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Sean Jones: A crisis of trust with the science from the federal Fisheries Department

Lawyer Sean Jones argues for stronger regulations on salmon farming. "In March 2023, the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans (FOPO) released a scathing report on science at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). The report should sound alarm bells for all Canadians, especially those old enough to remember DFO’s mismanagement of Atlantic cod into a devastating collapse."

"FOPO is a parliamentary committee comprising MPs from all parties. It examines fisheries matters and makes recommendations to the House of Commons. Its recommendations are not binding and not always unanimous. This included a supplementary opinion from Conservative committee members titled “Crisis of Trust in DFO Science.” The government must table a response to FOPO’s report within 120 calendar days."

Of interest to those in Nova Scotia, four House Members who are members of this FOPO committee or participated with the committee for this report are from Nova Scotia; MP Rick Perkins (South Shore - St.Margarets), MP Mike Kelloway (Cape Breton), MP Stephen Ellis (Truro), and MP Andy Fillmore (Halifax),

"FOPO’s report criticizes how DFO conducts science and integrates it into DFO decision-making. The report puts forward 48 recommendations, including recommending 16 different reviews, examinations, assessments or audits of DFO’s practices, with six recommendations calling for Canada’s Chief Science Advisor to investigate specific processes or conduct."

As I testified before FOPO, my experience has convinced me that CSAS, AMD and DFO consistently suppress, misrepresent and ignore the scientific evidence that open net-pen feedlots cause harm to wild Pacific salmon so that DFO can excuse itself from its domestic and legal obligations. Since 2014, DFO has faced six court cases in which DFO’s risk assessments of the open net-pen feedlot industry in British Columbia have been central: DFO has lost four; two are pending. - Lawyer Sean Jones

"Sadly, this pattern of suppression, mismanagement, quashing of dissent and regulatory misfeasance is decades old at DFO. It’s the same playbook DFO used to mismanage cod to oblivion. As one DFO employee testified after the collapse of the Atlantic cod: senior bureaucrats cherry picked the best numbers, presented them in the best light and quashed the dissent of any employee who dared to say otherwise. The same conduct persists to this day. Similar reports of quashing dissent and suppressing scientific evidence of harm have been a familiar refrain in testimony before Parliament since at least the 1990s."

Excerpts above:

written by: Sean Jones | biv. com | May 20, 2023

Link to the full article here.

Link to the FOPO report.

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