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The best available science for the management of anadromous salmonids in the Columbia River Basin

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Reference to the "best available science" is popular among administrators and scientists responsible for the management of anadromous salmonids in the Columbia River Basin. Regional recovery documents explicitly call for the consideration of the best available science during the formulation of policies, but they fail to elaborate on what this phrase means. In the absence of such clarification, the definition of what counts as science, how to recognize the best science from the rest, and a determination of how much of it is available invites a wide array of interpretations. Two possible remedies are proposed to alleviate this ambiguity. The first is to leave this phrase intact, but also to append an explicit definition of what each term means. This should establish sideboards for what is acceptable when compiling scientific information. The second remedy is to discontinue the impulsive use of the phrase best available science and select alternative language that more accurately reflects legislative intent. This refinement process will naturally result in other phrases tailored to the specific preferences and requirements of each situation. A decision to accept any of these alternatives may profoundly affect how science influences the management of anadromous salmonids in the Columbia River Basin.

Le administrateurs et les chercheurs responsables de la gestion des salmonidés anadromes du bassin du Columbia ont l'habitude de se référer aux « meilleures connaissances scientifiques disponibles ». Les documents de rétablissement régional mentionnent explicitement l'utilisation des meilleures connaissances scientifiques disponibles, mais n'explicitent pas le sens de l'expression. En absence d'une telle clarification, la définition de ce qui peut être considéré comme connaissances scientifiques, la méthode pour distinguer les meilleures connaissances scientifiques des autres et la détermination de ce qui est disponible sont ouvertes à de nombreuses interprétations. Deux solutions proposées ici permettent probablement de réduire cette ambiguïté. La première est de garder l'expression telle qu'elle est et de lui adjoindre des définitions explicites de chacun des termes. Cela devrait établir les limites de ce qui est acceptable dans la compilation des informations scientifiques. La seconde solution est l'abandon de l'utilisation spontanée de l'expression, les meilleures connaissances scientifiques, et l'adoption de formules de rechange qui reflètent plus précisément les intentions du législateur. Ce processus de raffinement résultera naturellement en la création de nouvelles expressions adaptées aux préférences et aux besoins de chaque situation. La décision d'accepter l'une ou l'autre de ces solutions pourrait affecter la façon dont la science influence la gestion des salmonidés anadromes du bassin du Columbia.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2002

More about this publication?
  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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