Thursday, June 02, 2011

Vivian Krause On Sea-Lice

Once a consultant for the salmon farming industry, these days Vivian Krause refers to herself as a "researcher", and spends a fair bit of time attacking groups like the  David Suzuki Foundation for their criticism of industry practices, in particular their contention that sea lice from farmed salmon are infecting and depleting wild stocks.  Here are some excerpts from her latest, entitled The case of the missing Sea Lice:

For more than a decade, the David Suzuki Foundation has run an aggressive campaign against farmed salmon. "It's poison!" David Suzuki told a conference in Toronto. "Phone your local hospitals and find out if farmed salmon is served to patients," said a brochure from his foundation.

The Suzuki Foundation distributed a brochure titled Why You Shouldn't Eat Farmed Salmon. It features David Suzuki's photo prominently on the front page. Since last February, however, that brochure -along with 20 press releases and Web pages about salmon farming -have been quietly removed from the foundation's website. Gone.

You can read the whole thing, but Krause's claim is that the reason Why You Shouldn't Eat Farmed Salmon has been pulled from is because her own efforts have shown the arguments in the brochure to have been falsified:

Internet archives show that last February, 16 press releases and Web pages about salmon farming were removed merely hours after I put on my blog a detailed letter to David Suzuki in which I asked questions about the funding and scientific weakness of the Suzuki Foundation’s position.

She concludes

Given that for more than 10 years, the David Suzuki Foundation has played a leading role in fostering the opinion that sea lice from salmon farms are a serious threat to wild salmon, it is not good enough for the foundation to simply and quietly remove the press releases that started the whole sea lice controversy in the first place.

My hope is that David Suzuki is big enough to admit that contrary to his foundation's claims that were broadcast far and wide, its sea lice research never did show that sea lice originating from salmon farms cause high levels of mortality among juvenile salmon in the wild.

Well, I found Ms. Krause' arguments a bit "fishy".  For example, if you type "salmon farming" or "sea lice" into the Suzuki Foundation website, you get pages and pages of results, mostly warning about their effect on the mortality of wild salmon.  So, if the organization has pulled material, it has also left a ton of material making the same point up on its website.  I'd also note that the publication date on Why You Shouldn't Eat Farmed Salmon is 2002, which may mean that the information contained in it has been superseded by later research.

So I emailed the foundation, and Ian Hanington, their communications guy, responded with the following (which I have annotated in places):

Thanks for your letter.

The David Suzuki Foundation rebuilt and migrated its website to a new platform in April/May 2010. In doing so, we updated some content and got rid of some older content in many subject areas (a normal process for any information-heavy site). As you’ve noticed, though, we still have a lot of information about salmon aquaculture on the site, and our positions have remained consistent and science-based.

Mr. Hanington then discusses the capabilities of the "internet archives" Ms. Krause references in her piece:

We would also note that the “Wayback Machine” referred to in the article works by sending a computer program (a crawler) on to a website once every few months to crawl through web pages. It is an incomplete process, as often pages are missed due to technical reasons. Our old website was not built in straight HTML, so it was harder for the Wayback Machine to archive properly.

As the Wayback Machine crawlers only visit a site every few months, the archive can’t be trusted for placing exact dates of pages that are removed from the Internet.

Here’s a blurb directly off the Wayback Machine’s FAQs page:

Not every date for every site archived is 100% complete. When you are surfing an incomplete archived site the Wayback Machine will grab the closest available date to the one you are in for the links that are missing. In the event that we do not have the link archived at all, the Wayback Machine will look for the link on the live web and grab it if available. Pay attention to the date code embedded in the archived url. This is the list of numbers in the middle; it translates as yyyymmddhhmmss.  For example in this url the date the site was crawled was Feb 29, 2000 at 12:33 and 40 seconds.

I hope that helps.

Thank you, Mr. Hanington, I think it does.


Feel the flow said...

Thanks for this. If you want to hear Peter Robinson (the David Suzuki Foundation CEO) set things straight for the organization, here's his explanation:

It elaborates a little further on Ian Hannington's.

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