Seems like another year of blown Fraser sockeye forecasts… maybe it’s not the runs that are ‘lower than expected’ and more that we can expect most forecasts to be higher than the runs expected?
News Release from the Pacific Salmon Commission today – below. Not only was the forecast wrong, the Fraser River is smoking hot – over 20 degrees Celsius (water temperature that is). With current weather forecasts and low flows, don’t imagine this will be getting any better any time soon.
And yet, the $26 million recommendations from Cohen Commission have disappeared like a PMO Chief of Staff…
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
The Fraser River Panel met Tuesday, August 6 to receive an update on the migration of Fraser River sockeye and pink salmon and review the status of migration conditions in the Fraser River watershed.
Although the migration of Fraser sockeye through the marine approach routes to the Fraser River has increased in recent days, it is still considerably lower than expected. This is primarily due to the lower than expected migration of Summer-run through the marine approach routes to-date. At the meeting today, the Panel approved an increase in the run size estimate for Early Summer-run sockeye from 400,000 to 452,000 fish. Their 50% migration timing through Area 20 is estimated to be July 22, which is one day earlier than expected. Current assessments suggest that the abundance of Summer-run sockeye is either lower than forecast or their migration timing is much later than expected. An in-season assessment of Summer-run sockeye abundance should be available by later this week.
The proportion of Late-run sockeye migrating through the marine assessment areas has increased over recent days.
DNA analyses continue to indicate that Fraser River pink salmon currently comprise a small proportion of the pink salmon presently being harvested in marine area test fisheries, which is consistent with the later marine timing of Fraser pinks relative to Washington and Canada South Coast (non-Fraser) pink salmon stocks.
On August 5, the Fraser River water discharge at Hope was 3,150 cms, which is approximately 26% lower than average for this date. The temperature of the Fraser River at Qualark Creek on August 5 was 20.5 degrees C, which is 2.8 degrees C higher than average for this date. Sustained exposure of sockeye to Fraser River water temperatures in this range may cause high pre-spawning mortality.
Doesn’t sound or look or feel like things will be improving for Fraser sockeye any time soon. Good thing taxpayers flipped a $26 million bill for a thousands of hours of lawyers, ‘biologists’ and a judge’s time…
And those that care about salmon… most definitely do not want to hear about Fraser Chinook this year… (some of the worst numbers on record in ‘test fisheries’ and yet some sport fisheries remain open for them… go figure…)
New name at DFO: "Department of Fisheries and Profits"
A new name has yet again been adopted by the ‘Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ in Canada.
It will now be called the: “Department of Fisheries and Profits”.
Cutely referred to in Ottawa (about as far from Canada’s fishing industries as one can get) as DFP.
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The image above is from a recently released ‘discussion paper’. From what Google suggests, this document was posted in mid-January 2012, quite quietly apparently. Some groups, such as First Nations in BC just had it sent to them in the last few days.
The deadline for comment on this paper — which doesn’t actually really have anything of substance to “comment” on is Feb. 29th (less than a week from now).
As PM Harper likes to say… this is an “aspirational” document.
With next to no substance. In other words… salmonguy words… this is a bunch of fluff, bumpf and BS.
It’s also a schizophrenic document that contradicts itself at several points — however, the one thing that it makes abundantly clear: Canada’s fish populations are for economic prosperity first.
The sustainability section comes up on page 18 of 28… just after the “Prosperity” section.
This is the same Commission that essentially forced DFO to shut down in the Pacific Region and dedicate itself to defending and justifying itself and it’s actions since the last five or so Fraser River sockeye commissions, reviews and so on….
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Let’s take a quick tour inside of DFP’s latest: “aspirational document”:
Isn’t this just the cutest thing…?
Rather than using the old business term “bottom line”, the clever writers and designers of this fancy document used “the top line” — so many double meanings & entendres…
They’re so cute there at DFO (like Harper and his scratching the $10 million panda bear in China).
But let’s get right to it.
This comes early in the document… and here we have it as highlighted above:
…create a business environment conducive to economic prosperity
So let’s not shy away here. Let’s just get right to it.
Canada’s Department of Fisheries & that Other stuff. (DFO) is very much now about ‘maximizing profits‘, ‘economic prosperity‘ and ‘good business environments’.
Fishless oceans could be a very real possibility by 2050.
According to the UN, 30 percent of fish stocks have already collapsed.
One billion people, mostly from poorer countries, rely on fish as their main animal protein source.”
“If the various estimates we have received… come true, then we are in the situation where 40 years down the line we, effectively, are out of fish,” Pavan Sukhdev, head of the UN Environment Program’s green economy initiative, told journalists in New York.
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So, yeah… let’s get Canada’s fisheries harvesters: “to self-adjust”, as suggested in image quote above:
what does "self adjust" mean?
Ummm, DFO… errrr… DFP… what exactly does “self adjust” mean?
Does that mean when estimates suggest population is down, then fishers should stop harvesting?
Or… does it mean, if market says: “we need more fish!” that we just keep harvesting?
Which takes priority — resource fluctuations, or market demands?
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Curiously, the online free dictionary offers this definition:
Self-adjusting: Capable of assuming a desired position or condition with relation to other parts, under varying circumstances, without requiring to be adjusted by hand.
Now this definition refers to machines and such, but it’s decent one to run with here — since DFO provides no definition of what this actually means.
If you’ve read older posts on this site, or simply look up the etymology of “manage” or “management” it comes from Latin “manus” which means hand, and maneggiare “to handle,” especially in relation to horses.
(or… I suppose, in this case, fish harvesters…)
So, management, has to do with handling others (such as horses, or people fishing, or through other regulations). Or… should we also be thinking about the good old Adam Smiths’: “invisible hand of the market” — which refers to ‘self regulation’…
As some online definitions suggest: Smith’s invisible hand refers to an “important claim that by trying to maximize their own gains in a free market, individual ambition benefits society, even if the ambitious have no benevolent intentions.”
Hmmm. Sounds like the history of fish harvesting on the planet.
I don’t think people fishing for a living, or simply fishing for food for their family have “no benevolent intentions”… many may actually be very conservation-minded (I know several). However, it’s simply a numbers game. We have taken far, far, far too many fish over the last century and more, and in the meantime nuked fish habitat.
See along with dancing Adam Smith and his invisible hand is dour Hardin’s “tragedy of the commons.”
Doesn’t “self regulation” and “tragedy of the commons” kind of go hand-in-hand… you know… like do-si-do (prounounced doe-see-doe) your partner in square dancing…?
Nothing like: ‘Self-regulating your own tragedy‘
…which we will all have in common,
as will our grandkids….
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Bottom line on the “top line” folks, when it comes to the future of Canada’s fisheries:
Prosperity... folks... prosperity
This is page 14 (of 28) so right in the middle of the document.
But read carefully: essentially, and I paraphrase. There are “restrictive licensing rules” and economic prosperity is limited…
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Similar to this thought, comes from Page 7 of the document:
"management needs to change"
You know, I couldn’t agree more with the “patchwork manner”.
The 'mystical', mystery, "Wild Salmon Policy"
I’ve shared this image far-and-wide.
I was involved in early consultations on DFO’s… errrr… DFP’s “Wild Salmon Policy” in the late 1990s when it first started as an “aspirational” document.
And… well… we’re still “aspiring”…
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And so continuing on…
The document above suggests:
“decision are often made ad hoc instead of in a structured, strategic way…”
and, apparently: we’re having trouble “maximizing economic benefits” for the fishing industry.
Hmmm. I don’t imagine overfishing and mis-guided policy drivers such as “maximum sustainable yield” over the last century have anything to do with our fisheries issues these days…?
OH, BUT WAIT…
Here it is… don’t worry… I found it at the back of the document:
"Sustainability" the biggest, mean nothing word of the new millenium...
… DFP (formerly DFO) is going to be “supporting sustainable fisheries”…
It’s just on page 18 after the section on “PROSPERITY”…
You know… prosperity now… sustainability later…
Here are the words of wisdom on: “Sustainability”:
"Sustainability"... the great fluff word of the 21st century
Look it says it, right up there…
“sustainability is a top priority“… there’s great things like “precautionary approach” and “ecosystem mangement”…
(All of which simply exist to maximize those “threatened POTENTIAL economic gains”…)
only problem… just like the document says… “DFO has developed and begun implementing”…
If we’re just beginning, only just “begun”… then we might have a problem…
However, no worries mate, we now have “established a solid foundation for sustainable harvesting moving forward”…
didn’t you just state earlier in the document that “fisheries management needs to change”…?
That fisheries decisions are made ad hoc, non-strategically, and non-structured…?
That the industry is inhibited?
That profit is not maximized?
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So who was responsible for that?
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Oh wait… the same ministry that wrote this document…
How is it that Canadians, and the international community (of which Canada is signatory to agreements), are supposed to trust a Ministry that blatantly contradicts itself in its own “aspirational” documents?
This is rather ludicrous…
The document contradicts itself, this ministry continues to contradict itself.
This federal Ministry is a:
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It’s also completely SCHIZOPHRENIC (and no offense intended to those suffering from this mental illness).
This type of document describes things as if it wasn’t actually THIS Department of Fisheries and Oceans that is responsible for how things used to be done.
(DFO says: “no, not us”)
It was a different DEPARTMENT… it was THAT department over there…
(“them… yup… them over there”…)
(said as they point in the mirror)
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Last time I checked, many of the same people I dealt with in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans ten years ago… are still the same people in the organization… just that they’ve been promoted…
The simple, “stick around long enough, we’ll promote you” policies of government ministries (apologies to those senior gov. managers that do not succumb to the Peter Principle…)
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OH… wait… just wait…
you can go comment on this ‘aspirational’ document at the DFO website.
Yes, you too, can participate in this shenanigan called “public consultation”…
They’ve helped you out, they ask you to comment on the following questions, and I quote directly from the site (and these are the only questions that are asked online — isn’t it great this whole digital public consultation thing… they’re so helpful…):
DFO would like your input on the current web of rules that governs how commercial fisheries are managed.
Section #1 – Economic Prosperity
DFO would like your input on the current web of rules that governs how commercial fisheries are managed.
Are there any rules you would consider obsolete given today’s economy and current management approaches?
Section #2 – Sustainable Fisheries
Canadian commercial fisheries have gained considerable experience in managing bycatch and discards over the years.
Does the proposed Policy Framework on Managing Bycatch and Discards provide adequate guidance on how to address bycatch and discards in Canadian fisheries?
[sorry, we just slipped that little “web of rules” comment in there… that’s not misleading in the least… not even subliminal hints for one second…]
[cuz no one likes being caught in a “web of rules” do they?… this isn’t leading the witness in the least… says the judge]
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There’s little boxes for you to fill in… (so helpful).
Apparently, the sustainability of Canada’s fisheries only deal with “bycatch”…
Wow, please, someone recommend a gutting of this ministry.
You simply cannot be a “Department of Fisheries” and yet be responsible for conservation and preservation of actual fish populations.
It’s a contradiction in terms. Killing fish is not ‘conserving’ them, nor ‘preserving’ them.
Not that killing fish is bad, I like to eat them too, but I’d like me kids to be able to eat them too…
It’s just propaganda like this is fundamentally exhausting.
Still doubting that ‘marketing is everything and everything is marketing…’?
Since 1964, the Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery in California has supplied the watershed with four to 10 million juvenile Chinook salmon each year. The hatchery began the practice as a way of countering the effects of dams that block migration and making sure that the salmon population remained viable. But recent research shows that the massive influx of hatchery-raised fish is masking the fact that wild fish populations are not holding up.
“Without distinguishing hatchery from wild fish, the perception is that we have healthy salmon surviving in a healthy river,” said Rachel Johnson, a fish ecologist affiliated with the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the lead author of a new paper published in the journal PLoS One.
[this is a problem across western North America where wild Pacific salmon roam]
Most hatchery-raised fish are unmarked, but Dr. Johnson and her colleagues navigated past this obstacle by using a new technique that measures sulfur isotopes deposited in salmon ear bones, or otoliths. Chemical elements from food and the environment accumulate in otoliths over a salmon’s lifetime, giving scientists a way of determining an animal’s origins and movements.
In this case, Dr. Johnson differentiated between wild and hatchery-reared salmon by detecting traces of a domestic diet in the latter population’s otoliths. After adult fall-run Chinook salmon returned to the river and hatchery to spawn, the researchers collected otoliths from over 1,000 carcasses.
Wild fall-run Chinook salmon typically stay in freshwater for three to six months after birth and then migrate out through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and into the ocean, spending up to three years there before returning to their native river to spawn. Hatchery-born fish, on the other hand, are usually trucked to the bay, bypassing obstacles like freshwater pollution, low water levels and predators that their wild counterparts consistently contend with.
While a set number of hatchery fish make it to sea each year, Dr. Johnson says she suspects that wild population dynamics vary from year to year, depending on conditions.
Those population dynamics were surprisingly skewed for the 2004-5 season, when the researchers carried out their work. Of around 12,000 fish that returned and spawned in the Mokelumne watershed, most were hatchery fish that went directly to the hatchery. About 1,500 fish spawned in the Mokelumne River itself, but just 10 percent were actually born there. All in all, only 4 percent of the total spawning population were of natural origin.
Researchers are unsure exactly why natural populations have such low survival rates, but they suspect that water degradation, pollution and overfishing all contribute. Hatchery fish themselves could be having an impact, too: recent studies have found genetic and behavioral differences in hatchery-born and wild salmonids. Hybrid offspring of hatchery and wild fish may have a lower chance of surviving and reproducing than purely wild offspring do.
Artificial propagation aimed at aiding the recovery of endangered or threatened species is a controversial topic in ecology. Researchers and policymakers debate whether simply producing more animals of a dwindling species is an acceptable means of sustaining populations. “The ultimate goal for habitat restoration is that we are helping fish rebuild in a natural environment, not intervening in such an extreme way,” Dr. Johnson said.
[Salmonguy note: “restore” habitat…? is that really possible at this point in time? ‘restore’ to what? “restore” salmon runs… restore to what?]
Fall-run Chinook salmon are listed as a species of concern, but this label results largely from a lack of data on their their populations. Although managers set a goal of doubling the numbers of wild salmon in the Mokelumne River, until now it has been impossible to estimate how many naturally occurring fish are present.
[also a real problem across western North America where wild Pacific salmon roam]
Dr. Johnson, who is currently based at the Bay Delta office of the federal Bureau of Reclamation, emphasizes that she is not anti-hatchery, but that more awareness and monitoring of the salmon situation is needed to determine why wild salmon stocks are not replacing themselves and whether salmon populations can survive if the hatcheries are (hypothetically) shut down.
Mass marking of all hatchery fish — like clipping a fin — would make this job easier, and many hatcheries in the Pacific Northwest are already doing this.
“Globally, the number of hatchery-produced fish of salmon and other salmonids has skyrocketed over the past 20 years,” Dr. Johnson said. “Even though this study was done on the Mokelumne River, I think it’s a broader issue for salmon conservation.”
You bet, Dr. Johnson, you bet…
And only set to grow if Russia is able to put their $2 billion in cash to work in building salmon hatcheries in the far east of that country on the Pacific side. Japan is already pumping out over 95% of their annual commercial catch as hatchery salmon… And Alaska’s billions of “salmon ranching”… and Canada’s 600 million or so hatchery salmon…
Old Vitus Bering & George Stellr are probably rolling in a grave somewhere… (early European ‘explorers’ and naturalists working for Russian Navy in 1700s — you can see their ‘graphiti’ all over the North Pacific)
Enbridge Northern Gateway I (madness, hypocrisy, shameful)
With interventions this week by the Harper Government into the National Energy Board’s hearings into the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline — it becomes clearer that Mr. Harper, and some of his buddies, might be little more than paranoid little boys — as well as complete hypocrites.
(or working the gears of a marketing machine — remember: marketing is everything and everything is marketing)
The federal Natural Resource Minister came out this past week suggesting that U.S. money flowing into Canadian enviro (and other) groups would not be tolerated and a threat to Canadian sovereignty, bla, bla, bla…
The current Conservative government also basically suggested that the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline would go through regardless; that it would be constructed; and that raw bitumen from Canada’s tar sands would be exported to Asia —
particularly China… which, curiously has invested some $15-20 Billion in the tar sands in recent times as well as significant Chinese interests and $ billions into Enbridge and this proposal.
Without even commenting on the absolute absurdity of making comments such as these at the beginning of a multi-year process of hearing what people have to say about the “proposed” pipeline…
Wondering where the apparent threats to sovereignty may actually be coming from?
And, as the illustration above portrays, WHY?
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Why are we looking to export raw bitumen to Asia when we already import over 55% of the oil consumed in Canada. That means that Canadians are paying for refined oil products to come to Canada from places like Venezuela, Algeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Norway, etc. (and yet these “ethical oil” bubbleheads keep singing their tune)
Crazier yet, over 65% of the oil produced in Canada gets shipped-exported south to the U.S. through some 15,000 km of pipeline.
Even crazier… we are largely locked into this through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)… once the taps are on, you can’t turn them off.
(so really Mr. Harper where are the boogey men, the threats to Canadian sovereignty…?
oh right… maybe in your Conservative predecessors that signed off on NAFTA… hmmmm)
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And now, Harper and Enbridge and others (e.g. BC’s current government) want to ship the unrefined, unprocessed raw bitumen across western Alberta, through the Rockies, through north-eastern, north-central, and northwestern BC, to Kitimat on the BC coast to be loaded onto over 200 supertankers a year and then ply BC’s coastal waters, the North Pacific, over to Asia.
If the tar sands are going to continue to operate — then why don’t we look after our own oil needs first?
Without even commenting on all the other threats posed by this project… How about a National Energy Plan (even Alberta’s current premier is suggesting the same) — before exporting one of the most valuable resources on the planet? (and risking some 1000+ rivers and streams in BC and Alberta and BC’s north coast)
And exporting jobs — isn’t everything about these right-leaning regimes about jobs, jobs, jobs…?
Oregon salmon cannery early 1900s -- Oregon State University archives
Randomly came across these photos from the early 1900s. This is “salmon management” at its best. This is what “salmon management” of the day is built upon. This is what “fisheries management” is built upon.
Fish first, manage later… (look no further then the current herring fisheries opening in the Salish Sea, or the soon to be opened sport fisheries on early-timed Fraser Chinook).
Oregon salmon canneries -- early 1900s -- oh the Chinook?
And where did these beauties go?
Was there not a time in British Columbia when the Springs, the Smilies, the Chinook, the Kings… would line up like this?
Ever study economics?
Ever hear of the concept of ‘the law of diminishing returns’?
Here’s a brief little quote from Wikipedia:
The law of diminishing returns (also law of diminishing marginal returns or law of increasing relative cost) states that in all productive processes, adding more of one factor of production, while holding all others constant, will at some point yield lower per-unit returns.The law of diminishing returns does not imply that adding more of a factor will decrease the total production, a condition known as negative returns, though in fact this is common.
For example, the use of fertilizer improves crop production on farms and in gardens; but at some point, adding more and more fertilizer improves the yield less per unit of fertilizer, and excessive quantities can even reduce the yield. A common sort of example is adding more workers to a job, such as assembling a car on a factory floor. At some point, adding more workers causes problems such as getting in each other’s way, or workers frequently find themselves waiting for access to a part.
In all of these processes, producing one more unit of output per unit of time will eventually cost increasingly more, due to inputs being used less and less effectively. [key point]
The law of diminishing returns is a fundamental principle of economics…
It’s also a fundamental concept within “fisheries” management that they don’t seem to teach at the leading “fisheries” science institutions…
If you keep catching all the ‘hogs’ — the big ones — then eventually there’s going to be little left but small ones…then no ones…
Same thing happened with North Atlantic Cod prior to the big collapse. All the big ones started disappearing and sizes became smaller and smaller and more uniform… diminishing genetic diversity.
Unfortunately, good ‘ol Darwin and his ‘survival of the fittest‘ doesn’t apply when a salmon has no choice about what gill net, seine net, sport hook, or other fishing method catches it. Nor, the obsession of the current human to catch the ‘biggest’ fish…
It did apply though when there was little human intervention… bigger fish, better survival often times, eggs buried deeper in gravel, and so on… more bigger fish, more diversity.
Oregon wild salmon seining -- early 1900s -- Oregon State University archives
Get ’em out however possible…
these times seem to have largely gone with the days of the "iron chink"... (cannery hardware)
The point here isn’t to lament the past, necessarily — but don’t we ever learn?
Folks of the day also said that whole hog logging, placer mining, building dams, and pillaging the seas and river mouths could all ‘happily co-exist’… no problemo… let’s Just Do It (as a well known multinational company based in Portland proclaims).
Freedom, free enterprise, market economies, maximum sustainable yield… let’s do it.
Is this really all that different then what Justice Cohen just heard for two years at the Cohen Commission into the Fraser River sockeye declines?
Or how about the five previous “commissions” prior to that…?
Same conclusion, most likely… we can’t really conclusively “prove” that these practices damage wild salmon… it’s death of a thousand cuts… change is too hard… don’t rock the boat… (gee whiz, I retire with full government pension in five years, don’t hang me out to dry here…)
And, well… you probably know the rest of the story…
“DFO recognizes that there are ‘resident herring’ that remain in the Strait of Georgia stock assessment area throughout the year, but scientific evidence does not support the notion that these are separate stocks,” DFO scientists wrote in an email interview. “A number of tagging and genetic research studies examining herring stock structure do not provide evidence to support the existence of a local resident herring population in the Strait of Georgia.”
But not all scientists agree.
University of British Columbia fisheries scientist Tony Pitcher said that B.C.’s bays and inlets were once home to unique inshore herring stocks that returned to spawn in the same places year after year, in much the same way that salmon return to the spawning grounds on which they were born.
“Local herring stocks aren’t exactly resident, but they are quasi-resident, because they joined the big migratory stock for summer feeding but returned in the winter to their spawning areas and stay there through the winter and spring,” said Pitcher.
Where commercial fishing has damaged inshore herring stocks, recovery has been slow and in some cases the fish have never returned.
“It looks like the Skidegate stock has never come back, despite efforts to try to protect it,” Pitcher said.
First nations up and down the coast are convinced that past mismanagement of the herring fishery has resulted in the extinction of local resident stocks that used to support their ancient marine economy.
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So where is the burden of proof supposed to be in these types of issues?
DFO purports to be about “conservation” first.
As well as operating under the ‘precautionary principle’ — so if there’s doubt on this issue then why open herring fisheries?
So, why take the risk?
Aren’t herring one of those crucial components of the food chain? — e.g. for endangered Fraser and East Coast Vancouver Is. Chinook salmon, which in turn are an essential food source for endangered resident Orcas in the Salish Sea (Georgia Strait). (Cull the endangered Orcas?)
How does this make sense?
Simply because some ‘scientists’ at DFO have decided there’s not enough information to label these ‘resident’ stocks — they they are fair game for fisheries?
Where’s the sense in this?
Is this not a ministry that needs a fundamental overall? Should there not be a process similar to the many calls for change, and actual change occurring within the RCMP — for example, independent reviews by citizens?
There is a fundamental problem when the same ministry that opens fisheries for commercial economic benefit is also fundamentally responsible for ‘conserving’ fish stocks.
The simple definition of ‘conservation’ and ‘preservation’ do not jive with the act of removing indigenous organisms from ecosystems — especially organisms as crucial to the food chain as herring.
Time for a fundamental overall… as opposed to these expensive judicial/public inquiries and endless court cases against a ministry that is broken, lost, and flailing.
Purposeful. No mistakes, no apology. year after year after year.
Some might call it wild salmon stocks genocide, some might call it good policy and good science. (some did, some do).
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We have essentially taken one of the world’s greatest salmon rivers, and world’s greatest salmon runs, and reduced it to a mere shadow of itself — in just over 100 years.
There was once over 200 distinct and unique Fraser sockeye stocks. Individually-adapted and evolved stocks unique to the specific tributaries and streams where they returned year after year. Some small sockeye like the Nadina, wayyyy upstream west of Prince George and closer to the Skeena River then the mouth of the Fraser, or some larger sockeye, with their home streams closer to the mouth of the Fraser.
All specifically unique for the conditions they’d lived in for eons.
The ministry tasked with ensuring these fish don’t go the route of oblivion, that these stocks don’t go extinct… Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
How many unique and distinct Fraser sockeye stocks do we have now?
Nobody can say…
Maybe half what it used to be, or less?
And yet, the ‘experts’ continue to look for the “smoking gun” that is causing runs to collapse — like the 2009 Fraser sockeye run, or Rivers Inlet, or… or…
Up and down the BC coast, un-named, un-‘researched’ sockeye runs that have gone the route of oblivion.
It’s not a mystery, really.
We killed upwards of 80% of these returning runs… every year… for several human generations.
By misguided policies, that have now become elephants in the room that most people pretend doesn’t exist, yet they have a tough time taking notes because of the imposing shadow blocking their vision…
International conferences are upcoming in the near future to discuss wild salmon resiliency in the face of coming rapid changes (e.g. receding glaciers, more water demands for agriculture and so on, and rapidly changing climates). Most likely there will be more bumpf words then a gathering of teenage video-“gaming” aficionados… things like adaptive, and strategic and ecosystem-based, and conservation-based.
Elephants do make great backgrounds for PowerPoint presentations though… so maybe these conferences and gatherings and think-tanks will have ground-breaking PowerPoint slides…
Unfortunately, elephants, as one website suggests: “much like their predecessors, these two species [Asian and African elephant] are facing a grim future… heading to another human-propelled extinction.”
Personally, I’d rather see the extinction of PowerPoint presentations… than wild salmon or elephants.
Earlier this year I introduced you to the new corporate sponsor for the Cohen Commission:
Cross off “summer” in the illustration above and put in “Winter”… as we move into the close of ‘hearings’ for the Cohen Commission and the short daylight hours, and long winter nights of Justice Cohen and his staff forging through testimony, upwards of a million pages of ‘data’, bumpf out the ying-yang, job-protecting bureaucrat testimony, and so on.
In my somewhat cursory review of the technical reports completed for the Commission — at least those available for review, let me give you a few of my salmonguy summary notes:
(1) very few scientists want to come out and actually take a hard line on something… (all protect the almighty god of Objectivity)
(2) there are many scientists lining themselves up for an ambitious and aggressive research agenda… (i’ve lost count of the “recommendations for research” in the technical reports). And one doesn’t do well on that front by having ‘opinions’ contrary to the funding agencies…
(3) I’m starting a list of how many ways one can say “limited data” or “data gaps. There are more ways to say it then there are ways to count a sockeye…
I’m hard pressed to believe we actually know anything more about Fraser sockeye then they swim downstream go to the ocean, come back, swim upstream, spawn… and… wait for it…
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Let me give you a little taste:
Technical Report #1: Diseases and parasites
…There are certainly many pathogens that occur in wild sockeye salmon, but their precise impacts on survival in these stocks are poorly understood...
The absence of data on pathogens and diseases in wild salmon in British Columbia is a reflection of the historical research focus on fish diseases, in both the Province and other regions. Most research on salmonid diseases has been directed toward those afflicting captive fish, either in government hatcheries or private fish farms.
As with many scientific issues, more research is needed to elucidate the impacts of pathogens on Fraser River sockeye salmon…
…The disease impacts of salmon enhancement facilities on Fraser River sockeye salmon are largely unexplored in the literature. The published literature failed to provide sufficient direct or indirect evidence to fulfill standard criteria for causation.
The literature was unable to provide sufficient information to determine the likelihood of salmonid enhancement-associated diseases impacting Fraser River sockeye salmon, the magnitude of the hypothetical impacts, or the ability of enhancement facilities to prevent or mitigate the risks…
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Technical Report #2: Effects of contaminants on Fraser River sockeye salmon
…Many other substances in the Inventory of Aquatic Contaminants have the potential to adversely affect Fraser River sockeye salmon, including organometals, cyanides, monoaromatic hydrocarbons, chlorinated and non-chlorinated phenolic compounds, resin and fatty acids, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, hormone mimicking substances, pharmaceuticals, personal care products, wood preservation chemicals and nanoparticles.
However, insufficient information was available to evaluate the hazards posed to sockeye salmon in the Fraser River associated with exposure to these contaminants…
(now that’s comforting — if I can’t pronounce it, it’s probably not good for me… or sockeye)
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Project 3 – Evaluating the Status of Fraser River Sockeye Salmon and Role of Freshwater Ecology in their Decline
…Given our review of available data, measures of freshwater habitat condition are generally not available across many CUs even though Strategy 2 of the Wild Salmon Policy is charged with developing relevant habitat indicators. Given this gap…
Given a general lack of information that could be used to reliably define dynamic changes in condition across sockeye salmon spawning, rearing, and migratory habitats…
Given a lack of experimental design in the way population, habitat, and stressor data have been collected, our ability to test for cause and effect relationships between the freshwater environment and Fraser sockeye salmon declines was limited. As a result, we were only able to use a limited set of quantitative techniques and data summaries to assess the role of freshwater influences.
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Project 4 – Marine ecology
Quite satisfingly, doesn’t carry on about all the data limitation — just the time constraints of pulling the report together:
A major objective that was achieved in this report was to assemble, within an eight week period, as comprehensive a summary as was possible of what is known about Fraser River sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) in the ocean. While much of this effort involved summarizing information published in data/technical reports and the primary literature, where necessary, original data have been re-examined and new analyses conducted to fulfill the terms of the Statement of Work.
However, it was more an exercise of regurgitating information already out there… (appreciate the honesty).
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Project 5A – Summary of Information for Evaluating Impacts of Salmon Farms on Survival of Fraser River Sockeye Salmon
Inferences from statistical analyses that correlate trends in abundance or survival of Fraser River sockeye with trends in pathogens found in salmon farms will be extremely limited by the number of years of available data. There are only 3-5 years of overlapping Fraser River sockeye survival and salmon farm data available for statistical evaluation.
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Project 5B – Examination of relationships between salmon aquaculture and sockeye salmon population dynamics
The analyses in the first part of this report are based on short time series of aquaculture variables, beginning no earlier than 2003, with low statistical power to detect relationships should they truly exist.
(nothing like only 7-8 years of data to do ‘analysis’…)
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Project 5C – Impacts of salmon farms on Fraser River sockeye salmon: Results of the Noakes investigation
(No points about limited data, more about how other ‘scientists’ are not looking at the right data…)
Some of the publications are highly speculative for a variety of reasons including but not limited to the absence of data from government and industry as well as assumptions used by the researchers. In some cases, the publications were deficient to the point that they were neither objective nor scientific and they generally lack credibility.
(interesting… absence of data can in turn make someone have a non-objective nor scientific opinion and therefore lack credibility? that’s a rather bold subjective statement in itself to be made in a “scientific” investigation– is it not?)
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Project 5D – Impacts of salmon farms on Fraser River sockeye salmon: Results of the Dill investigation
(And in a complete about face from the above report…)
Unfortunately, it turned out that the data provided by Provincial government (BCMAL) and the BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) were insufficient in both quantity and quality to allow a rigorous analyses capable of answering these questions with certainty. The biggest problem was the very short length of the time series available for analysis, basically only 4-5 year classes.
(these darn scientists, why can’t they just all get along…seems like reports 5C and 5D are a little pissing match between each other)
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Project 7 – Fraser River sockeye fisheries and fisheries management
The final section of our report provides recommendations which address important data gaps and known deficiencies in the fisheries management system
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Project 8 – Effects of predators on Fraser River sockeye salmon
Naming the predators of sockeye salmon should not be a difficult task given that everyone likely loves sockeye—but scientifically supported ecosystem-level information about predator species (numbers, diets, trends, and distributions) is sparse throughout the sockeye salmon range.
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Project 9 – Effects of climate change on Fraser River sockeye salmon
…There has been little research examining cumulative impacts, both across multiple stressors (e.g. fisheries capture, temperature, pollutants) or life history stages (i.e. carry-over effects), and/or among generations (i.e. intergenerational effects). These information gaps are critical to fill to begin to understand current trends in sockeye salmon productivity and abundance
(ummm… so… what has been the purpose of the Cohen Commission then…? to simply identify data gaps and recommend a big research agenda? Or… was it to try and answer some questions around current trends in salmon productivity and abundance, e.g. 2009 collapse).
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Project 10 – Fraser River sockeye salmon production dynamics
Further research is required to draw definitive conclusions about the relative influence of such large-scale versus more local processes.
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Project 12 – Fraser River Sockeye Habitat Use in the Lower Fraser and Strait of Georgia
Although the effectiveness of habitat compensation projects in the Fraser River appears to be improving, the need for an improved habitat science, monitoring and data management framework is clear and aspects of this need are consistent with recommendations made by others over the past decade or two. In our view, some efforts have been made in this direction, but these have not been adequate and are even less likely to be adequate into the future…
Research in habitat ecology to evaluate alternative approaches to those prevailing today will be needed to adequately evaluate habitat compensation projects.
Programs and management initiatives used to examine and understand the quantitative parameters of habitats, potential losses and gains, habitat quality types and the dynamics of habitat productivity do not appear to be sufficient for keeping track of the current and future status of habitats used by sockeye and potential links and associations to variations in sockeye productivity.
However, one of my favorite lines comes early in the Executive Summary for this report:
Salmon are often viewed as a living barometer of the conditions in the environment and their habitat state and stock status could reflect potential impacts from human activities.
Yet… sadly… for crying out loud… we’ve got that little legal disclaimer in there…
ghad forbid, we say there’s actually been an impact of humans on salmon…
(that wouldn’t be objectively peer-reviewed…)
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Now, I suppose the question is whether or not, Justice Cohen will rely upon his legal training to come to some sort of conclusion on this rather expensive exercise.
Will he decide the issues on a matter of facts…?
Or will it be in the objective test of a reasonable person?
The sad thing is… that the objective test of a reasonable person means someone acting prudently… and in this case it could potentially be a professional person acting prudently.
And thus, will Justice Cohen be adopting the prudent, objective viewpoint of a fisheries scientist to review this information? or a policy maker?
ghad help the salmon if he is. Save yourselves little oncorhynchuses…
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I can safely say I do not envy his work over coming months…
and here’s to hoping that more fisheries scientist could actually come out with an informed “opinion”.
This whole “objective” science thing is BS anyways… go read the old philosophers to find out how realistic it is to sit on the throne of objectivity and not have an opinion.
It’s not possible, and it sure as hell doesn’t do wild salmon any good.
We might as well all just run around with our tail between our legs, babbling on madly about how we don’t have “enough data”… if we could just get “more data”… “then we’d understand”… “then it’d be easy”.
We’ll never have enough data!
And how is it that catching and killing over 80% of the Fraser sockeye runs for over 50 years is not an impact!
A devastating one…
It’s the same story the world over… it’s why fisheries stocks around the world are in deep shit.
We catch them and eat them. All my empirical objective data says so… (as does the United Nations…)
We can keep looking for our keys under the streetlight because that’s where the light is, or we can look for them near where we dropped them… in the dark alley.
The lights are on folks, and just like a good Shakespearean drama, the spotlight is on us.
We did it. It was Colonel Mustard in the ocean with a net… practicing mixed stock fisheries.
1. Be in charge of (a company, establishment, or undertaking); administer; run.
2. Administer and regulate (resources under one’s control): “we manage our wild salmon well”.
An online etymology dictinoary suggests the roots of the word: c.1400, from Latin manualis “of or belonging to the hand,” from manus “hand, strength, power over, armed force, handwriting,” from PIE *men– “hand, to take in one’s hand”
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And maybe that’s the problem… many folks have taken the roots of the word ‘manage‘ far too literally. But, I’ll get to that in a second.
The other key component of the meaning of to ‘manage’ is to “administer“:
1. Manage and be responsible for the running of (a business, organization, etc.).
2. Be responsible for the implementation or use of (law or resources).
Unfortunately, we’re running around after our lost tail here… administer means to manage, and to manage means to administer…
(yet, tucked in there somewhere between our tailbone and our rectum is the: ‘be responsible for use of resources’)
The online etymology dictionary suggests the roots of administer are: late 14c., “to manage as a steward,” from Old French amenistrer “help, aid, be of service to” (12c., Mod.Fr. administrer, the -d- restored 16c.), from Latin administrare “manage, control, guide, superintend; rule direct,” from ad– “to” (see ad-) + ministrare “serve”.
So if we keep going on this little trip, what is a “steward“?
1. One who manages another’s property, finances, or other affairs.
2. One who is in charge of the household affairs of a large estate, club, hotel, or resort.
Roots of the word suggest: ‘Old English stiward, stigweard “house guardian,” from stig “hall, pen” + weard “guard.”
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Now as we put this all together, some glaring contradictions arise, yet, maybe some insight into the ongoing issues of massive, resource-draining bureaucracies that become slurping, sucking, leeches all unto themselves. As well as insular, ivory-towered kingdoms surrounded by the pavement moat; separate from the serfs that provide the tax dollars to keep them afloat…
That aside… and not to discount the many folks that actually try to do good work amidst the sucking sounds inherent in a vacuum… or the folks that try valiantly to pull compadres out of their bureaucratic, paper-producing stupor…
If ‘to manage’ stems from what we do with our hands (manus-es), especially in relation to ‘handwriting’, and to manage also means ‘to administer’…
And ‘to administer’, means to be responsible for running things, and the roots of the word suggest that it means “to steward” things…
And to steward things, means to manage others’ affairs well (e.g. a public resource)…
And the roots of that word, suggest that it means to ‘guard the hall’ essentially. Or maybe we can stretch that out to say “guard the resources, that its supposed to be responsible for administering (e.g. managing)” — which is the fish and the habitat that they rely upon. And to do this, they will most likely — in the act of managing — rely upon lots of handwriting…
Then why is it that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans seems to be much more concerned with fisheries, as opposed to “managing”, “administering”, “stewarding/guarding” the resource it is tasked to do so with public dollars?
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Don’t get me wrong here… fisheries are important, vital even. I, myself, engage in the act of fishing and fisheries often. I also grew up in communities that fundamentally relied upon ‘fisheries’ — however, those communities, and the simple act of fishing alone — require something vital to be successful.
(and I can certainly say with safety — those same communities are asking where the fish went…)
The problems start to lie in what our collective focus is.
Is our collective focus to continue to manage, administer, and steward “fisheries”?
is it to continue to manage, administer, and steward the fish themselves — and the habitat they depend upon?
(even more so, if we see that healthy fish habitat is not all that different then the same habitat we depend on…)
Is the focus on ‘fisheries’ for next year… or is the focus on still having similar fisheries 50 years from now…?
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And, I suppose the answer is: BOTH.
We need fish and healthy habitat to have healthy, prosperous fisheries.
BUT — should that mean that the responsibility for “managing”, “administering”, and “stewarding” the two should be housed in the same place?
Is it fundamentally possible for a government bureaucracy to hold the best interests of a resource (e.g. fish, salmon, etc. and their habitat) that it intends, in turn, to kill?
— and not just a few in the case of the salmon… it was over 80% of the returning Fraser sockeye runs for well over 50 years — the supposed Maximum Sustainable Yield. And now, we’re supposed to take comfort on years like this year when it is reduced to 60% of the total Fraser Sockeye run.
A total run, that has smaller runs within it on the verge of extinction and many that have gone extinct.
Mixed stock fisheries are inherently not good for the resource.
Mixed stock means that while in the act of fishing, it is near impossible to separate, say an endangered Nechako River (mouth is at Prince George, BC) sockeye and a sockeye from a potentially healthy Adams Lake run (near Kamloops, BC).
Or, say, an endangered Skeena River steelhead from an ‘human-enhanced’ Babine Lake sockeye.
If one sets a gill net, for example, it catches largely everything that swims into it… unless they’re big enough to rip the net and free themselves.
It then becomes what we term a “trade off”…
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It seems to me that it’s akin to the old practice of having cigarrette vending machines in hospitals, so that the hospitals could raise money for their administrative budgets and ‘enhance’ the bottom line…
Or, having candy and pop vending machines in schools (to raise money for bottom lines), in the midst of a population that now boasts a majority either overweight or just plain obese (and at the same time cutting physical education and sports programs).
And not realizing (or simply chalking it up to a trade-off) that this only creates a much bigger problem in the near-enough future. A completely sapped and drained medical system.
It’s the fundamental problem of many human societies… short term gain, in the midst of serious long-term repercussions (obvious ones — clear as a smokers’ exhale on a minus-20 degree morning).
Yes… again… “trade-offs”…
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Personally, and maybe I’m alone on this, I just don’t think it is possible for a giant bureaucracy, largely based in Ottawa, thousands of kilometres from both the spawning grounds and the fishery, to both look after the best interests of the fish (e.g. wild salmon) and the best interests of the fisherfolks that catch them.
It’s a fundamental contradiction, that will never be overcome.
(let alone the mass complications of simply managing the fisherfolks themselves: aboriginal, commercial-industrial, commercial-sport, and sport)
No different then the folks that say a ministry can’t house both aquaculture proponents and supporters AND the divisions responsible for the conservation and preservation of wild resources.
That’s essentially like putting the ‘management’ of wild elk populations and cattle farmers in the same ministry.
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Saddest of all… and yet, one positive from the Cohen Commission at this point, is these glimpses inside the grinding of gluttonous government bureaucracies.
One can review any number of email threads between senior ‘managers’ at DFO. At times, a curious process and yet also a sad process — reflecting a sad state of affairs — and the proof that many take the word “to manage” very much by its roots… the act of handwriting, which in this day in age is typing…
On the Cohen Commission website there is ‘evidence’ from yesterday’s hearings (Sept. 26). Some of those are email strings between senior managers.
In one is an ongoing email discussion surrounding an apparent “National Precautionary Approach Framework” . In there are the usual examples of how ‘the words’ and “the wording” are far more important, as are bureaucratic deadlines, than what happens on the water.
it's about the wording, folks
And, this below, pretty much the suggestion I’ve made in a variety of posts over the last couple years:
this “is as close as we are likely to come to making ‘eco-system’ management operational.”
“as close as we’ll come”… so how close is that?
Is this like the protective father that says to the young suitor of his 16 year old daughter — ” 20 ft. is as close as you’ll ever come to making your amorous intentions operational…” as he pats the shotgun by the door…
Using the phrase, “as close as we’ll come” generally suggests there is some significant distance between the present situation and the desired end destination.
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Looking after, stewarding, and managing one of BC’s most important and valuable ‘resource’ — wild salmon runs — is farm more about ‘operational objectives’ and ‘measurable fishery objectives’ and making ‘trade-offs to inform decision-makers’…
Maybe, it’s just me again, however, I thought it was up to the public to discuss trade-offs and inform decision-makers.
Would one assume that the ‘decision-makers’ referred to here are not the elected “decision-makers” but the autocratic, be-good & rise-to-the-top-of-the-bureaucracy (subject to the Peter Principle) decision-makers?
Would these be the root of why we’ve had to endure five public reviews/Commissions/inquiries in less than two decades?
Will the root of the contradiction inherent in this government ministry be exposed in the Cohen Commission Final Report?
Are the fate of wild salmon wrapped up in bureaucratic ‘measurable fishery objectives’, national frameworks, benchmarks, and the ever-present “trade-off”?
SÃO PAULO, Brazil — A virus that has killed millions of salmon in Chile and ravaged the fish farming industry there was probably brought over from Norway, a major salmon producer has acknowledged.
Cermaq, a state-controlled Norwegian aquaculture company that has become one of the principal exporters of salmon from Chile, has endorsed a scientific study concluding that salmon eggs shipped from Norway to Chile are the “likely reason” for the outbreak of the virus in 2007, according to Lise Bergan, a company spokeswoman.
But, she argued, “the report didn’t pinpoint any company” as the culprit. [gee, thank goodness for that...]
The virus, infectious salmon anaemia, or I.S.A., was first reported at a Chilean salmon farm owned by Marine Harvest, another Norwegian company [which also has a large amount of operations on the B.C. coast].
It quickly spread through southern Chile, wracking a fishing business that had become one of the country’s biggest exporters during the past 15 years. The Chilean industry, whose major clients include the United States and Brazil, suffered more than $2 billion in losses, saw its production of Atlantic salmon fall by half and had to lay off 26,000 workers.
The outbreak in Chile also revealed structural problems within the industry, including overcrowding in pens that environmentalists say probably helped speed the spread of the virus. Since then, the industry and the Chilean government have instituted a wide range of reforms to try to contain outbreaks, but despite extensive efforts to rein it in the virus continues to spread.
Taxpayers paid for Kristi Miller’s important research on why West Coast salmon stocks have been crashing.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, for which she works, wanted the information made public.
There is great public concern about the future of salmon.
And when Science, a leading research journal, published the findings in January, it notified 7,400 journalists worldwide and advised them how to seek interviews with Miller, who leads a $6-million salmon-genetics project at the federal Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo.
Then the Privy Council Office in Ottawa – the top bureaucrats – stepped in and muzzled Miller, Postmedia News reported this week. She was ordered not to talk to journalists or speak publicly about her team’s research.
Those in control in Ottawa also ordered the Fisheries Department not to issue a news release about the study, saying that it “was not very good, focused on salmon dying and not on the new science aspect.” (The research identified a genetic marker associated with increased death rates for Fraser sockeye and “raises the possibility” that a viral infection might be to blame.)
The gag order remains in effect more than six months later.
OTTAWA, July 27 (UPI) — A leading fisheries scientist studying why salmon stocks have been crashing off Canada’s West Coast has been muzzled by a government department, documents show.
The documents show the Privy Council Office, which supports the prime minister’s office, stopped Kristi Miller, who heads a $6 million salmon genetics project at the federal Pacific Biological Station on Vancouver Island, from talking about her work published in the research journal Science, Postmedia News reported.
The journal notified journalists worldwide and encouraged Miller to “please feel free to speak with journalists.”
Documents obtained by Postmedia News under the Access to Information Act show major media outlets were making arrangements to speak with Miller but the Privy Council Office said no to the interviews.
The office also blocked 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,” the documents show.
The Harper government has been reining in federal scientists whose work is financed by taxpayers and is often of significant public interest, Postmedia said.
Researchers are now required to submit to a process that includes “media lines” approved by communications officers, strategists and ministerial staff in Ottawa, Postmedia said.
The government’s control over communication is “really poisoning the science environment within government,” 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.”
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Don’t think this story sounds familiar… go back and read the various accounts of the collapse of North Atlantic Cod. Here’s a decent little summary I found online, from the peer reviewed Canadian Journal of Communication.
…As the fishery industrialized over the course of the twentieth century, those who worked in the industry became increasingly segregated. Distinct discursive realms emerged, among them “fishers’ vernacular,” “scientific language,” “product talk,” and DFO’s “official word.”
There was little dialogue between the groups and little collective opposition to the overfishing. DFO’s “official word” claimed that the stocks were strong despite protestation to the contrary from several fishers’ groups and DFO’s own scientists.
The outcome for the region was economically and ecologically devastating.
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However, I suppose we should listen to the “official word” from the technocrats within some of these institutions that suggest all is good in the hood…