March 6, 2023
(xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh)/Vancouver, B.C.) The First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC) is deeply disturbed by recently released information regarding Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s (DFO) scientific review and decision-making processes which alleges that scientific reports are purposely altered to support presupposed conclusions and prioritize the interests of industry and continuation of the status quo over and above the sustainability and protection of marine life and respect for First Nations inherent title and rights. The FNLC calls for an independent, external investigation and an overhaul of these processes to restore the credibility of DFO to carry out reviews and decision-making consistent with its mandate of sustainably managing marine resources, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and explicit direction from Prime Minister Trudeau.
Numerous subject matter experts have identified these critical issues, including a January 2023 public letter from 16 reputable experts, internal DFO documents released under a Freedom of Information request, and testimony from spring 2022 to the federal Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. Recent evidence indicates that DFO employees manipulated and cherrypicked statistical data in scientific report 2022/045 to misrepresent the significant association between fish farms and wild juvenile salmon’s infestation with sea lice, altering the content to claim that there is no connection between fish farms and sea lice in wild stocks, and disregarding the established peer reviewed Canadian and international research.