The Canadian Department of Fishy Business

Commentary by Paul Watson
Founder and President of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

Something is seriously wrong with the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

The level of bureaucratic incompetence has sunk to ridiculous depths of silliness and ineptness.

This week the Canadian government has slashed the Fisheries enforcement and enhancement budget by $150 million dollars.

Meanwhile, Canadian Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn is running around crowing about how he broke up the marriage of Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills McCartney.

The man's ridiculous priorities and the fact that he is throwing money into Newfoundland to enhance the sealing industry which is a negative economic enterprise while he is slashing the budget for salmon hatcheries and enforcement against illegal fishing is simply just plain stupid. 

Hearn is tossing out 218 DFO staff positions for areas that involve salmon hatcheries and protection and enforcement. At the same time, he is seeking laws to further restrict access to anyone who wishes to protest or document the Canadian slaughter of seals.

The Federal Court of Appeal has also just declared illegal the practice of contracting private companies to do scientific research and paying for the service with fish, a method that has become increasingly common as the DFO's science budget has been slashed.

This is an important ruling that will shut down about $25 million worth of the scientific research that DFO pays for by bartering fish. It is pretty strange that the people doing research on the diminishment of fish are being paid from money made from diminishing populations of fish.

Fisheries Minister Hearn who has the responsibility to protect the Canadian Fishing industry and marine resources is instead presiding over the gutting of his own department's ability to police illegal fishing and to enhance fish populations.

In Newfoundland, however, the talk is about how Hearn and Premier Danny Williams split up the McCartneys. The reasoning is that Paul McCartney was (according to Hearn and Williams) embarrassed by his wife's arguing with Premier Danny Williams on the Larry King show.

This story has not a trace of credibility but Hearn and Williams believe that if they tell the story enough then people will believe it. Breaking up a Beatle's marriage apparently carries more political weight than responsibly managing the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Both Paul and Heather remain very much opposed to the slaughter of seal pups in Canada and their divorce will not diminish this opposition.