Friday, August 5, 2011

Suppressing scientific findings; the fishery today

It should come as no surprise that the federal Conservatives

won’t allow me to tour 9 Wing Gander, not when government

scientists are being muzzled.

It's all about suppression.

The following letter by Fin Donnelly, Fisheries critic for the

federal New Democrats, was mailed to Minister Keith Ashfield

on July 29th.

And people question the necessity of an inquiry

into the NL fisheries?

•••

Dear Minister,


I write to express my concern regarding the muzzling

of federal fisheries biologist Dr. Kristi Miller who was

prevented by the Privy Council Office from speaking

to the media about her west coast salmon study.


Dr. Miller’s article, Genomic Signatures Predict Migration

and Spawning Failure in Wild Canadian Salmon, was

published in Science Magazine in January 2011. The hypothesis

is that “the genomic signal associated with elevated mortality

is in response to a virus infecting fish before river entry and that

persists to the spawning areas.” The journal Science found this

research to be so significant that it notified thousands of journalists

of the study.


While academic journals often encourage published scientists

to perform interviews, the Privy Council Office has refused

permission for Miller to conduct interviews. According to

media reports, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans wanted

to send a press release about Miller’s study; however, the

Privy Council Office interfered and put a stop to it mainly

for political reasons. This breakthrough study may provide,

at least in part, an explanation as why west coast salmon

numbers have been crashing. That the Privy Council, or any

political body for that matter, would interfere with the intent

to suppress scientific findings or evidence is alarming to say the least.


As you are aware, the decline of the west coast salmon is

an important issue for many British Columbians. For the

government to interfere in the free flow of information is

concerning to the scientific community and Canadians

as a whole.


It is important that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans

not silence its scientists, and that they be free of intimidation

by the political process. It is also important that studies conducted

by your department and funded by Canadian taxpayers are able

to be reviewed by the public.


I strongly encourage you to remove the restrictive muzzle order

from federal fisheries biologist Kristi Miller and allow her

to speak freely to the public about her critical findings.


Sincerely,


Fin Donnelly,

Member of Parliament

New Westminster-Coquitiam and Port Moody

Official Opposition Critic for Fisheries and Oceans

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