The WAR on Science: Thursday, November 21, 2013, 7:00 pm Room 1900, SFU Harbour Ctr

Discussion in 'Conservation, Fishery Politics and Management.' started by agentaqua, Oct 24, 2013.

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  1. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    The WAR on Science:
    Muzzled Scientists and Wilful Blindness
    Presented by Chris Turner, Canadian Author
    Moderated by Dr. Jon Driver, Vice President Academic, Simon Fraser University
    Thursday, November 21, 2013, 7:00 pm
    Room 1900, SFU Harbour Centre, 515 West Hastings

    Continuing Studies in Science and Environment at Simon Fraser University is pleased to invite you to a free public talk, "The War on Science: Muzzled Scientists and Wilful Blindness", presented by Chris Turner, Canadian Author.

    So what is the nature of this war on science? Chris will answer this drawing from ideas from his newly released book, The War on Science. John Vaillant, bestselling author called The War on Science "an urgent book that anyone who cares about Canada - the idea, the nation, the democracy - should read". Continuing Studies in Science and Environment at Simon Fraser University invites you to a free public talk, presented by Chris Turner. So what is the nature of this war on science? Above all else, it is a sustained campaign to diminish the government’s role in evidence-based policy-making and environmental stewardship in three simple ways: reducing the capacity of the government to gather basic data about the status and health of the environment and Canadian society; shrinking or eliminating government agencies that monitor and analyze that evidence and respond to emergencies; and seizing control of the communications channels by which all of the above report their findings to the Canadian public.

    “Put all the facts together,” the National Post wrote, “as Turner does so ably in this important and necessary book, and you start to appreciate just how far back the clock has been set on Canada’s environmental protections.” John Vaillant, bestselling author of The Golden Spruce, called The War on Science “an urgent book that anyone who cares about Canada—the idea, the nation, the democracy—should read.”

    Don’t miss this opportunity to learn the latest about the War on Science.

    Date: November 21, 2013
    Time: 7 - 8:30 pm
    Location: Room 1900, SFU Vancouver Harbour Centre, 515 West Hastings
    Cost: Free

    We hope you are able to join us.
  2. Birdsnest

    Birdsnest Well-Known Member

    Would there be any live links or recording of this presentation?
  3. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Interesting that I have been saying this stuff for years now - but the FF boosters use language developed by the paid PR firms in an attempt to discredit my experience and my exposing of these issues - calling my posts "dishonest", "fearmongering", "conspiracy theory"; or any number of evasive, misleading monikers. Guy writes a book, and gives a talk - suddenly it's "mainstream", and they want to see live links or recordings. My life is one of those "recordings", but has a very select audience. I guess if you make a buck off of it - it suddenly becomes acceptable and believable. What a confused world we live in...

    Hope this guy can move the debate into the "mainstream" consciousness of salmon/open net-pen novices who live in Ottawa and elsewhere. Hope people that have access go to this viewing...
  4. Dogbreath

    Dogbreath Well-Known Member

    Marked on my calendar-Thanks for posting.
  5. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Glad you are going DB. Would be interesting to continue this posting after people have seen the talk. Also, for BN and anyone else interested; here is a youtube recording of the same Chris Turner talking about why Canadian history isn't as boring as you think:
  6. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

  7. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

  8. Feeling Nauti

    Feeling Nauti Member

    I have already reserved seats for myself and one other friend to attend this event. I'll be happy to update all on how the presentation goes and the inevitable scrum that will follow. It will be interesting to see exactly who attends this presentation and what transpires after he agrees to take questions from the attendee's. I'm going to make a request to SFU and see if it will be possible to video record the event, maybe even record the question period after.
  9. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Thanks so much FN. Might be interesting to give them the web address of this forum and all the back-n-forth postings about the FAILURE of the Harper government to do due diligence and associated corruption from all the industrial-related issues on here. Might be interesting to have them contribute to some of these forum postings directly. Looking forward to hearing back from you...
  10. cuttlefish

    cuttlefish Well-Known Member

    I will try to make it to this event in Vancouver come Nov. Too bad they can't figure out a way to take these modern day lectures on the road to all of us "Outsiders"
    like "Salmon Confidential".
  11. tincan

    tincan Well-Known Member

    Thx for the post Agent. I will be attending and will also report back after the event. Hopefully there will be a mix of people in the crowd though I fear these events often attract a large majority of the 'converted'. Either way looking forward to it.
  12. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member
    Harper's Seven-Year War on Science
    Chris Turner's treatise on Tory anti-empiricism should spark outrage. But those in power won't see it.
    By Crawford Kilian, 1 Nov 2013,

    Death at Death of Evidence rally
    On July 10, 2012, at least 2,000 people, many of them scientists and their graduate students, marched through Ottawa to Parliament Hill to protest the Harper government's cuts to scientific research. Photo by Richard Webster.

    Gutting of Fisheries Act a 'politically motivated abrogation': biologists
    Poll finds 90 per cent of Canadian scientists fear speaking freely to media
    'Environmentalists, other radical groups,' threaten pipeline: Joe Oliver
    Read more: Federal Politics, Science + Tech
    Sign Up for the Tyee Newsletter
    Chris Turner's The War on Science: Muzzled Scientists and Wilful Blindness in Stephen Harper's Canada is a solidly researched, well-written book that had to be published. But the people who should read it are not interested in what it tells them about themselves.

    If anything has marked the seven years of Conservative rule, it's been the Tories' willingness to repudiate not just previous Liberal and Progressive Conservative governments, but the whole of history since the 18th-century Enlightenment. They're a political vindication of Newton: for every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction.

    In this case, the reactionaries are carrying us back to sometime around 1513, before ideas like reason and empirical research became the basis for understanding the world. Like counterparts around the world -- the Tea Party in the U.S., for one -- they are happy to use the products of science to promote their deeply anti-science beliefs: television, radio, the Internet. But to the reactionary, science is valid only to the extent that it extends the rule of reaction.

    This attitude is so foreign to the majority of Canadians that we can't quite believe the Tories are serious. So while they move step by step into the past, we stand by, bemused, and let them drag us with them.

    This passive response is what journalist Chris Turner is trying to overcome. But he is preaching to the converted.

    Forgetting yesterday's outrage

    For the converted, Turner's sermon is useful because modern media induce lapses in our short-term memory. The Next Big Outrage makes us forget the Last Big Outrage: the shutting-down of the Experimental Lakes Area, the ending of the long-form census, the silencing of scientists who had something inconvenient to tell us.

    Those are just a few of the follies Harper's government has inflicted on us since 2006. The worst of those follies were camouflaged in the 2012 omnibus budget, which sabotaged so many research and environmental concerns that no one could find a single issue that would make Canadians understand what they were losing.

    Ever since the early French settlements, Turner points out, mapping and exploration were scientific projects. But the scientists were educated priests, officers, and administrators. After the British conquest, the Scots traders who moved west needed facts and numbers to send home to the Hudson's Bay Company, and that meant a literate, numerate management.

    When Sir Robert Borden became Conservative prime minister in 1911, Turner tells us, he saw that Canada needed a non-partisan bureaucracy to tell its rulers just who, and what, they were ruling.* Objective facts would drive Canadian policy for most of the 20th century, expressed by experts who told truth to power because it was in the job description.

    Borden's support for science and "objective competence" took Canada from a big colonial woodlot to a formidable military force at Vimy Ridge and a grain-growing agricultural power that fed even the Soviets and the Chinese. In population, we were a featherweight; in science and technical expertise, we could build and operate one of the world's biggest navies during the Second World War.

    Then we went on to build the most advanced fighter plane in the world, the Avro Arrow, before Diefenbaker shut it down. And that, in turn, led to the migration of a generation of engineers and scientists to the U.S., where they helped NASA put men on the moon.

    A lost generation

    Something similar, Turner argues, is happening again: as labs and programs are shut down, another generation of scientists is disappearing. Some are retiring, with no one to move up to replace them. Others are going elsewhere. As David Schindler, the founder of the Experimental Lakes Area, told Turner, pay scales for government scientists have been slipping for years, falling behind the universities: "So there will be a huge decrease in the available talent within federal departments, at least in environmental sciences," Schindler said.

    Those departments remaining, meanwhile, will do little pure research. Instead they are to serve as the "concierge" for industry, finding answers to corporations' immediate problems in resource extraction.

    What would possess the Conservatives to conduct such policies with such deliberate and meticulous care? At times Harper's cabinet has included trained scientists and doctors, and the Conservatives are quick to rely on science and technology to produce and disseminate their message.

    Turner's expression "wilful blindness" is well chosen. The Conservative war on science and scientists is a kind of backhanded tribute to the persuasive power of research and reasoned argument. Precisely for that reason, they don't want Canadians to hear it.

    Like George W. Bush's followers who thought they could create their own reality, Harper and his government have created a fantasy world in which Canadians' only purpose is to dig or pump stuff out of the ground, sell it, and live happily ever after. Never mind the environmental or climatic consequences; if we don't have data on those consequences, they're not real.

    Making a killing

    Of course, this approach seems senseless to reality-based Canadians. Perhaps an analogy will help explain it.

    Ivory poachers know perfectly well that their jobs will end when they've shot the last elephant. But as the number of elephants falls, ivory only increases in value. So rather than try to make a steady living, they go for a big killing.

    Something like that attitude (it's not even an ideology) seems to dominate the Harper agenda, and hard data only get in the way of the Conservatives' big killing. Shut down the sources of hard data, distract voters with endless talking points about jobs and growth, make a fortune. Today is payday, and tomorrow can take care of itself.

    Harper has waged a seven-year war of attrition against science, relying on the backing of an ignorant or short-sighted minority of voters. Even if the majority gets its act together and ousts the Conservatives in 2015, we will be a long, long time repairing the damage.

    *Correction Nov. 1, 11:55 a.m.: Borden became Canada's prime minister in 1911, not 1896 as previously stated.
  13. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Gutting of Fisheries Act a 'politically motivated abrogation': biologists
    Published October 31, 2013 12:15 pm | 5 Comments

    Two of Canada's most eminent fish biologists have described changes to the Fisheries Act by the Conservative government as a "politically motivated abrogation" with no basis in science or fact.

    In the November edition of the journal Fisheries, the scientists added that changes to Canada's oldest environmental legislation "erases 40 years of enlightened and responsible legislation and diminishes Canada's ability to fulfill its national and international obligations to protect, conserve, and sustainably use aquatic biodiversity."

    The article by University of Dalhousie biologist Jeffrey Hutchings and University of Calgary biologist John Post appears in a publication of the American Fisheries Society, one of the oldest and largest professional bodies serving fish biologists in the world.

    In the 2012 omnibus budget Bill C-38, the government introduced changes to the Fisheries Act as well as major amendments to most of the nation's major environmental legislation.

    The government, which has centralized control over resource development in the Prime Minister's Office, made the changes after lobbying from pipeline companies that portrayed the fisheries law as "onerous."

    The original law, one of Canada's strongest environmental regulations, read as follows: "No person shall carry on any work or undertaking that results in the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat."

    In contrast, the government amendment offers only limited protection for certain kinds of fish: "No person shall carry on any work, undertaking or activity that results in serious harm to fish that are part of a commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fishery, or to fish that support such a fishery."

    The change is a disaster for so-called non-commercial fish and other aquatic species that they feed on, argue the scientists.

    "The near elimination of fish habitat protection represents a clear signal that protection of habitat -- the single greatest factor responsible for the decline and loss of commercial and noncommercial species on land and in water -- no longer merits explicit protection under Canadian fisheries management law," they write.

    Last year, four previous Department of Fisheries and Oceans ministers (including two Conservatives) and more than 600 aquatic scientists opposed the changes. They described them as unscientific and without merit.

    In addition to cutting climate change programs, the Conservative government has axed marine contamination research and killed the renowned Experimental Lakes Area, which had saved governments around the world billions of dollars in freshwater protection with policy-making research on acid rain and eutrophication.

    Changes to the Fisheries Act are, in particular, far-reaching and of global concern, say scientists, because Canada holds 20 per cent of the globe's fresh water, one-third of its boreal forests and the world's longest coastline.

    In 2012, Tory MPs explained that revisions to the Fisheries Act were necessary because the old Act was causing unnecessary delays of resource projects. In their article, Hutchings and Post counter that's not true.

    "Between 2006 and 2011, only one proposal among thousands was denied by the DFO [Department of Fisheries and Oceans], and only 1.6 per cent of 1,283 convictions under the FA between 2007 and 2011 pertained to the destruction of fish habitat (Favaro et al. 2012)."

    The new Act removes protection of fish in pristine northern waters, add the scientists.

    "Under the revised Fisheries Act, fish that inhabit lakes, rivers, and streams that are not regularly visited by humans do not warrant protection," they write. "Humans are necessary to render a fish part of a fishery. No humans, no fishery, and no fish habitat protection. This can only be interpreted as meaning that the vast majority of Canada's freshwater fishes will be deemed to not warrant habitat protection under the revised [Act], even if those species are considered part of a fishery elsewhere in their range."

    The scientists estimate that 80 per cent of 71 wildlife species of freshwater fish at risk of extinction in "would not be considered 'fish that are part of a commercial, recreational or aboriginal fishery, or fish that support such a fishery.'"

    The scientists also argue the changes defeat government mandates to protect whole ecosystems.

    "By selectively favouring some species over others, the revisions to the Fisheries Act contravene DFO's stated objective to adopt an ecosystem approach to the sustainable management of aquatic resources."

    In conclusion, write the scientists, "Changes to the Fisheries Act were not supported by scientific advice (contrary to government policy) and are inconsistent with an ecosystem-based approach to management."

    Calgary resident Andrew Nikiforuk is an award-winning journalist who has been writing about the energy industry for two decades and is a contributing editor to The Tyee. Find his previous stories here.

    - See more at:
  14. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Joe Clark book takes on Harper government's 'almost adolescent' tone

    Many Canadians have been rocked and deeply disappointed by the heavy mist of scandal that has settled over our politics.

    At the national level, the ongoing Senate-PMO mess is one of those bad-news stories that are so ugly to watch, yet impossible to look away from.

    What's even more unsettling is the growing unease among experienced observers that these scandals are drawing critical attention away from the far more profound problems of how we are actually governed.

    These new critical voices include former Conservative prime minister and long-time external affairs minister Joe Clark as well as at least two former top bureaucrats who decry the lack of openness, policy discussion and imagination within the current federal government.

    VIDEO: Peter Mansbridge one on one with Joe Clark and his new book

    For years, complaints have been building, and we've all heard them, about the paranoid style of "court government" run by the jittery inner-office circle of Prime Minister Steven Harper.

    Clark now argues in a new book How We Lead: Canada in a Century of Change that Harper's heavy hand is causing a morale crisis within our foreign service that is wrecking Canada's once proud diplomatic tradition.

    Clark's views should command serious respect as he was arguably the most outstanding Canadian foreign minister since the age of Lester Pearson.

    Joe Clark
    Joe Clark deploring Canada's "almost adolescent tone." (CBC)

    It was a post he held for almost seven years during which he benefited from a prime minister, Brian Mulroney, who devoured information, appreciated receiving strong advice and felt Canada should take lead positions on issues ranging from famine relief to the anti- apartheid campaign in Africa.

    This is a very different pattern from that of the current prime minister, Clark notes. "This is a notoriously controlling prime minister who dominates and decides his government's domestic and international policy more rigorously than any of his predecessors since, at least, the Second World War."

    Joe Clark critical of Harper's handling of Senate scandal
    In a recent excerpt of the new book (it comes out this week) in the Toronto Star, Clark claims that, with the exceptions of Afghanistan and trade, there has been a recurring pattern in the Harper government actions: "It is unusually assertive in its dramatic gestures and declarations," but then retreats from actions designed to actually resolve critical problems abroad.

    That is why Canada has "drawn back from the fight against international poverty, peacekeeping, Kyoto, arms control, a broad presence in Africa, and Canada's customary leadership in the United Nations, Commonwealth and related multilateral institutions."

    Why Stephen Harper has no time for the UN
    "Canada now talks more than we act, and our tone is almost adolescent … full of sound and fury," which leaves us wondering what Harper considers the purpose of foreign policy.

    Even on the domestic front, Clark notes, Harper's locked-down style keeps him clear of federal-provincial conferences and close working relations with other governments.

    Mind freeze

    Clark is not alone in this broadside. Another warning voice in recent weeks is that of highly respected former clerk of the privy council during the Jean Chretien period, Mel Cappe.

    He says the government risks running out of ideas because our know-it-all ministers don't ask for any, and public servants have been too cowed to offer them up.

    This mind freeze, Cappe suggested, has plunged our public service into a deep decline with no end in sight. Ministers arrive in power with ready-made policies while public servants and their detailed studies are ignored.

    "Ideology doesn't need analysis, and if you have the answers you don't need questions, and that's where we are these days," Cappe said in a recent interview with the Ottawa Citizen.

    You only have to look at the strikingly flat speech from the throne last month to see how devoid of policy ideas and critical thinking this government is.

    "It wasn't a speech from the throne that provided a strategic direction filled with ideas," Cappe says, but rather one that was "tinkering with minor issues.

    "Our problems have never been more complicated and we have never had better analytic tools to deal with them. But the government seems to be going in the other direction."

    Yet another former clerk of the privy council, Alex Himelfarb, whose seven-year term straddled the Chretien, Paul Martin and early Harper years, says the current government distrust of bureaucrats and their studies now "leads to ever more layers of costly and stifling control and to a culture of fear."

    What national security?

    In case you think either of these former top bureaucrats, or Clark (an unabashedly Red Tory), are being a bit partisan here, consider that two analysts for the neutral Conference of Defence Associations Institute, George Petrolekas and Ferry de Kerckhove, find Ottawa virtually devoid of national security ideas in this year's annual study "Strategic Outlook for Canada."

    "Compared to the deeper reflections amongst our closest allies on national security and defence issues," the report notes, "Canada has done little more than shave ice cubes.

    "There is little evidence of strategic thinking, cohesion and effect, and even less evidence of comprehensive approaches to national security."

    Many reporters who've tried working with bureaucrats in recent years find a growing climate of fear, where the best brains are warned not to make waves and to avoid bad publicity at all costs.

    So strong is the Ottawa paranoia that Canadian ambassadors abroad — once members of a proud, independent-minded team -- now are ordered to seek clearance from the top before speaking to local media or even civic groups.

    I used to comment, seriously, that I found the Harper bureaucracy more intimidating than the one I occasionally covered in Poland before the fall of Communism.

    I stopped making the comparison when I realized people were convinced I was joking. I wasn't.

    This government, of course, did not invent the current power domination by the PMO.

    As political scientist Donald Savoie showed in his landmark "Court Government and the Collapse of Accountability" (2008), the same concentration of power among PMO advisers ("courtiers") has been underway for decades, in both Canada and the U.K.

    What seems to be accelerating in recent years, however, is government's tendency to showcase the short term rather than the distant horizon, to tackle easy fixes rather than the Big Complexities, and to operate everything within the so-called permanent election campaign (a trend fully embraced by media).

    Scandals are a sign of political ill-health and always need attention.

    But they should not deflect all attention away from the gritty slog of daily governance itself, a place where other, sometimes deeper perils can be taking root.
  15. tincan

    tincan Well-Known Member

    So I attended this event last week and I thought the presentation was and question session were both quite good. As expected, the crowd largely consisted of the 'converted' who already have an appreciation for science and its role in policy making but it was still a great event. I bought his book as well but I'm yet to read it.

    For anyone on twitter the author / speaker's handle is @theturner

    Chris Turner - The War on Science

    Looking back on it now I really wish someone had extended an invitation to this event to a few of the members on this forum who seem to look at peer-reviewed science as one side of an argument. It would have been interesting to see their reactions to a presentation like this. Probably wouldn't change much I suppose as there seem to be many who hold ideological beliefs that evidence can't sway.

    Anyone else attend the event? Thoughts?
  16. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Thanks so much for attending and reporting back Tincan. I would have liked to attend.

    The "war" started some years back on the fisheries end of things started with the disbandment in 1979 of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada (started as the Biological Board in 1883; which was renamed the Fisheries Research Board in 1937) - with the formation of the current-day DFO.

    The Fisheries Research Board of Canada was an independent fisheries science advisory and research agency of the federal government. Its job was to carry-out independent, peer-reviewed science for the benefit and management of Canada’s aquatic resources.

    Fisheries management decisions were purposely outside of the purview of the Fisheries Research Board, and were most often delegated to the the Department of Marine and Fisheries (Circa 1898, divided into separate Fisheries and Marine Services in 1930), Fisheries Patrol Service after 1910, The Department of Fisheries and Forestry (1969-1971), or (1971-1979) to the Department of the Environment.

    This separation between science and fisheries management was deliberate; which then allowed independent research into fisheries matters. Everyone understood the checks and balances necessary for good governance and democracy to function.

    The work that the Fisheries Research Board of Canada did – was by all standards – world-class, ground-breaking, and enviable. So enviable, that I believe – was its demise. Government found it hard to silence or restrict its findings.

    The Fisheries Research Board of Canada had a long history. It earliest beginnings started through a Board of Management of the Marine Biological Station in 1898 for a laboratory on a barge in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (Johnstone, 1977). This was followed by the Go Home Bay station in Georgian Bay in 1901 and permanent stations in St Andrews, New Brunswick and Nanaimo, British Columbia in 1908. The Biological Board of Canada was then established in 1912.

    In the 1920s, the board hired full-time employees and opened laboratories concerned with the fishing industry and food processing. Investigations began into practical fisheries problems. By 1937, when the Biological Board of Canada became the FRB, it had a distinguished record of marine biological and physical oceanographic research, and was eventually placed under the wing of the National Research Council.

    After WWII the FRB opened new laboratories and expanded its work on physical oceanography, Pacific salmon, Atlantic fish stocks and eastern Arctic marine biology. From the 1950s through to the early 1970s – Canada has such a world-class fisheries science that it drew world-class scientists from all over the world (and many ground-breaking fisheries science papers were published); either in its employ directly, or to work with the acknowledged world-class Fisheries Research Board scientists.

    Those names of those prestigious scientists live on today, often as names of research vessels or research institutes. Every one of those scientists also trained and motivated many other younger scientists in Canada, who then went onto serve Canada’s science needs and reputation with honour and distinction. This legacy was truly something that every Canadian had a right to feel proud of.

    The names of a few of those eminent fisheries scientists included:

    1. Dr. W.B. (Bev) Scott – has a research vessel named after him; wrote the bibles for Canadian fish ID and life histories which are still used today, including: A.H. Liem and W.B. Scott. (1966) Fishes of the Atlantic Coast of Canada; W.B. Scott and M.G. Scott. 1988. Atlantic Fishes of Canada; W.B. Scott and Dr. E.J. Crossman. 1973. Freshwater Fishes of Canada; and many other publications.
    2. Dr. Archibald Gowanlock Huntsman - who has a marine research facility named after him, due to his ground-breaking work; served as the board's scientist, curator, director, editor and consulting director from 1934-53.
    3. Dr. William Edwin Ricker OC, FRSC, LLD, DSc – the very same famous scientist who invented the of the Ricker Curve for describing fish population dynamics – still used by fisheries managers today. DFO has a trawl-research boat called the "W.E. Ricker"; and the entrance to PBS Nanaimo is on a street called the Ricker Curve.
    4. Dr. Wilfred Templeman – A pioneer in the scientific study of the Newfoundland fishery. In 1982 a fisheries research ship was named in Wilfred Templeman’s honour.
    5. Dr. Michael Smith - Won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1993 for discovering site-directed mutagenesis: that is, how to make a genetic mutation precisely at any spot in a DNA molecule. In 1961 Smith took a job as chemist at the Fisheries Research Board of Canada laboratory in Vancouver and published many papers about crabs, salmon and marine mollusks.
    6. Dr. Frederick Ernest Joseph Fry - Developed a model for estimating fish populations using VPA (virtual population analysis). This is the same type of analysis that both Krkosek and Ford used to assess open net-cage salmon farming effects.

    Truly, an illustrious history to be proud of. You can compare where we have slid with our fisheries science since then; when you look at the “science” DFO has been using since then to try to prop-up the defense of the open net-cage salmon farming (we discussed many examples in the past postings). What will be DFO’s legacy now, in comparison? Something to be proud of?

    So, how did it happen? How was the Fisheries Research Board of Canada dismantled? How was DFO constructed? What reasoning did they use? Who did it? – and why? Most importantly - what can we do to take back the management of our resources from DFO?
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 25, 2013
  17. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    DFO lies said to be root of a bigger problem; [Final Edition]
    Neil Frazer. Courier - Islander. Campbell River, B.C.: Mar 29, 2003. pg. A.10 (Copyright Courier-Islander (Campbell River) 2003)

    It's often forgotten that BC's wild salmon fishery is a form of aquaculture in which you take care of the rivers and then you harvest the salmon when they come home.

    The history of this type of aquaculture shows the need for humility in fisheries science and why we should be suspicious of convenient beliefs.

    A century ago, for example, salmon canners said that salmon didn't care which stream they went up to spawn, so it was OK to catch every salmon in the most convenient stream. It wasn't until 1920 or so that science was able to show that most salmon return to their natal streams to spawn.

    About fifty years ago governments decided that salmon could be produced by hatcheries, so we didn't need rivers to make salmon. This was convenient for loggers and dam builders, but it hasn't produced salmon, mainly because scientists don't understand salmon well enough to successfully breed them over a long period.

    Until recently, the big salmon canners assured us that very few spawners were needed in a stream, so they could let a few necessary spawners go up, and then catch every salmon that came later. Science has only recently shown that the carcasses of extra spawners feed the microscopic creatures that salmon fry eat after they hatch. If you let some extra spawners go up the river in the fall, more fry survive in the spring. (Putting dead salmon in the stream has the same effect, which is how scientists proved the concept.)

    In its time, each of the bad ideas noted above was championed by industry and government with the same fervor now reserved for open netcage salmon farming.

    If you've read this far, you know why biologists tend to be more humble than engineers. Biologists know that it is better to work with nature as much as possible rather than trying to replace nature. In the case of salmon, that means it is better to try to give salmon the kinds of streams they prefer, even though we don't know exactly how those streams work, rather than trying to duplicate everything that happens in a stream.

    Now let's look at open netcage salmon aquaculture (ONSA). Politicians and industry love ONSA the way they once loved hatcheries, which ought to make you suspicious right away. They love it because it creates jobs (in the short term), it's capital intensive (and thus good for big companies), it's easy to automate (making everyone feel very modern), and it removes the need for rivers (loggers and dam builders like that).

    British Columbians love their wild salmon, so there was some early resistance to ONSA. Many of Canada's fisheries scientists didn't like it because they knew of the problems it had caused for wild fish in Europe.

    Also, they did some experiments: When they raised sockeye in a tank on land the sockeye did fine, but when they tried raising them in an ocean netcage the sockeye all got sick and died.

    However, politicians trying to push ONSA had one big asset, which is Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).

    DFO was created in 1979 to prevent fisheries scientists from contradicting the Minister of Fisheries. Before DFO was created, money for fisheries science was distributed by other scientists through organizations like the Fisheries Research Board. Fisheries scientists weren't required to agree with the Minister, and the public had access to their research.

    Politicians hated the Fisheries Research Board, but Canada had the best fisheries science in the world because of it.

    To make a long story short, the politicians sold ONSA to the public by forcing DFO to lie. Politicians and the ONSA industry now go around quoting the lies as science. This strategy succeeded remarkably well because people do not expect government scientists to lie.

    Most of the lying at DFO is done by DFO Aquaculture. Two techniques are mainly used. One technique is to tell half the truth (the unimportant half), and the other technique is to promote phony science like the BC Salmon Aquaculture Review (SAR). Politicians can then go around citing the phony science as if it were real science.

    The first lie promoted by DFO is that it's unlikely that wild fish get disease from farm fish. The truth is that farm salmon are exposed to disease from adult wild salmon swimming by the netcages on their way to the rivers in the fall. If the farm salmon get the disease, as sometimes happens, then juvenile wild salmon are exposed to that disease when they swim past the netcages on their way to the ocean in the spring. The farm salmon don't always get disease from the adult wild salmon, and they don't always give it to the young wild salmon, but that's the way to bet.

    Medicating sick farm salmon keeps them alive, which is helpful to farmers, but it never quite eradicates the disease, so it isn't much help to wild salmon.

    The second lie promoted by DFO is that the probability of colonization by Atlantic salmon (the species of choice in BC netcages) is insignificant.

    The important part of the truth is thatif you are continually introducing Atlantics by escapes, the probability of colonization grows exponentially with duration and eventually becomes significant. The other important part of the truth is that regular escapes of Atlantic salmon are a de facto colonization.

    Colonization by Atlantics is an issue because Atlantic salmon aren't susceptible to exactly the same diseases as Pacific salmon. Thus it is possible for Atlantics to spread a disease that doesn't kill them, but kills Pacific salmon. (If this seems unlikely, remember how smallpox and influenza decimated BC's First Nations and that they still haven't recovered.)

    Occasionally DFO Aquaculture deceives people by pretending to be doing something it is not actually doing. For example, in the spring of 2001 young pink salmon became mortally infested with sea lice while migrating past salmon farms in BC's Broughton Archipelago. The species of sea louse responsible (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) is a common salmon farm pest that has never been known to infest young wild salmonexcept when they happen to be near salmon farms. The part of DFO responsible for wild salmon should have immediately investigated this, but they didn't.

    They let DFO Aquaculture conduct the investigation. This is like sending a fox to look for missing chickens.

    DFO Aquaculture waited three weeks (giving the infested young wild salmon time to die or migrate out of the area) and then went up to the Broughton and dragged a trawl net in deep water, well away from the shallows where young pink salmon are found. The DFO pathologist assigned to count the lice refused to sign the count because the net was dragged at a speed that would have removed many of the lice. DFO published a report saying sea lice levels were normal, even while salmon farm operators were telling them that sea lice levels were high. The investigation was a sham.

    The men who perpetrated it are clever men who knew what they were doing. (I know they are clever because I've read their scientific papers.)

    Why haven't fisheries scientists at the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University blown the whistle on DFO Aquaculture? Actually, they have, but they've been so polite about it that hardly anyone noticed.

    University professors know that if you want to study fish in Canada you have to get along with DFO because DFO controls most of the research funding and research facilities. You can't take a fish out of the water without a permit from DFO.

    Why doesn't DFO management stop DFO Aquaculture from lying to the public?

    At the level of the working scientist DFO has many excellent people, but the upper management of DFO science is very weak. It consists of nice men and women who arrived at their present positions by not contradicting politicians. Remember, DFO was created in 1979 to stop scientists from contradicting politicians. Present DFO management came up through that system.

    DFO management also wants to believe in ONSA because DFO has been such a failure at managing fisheries. (As far as I know, the only BC fisheries doing well are black cod, probably because it is managed by black cod fishermen, and halibut, which is managed by international agreement.)

    Desperate for success, DFO management lurches from one bad idea to another like an investor who buys one bad stock after another and never learns from his mistakes. The difference between DFO and the investor is that the public keeps giving DFO more money to lose.

    Ironically, while DFO was throwing money at ONSA, wild Pacific salmon have apparently been increasing. The All-Nations catch of Pacific salmon has been climbing since about 1976. Of course, it's a mistake to confuse catch size with population size, but still, there are a lot of wild salmon coming home every fall. Those salmon could be a high-margin business. They aren't a commodity like farm salmon.

    Marketing experts tell us that the profits are in branded goods, not commodities. I imagine every stock of wild salmon could be marketed like vintage wine to gourmets all over the world. Remember when Gallo was the only California wine? Look what people pay for California wine now.

    The California wine makers got to here from there by cherishing the differences between different grapes and educating their consumers. Fishermen will do the same with wild salmon, given half a chance. It's the kind of salmon aquaculture that's compatible with BC's biggest industry (tourism) and it doesn't require any lying.
  18. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Leading Canadian ecologist calls on scientists to recover policy influence
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    By Ron Meador | 11/07/13
    lake photo
    Courtesy of David Schindler
    This much-reproduced image of David Schindler's whole-lake experiment shows the algal bloom that resulted, in just a few weeks time, from adding the nutrient phosphorus to water above the temporary cordon.
    It's easy sometimes to believe that we live in a uniquely cynical, anti-science age when it comes to environmental issues.

    The scope and intensity of the climate-change denialists' campaign, for one example, might make us wish for times when the subjects and the science seemed simpler, and solutions more readily achievable. Times when, say, we scrubbed our power-plant plumes of the pollutants causing acid rain, or banned the phosphate detergents that were causing lakes to bloom with algae, or got the dioxins out of the watery discharges from paper plants.

    Alas, hindsight paints those times in rosier tones than they in fact deserve, as David Schindler made plain in a talk Tuesday evening entitled "Letting the Light In: Providing Environmental Science to Direct Public Policy," on the University of Minnesota's St. Paul campus.

    Schindler is a Minnesota-born engineer turned freshwater ecologist, a longtime leader in Canada's environmental academy in part because his résumé includes deep involvement as a scientist in the battles over acid rain, eutrophication, dioxins and, more recently, the impacts of oil production from the Alberta tar sands.

    The 'merchants of doubt'
    At least as far back as the early 1970s, Schindler said, informed policymaking has had to contend with the "merchants of doubt," as scientific dissemblers have come to be known after the 2010 book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway.

    David Schindler
    Research documenting the recovery of lakes from algae blooms had already demonstrated the role of phosphates in driving this process of eutrophication, and the need to reduce phosphate detergents as a key step toward recovery.

    Industry scientists responded, Schindler said, by moving a few data points on a key graphic to reverse the direction of causation — making it seem as if high phosphate levels in ailing lakes were a result, not a cause, of the problem.

    "Which is about like claiming that lung cancer produces cigarettes," Schindler observed, to great laughter.

    Next, they relied on lab tests involving bottles of lake water to show that phosphates couldn't be causing all the trouble. These results depended an experimental design that omitted a key feature of actual lakes — the ability of algae to draw a limitless supply of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

    Schindler and colleagues set up a simple, real-life experiment by dividing a natural lake in half, and adding phosphorus to one of the halves. Within weeks, the resulting algal bloom was visible from high overhead — and within three years the Canadian government had banned phosphate detergents and began removing it from sewage discharges.

    "We had a federal government, in those days, eager to do the right thing," Schindler said.

    Punishing the messengers
    But before long, officials in Ottawa had disbanded Canada's Fisheries Research Board, which had not only given the world a solution to phosphate-driven destruction of lakes, but an institutional model for conducting government-sponsored science.

    And the whole-lake research design created by Schindler and colleagues might have come to an end, too, if not for interest in studying the environmental impacts of a fledgling industry in the far north — extraction of fuels from the bitumen deposits formerly known as tar sands, now renamed by intensive government PR efforts to "oil sands."

    Across the vastness of the world's second- or third-biggest oil deposit, Schindler said, scientists and science-respecting policymakers are doing endless battle with Alberta politicians, industry spokesmen and other "sunshine boys."

    "That's what my uncles in small-town Minnesota used to call the local guys who sold Edsels and Studebakers — the people who knew how to blow sunshine into dark places."

    In recent years, he said, the Alberta government has spent more than $20 million to counteract unflattering stories in such radical publications as the National Geographic.

    Long list of negative impacts
    Although much attention on this side of the national border has focused on the contributions of tar sands oil production to global warming, Schindler said he ranks these only third or fourth in severity on the list of bad environmental impacts including water pollution, boreal forest destruction, biodiversity loss, acid rain and other air pollution problems.

    First on the list: "Some 170 square kilometers of tailings ponds, perched over the Athabasca River, some of them as high as 100 meters above it, containing billions of liters of sludge literally too toxic for them to release. It's been sitting there for up to four decades, and there's no way they know of to detoxify it ... eventually, one of them is going to have a dike breach."

    Government responses to research on pollution associated with oil development has been to conceal inconvenient data, stop financing the researchers who produced it, and attribute negative findings about the industry to foreign-financed environmentalists bent on stopping tar sands oil production as a way of wrecking Canada's economy.

    Little credit for green groups
    "In fact, environmental groups haven't done much to derail oil sands production, in my view," Schindler said. "Probably, the most listened-to critic is Peter Lougheed, the most popular [Alberta] premier in history, who started the oil sands and now is calling for slowing development."

    Government funds have been used to publish books that paint the industry in a favorable light, he said, and government scientists "have been muzzled and ridiculed. When government scientists now go to meetings, handlers go along to see that they don't say anything out of line.

    "I've seen that once before," Schindler said. "It was with scientists from the former Soviet Union in the early 1970s, and I can tell you that it casts a chill on scientific exchange."

    In Canada now, as in the United States during the George W. Bush administration, "we've lost the influence of science in policy and we need to get it back," Schindler said.

    How can that be done?

    Encourages scientists to speak out
    Part of the answer lies in reversing years of organizational and policy changes that have marginalized science and its practitioners, Schindler said, but part also lies in individual scientists finding the personal courage to speak out on matters of public concern, from a viewpoint of personal involvement, and to become more skilled in speaking directly to a public that may lack for scientific training but not for deep concern.

    "I don't think scientists should hesitate to reveal their intuition" about the potential implications of their work, he said. "And I probably differ from at least 50 percent of scientists on this.

    "But I think that someone who works in a field is going to have better intuition than anyone else," and should find in that the courage to speak out on issues of the day.

    * * *

    Schindler's presentation was accompanied by 119 slides, including a terrific selection of editorial cartoons on the tar sands and government censorship; both a video of his talk and the slides can be viewed here His talk was sponsored by The Freshwater Society and the University of Minnesota's College of Biological Sciences.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 25, 2013
  19. GLG

    GLG Well-Known Member

    Canadian universities sacrifice principles in pursuing collaborations: report

    (Ottawa – November 20, 2013) In their drive to attract new revenues by collaborating with corporations, donors, and governments, Canadian universities are entering into agreements that place unacceptable limits on academic freedom and sacrifice fundamental academic principles, according to a report released today by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT).
    Open for Business: On What Terms examines twelve research and program collaboration agreements between universities, corporations, donors and governments to determine if universities have protected their academic integrity.
    “Our findings should raise alarm bells on campuses across the country,” said CAUT executive director James Turk. “In the majority of the agreements we reviewed, universities have agreed to terms that violate basic academic values.”
    According to Turk, seven of the twelve agreements provide no specific protection for academic freedom, and only one requires the disclosure of conflicts of interest. Only five of the agreements give academic staff the unrestricted right to publish their research findings and just half provide that the university maintains control over academic matters affecting staff and students.
    “Universities have allowed private donor and corporate partners to take on roles that should be played by academic staff,” stated Turk. “They have signed agreements that side-step traditional university decision-making processes and undermine academic freedom.”
    The report concludes by recommending a set of guiding principles for university collaborations to better protect academic integrity and the public interest.
    “Collaborations can be beneficial to faculty, students, institutions, and the public, but only if they are set up properly,” Turk added. “Universities owe it to the academic community and to the public to do more to safeguard the independence and integrity of teaching and research.”
    The research and program collaborations examined in the report were:

    • Alberta Ingenuity Centre for In-Situ Energy (AICISE)
    • Centre for Oil Sands Innovation (COSI)
    • Consortium for Heavy Oil Research by University Scientists (CHORUS)
    • Consortium for Research and Innovation in Aerospace in Quebec (CRIAQ)
    • Enbridge Centre for Corporate Sustainability
    • Mineral Deposit Research Unit (MDRU)
    • Vancouver Prostate Centre
    • Balsillie School of International Affairs
    • Munk School of Global Affairs
    • Partnership: University of Ontario Institute of Technology/Durham College/Ontario Power Generation
    • Partnership: University of Toronto/Pierre Lassonde—Goldcorp Inc.
    • Partnership: Western University/Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP
    Copies of the report are available on-line.
    The Canadian Association of University Teachers is the national voice of more than 68,000 academic and general staff at over 120 universities and colleges across the country.

    - See more at:
  20. Rockfish

    Rockfish Well-Known Member

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