Monday, 9 March 2015

Conservation and Protection – Budget Shortfall - DFO

Last time, I ended on the note that BC has the greatest need for fisheries officers in Canada, but has little more than 20% of the staff it should have. See:

At one officer per 24,000 citizens, this implies about 180 officers. But during the Cohen Commission into Fraser River sockeye collapse, C&P BC put forward a dozen Issue Papers on lack of funding, made 30 recommendations for change, and summarized an $18.1 million funding shortfall to perform its duties.

There is another issue: erroneously putting the Salmon Enhancement Program budget in the BC C&P budget (BC is the only province that has had such a program until the 2015 announcement of $4 million for Atlantic Canada), where it is a bargaining chip that tends to whittle down both SEP and C&P budgets when competitively presented with the entire Canadian C&P budget. To reach average national funding would require another $29 Million for BC.

And if SEP funding was presented in its own standard object, C&P BC would also need $14.6 million to replace the funding lost by the disaggregation. So that is $18.1 + $29 + $14.6 = $61.7 Million more needed for C&P BC.

These are 2011 figures, and SEP is about $20M now. However, I am told that the C&P BC shortfall and the problems have only grown worse in the intervening four years. All of these figures are on the Cohen record, and you can read the half inch of documents I scoured at the archived site: Do keep the reference as the site cannot be found by Googling: Cohen Commission.

Here are the shortfall items in the C&P budget – and this means required every year, not just once.

Salaries                                                                        $1.3 M.

Williams funding – for a credible enforcement program on the Fraser.         $1.8 M + $500,000 for vehicles.

PICFI – intelligence lead enforcement.                      $720,000

Industry funded positions – commercial ground fish related, and subject to a legal challenge, 1200 investigations                                                  $600,000

Aerial Surveillance Flights – inland, Fraser River, 800 reduced to 250 hours           $250,000

Canadian Sanitary Shellfish Program – patrols          $760,000        

Waste Water Treatment Program – to monitor the plants                                          $134,000

Aquaculture – an effective compliance program        $2.5M + $1.5M capital

Isolated Post Allowances                                           $50,000

Relocation of Fishery Officers                                   $225,000

Crown housing – for isolated locations                      $100,000

IT upgrades                                                                 $150,000

Rigid Hull Program Fuel                                             $200,000

Species at Risk Act – for credible protection             $300,000

Mid-Shore Patrol Vessels – 40 new staff. Note they require special training, such as using guns.     $2.3M - $4.3M

South East and North East BC – regarding need from the Old Man decision, for habitat, $2.4M.

The sum is the $18.1M quoted above.

Three comments:

1.      Yes, the rigid hull inflatables, purchased because of loss of patrol vessels, had zero dollars for fuel. Even if they had fuel, would you want to go out in a rigid hull on mid-BC waters that includes open ocean? I once crossed Calvert to Cape Caution at nine knots on a conflicted sea. Ugly.

2.      The IT amount does not include the money needed for the Citrix computer system upgrades, nor the radio system that needs $11M.

3.      The emails/notes for the Aquaculture program present a DFO (in Ottawa, not BC) as dysfunctional as British Columbians believe it is. Just read them. C&P was not allowed to contact the Province’s program when taking over this responsibility. Staffing ricocheted from 55 to 12 positions for more than a year, ending at 12. C&P was told that compliance was 100%, but on one of the first missions, where a fish farm noted one dead sea lion in a net, C&P found 55 dead sea lions. Skuna Bay, a Grieg Seafood offshoot into ‘organic farmed salmon’, was subsequently prosecuted for 65 dead sea lions and paid an ‘education’ fine of $100,000.

During the third session of Cohen taped testimony, Trever Swerdfagger, who was the C&P 
Assistant Deputy Minister for a short period, seemed visibly contemptuous of the proceedings. Go look and reach your own conclusion. Among other things, C&P BC needs more money.

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