Magazine story bends the facts

Dear editor,

I am  responding to the article by Quentin Dodd in a recent edition of Aquaculture North America (March/April 2011) as it contains significant obfuscation concerning the true location of the 53 jobs created by the transfer of aquaculture regulation from the province to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

Leaving aside the question of why any of these jobs are located in Vancouver, the statement that “nearly all of the 53 jobs will be on Vancouver Island, to be close to the industry” is a bending of facts that amounts to a slap in the face for both the Regional District of Mount Waddington and Strathcona Regional District. The Regional District of Mount Waddington produces half of British Columbia’s annual tonnage of farmed salmon in the sites located in its jurisdiction. For this contribution to the B.C. economy, the Port Hardy DFO office was awarded six of these jobs.

As is often the case with DFO, the key regulatory managers and decision makers have located themselves and their bureaucracies in cities as far away from the rural resources they purport to manage as possible without setting up shop in Seattle.

Aquaculture is a spatially diverse rural and rural-remote industry of the Central and North Coast, not an industry that can be managed from a tower block in downtown Vancouver, Nanaimo or Victoria.

All indications of future potential expansion of the aquaculture industry indicate that it would take place in colder waters to the adjacent north of Vancouver Island. DFO’s human  resource procurement policies are swimming against the tide of industrial reality and are therefore doing a huge disservice to all rural coast communities as they threaten the viability of the few existing private sector management units that do exist here. It is the antithesis of sustainable rural development.

A recent Access to Information request to determine the number of DFO FTEs in different office locations throughout the Pacific Region in 2010 uncovered some amazing facts:

• There are 1621.7 full time employees in the DFO Pacific Region;

• Only 12.7 per cent of them are located on the rural BC Coast;

• Almost 80 per cent are based on Southern Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland;

• The Kamloops Area Office has more FTEs than Prince Rupert, a major international port;

• All research stations are within a 100 km radius of Vancouver.

How can the Pacific Region possibly be executing its Pacific Coast mandate effectively from massive offices and research stations in Vancouver, Nanaimo?

While we are happy for the new FTEs in Port Hardy and the benefits they bring, the North and Central Coast is not being rewarded for its contribution to the B.C. economy equitably by this decision. To convey the claim that these new job locations are based on resource adjacency, as recently espoused in your article, is disappointing.

I call on DFO to recognize finfish aquaculture as a rural-remote industry and adjust their federal public service human resource management policies accordingly in the interests of rural sustainability and local transparency.

Al Huddlestan

Chair

Regional District Mount Waddington

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