at National Observer
Exclusive: Inside the Harper government's trashing of a research library
By Charles Mandel
September 29th 2015
At first, the closing of the library at the Lethbridge Agricultural Centre looked methodical. Staff were informed of the closure in July. Then in early August they were told they could help themselves to items from the collection.
And then it all went south from there: in mid-August summer students began filling an extra-large dumpster with journals and reports. Reportedly, one scientist jumped into the dumpster to rescue a set of journals. Distressed staff began to select more and more books from the collection in order to rescue them.
The dumped books turned into news, bringing more embarrassment upon the federal government. The Conservatives have attracted international negative attention for closing down research stations, and muzzling scientists.
Harper has shut down 16 research libraries during his time in government. While the closures have attracted some media attention and news stories, there have been few detailed reports.
Now an anonymous source familiar with the Lethbridge closure has stepped forward and provided National Observer with an inside perspective on exactly what happens when the government shuts down a science library.
National Observer very rarely uses anonymous sources, but fear of reprisal appears to have silenced federal researchers and employees, in this and many other stories.
Even with an unprecedented inside look at how the Lethbridge library closure was handled, more questions than answers remain. What has happened to the collection? What was kept and what was discarded? What, if anything, is being digitized and how will scientists access those documents?
By way of example, the library held a number of historical journals and diaries, some dating back to the early 1900s. It's believed these documents are still on site, but no one appears to know for certain. Consolidating the collection
In July, library staff received an email informing them of a "collection consolidation."
The email told staff that since July 2012 the department has concentrated on the provision of core services and electronic information resources at the desktop through the Knowledge Services Library (the former Canadian Agriculture Library).
According to the email, the government is consolidating all physical collections, with several more in process. The consolidation procedures were supposed to include evaluation of all unique and relevant materials with subsequent relocation to the library headquarters in Ottawa; any items no longer considered relevant or as duplicates would be offered to staff to be kept as "office copies."
As well, in collaboration with local management in Lethbridge, the library would investigate offering selected remaining materials to outside organizations; and local management would continue to manage any remaining materials.
The email concludes: "It should be noted that services are not disappearing, but that we will provide services in a different fashion."
The consolidation notice email came as a shock to staff.
"Though this collection consolidation has happened to other research centres over the last couple of years, we weren't aware it was going to happen to Lethbridge," the source said.
"In fact, when it happened to Swift Current, they were told it wouldn’t matter, because they would have access to Lethbridge resources."
The Lethbridge library was part of a networked association of Agriculture Canada libraries. Linked through a central database, the libraries could order books from each other. Locally, Lethbridge provided service to Agriculture Canada staff, Alberta provincial staff and the public. College and university students used the facility as did local historians.
While the library was able to maintain its holdings, over the last several years it lost space. More recently, building renovations pushed the library down to the basement of the building, while the library itself was taken over as office space. The basement library took up about 1350 square feet.
On August 10, library staff received an email advising them that they could select “office copies” from the collection, including from any items on the shelves, atlases on the atlas stand and maps in the map cabinet. Included as well were a French language collection on the second floor of the building, and a number of other atlases and dictionaries.
At the time of the email, many staff were away on summer vacation or out in the field doing research.
The disposal of the collection took place over a couple of weeks in August. A couple of summer students boxed up journals. The boxes sat outside the basement library on pallets for a few days. But then, over the next week-and-a-half, the students began filling an extra-large dumpster with journals and old reports.
When the news story about the trashing of the library’s holdings broke, the dumpster was immediately emptied.
At first, staff didn't realize what was going on. It wasn't until a couple of days after the first lot had been dumped that word got out.
“People were disgusted and disheartened,” the source said. "At that point, people began going and rescuing more and more books. This is maybe what Agriculture Canada means when they say 'materials of value were saved.'"
The rescued books are now in various individuals' offices, with no accessible record of where they are. The source said in this state the books are essentially of no use to anyone but the person who rescued them. The rescue is, at best, a temporary measure, given that the books cannot be taken off-site. When a researcher is done with them or leaves the centre, the books must be disposed of in the way that was intended, according to the source.
One more rung on the ladder of cuts
The closure discouraged research centre scientists and staff. It wasn’t just the fact that valuable documents and journals were trashed, but that they weren’t even offered to other institutions or the public.
“These were taxpayer-funded resources, and they would have been of use or value to many people," the source said. The books included ones of general horticulture that could have easily gone to a public library; graduate theses researchers donated to the library; and scientific methodology books of value to another laboratory or student.
"This is just one more rung on the ladder of cuts to and restrictions on research that people are facing — frankly, people are disheartened," the source said.
The source scoffed outright at the idea of the federal government digitizing the work, which is a claim government spokespeople have made repeatedly. "There has been no massive digitization project,’ the source said.
"If one thinks about it, there is no way that Ag Canada could have digitized its entire collection, unless infringing on publisher's copyright. Going forward, I have heard that the library will be trying to purchase digital copies of books."
While many scientific journals are available online through subscription, if the subscription lapses, researchers will lose access. Many journals have digitized their material up to a point. Staff were told that if they wanted to retrieve a book from their collection, they will have to order it and check it out from Ottawa.
But they received no clear answer as to how much that might cost, and who would pay. In the course of research, scientists could look through several books or may scan the shelves of an entire subject to find what they’re looking for.
The source noted, "A book that hasn't been looked at in 30 years may now contain the nugget of information required. But not having that book on a shelf means that nugget may never be found."
In the meantime, when the story of the library closure broke in August, the process of clearing the collection was put on hold. Boxes and boxes of books on pallets are sitting in the basement hall of the research centre and books remain on the shelves.
The source asked rhetorically:
"If nothing wrong was happening, why stop it?"
Agriculture Canada was contacted for comment on this story but has not responded.
This information appeared
at Herald Scotland
Anglers in new attack on fish farming amid claims salmon stocks are falling
A worker at a salmon farm on Loch Linnhe near Fort William.
David Ross, Highland Correspondent
6 October 2015
Anglers have renewed verbal hostilities against fish farming calling on ministers to impose an immediate moratorium on the industry expanding further.
The move comes amid new claims there is growing evidence that Highland salmon river stocks are suffering.
Representatives of one of the most popular sporting pastimes in Scotland, have long pointed an accusing finger at the industry which produces the country's number one food export, for its impact on wild salmon stocks.
Now Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland (S&TCS) claims the Scottish Government’s own newly published classification of the country's salmon rivers puts all those in the West Highlands and Inner Hebrides, in the worst-performing category.
This includes important river systems such as the Awe and the Lochy. It means stocks are not reaching what are known as 'conservation limits,' a measure of the overall health of the population, the S&TCS says.
Its director Andrew Graham-Stewart, said: "This new analysis by Marine Scotland should ring alarm bells. Fisheries' scientists have long warned of the impact of sea lice and escapes emanating from salmon farms."
He said the fact that no single river within salmon farming's heartland on the west coast had a sufficient stock of wild salmon for any sustainable fishing, could not be a coincidence.
"Regrettably, Scottish Government has until now habitually downplayed studies by third parties, but we believe it cannot ignore its own fisheries scientists' analysis. The contrast between western Scotland and the rest of the country is clear to see and the only major or substantive distinction between the east and west coasts is, of course, the presence of salmon farming in the west. We call on the Scottish Government to halt any further growth in salmon farming until the industry can definitively prove itself to be environmentally sustainable."
Roger Brook, Chairman of the Argyll District Salmon Fishery Board, agreed: "Marine Scotland's analysis must call into question Scottish Ministers' repeated claims that salmon farming, as it is currently practised, is inherently sustainable. While the majority of east, and north coast rivers are 'category one,' indicating that wild salmon populations are reasonably healthy, all the rivers in the West Highlands and Inner Hebrides are designated as 'category three,' indicating that they are in very poor health."
He said on the one hand Scottish Government was claiming that salmon farming was sustainable, whilst on the other hand it was categorising all wild fisheries in salmon farming areas as unsustainable.
But the Scottish Government pointed out that the grade three areas also covered significant parts of Scotland where no salmon farming takes place.
A spokeswoman said it was working to preserve wild salmon populations, with measures including spring conservation, introduced earlier this year and the proposed salmon kill licence, which would come into operation for the 2016 season.
"Any application for a new salmon farming development requires a detailed assessment of any potential impacts by the relevant local authority. We are working with Scotland's salmon farming industry and representatives of the wild salmon sector on an ambitious programme of research which will explore any potential risk to wild salmon from sea lice, which will help inform Scottish Government policy in relation to supporting both sustainable growth in aquaculture and conserving important wild salmon stocks."
Scott Landsburgh, chief executive of Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, said it was of course, regrettable that the status of these rivers was so poor, but added.
"The industry's joint working with wild fisheries organisations has shown a productive and co-operative relationship looking at restoration and restocking projects. Work has focused on the importance of maintaining and improving river habitats and encouraging catch and release rather than depleting the river populations. "
He said the technical expertise and facilities of the fish-farming industry had also helped with a restocking programme of the River Lochy, as part of a wider five year project to assist 14 different rivers in Lochaber.
Martin Jaffa of the fish-farming consultancy Callander McDowell said west coast rivers were generally very short and a handful of fish could make a difference to the calculations. The much longer rivers of the east had much greater stock "and thus the maths allows a much greater margin for error."
Salmon Confidential Documentary 2013 British Columbia
This letter appeared
You divested from dirty oil and coal earlier this year. Thank you! Now it is time to divest from dirty salmon, your industry is too big now to be using our oceans as an open sewer.
If you agree, please sign and share this letter:
Canadians and Norwegians love wild salmon, but Norwegian salmon farms are one of the greatest threats to this magnificent fish in both our countries.
I am a Canadian biologist who studied whales until your salmon farming industry moved in: Marine Harvest, Cermaq and Grieg. Now I study sea lice and farmed salmon viruses.
As I follow your news on the escape of rainbow trout into Norway's fjords, I see we have become mirror images of the same industrial disaster. Diseased American trout threaten Norway's wild salmon, while diseased Atlantic farm salmon threaten Canada's wild salmon. Why would we do this?
The world has noticed that salmon farming is a dirty industry. People are increasingly afraid to eat farmed salmon due to toxins. I described the salmon-farming nightmare on 60 Minutes. Bloomberg, the world's leading business publication, reports on "Why You'll Never Want to Eat Farm-Raised Salmon."
The relationship between your salmon farmers and both our governments is disturbing. Norway, world champion for social responsibility, actually convinced the EU to permit 10xs more endosulfan in farmed salmon feed to increase profitability. This is one of the most dangerous pesticides banned in most parts of the world because of the horrific damage it does to babies! Is this really the same Norway, who chooses the Nobel Peace Prize laureates to reward the highest moral behavior?
Meanwhile in Canada, laws are being rewritten to legalize release of sea lice chemicals that kill wild fish, transfer of diseased farmed salmon into wild salmon habitat, ownership of salmon in Canadian waters, and 9-year licenses. This is madness. Our countries are failing to live up to our standards. Salmon farming was born in Norway, but they use Canada to satisfy their shareholders. Norway just divested from dirty oil (thank you Norway), perhaps it is time to divest from dirty salmon?
Please tell your politicians salmon farms are feedlots, they belong on land. The salmon farmers need help learning how to grow up and behave responsibly. Wild salmon are a gift we will not be given twice. Will we rob our children of clean food? Please stop this industry before a devastating virus destroys the last wild salmon. Viral pollution is unforgivable and our children will not understand why we did this to them.
"Chow down on some diseased sick salmon...yummy...."
"When you buy salmon at the market do you know what you are buying?"
People around the world have tried to protect their home waters from salmon farms for 20 years. On September 9, 2015 Ahousaht people stepped onto a fish farm as it was trying to anchor to their territory and told the crew to leave. The massive Japanese corporation Mitsubishi in September, 2014 made a US1.4 billion bid to buy the Norwegian fishery Cermaq ASA for 8.88 billion kroner ($1.4 billion) to expand its foods business and become the world's second-largest salmon farmer.
Mitsubishi is the largest trading house in Japan and monopolizes most of Japan's domestic market. Not much gets sold in Japan if this behemoth corporation knows about it. Raw salmon in Japan is a huge business as part of the food industry related to eating raw fish (sushi). In the 1970s, Japan did not import a single piece of fish and it did not use salmon for sushi. That all started to change in the 1980s after a Norwegian seafood delegation visited the Asian country and Project Japan was formed. Today, Norwegian salmon is the sushi fish of choice among young Japanese. It is all farmed salmon and most Japanese are clueless as to the source of this salmon. Project Japan not only blazed a trail for Atlantic salmon for raw consumption in Japan, it also opened doors for the salmon sushi markets in China, Hong Kong and Singapore. In 2010, China imported more Norwegian salmon than Japan. Norway is the dominant exporter of salmon to China, 80-90% of which is eaten raw.
Norwegian TV2 News: The truth about the Fish Farming industry in Norway!
Norway's fishing industry fights back after salmon scare
Mitsubishi Bids $1.4 Billion for Cermaq to Expand in Food
The Beginning of the End of Salmon Farming in BC