Thursday, 12 April 2018

DFO Conflict of Interest and SCAMS

The article by Stan Proboszcz of Watershed Watch about conflict of interest in DFO's science processes regarding fish farms should be standard reading for anyone with an interest in putting fish farms on land, raising a herbivore.


The question is: "Does Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s (DFOs) science advisory process have integrity when tasked with answering questions on salmon farming? If there is any hope of changing the trajectory of many iconic but endangered wild salmon stocks, there must be a resolution to political and industrial interference that continues to influence fisheries science advice at the federal level."

Stan goes on at length detailing problems with DFO. What is really needed is to take DFO out of the situation entirely, but this seems an unlikely outcome, even though it is needed to  end the conflict of interest, and political science from this taxpayer funded group on the side of global multi-national, multi-billion dollar corporations.

And it is independent scientists and citizens on one side and DFO/fish farms on the other side. It should not be this way:

"Since 2001, a scientific debate has been active in British Columbia around parasitic salmon lice from open-net salmon farms and their impacts on wild fish. Two “camps” of scientific opinion have been obvious. On one side, academics and NGO scientists have published articles in peer-reviewed journals detailing the negative effects parasites from salmon farms can have on migrating wild salmon. On the other, government and industry-supported scientists have published papers that cast doubt on these conclusions, thereby fuelling the debate and encouraging the continued operation of salmon farms on wild fish migration routes."

It just shouldn't be this way. Trudeau et al are in deep trouble in BC over Kinder Morgan, and also fish farms, but being from Ottawa where there are no fish farms, it is easy ignore the problems. My suggestion is putting a fish farms in the Rideau Canal and below the Parliament buildings in the Ottawa River. In no time flat, the smell would make DFO and everyone else hate fish farms as much as citizens who have to live with them.

" The DFO is the regulator of the salmon-farming industry, but it also promotes the industry and their products. These dual roles were identified by the 2012 federal Cohen Commission on the decline of BC salmon stocks as a potential conflict of interest that may impede DFO’s ability to protect wild fish stocks. Justice Cohen recommended that the federal government remove industry promotion from DFO. An expert panel of the Royal Society of Canada reached a similar conclusion — that DFO’s conservation of biodiversity may be impeded by its relationship with industry. More recently, DFO scientist Kristi Miller broke ranks and testified to a parliamentary committee, raising concern the agency’s science may be influenced by the industry. Despite this, and a commitment by the prime minister to implement all of Justice Cohen’s recommendations, no known action has been taken to remove the salmon-farming promotional mandate from DFO."

Stan goes on: "DFO’s scientific stance seems to diminish the relevance of a particularly worrisome virus — piscine reovirus (known as PRV) — as a risk to wild salmon. As in the salmon lice debate, DFO appears to favour Scientific Certainty Argumentation Methods (SCAMs). Environmental sociologist William Freudenburg, who coined the term SCAMs and studied their use in the climate change debate, wrote:
Given that most scientific findings are inherently probabilistic and ambiguous, if agencies can be prevented from imposing any regulations until they are unambiguously “justified,” most regulations can be defeated or postponed, often for decades, allowing profitable but potentially risky activities to continue unabated."

This sounds a lot like what happens in fish farms around the world. After all, in BC, the PR people are Hill and Knowlton, the very company that big tobacco hired to tell them they did not know cigarettes caused cancer for decades after everone else in the world knew.

"Within the context of SCAMs, we can compare three conclusions from DFO’s 2015 CSAS report on PRV with more recent published conclusions from academics, NGO scientists and Kristi Miller’s lab.
  • 2015 DFO conclusion 1: “There is no evidence from laboratory studies in British Columbia and Washington State that PRV infection is associated with any disease state, including HSMI [heart and skeletal muscle inflammation]”
    Wessel et al. 2017: PRV can cause heart and skeletal muscle inflammation
  • 2015 DFO conclusion 2: “HSMI has not been reported on BC salmon farms”
    Kristy Miller’s lab 2017: HSMI was reported on BC salmon farms in 2017
  • 2015 DFO conclusion 3: The information suggests “a low likelihood that the presence of this virus in any life stage of farmed Atlantic and Pacific Salmon would have a significant impact on wild Pacific Salmon populations.”
    Morton et al. 2017 Salmon farms may spread PRV to wild salmon and impede their ability to migrate upstream and spawn."
There is much more than this, but I leave it to you to go read the  article.

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