Oh where, oh where, did Justice Cohen’s report go?
It came with a bang on Halloween Day… and went out with a whimper by Christmas…
$25 million or more spent. 1000+ pages. Some hard-hitting recommendations. Will Justice Cohen’s multi-million dollar work simply become one more Data Gap?
Justice Cohen suggests in his lengthy report:
There are still many aspects of the Fraser River sockeye life cycle about which little is known. Many stressors have been identified, including predators, climate change, infectious diseases, human development, contaminants, municipal wastewater, pesticides, harmful algal blooms, salmon farms, hydroelectric projects, interaction between wild and enhanced salmon, and the effects of agriculture, forestry, and mining. We still have a lot to learn about the relative detrimental impact these stressors actually have on sockeye and their habitat.
This lack of understanding about actual effects applies not only to individual stressors but also to cumulative effects (e.g., the combined effect of contaminants, disease, and warmer waters on the health of a fish) and to delayed effects (e.g., a contaminant or pathogen picked up during the outmigration leading to mortality during the return migration). I therefore recommend that further research is crucial to understanding the long-term productivity and sustainability of Fraser River sockeye salmon… (Volume 3: page 101)
Or, this is one of my favorites:
Many of the researchers participating in the Commission’s research program encountered difficulty in locating and obtaining access to relevant data. In some cases, different organizations had collected data on the same issue but had used incompatible databases.
Justice Cohen suggests in his Recommendations:
When an independent body, such as a commission of inquiry, makes recommendations to a department of government in accordance with the mandate given to it by the Governor General in Council, a degree of accountability for those recommendations should follow.
… maybe all some folks were wanting for x-mas was a judicial inquiry with some real (two front) teeth…
That accountability thingy appears to be coming a data gap too…
As does the gap in filling the gaps… e.g. nothing like trying to fill the North Pacific with ‘understandings’ and ‘data’…
Does more data really make us ‘better managers’? (of anything…)
Say for example… financially…
We know that credit card debt with high interest rates is BAD. Or at least carrying a balance at high interest is Really BAD. Yet the average Canadian (this is individual, not household), non-mortgage debt is over $26 000 with credit card debt, the worst kind at an average of over $3 500 per.
Yea… we probably need more data to better manage our collective debt loads…
MORE DATA = BETTER MANAGEMENT, BETTER DECISION-MAKING, BETTER OUTCOMES…
My suggested equation is a little different:
(X) BETTER CARE OF SALMON HABITAT = ONLY FIGHTING CHANCE FOR WILD SALMON IN FACE OF CLIMATE CHANGE.
(Y) BETTER ‘MANAGEMENT’ OF SALMON = LESS POLITICS, MORE SENSE
(Z) NORTH PACIFIC = UN-FILLABLE DATA GAP
More science, more data, more research will not lead to better decision-making.
Healthy salmon populations, and therefore healthy ecosystems in which they inhabit, require simple things. Clean, cool water, clean gravel, and lots of salmon having lots of salmon sex.
Then lots of salmon babies need a pretty clear and clean path to the ocean, and back.
Simple equation… difficult execution.
too much politics and economics in the way…