Critics are calling for change at Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) as the agency is facing accusations of disseminating unreliable science.
The DFO was recently in the crosshairs of a parliamentary committee that analyzed the agency’s scientific practices and how they affect policy.
Following testimony from commercial fishermen, industry groups, scientists, and former DFO staff, the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans (FOPO) tabled a report in Parliament with 48 recommendations addressing issues such as poor stock assessments, a lack of transparency, cash-deprived departments within the DFO, and deficiencies in data collection.
“DFO has excellent scientists, but how [the department] organizes the science, how they process the information, and how they actually deliver information to the minister is all suspect in my view,” Committee Member Liberal MP Ken Hardie told Canada’s National Observer.
The committee report follows a controversial study issued by the DFO and The Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) earlier this year that downplayed established links between sea lice at British Columbian salmon farms and wild salmon populations, which have plummeted in recent years.
In response, a group of 16 academic scientists from major Canadian universities put their signatures on a 45-page open letter to Canadian Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard Joyce Murray, in which they highlighted the report’s “serious scientific failings.”