Hot News‎ > ‎

Protests pressure feds to alter science stance

posted Sep 22, 2013, 8:25 AM by SOS SaveOceanScience

Saint Croix Courier Tuesday September 17, 2013

Barb Rayner


Members of Save Ocean Sciences (SOS) took part in a national rally Monday calling on the federal government to "Stand Up for Science".

SOS supporters held a, public barbecue and information booth on Water Street above Market Square. Rallies were also held across the country Monday in large city centres like Vancouver to small towns and communities like Saint Andrews.

These events were initiated by Evidence for Democracy (E4D) - a non-partisan organization advocating for the transparent use of evidence in government decision-making.

E4D, like SOS, arose out of concerns among scientists and their supporters over the federal government's attitude towards science, scientists and scientific evidence.

SOS, which is a local non-partisan grass roots movement, was formed because of concern about cuts to programs at the Saint Andrews Biological Station announced last March.

SOS chair Caroline Davies said the goal at Monday's event was to continue to remind people that science is important. She said SOS put on a big push to save the library at the Biological Station and, while this was not successful, some gains were made.

"We retained the rare book collection. The library jobs reduced two staff who are still employed doing other things. Scientists were allowed to sign out any books they would need for an indefinite period.

SOS group vows to pressure politicians

"Anything they would need on an ongoing basis, they were allowed to sign out and keep here so that was a win plus the rare books are of great value to this area.

As for the five people who were working in the toxicology and con­taminants' group, which was another victim of the cuts, Davies sail one of the employees retired ,and three have, be_ found alternate positions leav­ing only one without another position.

I "We are still down on numbers, because there is a reduction in the overall staff at the Biological Station. I

don't know if this is going to continue.

"We want to remind citizens that science is important and keep remind­ing the government that we have to ill invest in science. If you lose the knowl­edge-base in terms of cutting, it takes years to build it up again.        .

"Our concerns are on several levels. We have a government that talks about the need to regulations but if you don't have the science at the federal level what are you going to base your regulations on? You just won't I have the individuals to make these, regulations.

Members of Save Ocean Science (SOS) had a public barbecue and information table in Saint Andrews Monday in support of "Stand up for Science Pictured (from left) are Ernie Depatie, John Castell, Caroline Davies and Jane Douhl.

     "They (government) are not going to invest a lot of money in research they don't deem to be necessary, unless there is an accident, and also they do not have the capacity. It is a downward spiral.

 50S continues to be active, said Davies, organizing events such as this one and will continue to look at oth­er ways of keeping awareness of the need for science in the public eye. She said they will continue to write letters to the media and to MPs. 

These cuts also have other impli­cations, said Davies, and could affect such things as the aquaculture tech­nician program at the community college and the Huntsman Marine Sci­ence Centre because these institutions partner with the Biological Station.

"If they cut out some of these programs then they (Biological Station)' are not there to help. We need to make sure we retain that scientific knowl­edge in this part of New Brunswick.

John Castell, who retired from the Biological Station 10 years ago,' said' there has been a constant erosion, jn staff with people retiring and their positions not being replaced. 

In the late 1960s and 70s, 120 peo­ple worked at the Biological Station ­today, fewer than half that number are employed plus this staff reduction has been accompanied by the elimina­tion of scientific capacity.

Programs such as aquaculture de­velopment, salmon disease resistance, fishing gear technology, acoustics, contaminants research, chemistry toxicology, lobster biology and scallop assessment have been eliminated.