Save the ELA Coalition – Fisheries and Oceans set to transfer the Experimental Lakes Area

Posted 9 November 2012 by in Local Regional

ELATHUNDER BAY – The Coalition to Save ELA has been informed that the federal department of Fisheries and Oceans is on the verge of transferring the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) to a private sector operator. The Coalition states that “This action is being taken under a veil of secrecy and at a time when Parliament is not in session”.

The Coalition has called upon the Canadian Minister of the Environment, Mr. Peter Kent, to take immediate action to stop the government from committing a grave error that would have dire consequences for Canada’s ability to secure the health of our lakes and the sustainability of our freshwater resources.

The scientists wrote the Minister stating, ”

We are writing today to urge you to take immediate action to stop your government from committing a grave error that would have dire consequences for Canada’s ability to secure the health of our lakes and the sustainability of our freshwater resources. We have been informed that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is on the verge of transferring the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) to a private sector operator. This action is being taken under a veil of secrecy and at a time when Parliament is not sitting. Mr. Kent, we are appealing to you – as Minister of the Environment – to intervene and ensure that ELA remains a public science program under the purview of the Government of Canada.

“The ELA is the only freshwater research facility capable of providing the scientific information critical to addressing the serious environmental challenges we face in Canada, now and in the future. We warn you that transferring ELA to private interests will change the focus of its research, the perception of the science, the ownership of the scientific data, and the communication of findings to the scientific community and the Canadian public. Unless it remains funded by the government and staffed by public service scientists, the research priorities at ELA will cease to reflect public policy priorities or serve the public interest. Furthermore, the disposal of ELA and the dismantling of its science team will significantly reduce the freshwater science expertise and capacity within the Public Service of Canada”.

The Coalition to Save ELA, a national organization of scientists and citizens, appealed to Minister Kent to swiftly intervene to ensure that ELA remains a public program under the purview of the Government of Canada. In an open letter to the Minister Kent today, the authors called on the Minister to maintain ELA as a public science program to ensure that research at ELA continues to respond to government priorities, guide public policy, and remain in the public interest.

The authors warn that transferring ELA to private interests will change the focus of its research, the perception of the science, the ownership of the scientific data, and the communication of findings to the scientific community and the Canadian public. Furthermore, the disposal of ELA and the dismantling of its science team will significantly reduce the freshwater science expertise and capacity within the Government of Canada.

“The ELA is the only freshwater research facility capable of providing the necessary science to address the serious environmental challenges we face in Canada, now and in the future”, explains Diane Orihel, Director of the Coalition to Save ELA. “Unless ELA remains funded by the federal government and staffed by public service scientists, the ELA will cease to serve the interests of the people of Canada, and our ability to protect our lakes and rivers will be diminished.”