Scientists say Canada falsified data
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1997:
NEWFOUNDLAND– – Memorial
University biologist Edward Miller, host of a
February 1997 workshop on how harp seals
affect the Atlantic Canada cod fisheries,
charged on June 24 that one of the four participants
from the Canadian Department of
Fisheries and Oceans had privately disclosed
data indicating that as many as 500,000 seals
were killed in the 1996 offshore hunt, nearly
double the official count of 262,402.
Twenty-nine scientists from seven nations
took part in the workshop.
“DFO personnel found several
sealing vessels carrying the same number of
male seal genitals as pelts,” Charles Enman
of the Ottawa Citizen reported. “But the
number of pelts should have been roughly
double the number of male genitals, since
male and female seals are impossible to distinguish
before they are shot. This suggested
that sealers were collecting genitals and pelts
from the males, but discarding entire female
carcasses, pelts and all,” as there is little
market for pelts and reporting kills of females
would just deplete the sealing quota faster.
Miller suggested the DFO failed to
factor this information into the official estimates
because the government hopes to blame
seals rather than overfishing for the collapse
of the Atlantic Canada cod stocks.
His disclosures came a week after
Canadian Geographic alleged that deputy
minister of fisheries William Rowat and assistant
deputy minister Scott Parsons, among
others, mounted a political campaign to discredit
Memorial University biologist Kim
Bell for producing data indicating that
Atlantic cod should be listed as endangered.
The Canadian Journal of Fisheries
and Aquatic Science in May published an article
alleging that the DFO invents staff consensus,
abuses science, and ignores scientific
warnings that contradict political expedience.
Coauthors Jeff Hutchings of Dalhousie
University, Richard Haedrick of Memorial
University, and Carl Walters of the
University of British Columbia are reputedly
among the top fishery biologists in the world.
Rowat and Parsons attacked them,
too, in mid-June public statements.