HomeUSAFisheries official denies allegations of coverup over research into endangered BC steelhead...

Fisheries official denies allegations of coverup over research into endangered BC steelheadOUS News

A senior official at Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has denied allegations that the federal government has refuted scientific findings on a unique type of rainbow trout in B.C. in an effort to justify continued commercial fishing that threatens the species. is covered.

The allegations come in part from Jesse Zeman, executive director of the BC Wildlife Federation, who said the federal government would still not conduct public peer-reviewed scientific research that concludes fisheries in the Thompson and Chilcotin Rivers need to save steelhead from extinction. should be banned. ,

This species, a member of the salmon family, migrates in the ocean for most of its life, but spawns and lays eggs in two rivers.

Zoologists and conservation groups in BC have been warning of its dangerous status for years, and a annual update B.C.’s Forest Ministry last month warned the species is now at historic lows, with initial estimates that only 104 Thompson River steelheads and 19 Chilcotin River steelheads are being produced this year.

speaking on cbc Daybreak Kamloops On Friday, Andrew Thomson, the DFO’s Vancouver-based regional director for the Pacific, denied claims that an assessment on the species’ recovery potential had not yet been published, and that the science advisory report was published by DFO officials without the scientists’ knowledge. was edited. ,

“Definitely, [DFO] We are very committed to sharing information as part of the scientific process,” Thomson said.

recovery potential assessment

Zeman argues that the primary threat to steelhead comes from bycatch and salmon net fishing in the Johnstone Strait and Salish Sea off BC’s South Coast and Lower Fraser River, and therefore the DFO designates these practices as endangered under federal species. should be banned. At Risk Act.

In January 2018, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), a group of independent advisors to the federal government, called for the inner Fraser steelhead to be listed as endangered.

A red colored fish peeps out of the sea net.
BC conservation groups say the primary threat to the interior Fraser steelhead comes from bycatch and salmon net fishing in the Johnstone Strait, the Salish Sea, and the Lower Fraser River. (Chris Furlong/Getty Images)

This prompted the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) to invite scientists to conduct a peer-reviewed recovery potential assessment on the species and to publish one. science advisory report Based on the same year evaluation for reference to the DFO in its policy-making.

Thomson said the assessment can be found on the DFO’s website. But Zeman said the document is actually a science advisory report, and the actual assessment has never been published.

Claims of DFO’s interference in the report

based on Communications Accessed through freedom of information requests between DFO, CSAS and the B.C. government — which has been spotted by CBC News — Zeman says the federal agency is hiding peer-reviewed evaluations from the public because it tampered with the science advisory report and Very different recommendation from the one in your policy made appraisal.

In a December 2018 email, DFO scientist Scott Decker said the B.C. government had complained about a unilateral change in the wording of the federal agency’s science advisory report.

The assessment states that reducing the frequencies of salmon exploitation is the only way to save steelhead from extinction, but the final draft of the report states that “acceptable losses should not be allowed to exceed current levels” – Zeman says the language can be interpreted to mean no urgency to list Steelhead under the Species at Risk Act.

Zeman says this led federal fisheries minister Jonathan Wilkinson Judgment in July 2019 To ban recreational fisheries in the Thompson and Chilcotin rivers, but not to ban commercial fisheries by keeping the species under the Act.

In an October 2018 email, CSAS President Sean McConaughey said the DFO’s Office of the Associate Deputy Minister edited the language of the science advisory report multiple times without his knowledge.

Two months later, in an email to the DFO, BC Fisheries Director Jennifer Davis said the findings in the report were inconsistent with the consensus of scientists who had evaluated the recovery potential.

‘Real concern about transparency’

Zeman says that earlier this year, the DFO rejected a freedom of information request to publish a recovery potential assessment, meaning it would have to sue the federal government to access the document.

“We know that DFOs can do good science, but we also know that DFOs aren’t showing science to the public,” he said on CBC. dawn south,

“There is a real concern about transparency.”

University of British Columbia (UBC) zoology professor Eric Taylor has studied steelhead populations across the province for three decades and chaired COSEWIC from 2014 to 2018. He agrees that there is little transparency in how the DFO handles Steelhead research.

“Technically this is actually scientific fraud,” Taylor said. “If that report isn’t completely clean and completely honest and above board, it undermines the credibility of the whole process.”

Taylor says the DFO has conflicting mandates to promote commercial fisheries and conserve fish populations, and argues that Environment Canada should be given a conservation mandate instead.

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