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Letter to the Editor - Globe and Mail

Dec 17 2010

The following letter to the editor was submitted to the Globe and Mail newspaper in response to a story which appeared in the newspaper on December 17, 2010.

Letter to the Editor
Re:  “Ottawa kept in dark on abnormal fish found in oil sands rivers”

RAMP’s dataset is extensive, collected over the 14 years since the organization’s creation, and built from earlier data collected by Syncrude. There is a tremendous amount of scientific data that, if not analyzed carefully, can result in misleading interpretation.

Your story creates an inaccurate picture of both the rate of deformities and the extent of data-sharing undertaken by RAMP to communicate those findings.

In 22 years of monitoring, with 36,618 fish examined, abnormalities were found in 800 fish from the Athabasca River (2.1 per cent). In the Clearwater River, 115 fish have been found with abnormalities since monitoring began there in 2004, out of 8,117 fish examined (1.4 per cent). Since monitoring began in 1987, the rate of abnormality has remained fairly constant at approximately two per cent. Many of the “growths” identified in our reports, and referenced in the Globe’s story, are commonly-occurring and expected parasitic infections.

All RAMP data is shared with its members and results are made publicly available through annual reports published on our website since 2004. As committed to by RAMP earlier this year, the full RAMP dataset will be publicly available before the end of this month.

As one of the entities monitoring regional aquatics in the Athabasca Region, RAMP will continue to provide data in support of better overall understanding of the cumulative aquatic effects of resource development in the Athabasca region, and will enhance aquatic monitoring systems for the region.

Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program

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