Healthy Oceans. Healthy Communities.
May 6, 2024

The Public Sector Integrity Commissioner Harriet Solloway, in response to concerns raised by Tony Allard, chair of Wild Salmon Forever, says she has determined that a probe into the conduct of Department of Fisheries and Oceans officials is warranted.  

In her April 23 letter, Solloway writes that department officials may have seriously breached the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector and policy “by attempting to silence scientists." 

Officials under investigation include Lesley MacDougall, science adviser and division manager at the Aquaculture Management Directorate, and Arran McPherson, assistant deputy minister of ecosystems and oceans science. 

The concerns outlined by Mr. Allard include allegations involving attempts by DFO to stifle Dr. Kristi Miller’s ability to share science from government scientists with the Canadian public, the Minister of Fisheries and Members of Parliament. Solloway’s investigation promises to air out the dirty laundry once and for all. 

In 2019, the Prime Minister committed to phasing out B.C. open-net pen farms by 2025 because of risks they present to wild salmon. Dangers include disease and parasitic sea lice that can overwhelm young fish. 

Conservation organizations and Indigenous groups are worried that the Liberal government is not going to keep its promise to phase out open-net pen farms. The transition report on the policy has been delayed more than once, however DFO spokesperson Jérémy Collard says, “We know that Pacific salmon stocks are fragile, and that protecting them will have long-term benefits for the entire West Coast. We continue to work on a responsible transition plan that protects Pacific salmon, while supporting workers and their communities,” and that DFO continues to remain committed to the 2025 timeline. As of last November, there were 57 salmon farms on the Pacific coast. 

Through his lawyer, Mr. Allard has expressed concerns about DFO managers interfering with attempts by department scientists to communicate the results of their research and refusing to disclose information requested under the Access to Information Act.  

DFO defended its approach but declined to comment on the investigation. 

Solloway promises that the investigation will be as expedient and informal as possible. 

News Source: 
Globe and Mail