SS3.14 An Interdisciplinary Journey Towards Integrated Aquatic Sciences: Homage to Jacob Kalff
Date: Thursday, June 13, 2002
Time: 10:15:00 AM
Location: Saanich
 
AndersonMR, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, St. John's, Canada, andersonro@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
 
SYNTHETIC APPROACHES TO ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT – THE NEED FOR MULTI-DISCIPLINARY TRAINING, DEFENSIBLE TOOLS AND HUMILITY
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The production, review and evaluation of environmental assessments (EA’s) in today’s legal framework require expertise in many fields. Environmental science is evolving as a distinct discipline to meet these needs. However, because this is a relatively recent development, EA is often undertaken by scientists from more established disciplines of toxicology, biology, engineering etc. As a result, EA creation and review may be fragmented and lacking the synthesis required for holistic evaluation of potential effects of human undertakings. Although the situation is slowly improving, EA still suffers from a lack of scientifically defensible tools and an over-reliance on “expert opinion”. EA’s may be defended and attacked in a quasi-legal manner by scientists who base their opinion on “expert” intuition rather than on tested hypotheses and empirical evidence. Where available, impact prediction models may be opaque, untestable or untested. Finally, environmental scientists must approach the EA process with a modicum of humility recognizing the value of input from many sources. The synthesis of advice from toxicologists, engineers, ecologists etc. as well as traditional ecological knowledge is required in the EA process.