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Studies cannot use Experiment Lakes Area even if fully funded from exterior sources
Written by Bruce Hyer, MP   
Tuesday, 19 March 2013 15:47

The Harper Government is unnecessarily sabotaging ongoing research at the Experimental Lakes Area and deliberately robbing international and domestic scientist of the 2013 field season, contends Independent MP Bruce Hyer (Thunder Bay-Superior North).

“The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has declared that the Experimental Lakes Area will be mothballed on March 31st. Scientists won’t even be able to visit the facility, and only a site manager will be on location after that date,” said Hyer. “But a leaked letter sent from the DFO to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources showed that the Memorandum of Understanding to operate the Experimental Lakes Area won’t come to an end until September 2013. This means that there is at least another summer field season available to continue vital ongoing research.”

“Many current studies at the Experimental Lakes Area are already fully-funded from exterior sources up to their completion date,” said Hyer. “Scientists are ready to do research this summer that can only be completed at the ELA. Furthermore, Fisheries staff at the Freshwater Institute in Winnipeg, who analyze much of the data, will still be getting paid whether they have ELA data or not. If the ELA only needs a site manager on location to operate this summer, there is no good reason scientists can’t continue their research. Barring scientists from the facility this summer will only serve to sabotage the research, at great cost.”

On Friday it was revealed that Fisheries staff had started to gut cabins scientists use during the field season. It was feared that buildings were being prepared for demolition.

“If the government is really negotiating in good faith to find a replacement operator, why would there be any need to cancel ongoing research prematurely …and fire our scientists?” asked Hyer in question period. “This jeopardizes fully-funded research worth tens of millions of dollars.”

“The Canadian aquatic science community is dismayed that the important research at Canada’s Experimental Lakes Area is being unnecessarily halted,” said Dr. Jules Blais, President of the Canadian Society of Limnologists. “Even if federal scientists were excluded from participating in summer 2013, important research could continue by independent university researchers if the federal government would simply permit these scientists to access the site.”

“These studies were planned years ahead, and include things like climate impact studies and nanosilver experiments assessing the effects of nanoparticles on lakes, the only studies of their kind taking place worldwide,” said Blais. “Dismantling buildings and blocking research only leaves the scientific community – and the public – questioning the government’s sincerity in transferring the ELA to a new operator.” 



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