St. Andrews – Over 600 people rallied at Indian Point in St. Andrews on July 25th to send a message to the Harper government: Save our science! The event was organized by SOS (Save Ocean Science).
Video by Amelia Secord.
Hundreds of people formed a large human SOS to denounce recent federal budget cuts and express support for environmental science. The aerial SOS was captured from the air by plane and by bucket truck. Attendees also held signs with slogans including “Save Ocean Science”, “This is not fiscal responsibility”, “Keep environmental response team”, “Don’t hijack our future!”, and “Don’t gut fish protection.”
The drastic cuts to the federal budget of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans will effectively close the St. Andrews Biological Station Library, eliminate the Contaminants and Toxicology program, and severely cut the Habitat program.
A number of positions are to be eliminated, affecting local scientists.
“The slashing of government science alongside the gutting of the Fisheries Act has drastic implications for both our ability to legally defend sensitive aquatic ecosystems as well as monitor and assess the impact of climate change, industrial activities and other expected threats. Such a significant turn out to our rally demonstrates that the people of St. Andrews and beyond will not sit idly by while the current government destroys environmental protections and capacity in Canada,” said Matthew Abbott, Fundy Baykeeper.
Caroline Davies, Chairperson of SOS, was pleased with the turn out. “It is clear that we are not alone in decrying the recent cuts to government science. With over 600 in attendance, we came together tonight to show support for our scientists and librarians and the work they do and to raise concern about the lasting impact of the cuts to science in St Andrews and across the country,” commented Davies.
The federal unions representing workers at the station have been outspoken about what they call reckless cuts; this includes a $79 million reduction to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Between 2011 and 2015 the department’s budget is expected to shrink by 25%. The union representing scientists working for the federal government say these cuts represent a clear attack on the ability of government to make evidence-based decisions that allow for responsibly regulated industry while at the same time protecting marine environments.
“The infrastructure that keeps our fragile marine environments intact while supporting the fishing industry is being dismantled by stripping the mandate and capacity of this department and by dramatically weakening of the Fisheries Act,” said Public Service Alliance of Canada’s Chris Aylward. “This one-two punch hits small towns like St. Andrews hard where the local economy depends on federal jobs and a sustainable fishery.”
The SOS event was organized as a follow up to a recent public forum regarding the impacts of cuts on Aquatic Science at the St. Andrews Biological Station, which was held on July 18th. Save Ocean Science (SOS) is a recently formed group of non-partisan local citizens who are raising concern about the federal cuts that will close the St Andrews Biological Station Library, eliminate the Contaminants and Toxicology program, and severely cut the Habitat program.