For a long time now, I have thought of using my (mostly derelict) blog to summarise my research in order to render it more accessible. That is the goal of this new Access Series. For each of my academic publications, I will endeavour to write an accessible blog post (for longer texts, like books or theses, I will probably post multiple posts). Accessibility, in the academic context, has generated a lot of debates. For me, I see accessibility in terms of form and in terms of substance. For form, this series will increase access because it is free, aka open access, and not hidden beyond a paywall that can often only be afforded by academic institutions, big corporations or government. Posts will also be shorter than academic articles (although this particular post will be longer than what I aim for given its introductory nature), chapters and books, making their content easier to read for people who are not paid to do research. I think this is especially important for research that is meant for the public or a particular community (versus research that is meant more for other academics). I will forgo footnotes and in text references, except for quotes. Instead, I’ll include a short references list at the end, favouring open access content.
If you have ever spent any significant amount of time on the west coast, you know how important and contentious of an issue salmon fishery is. Salmon fishery is part of the culture of many First Nations and coastal communities. It is a considerable industry, both in terms of commercial fisheries and aquaculture. Its future is uncertain as stocks seem to fluctuate beyond the comprehension of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). There is no shortage of causes (diseases, pollution, poor management, climate change, etc), but as the Cohen Commission of Inquiry (Cohen) concluded, none is dominant. Among them is the risk caused by diseases brought in the salmons’ ecosystem through aquaculture. This particular risk is plague by a familiar environmental policy issue: scientific uncertainty. However, as Cohen found, this uncertainty does not in fact diminishes the risks. Last week, the Federal Court rendered a decision specifically on this issue in Morton v Canada (Fisheries and Oceans), a decision that provide some much needed follow up on Cohen’s aquaculture conclusions. In part one of this two parts post I’ll look at the question of judicial review of a strongly circumscribed ministerial discretion, and the use of the precautionary principle in reasonableness review. In the second part I’ll look at the question of sub-delegation of regulatory requirements to industries.