Thursday, 11 August 2016

Time Colonist Story - Amy Smart, "Wild salmon still top priority, but fish farms stay: mnister'

I was going to walk you through the Aug 10, 2016 article in the Times Colonist newspaper, that I free-lanced for for a decade, pointing out the differences between reporting a story and analyzing a story. Reporting is about relating what others, on all sides of a controversy, have to say, along with some of their back up material.

This is fair, but tends to give the public a false story, that purports to be the true story. The title is: Wild salmon still top priority, but fish farms stay: minister.

Most informed commentators on DFO (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) would roll their eyeballs at the first part of the title: Wild salmon still top priority, because they know that the four major problems with wild BC salmon are: habitat restoration, DFO, fish farms and climate change.

So to start off with the minister, Dominic LeBlanc, saying the priority is wild salmon, when the habitat restoration budget is pretty much limited to the Salmon Stamp licence revenue, of, as I recall, $7.2 Million given to the Pacific Salmon Foundation, that leverages the money with BC volunteers up to seven times, is that the first assertion of the title is false. Any informed commentator will tell you that the restoration budget needed in total is probably $500 million. To give only one example, there are 70,000 culverts that need replacing in BC, that at the rate they are being changed will take more than 3000 years.

And last year, $200,000 was given to Van Isle projects, when the Clay Bank restoration on the Cowichan alone had been done in earlier years, at a cost of $1.5 Million when it was done, gives an idea of the vast distance between the 'priority' and the reality on the ground, er, river.

My suggestion is that DFO plus the Province should both give the same amount to the PSF and then, at over $21 million per year, leveraged 7 times starts to get to approaching the kind of money required to legitimately address the most pressing problem facing wild salmon - habitat restoration. DFO just simply does not have wild BC salmon as it's priority.

You can find all the references for all the figures I quote, or generate, by looking at one of the two indexes on this site. Here is one: And look at the graphic that leads this 2016 index, showing that farmed salmon have 10 times the toxic PCB, POPs, cancer-causing and so on, chemicals of other 'farmed' animals. I would not eat one.

The second part of the title is: but fish farms stay, does not capture the real issue. That is, the only fish farm that should be in BC and around the world is an on-land one, that keeps all the problems caused by in-ocean fish farms out of the ocean. Fish farms say it can't be done (even though Marine Harvest is now doing this in Norway).

So, over the years, I have slowly put together a list of on-land farms I have found around the world. The list is now 152 on-land systems, comprising 20,000 actual on land farms: Just go look. This is the most popular post on my site, most recently in Russia, who must be looking seriously at all on-land.

So the issue is: if fish farms are put on land, then they can stay, but it is deceptive to put in a title that glosses over the most important issue in the debate by not mentioning it. Now, I could go through the entire article and pick it apart, so that a reader gets a much better representation of the real issues and where they stand, but I will limit myself to only one, or this article would be intolerably long.

According to the article,LeBlanc says that 32 of 75 Cohen recommendations have been completed. I'm afraid not. The Auditor General's office got in touch with me to launch an environmental Petition under its mandate, and I did so in late 2013.

Most specifically, I asked then minister Gail Shea, what the specific disaggregated budget and actual FTEs used for each and every recommendation in the Cohen tome of 1200 pages. Disaggregated budget means the amount of dollars for a specific purpose, with each standard object (government speak for specific purpose). And FTEs means full time equivalents, or actual people.

I did not receive an answer to my question, instead, I received generic mush, with generic figures attached. This is something very different from what I asked. In other words, DFO refused to answer the question, and so chose to do it the way they wanted to answer it. I know this as I used to generate generic mush for the provincial government when I worked for the Ministry of Finance.

This is the link to my Petition on the Auditor General of Canada's site:

This is the Question I asked then minister of DFO, Gail Shea, about Cohen. You will see how specific it is, then look at her response in the AG Petition site. Mush:

Petition questions and/or requests:

Dear DFO Minister Gail Shea:
  1. It is one year since the $26.4 Million Cohen Commission on Decline of Fraser River Sockeye delivered its report to DFO. One year later, I would like to know: What concrete results, and detail them individually, with associated timelines and funding that DFO has committed or expensed to resolve each of the 75 environmental recommendations in the three volume Cohen Report on the Decline of Fraser River Sockeye: The recommendations are pages 105 – 115, of Volume 3. I am speaking of the boldfaced recommendations and the concrete results DFO has taken to achieve each of the 75 recommendations that can also be found in a Cohen PDF of Chapter 2, Volume Three.
Thank you
DC (Dennis) Reid
Victoria, BC 

(Please note that I am not criticizing Amy Smart. She is doing her job as a reporter).

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