For years, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans had been criticized for downplaying the threat of sea lice on wild salmon.

And in January 2023, the agency released a report on sea lice that outraged the scientific community. The report, meant to inform Joyce Murray, fisheries minister at the time, on decisions regarding the closure of fish farms, concluded there was no statistically significant connection between the sea lice attacking farm fish and the sea lice attacking wild juvenile salmon swimming past the farms.

That conclusion ignored dozens of studies done in Canada and internationally that found sea lice on the farms was a serious problem for juvenile wild salmon.

We “couldn't believe that this had made it through any sort of peer review process to be published because it was so scientifically indefensible,” said Sean Godwin, a researcher with the Pacific Salmon Foundation who has studied sea lice.

Biologist Alex Morton called the DFO conclusion laughable and “scientific fraud.”

In Episode 12 of The Salmon People podcast, we hear scientists deconstruct the DFO study and warn the fisheries minister of bad science.

The Salmon People podcast is a co-production between Sandra Bartlett and Canada’s National Observer. Listen to Episode 12, 16 Scientists, on your go-to listening app.

While you’re there, don’t forget to catch up on the previous season about a 30-year battle to save Canada’s wild salmon. If you like what you hear, help others find us by leaving us a five-star rating and a comment if you’re feeling extra fancy.

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Nice to see Joyce Murray going out the way she came in.

I’m only four episodes in as of early autumn 2023. I’m riveted. You’ll be frustrated by what you learn but glad you tuned in to Sandra Bartlett’s The Salmon People podcast. The characters telling the story, guided by Sandra’s excellent production, are so down to earth and compelling in their testaments; I am grateful to share in their lives and professional pursuit of natural justice. Hearing is seeing, as great journalism on radio achieves in this top-ranking documentary series, and as the saying goes, ‘seeing is believing’. You soon discover governments and bureaucrats, even scientists (named) worked for decades to ignore, deny and hide the truth about why wild salmon have been disappearing along the British Columbia coast. It’s a mystery that science has a solid handle on solving but corporate interests have a tight handle too, on the resource decision makers. Make this a must listen, (if you haven’t already) tell others to listen too, support this podcast and Canada’s National Observer. You won’t regret it.