A communications plan presented at the Cohen Commission shows that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is focused more on promoting fish farming than on its mandate of protecting Canada’s waters. The Green Party of Canada is appalled to learn the extent of DFO’s collusion with the aquaculture industry, including creating spin that makes fish farming sound environmentally-friendly and downplaying science to the contrary. “This evidence shows outrageous bias-instead of regulating, DFO is promoting and defending the fish farming industry,” said Green Leader Elizabeth May, MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands. “The responsibility for wasting taxpayers’ dollars to run PR for fish farms most likely lies with the bureaucrats’ political masters, but we need to get to the bottom of it.
The communications strategy also attacks environmental groups for having a self-serving agenda, suggesting they are raising awareness about fish farms in order to support their fundraising efforts. “This allegation against environmental groups is outrageous,” said May. “No one in their right minds would dedicate their lives to stopping the destruction of our oceans just for kicks – these people work incredibly hard and for very little money. That DFO would promote this denigration of citizens is completely inexcusable.” The strategy goes on to attack journalists as biased and suggests that the public is confused and apathetic. “It is disgusting that this communications strategy was considered a viable way to proceed,” said May.
The Green party recalls the parroting of DFO talking points against the David Suzuki Foundation and salmon activist Alexandra Morton in a September 2010 Globe and Mail column by Margaret Wente. “We need to know who promoted this boosterism over regulation, how much was spent to assist the multinational fish farms, and how many journalists received their talking points from DFO. The House Committee on Fisheries should hold emergency hearings into the matter,” said May.
Greens are calling for an overhaul of aquaculture policy in DFO. “We demand that DFO do its job to protect fisheries and leave pro-industry public relations to the industry. They can afford to do their own PR,” said May.