New allegations of scientific misconduct at oyster farm

May 13, 2013 7:04:51 PM PDT
There are new charges that the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey falsified data to make a local oyster farm look bad. This is not the first time the federal government has been accused of scientific misconduct in this case.

The NPS says 300,000 hidden camera photos taken by the NPS showing Drakes Bay Oyster Company over three years prove the farm is disturbing harbor seals at the Point Reyes National Seashore.

The NPS reported the farm had a "moderate adverse impact" on the seals. But the scientist who did the research actually found the opposite.

"They turned that completely around, and they misquoted him and said he did find disturbances," says Corey Goodman, Ph.D., a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a biologist, and vocal critic of the National Park Service.

Goodman poured through documents obtained from the USGS using the Freedom of Information Act. He looked into the findings of marine mammal expert Brent Stewart, Ph.D.

Stewart reviewed the images for the USGS and concluded oyster boats were not disturbing seals. But the park service and USGS changed his findings to just the opposite and listed him as an author, even though he wasn't.

Goodman wants newly appointed Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to investigate.

"To look at this and report back in a very transparent way to the public, was the secretary duped, did scientists at the USGS and National Park Service commit misconduct, and was the decision misinformed by false science," Goodman said.

The park service has been accused before of twisting the facts. In July 2008, the Inspector General of the Department of Interior said they were, "...exaggerating claims..." In May 2009, the National Academies of Sciences said they, "...selectively presented, over-interpreted, or misrepresented the available scientific information." In March 2011, another inspector general investigator found park, "...employees mishandled research..."

The park service never responded to ABC7 News' request for comment. The USGS said it would not comment because of ongoing litigation. The oyster company will be in federal court Tuesday trying to reverse the Secretary of Interior's decision to close the farm.

Written and Produced by Ken Miguel


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