The parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans insists a genetics researcher who works for the Department of Fisheries isn’t being muzzled by federal officials.
MP Randy Kamp pointed out that Dr. Kristi Miller’s research was published in the journal Science.
“Her research has been out. It’s on the DFO website,” said Kamp on Thursday, a day after Miller appeared at the Cohen Inquiry, which is investigating the decline in salmon stocks.
Miller’s appearance was anticipated due to reports she’d been silenced by federal officials.
She told the commission she had been directed not to publicly discuss her findings ahead of her testimony – out of respect for the inquiry – but said the same instructions applied to other DFO staff.
“We wanted to make sure Cohen has the ability to do his work,” said Kamp.
“We didn’t want [Miller’s] testimony to be debated in the media before she had a chance to talk to Cohen. She can talk to whoever she likes in terms of the research, that is publicly available and still is.”
The judicial inquiry led by retired Judge Bruce Cohen was called by the federal government after fewer than 1.5 million sockeye returned in 2009, far fewer than the more than 10 million expected.
The inquiry has explored myriad potential causes for the decline – from pollution and habitat destruction to overfishing and marine predators – but none has yet emerged as the probable sole cause of the drop in stocks.
Kamp said the DFO is looking forward to Cohen’s recommendations and finding answers to the mysterious drop in wild sockeye salmon.
“We are going to take a close look at them,” added Kamp.
“The inquiry has been a challenging process for the department in getting all the documents together but we hope to learn something at the end of the day, both about scientific and management issues.”
– with files from Jeff Nagel
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