April 19, 2004 - Below, a letter received today from Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Geoff Regan, in reply to my correspondence of March 9, 2004. In my letter I had clearly requested feedback on several specific concerns regarding DFO Science (including herring assessment techniques and cod diet data), and I had explained why my being brushed off with "go publish your concerns in a science journal" was unacceptable. Yet, here it is again:
For the record, I have not had any "discussions with DFO Science staff at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography during the past few years on a range of issues on ocean productivity." I have managed to receive some useful factual information and documents from BIO, but I have had exactly NO "discussion" on "ocean productivity."
However, I have repeatedly requested such a discussion. I have tried to engage BIO plankton assessment scientists, for instance, in discussion about what might have caused the bizarre divergent trends that they have recorded between phytoplankton and zooplankton. To this I received a request not to send any further email. I then requested a meeting with the director at BIO, specifically to discuss my concerns regarding evidence of negative trends in "ocean productivity," but I was refused ...because it was his opinion that there was nothing we could "fruitfully discuss at this time."
But...the barnacles are disappearing, along with all other familiar small shoreline animals, all of the little plankton feeders...and I am very worried about these changes!
During the past few years, I have tried repeatedly, but always unsuccessfully, to discuss changing ocean productivity with BIO scientists from both the point of view of the concrete evidence of a decline, and from a theoretical perspective.
It is especially bothersome to be dismissed by Geoff Regan, considering that I am one of his constituents. Mr. Regan is the member of parliament elected from the area where I live. Other voters in this area have a rising awareness of the concerns that I have been trying to raise with DFO Science, and many people besides myself are becoming keenly interested in seeing some answers from DFO.
CBC television has recently produced a documentary on my work, including reactions received from various parties, including academics, fishermen and DFO. DFO's contribution to the show, however, was to refuse to give CBC an interview, and this was quite consistent with their ongoing refusal to discuss the problems with me. The television show was largely filmed in Mr. Regan's constituency, and it will serve to enlighten people here and elsewhere about the broad nature of the unexplained negative trends in marine life and how DFO is failing to "connect the dots," while refusing to respond to an outsider who is trying to make sense of what is happening. DFO and our federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans will therefore not look very good in this television show.
**Watch the upcoming "Starving Ocean" documentary on CBC-TV on "Land & Sea," date TBA. (12:30 p.m., Sundays, in Atlantic Canada, but the show will be aired across the country)
In the Nova Scotia riding of Halifax West, Geoff Regan's constituency, voters concerned about ocean and environmental health should VOTE FOR MARTIN WILLISON!
Addendum: Mr. Regan granted me a meeting on April 30, 2004, and I was very pleased with the outcome.
See: "Ocean Health..." letter sent to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, March 9, 2004.