Tag «BCF»

DFO: Politics first, fish second

Justine Hunter, writing for the Globe & Mail, provides insight into the machinations at DFO when environment meets politics head on.

In January, 2018, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), an independent advisory panel of scientists, put out a rare emergency bulletin declaring the southern interior steelhead trout was at imminent risk of extinction. The population had been reduced by 80 per cent over the previous 15 years, and was at its lowest point in 40 years.


The federal minister of environment was asked to protect this species under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA). Commercial, recreational and Indigenous fisheries should have been seriously impacted. The minister rejected the request in 2019.

The BC Wildlife Federation, under an Access to Information request, received documents that reveal management at DFO rewrote the findings of the scientific panel. DFO themselves understood they were undermining the integrity of the process – as in, what’s the point of an independent scientific panel? – and published the report after substantially altering recommedations to suit federal government political goals. The BC government’s director of fish and aquatics complained, asking the published report be removed from circulation; that was ignored.

You are urged to read about this one well-documented example of how our federal government hits all the right notes on the journey to a decision – scientists listened to, every group possible consulted – and then fashions what they’ve heard into what they need to support the political outcome they wanted from, “Go.”