Friday, January 06, 2012

"as a scientist, I should not be undertaking research on something if I didn't understand the ramifications of what the results could do."

Alexandra Morton is a biologist who moved to a small British Columbia community to study orcas,  who writes a blog about salmon.  From her blog bio:

In 1987, the first salmon farm appeared and I thought it was a good idea. I hoped it would help bring more people to the area and keep the little town alive. But from the beginning there were problems. First, the government put the farms where they promised us they would not. Then the farmers used underwater sounds that drove the whales I was studying away (Morton and Symmonds 2002). Then there were bacterial epidemics (furunculosis), toxic algae blooms (Heterosigma), escaped Atlantic salmon (Morton and Volpe 2002) and then the sea lice epidemics began (see references below).
From the beginning, I expected government to recognize the problems and explain how they would remedy them, but I was naive. Today, Echo Bay has no school and very few residents. There are 27 Norwegian fish farms operating and the companies are loosing money. They do not hire local people and use drugs to try and deal with their pathogen problems with no notification to the local people who fish for food in the area.

Today she has a post that begins:

I just finished reading the approximately 450 pages of transcript of the last three days of the Cohen Inquiry. I highly recommend them, they can be found at Go to Calendar and Transcripts and see dates December 15, 16, 19.

The basic message I got from reading the post was:   the hearings have shown that the Canadian government has been overseeing the fish farms with the aim of making sure information that could jeopardize the business was unavailable.  

Her blog post is a summary of the transcript with some quotes such as:

McDADE (Lawyer examining aquaculture): … as of the 24th, senior people in DFO were aware that the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo was finding ISA?
DR. MILLER: By the 24th, they were aware of my work, yes.
MCDADE: And so when statements were coming out from DFO after November 24th, and in particular, the statement from the Minister on December 2nd, saying they were not aware of any ISA, that would have been a surprise to you, wasn't it?
DR. MILLER: Yes, it was, but nobody was speaking to me at that point.

ROSENBLOOM: Did he say anything in terms of how positive findings might be consequential in terms of our relations with the Americans?
DR. MILLER: I think he just intimated that I, as a scientist, would not understand the complexities of these issues and that, as a scientist, I should not be undertaking research on something if I didn't understand the ramifications of what the results could do.

I'm not a fish expert.  I haven't read the whole report, and so I'm not really sure what all this means.  But,  if you're interested in fish policy, fish farming, or even the openness of the Canadian government, this is well worth your reading.   The sense conveyed in Miller's blog is that the government is suppressing data that would jeopardize commercial fish farming. 

Thanks to David Ottness' FB post for this.  Again, Andrea Morton's post is here.


  1. Thanks for covering the Cohen Report, Stave. And for writing about Alexandra Morton. I wrote a couple of posts about the inquiry and other BC fish farming revelations last year. It is absurd for a government agency charged with overseeing an industry's possible faults to also be the ministry charged with promoting that industry.

  2. Like the Nuclear Regulatory Commission? Can you spell Fukushima Daichi?

  3. Well worth reading, and absolutely shocking. Worse than the banking scandals.

    I knew the BC Government was corrupt and in bed with big industry, whether it's fish farming, logging, or mining, and this really confirmed it. Too bad the BC voters won't throw the bunch out.

    Truly the foxes in charge of the henhouses, and it makes what's been done to American scientists trying to protect the polar bear look like chump change.

    And it's all only a few miles from OUR fish.

  4. Thanks for the news. This is all part and parcel of government as we know it and nothing is going to change or can stop the inevitability of 'progress' so called, dictated by the industries, banking, mining,oil et al. The material universe is caught up in the spiral of entropy and things can only get worse. There is salvation in the spiritual realm for those who seek, but who is?

  5. Depressing, but necessary for people to see what's happening. Thanks Phil, Harpboy, Michael. Feynman, I couldn't get the link to work.


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