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Thursday, May 16, 2024



Save our Currane Wild Atlantic Salmon and Sea Trout

16/5/2034. We start tonight’s news on article sent to me by Currane angler Mr. Bill Bullick and curtesy of Ulster Angling Federation.

BREAKING NEWS Globe and Mail Reports - Integrity commissioner launches investigation of DFO officials over alleged attempts to silence scientists





The Public Sector Integrity Commissioner is launching an investigation into allegations that senior federal fisheries officials attempted to silence scientists involved in research related to the threat of open-net fish farms to Pacific salmon.

In a letter obtained by The Globe and Mail, Harriet Solloway says she has determined a probe into the conduct of Department of Fisheries and Oceans officials is warranted. She was responding to concerns raised by Tony Allard, chair of Wild Salmon Forever, a B.C.-based conservation group that wants to move fish farms out of the Pacific Ocean.

Such fish farms are controversial because of the dangers they can pose to wild salmon, including through disease and parasitic sea lice that can attach to young fish as they make their way to the ocean from the lakes and streams where they were born.

Ms. Solloway writes in the April 23 letter that department officials may have seriously breached the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector and policy “by attempting to silence scientists through reprimands, to dissuade them from communicating with the media and the public about their research.”

She also writes that she is looking into whether the officials under review attempted to obstruct or influence the testimony of department scientists before the House of Commons standing committee on fisheries and oceans.

The letter says that officials under investigation include Lesley MacDougall, science adviser and division manager at the Aquaculture Management Directorate, and Arran McPherson, assistant deputy minister of ecosystems and oceans science.

Ms. MacDougall and Ms. McPherson did not respond to requests for comment from The Globe.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a 2019 commitment to phase out B.C. ocean-pen farms by 2025 over concerns about risks they present to wild salmon owing to the transmission of diseases and sea lice to the wild fish.

A transition report on the policy expected last summer was delayed, though the department says it remains committed to the policy. Still, conservationists and Indigenous groups are concerned that the Liberal government is backing off its commitment to phase out the open-net farms. As of last November, there were 57 salmon farms on the Pacific coast.

Mr. Allard welcomed the commissioner’s probe.

“We are extremely pleased the Commissioner is investigating those responsible for the crisis of trust in DFO’s science. We’re disheartened her investigation is necessary,” he said in a statement, referring to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

“We hope the Commissioner’s investigation will prompt government to the important work of restoring public trust in DFO science.”

Vancouver lawyer Sean Jones, speaking for Mr. Allard, said his client had expressed concerns to the commissioner about DFO managers consistently interfering with attempts by department scientists to communicate the results of their research when that research showed that open net-pen feedlots cause harm to populations of wild Pacific salmon.

Mr. Jones said that Mr. Allard made the case that the managers, among other allegations, prevented scientists from publishing their findings, refused to disclose information when requested under the Access to Information Act and reprimanded scientists for speaking to reporters.

But the Fisheries Department defended its approach to issues, even though it declined comment on the specifics of the investigation.

“The department continues to take concrete steps to ensure transparent, impartial and evidence-based peer review and scientific advice for decision-makers,” Kathryn Hallett, a department spokesperson, said in a statement.

“We take any instance where allegations of misconduct are received seriously, including from outside parties. However, it would be inappropriate for DFO to comment on individual cases.”

Meanwhile, another DFO spokesperson said the department remains committed to the 2025 deadline for transitioning from open net-pen salmon farming in coastal British Columbia waters.

“We know that Pacific salmon stocks are fragile, and that protecting them will have long-term benefits for the entire West Coast. We continue to work on a responsible transition plan that protects Pacific salmon, while supporting workers and their communities,” Jérémy Collard said in a statement.

He said that federal Fisheries Minister Diane Lebouthillier and her office continue to have meaningful conversations with all stakeholders involved, including the B.C. government and Indigenous communities, “about the next steps in this important file.”

In her April letter, Ms. Solloway promised an investigation conducted “as informally and expeditiously as possible,” and noted her office is compelled to protect the identity of all parties involved in the probe.

Bronwyn Johns-O’Hara, communications manager for the Integrity Commissioner, declined to comment on the decision to proceed with an investigation or any other aspect of the matter, citing office policies.   

 Now today’s Currane angling action, going by my WhatsApple the Currane anglers were all quiet in all departments this day. Wind light ENE and variable. Yesterday’s weather, amount of rainfall, amount of sunshine 4.0, maximum air temperature 18.0c.  



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