April possibly has its roots in latin aperire, meaning opening or starting (according to snl.no). Hence it is the month opening for summer. With the last days snowfall one may start to wonder. April 1 is also April’s Fools Day. Today’s BT interview with minister of fisheries Per Sandberg could be taken for an April joke, hadn’t it been for the fact that the net version was published on March 31. Here the minister states that he wants industry friendly researchers and an industry friendly Institute of Marine Research.
These are astounding statements from a minister with responsibility for research both on aquaculture, fisheries, and marine ecosystems, and with IMR and NIFES in his portfolio. IMR has as its main responsibility to give science-based advice to the authorities on aquaculture and on the ecosystems in the Norwegian seas and the coastal zone. Thus, their responsibility is not only for the aquaculture industry, but also how this can be managed in a sustainable way in relation to the ecosystems in the coastal zone and the norwegian waters, Per Sandberg!
The worrying thing is that this is not the first time Per Sandberg speaks out in this way. In Aftenposten in february he talked about the «dark counterforces» to the industry: – These are both politicians, professors, institutions, they are found at our universities and in academia. Now I give this signal – and I will repeat it on in- and out-breath as long as I am minister of fisheries: As long as these forces exist, I will be their counterforce. The counterforce to those that speaks down the industry shall be me, Per Sanberg says, without naming anyone.» Many researchers were upset by these statements.
A free and independent researcher profession with high integrity should be a goal for all politicians, not the opposite. Only in this way can solid, science-based policy be formulated. Steinar Vagstad, the leader of Forskerforbundet at UiB, says in an interview with BT that he has never heard of similar statements from a minister previously, and hopes that he never will hear it again. «I wouldn’t trust scientists with politcal instructions put in their mouth», Vagstad says. Also rector Dag Rune Olsen is in the same interview with BT clear that the marine researchers must be allowed to be objective, and shouldn’t cheer on anyone.
The news archive this week also includes active communication from bioCEED with Øyvind Fiksen on the absence of evolution in school education (BT March 29), from Arild Raaheim, Lucas Jeno and Øyvind on the need for change in how we teach (BT March 30), and from Torstein Hole and Gaute Velle on practice in university education (Klassekampen March 29). Good work!