Former directors voice concerns to save Experimental Lakes Area
From News Release by Coalition to Save ELA
OTTAWA— Four former Regional Director Generals of the
Department of Fisheries and Oceans – Burton Ayles, Paul Sutherland,
Herb Lawler, and Rick Josephson – have strongly spoken out to decry
the Government of Canada’s profound changes to the Fisheries Act
rolled into Omnibus Budget Bill C-38 and the closure of Canada’s
Experimental Lakes Area.
These senior managers were responsible for Canada's freshwater
ecosystems stretching from Ontario and the Great Lakes across the
prairies and to the Arctic, from 1981-1995.
In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Fisheries
Minister Keith Ashfield, the Directors state: “We believe you have
been ill advised by either political staff with little understanding
of federal constitutional responsibilities and with little
appreciation of the importance of clean water and viable aquatic
ecosystems to the well-being of all Canadians or by federal
bureaucrats with a bias towards the management of marine fisheries”.
The letter outlines the historical, constitutional responsibilities of
the federal government for fisheries. Changes to the Fisheries Act in
Bill C-38 will remove protection from the vast majority of Canadian
fresh waters, those lakes and rivers that do not have a commercial,
recreational, or aboriginal fishery. The directors warn about the
cumulative effects of harming these unprotected, often small, bodies
of water – the tyranny of cumulative effects.
The Directors state that the closure the Experimental Lakes Area
(ELA), and other science programs, will further erode the protection
of freshwater habitats. For the last 44 years, the ELA program has
contributed scientific knowledge essential for managing fisheries and
protecting fish habitat. The federal government is trying to off-load
this research station onto universities, but this program should fall
within the purview of government.
The erosion of legislation and research programs, fostered by Bill
C-38, abrogates the responsibility of the federal government to
protect fish habitat and aquatic ecosystems. Too much is being
discarded by this federal government in the name of economic growth.
“When did the protection of fish habitat and aquatic ecosystems no
longer become a federal mandate?”, asks Burton Ayles, DFO Regional
Director General, 1986-1993, “How was that decided? When did
contaminants in fish become of low priority to Canada? Why was it
decided that Canada no longer needs to support a research facility
unique in the world? Where did this ill advice come from and what is
Coalition to Save ELA
Diane Orihel (Tel: 204-979-2395)
Heidi Swanson (Tel: 587-708-1322)
Jason Venkiteswaran (519-897-3527)
A copy of the letter is available on our website: http://saveela.org/letters/
Contact information for the lead author:
G. Burton Ayles, Ph.D.
Regional Director General, DFO Central and Arctic Region 1993-1995 (Retired)
Tel: 204-257-4453, Email: email@example.com