March 12, 2013

Government acting as industry cheerleaders

We pride ourselves on being a rational species. Yet many of the most important choices we make ignore data that scientists have collected. Instead, we make public policy or decisions that are based on convenience and/or profit. Global warming, genetically engineered food, the tar sands. The list is endless and should convince us that it is business and the need for economic growth that is our bottom line. I wrote about the tar sands on January 9, but another great example of this is aquaculture and, in particular, salmon farming.

Alex Morton is a marine wildlife biologist who has studied orcas on Vancouver Island for over 30 years. For the past two decades Morton's studies of salmon farms have led to her vehement opposition to the practice, as it endangers wildlife in the area and leads to environmental destruction. Her movie, Salmon Confidential, is worth watching.

On the opposite coast, the Friends of Port Mouton Bay have been studying the impact of open-net salmon farms in their bay on the south shore of Nova Scotia, previously a wonderful lobster ground. Scientists, fishers, and other concerned citizens have spent countless hours collecting scientific data that has clearly indicated that farming practices have led to a degradation of the lobster fishery and a devastation of the local economy. Although the FPMB have two professional oceanographers on their team and reams of high-quality scientific data to back up their claims, they are virtually ignored by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and shut out of any consultation.

Clean Up Salmon Farming provides science-based information for those wanting to know about the threat of open net pen salmon farming to Atlantic salmon and East Coast communities.

Here we have another prime example of the federal and provincial governments (in Nova Scotia and BC) acting as industry cheerleaders as opposed to the disinterested third party arbitrators they should be.

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