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Science advisory meetings are for scientists: DFO

Advanced Education, Skills and Labour Minister Gerry Byrne speaks with reporters Thursday as Memorial University students protested tuition increases and fees.
Fisheries Minister Gerry Byrne. - SaltWire Network file photo

Department says no one being left out on broader fisheries decision-making

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is unapologetic in its decision to deny Fisheries Minister Gerry Byrne a seat at the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat meeting on Atlantic salmon.

This follows Byrne’s public condemnation of the decision earlier this week.

In an emailed response to questions, a communications adviser from DFO told The Telegram the science advisory meeting is specifically meant to bring together technical experts and finalize scientifically based advice on a particular stock.


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“Over the years, the number of participants at stock assessment meetings has grown considerably. To ensure the scientific integrity of the process, we need to preserve the original intent of the meetings. Participants are required to have knowledge and expertise related to the topic (e.g. species, stock assessment methods, mathematical modeling, etc.) under review,” the response stated.

“So far this winter, we have held the northern shrimp and snow crab science advisory meetings and we have received extremely positive feedback on the efficiency and effectiveness of the revised approach from the participants.”

For anyone who had previously attended, but was not able to attend in 2018, the department offered an opportunity for a “stakeholder briefing.”

The objective of the advisory meetings, it stated, remains to ensure the best possible scientific advice is being provided. As advice is finalized, a report is produced and made available to the public online. Comments are sought in addition to that report.

“While we were not able to accommodate Minister Byrne’s request to attend the science advisory meeting, in our response to his request, we offered participation in a stakeholder technical briefing or a private briefing with (DFO) Science,” the department stated.

The province’s Fisheries minister has not attended the meetings in the past, it noted, and no other requests were put forward by elected officials to attend.

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