Last chapter for many federal science libraries

Books and reports from a Department of Fisheries library at the Maurice Lamontagne Institute in Mont Joli, Que., tossed into a dumpster, according to scientists distributing the photo.

Books and reports from a Department of Fisheries library at the Maurice Lamontagne Institute in Mont Joli, Que., tossed into a dumpster, according to scientists distributing the photo.

January 9, 2014 – Environment Canada has a phone number for its library in Calgary. But a meteorologist answers, and he can’t say what’s become of the books.

It’s a similar story in Edmonton and Quebec City where federal libraries, with shelves loaded with reference books and scientific reports on everything from beluga whales to songbirds, now exist only in name.

Environment Canada lists the libraries on its website but the books are long gone. Continue reading →

Closure of fisheries’ libraries called a ‘disaster’ for science

Rare books on the shelf at DFO's St. Andrews library ~  SOS

Rare books on the shelf at DFO’s St. Andrews library ~ SOS

April 14, 2013 _ The libraries are home to the 50 illustrated volumes from Britain’s Challenger expedition that sailed the seas in the late 1800s exploring the mysteries of the deep.
The shelves heave with reports detailing the DDT pollution that wiped out young salmon in New Brunswick’s “rivers of death” in the 1950s. And they contain vivid reminders of native fisheries, Canada’s once vast cod stocks and the U.S. submarines that prowled the quiet fjords along the B.C. coast in the 1940s — history that is being packed into boxes as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans “consolidates” its world-class library collection.

Seven DFO libraries across Canada are to close by the fall, including two that have been amassing books and technical reports on the aquatic realm for more than a century. Continue reading →

Scientists call federal confidentiality and publication rules “chilling”

Canadian and US scientists used the  CCGS Henry Larsen, shown at the entrance to Petermann Fjord off Nares Strait in August 2012, to retrieve instruments assessing the ice and currents in the region. Photo Credit: Jon Poole and CCGS Henry Larsen

Canadian and US scientists used the CCGS Henry Larsen, shown at the entrance to Petermann Fjord off Nares Strait in August 2012, to retrieve instruments assessing the ice and currents in the region. Photo Credit: Jon Poole and CCGS Henry Larsen

Feb 14, 2013

By Margaret Munro, Postmedia News

A bid by the federal government to impose sweeping confidentiality rules on an Arctic science project has run into serious resistance in the United States.

“I’m not signing it,” said Andreas Muenchow, of the University of Delaware, who has taken issue with the wording that Canada’s Fisheries and Oceans department has proposed for the Canada-U.S. project.

It’s an affront to academic freedom and a “potential muzzle,” said Muenchow, who has been collaborating with DFO scientists on the project in the Eastern Arctic since 2003.

DFO’s proposed confidentiality provisions say all technology and “other information” related to the Arctic project “shall be deemed to be confidential and neither party may release any such information to others in any way whatsoever without the prior written authorization of the other party.”

If enforced, Muenchow says  the fisheries department could prevent researchers from publishing scientific findings, blogging about their project or sharing information on the project with the media and public, which is encouraged by the U.S. agencies co-funding the project. Muenchow and DFO scientists involved in the project travel north by icebreaker to deploy and retrieve instruments to assess oceanographic conditions in the ice-choked Nares Strait, which runs between Canada’s Ellesmere Island and Greenland and may have a significant effect on ocean circulation.

Muenchow’s problem with the DFO comes amid growing concern and controversy over the Harper government’s micro-management of scientific projects. Continue reading →

Scientists urge Harper to rescind cuts to basic research

Vancouver Sun Jun 6 2012

By Margaret Munro  Postmedia News

Opposition to federal science cuts is getting louder, with top researchers and academics urging the Harper government to rescind curbs on basic research and its plan to close a unique experimental lakes facility.

An open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the environment and fisheries ministers was released Tues-day, denouncing the decision to stop funding the Experimental Lakes Area, a celebrated federal research facility in northwestern Ontario which was instrumental in banning phosphorus in deter-gents and stopping acid rain.

Meanwhile, Steve Perry, the dean of science at the University of Ottawa, has fired off a letter to Harper and several cabinet ministers decrying recent cuts to discovery-based science programs. Continue reading →

Japanese quake a warning to Canada: Prepare for the inevitable

Fri Mar 9 2012

By Margaret Munro

VANCOUVER – Anacla, a First Nations village on the west coast of Vancouver Island, is moving up, heading for higher, safer ground.

A new “big house” has been built 50 metres up from the pounding surf of Pachena Bay. And there are plans to replace the 49 houses on the beach, which could be swallowed by the sea with just minutes’ notice.

It has happened before, says Tom Happynook, a hereditary chief with the Huu-ay-Aht First Nations, recalling how the village in the bay vanished in 1700, when a quake kicked up giant waves off Canada’s West Coast.

“The village was completely wiped out,” says Happynook.

Scientists say the strain is building again beneath the sea floor as enormous tectonic plates push against each other about 100 kilometres offshore. Continue reading →