof that farms have anything to do with the DFO’s forecasting error, is the best that an ex-commercial fishing American has in her wasted arsenal….but as she says…””I have some level of confidence that we will find disease with this virus but we do have to do the work,” she said.”

    I have an answer that wont cost the taxpayers anymore money. WHEN YOU KILL MILLIONS OF SALMON WITH NETS, YOU ARE ACTUALLY KILLING MILLIONS OF SALMON WITH NETS!!!!!, and WHEN YOU PAVE AND POISON THERE ENVIRONMENT, IT’S NOT GOOD!!!

    In three years, farms will be on the hot seat again, because thousands of streams and river’s fish will not show up, because of the massive scale of the commercial fishery in the Johnston straights after the RECORD RUN of sockeye. Anything swimming with that return was decimated by the taxpayer funded fleet.

    Farms are bad, because there is not enough of them, and there are still taxpayer funded, un-selective, fish killing nets out there

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