In a recent survey, an overwhelming number of DFO employees feel Researchthat their ability to do their jobs has been seriously jeopardized by funding cuts. The cutbacks have reduced DFO employees’ capacity to study and monitor the environment, our fish and other aquatic resources. This capacity is essential, and DFO and Environment Canada employees are the ones able to provide an objective, scientific oversight on the health and sustainability of Canada’s aquatic ecosystems.
Our ecosystems are an incredibly complex web of life forms, creating and consuming energy, using and providing oxygen to the atmosphere, cycling nutrients and providing food to millions of land animals, including humans. The ecosystem has adapted to function sustainably through complex interactions between species, climatic conditions and water chemistry. But if limits are exceeded, a burden is placed on the system which can disrupt its functioning.
Historically humans have used the aquatic ecosystems as an endless reserve of food, a bottomless vessel for disposal of waste and a constant source of oxygen. The overuse of aquatic resources and introduction of pollutants into the ecosystems have resulted in local ecosystem collapse. Scientific study of these issues by government has provided us the knowledge to make local improvements.
At a time when there’s a need to protect and understand the current conditions of our ecosystems, government is cutting funding to public science. The push for economic activity, jobs and sustainable industry and communities is increasing, but meeting these demands will be impossible if we continue to deplete the environmental capital in the system.
We must continue to monitor, study and understand our natural environment. We need to use our knowledge to make the right decisions, which are informed by science and not by decisions based on short-term economic benefits at the expense of long-term ecological health.