Over the past year, Deconstructing Dinner has spent an increasing amount of time focusing on the discussions that take place on food and farming within Canada's parliamentary committees. Today, we visit with a previously unexplored committee on the show - the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, where, in the past few months, the subject of salmon farming has been a focus of attention.
Among the many issues addressed within the Committee, host Jon Steinman deconstructs dialogue that took place on resistance among sea lice to the anti-parasitic drug - SLICE. The drug is an open-net cage salmon farmer's primary and most effective control to keep lice levels down and reduce their threat to juvenile wild salmon. Sea lice experts around the world believe it's only a matter of time when sea lice in British Columbia will develop resistance to the drug. Despite a graph released by the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands that is suggestive to some biologists of possible drug resistance, government officials have exhibited their own resistance to these said warning signs.
On another front, Steinman also deconstructs the federal Department of Fisheries & Oceans (DFO) - a government body who receives a lot of criticism among marine conservation groups for what they and the Attorney General of Canada believe of the Department's dual mandate is a conflict of interest - a mandate to protect wild salmon and promote salmon aquaculture. Deconstructing Dinner uncovers some glaring mis and disinformation on a DFO web page that lends a more tangible example of these seemingly confusing and conflicting roles of the DFO.
Craig Orr - executive director, Watershed Watch Salmon Society (Coquitlam, BC) - Craig Orr has been a professional ecologist for more than 30 years and helps Watershed Watch in its efforts to conserve water and salmon habitat, and to minimize impacts to wild salmon from mixed-stock interception fisheries, aquaculture practices, and climate change. Craig also currently serves as Chair of the Pacific Marine Conservation Caucus, Science Coordinator of the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform, and as an environmental advisor to Kwikwetlem First Nation. He recently served as Associate Director of Simon Fraser University's Centre for Coastal Studies, Chair of BC Hydro's Bridge Coastal Restoration Program, Vice-Chair of the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund, a member of the Vancouver Foundation's environment committee, and as a director of the Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society.
Mark Sheppard - senior aquatic animal health veterinarian, British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture & Lands (Courtenay, BC) - The B.C. government supports the development of the aquaculture industry. While the B.C. government has overseen the industry since the federal government allocated responsibility in 1988, that regulatory regime is now in a transition to federal authority following the B.C. Supreme Court case Alexandra Morton et al vs the A.G. of British Columbia and Marine Harvest Canada.
Alexandra Morton - biologist, Raincoast Research Society (Echo Bay, BC) - While studying orca whales up until the 1990s, Alexandra watched as the salmon farming industry appeared in the Broughton Archipelago where she calls home. As she observed the arrival of industrial salmon farms, the whales she studied disappeared. She believed the cause was salmon farms, and when 10,000 pages of letters to all levels of government failed to elicit meaningful response, Alexandra realized that she would have to scientifically prove that salmon farming had driven out the whales and caused epidemic outbreaks of bacteria, viral and parasitic infections in wild salmon. By partnering with international scientists and in some cases commercial fishermen, Alexandra has documented the loss of the whales, thousands of escaped farm salmon, lethal outbreaks of sea lice, and antibiotic resistance near salmon farms.
Lawrence Dill - professor emeritus, department of biological sciences, Simon Fraser University (Burnaby, BC) - Dill's major research interests are in the development and testing of cost-benefit models of behaviour, and experimental studies of the decision rules used by animals to ensure adaptive behaviour in various contexts. The emphasis is on understanding how behaviours maximize individual fitness; this is achieved by experimental analyses of the benefits and costs of the various behavioural alternatives available to the animal. Dill studies marine invertebrates, fishes (marine and freshwater) and cetaceans (whales and dolphins).
Fin Donnelly - member of parliament, new westminster - coquitlam, port moody, New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP) (Coquitlam, BC)
Gerry Byrne - member of parliament, humber - st. barbe - baie-verte, Liberal Party of Canada (Corner Brook, NL)
Scott Andrews - member of parliament, avalon, Liberal Party of Canada (Conception Bay South, NL)