Thursday, 3 May 2018

Conflict of Interest - Will DFO Ever Stand By Wild Salmon?

Go read this article by Stan Proboszcz of Watershed Watch:

The point he is making is that government and fish farms are on one side arguing that fish farms are wonderful, while NGOS and academia are on the other saying that ain't so. Here are two issues: DFO should not be on the side of fish farms; this is a conflict of interest, and sides against wild salmon. Secondly, this creates a false controversy, as though there is legitimate debate on the issues, just like Big Tobacco did. Sea lice for example.

The main issue 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."

You will recall that Stan P was on the science committee that 'found' wild sockeye salmon can not catch IHN from IHN vaccinated farmed salmon, but, and it's a big but, DFO would not let them - its own committee - see the research from the fish farms to make this conclusion. See:

One of the fish farm spin techniques, is to move into a new area and start at square 1 in the battle to stay in the water. BC fish farms say there is no lice science to prove there is a problem here. Meanwhile Marine Harvest in Norway says lice are the worst problem for fish farms, and in fact CEO Aarskog says he has 90 studies on sea lice on the go:

But in BC, his own employees are arguing that fish farms don't cause a lice problem. This is contradictory, but happens in every area that fish farms move into. Here is how such an argument works. The people say, the Earth rotates around the sun. Fish farm lawyers say: what gives you that idea? You say: Galileo proved that centuries ago. The fish farm lawyers say: was Galileo from BC? You say: Well, no. Fish farm lawyers answer: So, it is not proven that the Earth travels around the sun in BC. I was married to a lawyer, so I understand your squirming at such a vice grip of logic.

Here is a link to 30 lice studies in BC: The post includes just 2 from Marine Harvest. And DFO's numbers from 2015 show that Quatsino farmed salmon had 300 - to 800-% more lice over the limit of 3 lice per fish.

Here is a link to 800 lice studies in the world: "Despite
major research efforts over 30 years, as evident from over 800 research publications, they [lice] remain apersistent problem."

Stan comments: "It is well established that manufacturing a scientific debate on the impacts of smoking and climate change benefits tobacco and petroleum companies. Some believe the salmon-farming debate is not very different."

The phrase 'precautionary principle' is no doubt on your lips. The Cohen Commission told the government to take the promotion from DFO and for it to get on with the Wild Salmon Policy. In addition, it told DFO to favour caution and get fish farms out of the Discovery Islands by 2020 if it cannot prove there is no problem.

"An expert panel of the Royal Society of Canada reached a similar conclusion." meaning conflict of interest.

Stan cites three examples about disease in BC:

 "Within the context of SCAMs, we can compare three conclusions from DFO’s 2015 Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat 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]”
    • 2017 Wessel et al.: PRV can cause heart and skeletal muscle inflammation
  • 2015 DFO conclusion 2: “HSMI has not been reported on B.C. salmon farms”
  • 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.”
    • 2017 Morton et al.: Salmon farms may spread PRV to wild salmon and impede their ability to migrate upstream and spawn."

Hmm. I should add that PRV came from Norway, where it was shown to cause HSMI. Why is DFO against wild salmon? Good question.

But there is more: " The 2015 DFO report ends with unsubstantiated platitudes about B.C.’s “robust” disease surveillance program that purportedly minimizes the threat of diseases spreading from farms to wild fish. It appears DFO’s premier peer-review science advisory process, CSAS, produced premature conclusions that coincidently aligned with industry conclusions, but that are now in question."

This is important because DFO and fish farms commonly use in the press that they operate under the strictest laws in the world. Fish farms say this every year in many countries, clearly this is not possible because no two countries have the same laws. In Canada, no two provinces do things the same.

CSAS is the federal committee charged with overseeing science: "The Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat, established in the early 2000s, is headquartered in DFO and coordinates science review processes throughout the country with the goal of providing high-quality scientific advice to the minister of fisheries and oceans, managers and other interested parties."

Stan makes some pungent suggestions:

 1. Separate CSAS from DFO. DFO scientists don't feel comfortable, their jobs being on the line if they go against the party line. And there is that MOU among fish farms that CSAS used to show there was no disease, something that is fallacious.

2. Make potential conflict of interest disclosure explicit and mandatory. Good idea, but who has any confidence in the government, that backs fish farms, actually eliminating its conflict. Of course, this means against wild salmon and the residents of BC. OH, and CSAS has no conflict rules.

You may have heard about the government putting together a 'stellar' group of scientists regarding fish farm issues.The problem is that CSAS has a conflict of interest problem. In other words, DFO's being against wild Pacific salmon, and managing them into extinction just goes on and on.

Take a look at this image from the 60s and ask yourself if you think DFO has done a good job of maintaining salmon runs. This is from the Nahmint River, taken on Mouse Beach, from a morning's fishing.

I leave the end to Stan: "In February 2018, it was announced that Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan has asked Canada’s chief science adviser, Mona Nemer, to lead an independent expert panel on the appropriate use of scientific evidence in decision-making around protecting the marine environment, as it relates to salmon farming. More recently it was revealed that the “independent” panel will be substantially supported by DFO staff." HMM, those conflicted staff? Why, yes, why would you expect anything different? Now look at the morning's catch photo once again.

Will DFO Ever Stand By Wild Salmon?


Even more finally, if you want to read graphic, actual accounts of DFO conflict of interest with fish farms and allowing sewage, lice, disease, rotting fish dumped in the ocean, endless reorganization, damaged habitat, read the Otto Langer chapter in A Stain Upon The Sea. He was a DFO scientist and so has inside knowledge that cannot be come by unless the insider reveals what he knows. This includes the 1990s and 2000s. See:

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