Canada: Trout cover-up scandal has rocked British Columbia

Canada’s fisheries commission is under fire — and the allegations carry more weight in the eyes of fishermen and conservationists: National fisheries agency DFO (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) allegedly withheld scientific knowledge about the endangered status of steelhead trout. One of the most vocal critics is BC Wildlife Federation Executive Director Jesse Zeman. He says the government has long had scientific advice that clearly shows steelhead trout (a subspecies of rainbow trout) is an endangered species in British Columbia. The experts came to a clear conclusion that fishing should be banned to save the species from extinction. In particular, this concerns stakes in the Thompson River, the Chilcotin River and the famous Fraser River.

Record numbers of steelhead

Conservation groups and experts have been warning that steelheads could become extinct for years. An annual report by the British Columbia Department of Forestry says trout populations in three watersheds are at record lows. Accordingly, only 104 animals in the Thompson River and 19 in the Chilcotin River should reach the spawning grounds. Worrying situation. Also, conservationists are drawing attention to the precarious situation of steelheads in the Fraser River – where they are said to be endangered.

According to Jesse Zeman, all of this is known in ministry—yet not in action. DFO vehemently denies the allegations: “Certainly, DFO is very keen to pass on information as part of our scientific process,” says Andrew Thompson in a television interview with the CBC.

“There’s a problem with transparency”

Zeman was denied access to the documents. A request on his part to publish the results was rejected and the corresponding assessment of recovery potential was rejected. He now has to sue the government to see the documents. “We know that DFO can do good science, but we also know that DFO’s science has not been shown to the public,” he said on the CBC show Daybreak South, and went a step further: “There is a real concern. About transparency.”

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Zeman is supported by Eric Taylor, a professor of zoology at the University of British Columbia (UBC). He’s researched the evolution of BC’s steelhead population for decades — and comes to the same conclusion as Zeeman: “Technically, it’s actually scientific fraud. If the reporting isn’t completely clean, honest, and innocent, the credibility of the whole process is compromised.”

DFO will have to ask some important questions in the coming weeks and months. One thing’s for sure, though: If Zeman succeeds in this endeavor, statements will have to be made. Then the day will be tight for the National Fisheries Authority.

Source: CBC News

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