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posted Aug 11, 2012, 7:28 PM by SOS SaveOceanScience   [ updated Sep 6, 2012, 6:59 PM ]

Editorial – St. Croix Courier – July 31, 2012


It was most heartening to see as many as 600 people lining the

shores of Saint Andrews last week to protest the governments

assault on environmental science.

      But one question must be asked: does anyone honestly think

these protest activities will do any good? The “Save Ocean Science”

group is dealing with what some environmental groups have

declared as the most ideologically driven, anti-environment gov-

ernment in our nation’s history. Those groups hold the view the

federal dismantling of environmental research science is simply

one part of a triple prong assault on environmental protections,

and that view is supported by considerable evidence.

      First, the government has either gutted or abolished outright

the legal protections preserving our nation’s prized environment-

tal diversity.

      Scientists who keep pointing out the environmental dangers of

industrial activity, such as the impacts of Slice and cypermethrin

on Bay of Fundy lobster, will soon be fired. (Oh, the firings come

under the guise of layoffs to save money – but it’s a challenge to

accept such explanations from a government whose record of fis-

cal management is the worst of any in the nation’s history, even

if judged by the F-35 fiasco alone.) Opponents of the government

say the layoffs are more likely an ill disguised assault on infor-

mation the government doesn’t want to know what’s wrong with

its course (remember the abolition of the long form census?) and

doesn’t want others to know.

     And lest registered non-profit environmental lobby groups

raise too much of a fuss, gain a little too much media attention,

the Tories have a plan accuse them of engaging in “political ac-

tivity,” and strip them of the non-profit status. If David Suzuki

speaks out, as he did, the response is to threaten to tax the David

Suzuki Foundation into oblivion: problem solved.

     The idea environmentalists won’t be political is rather ludi-

crous: are groups like the Sierra Club suddenly expected to praise

Stephen Harper and his allies for gutting environmental barriers

so an oil company with a dubious environmental record – En

bridge – can drive a pipeline through sensitive B.C. wilderness

and contested First Nations lands, thus enabling them to send

Alberta oil sands products to China, which will power a Chinese

economy already driving us into economic oblivion?

     Upon even a casual glance, it seems the Tories are hell bent on

attacking anything with the word “environment” before, after or

in its name, and it doesn’t look like much is going to change in

the future, either. A report obtained by the Canadian Press and

published Monday tells how a government commissioned report

declares some environmental groups as increasingly “radical,”

a prelude to, it appears, asking police to quell environmental

groups’ activities. Environmental groups, clearly, are any who ob-

viously oppose the continued assault on the environment, such

as the 600 supporters who stood on a Saint Andrews shoreline

Wednesday. That, alone, is worth strong, sober thought.

     All that said, it’s unlikely the “Save Ocean Science” protesters

will alter government’s plan to assume anything different in the

light of the Tories’ documented indifference to reason, science

and public opinion on environmental matters is the height of


      But at the moment, protesting is about as much as can be done.

And if action isn’t taken, there won’t be anything left of Canada’s

globally heralded scientific research programs, its much admired

environmental protections, or its environment, by the time those

opposed to the Tory regime’s meddling are allowed a voice again

in the next election almost three years in the future.

Letter to the Editor St. Croix Courier July 31, 2012

Don’t destroy an asset

The 2007 DFO brochure “Science hat matters to Canadians” states |DFO Science aims to produce a vibrant aquatic science program based on excellence that supports and informs departmental and government needs and best serves Canadians.  Modern science is increasingly complex and therefore must be increasingly collaborative. With 15 research institutes and laboratories across Canada, the Science Sector of DFO is at the cutting edge of science.”
          According to the brochure, in addition to being a research center, the St. Andrews Biological Station (SABS) is a centre of aquaculture Science (CIAS) is led be (SABS) in New Brunswick, and will operate virtually as required, to link research resources for evolving needs across Canada.       Impending cuts to environmental research across Canada, and to libraries, leave the “vibrant aquatic science program” without an essential component and without an efficient library support. Libraries are as important as scientific as scientific instrument and must be close at hand. The loss of libraries at research institutions and , specifically, of the library and two librarians at SABS leaves all programs at the Station without essential support.
          The environmental research at SABS is internationally recognized, forward looking and responsive to local problems in the Maritimes as well. For example, the high aquatic toxicity of pyrethrold pesticides such as permethrin was flagged in 1977. Further studies in 1979 included cypermethrin (latter called Excis), deltamethrin, and fenvalerate. Following work included Salmosan and Slice, the latter the only pesticide used in Canadian aquaculture until 2009,. Studies of effects of anti-louse pesticides are still underway. What will happen to this and to other DFO environmental research in Saint Andrews and in all of Canada after the cuts is uncertain. In environmental research, Canada is already well behind many European countries, Japan, and the U.S.
          Not all research can be carried out by “independent agencies” or contracted out. In-house expertise is needed in dealing with independent agencies . Contracted out research  is appropriate only for studies with well-defined end points, such as “determine the level of permethrin in the sample, “and under a quality control by the contracting agency. In chemical analysis such a control must include the submission of “latent” duplicates (the same sample-split into two or more samples and marked as different samples).  Projects with undefined end points (what pesticides). Projects with undefined end points (what pesticides are in the sample?) cannot be contracted out.
          It is also important to distinguish between research and regulations. Research provides the knowledge base for regulations. Regulations are the responsibility of other agencies and so is, for example the discovery of “the use of illegal pesticides”. To dismantle science programs is easy. To re-establish them is much more difficult.

Dr. Vladimir Zitko
Saint Andrews