It seems to me there is a connection between the much-publicised trial of earthquake scientists in Italy, and the “background to the science” paper published on the small pelagic fishery by seven senior Australian fishery scientists.

In Italy, it appears that the scientific panel charged with informing the public on earthquake risk refrained from presenting a “full picture” of the risk quite deliberately, in order to counter what they perceived as “public hysteria”.

I fully support the Italian judge’s sentencing of the scientists. Although they perceived that their role included a responsibility to calm the public, this was a responsibility which they adopted quite voluntarily. In fact their charter was simply to provide the public with a balanced and comprehensive statement of the risk. They failed in this respect, with unfortunate results.

In the same way, the seven scientists authoring the “background to the science” paper, as I pointed out at length in the my submission (here) to Ministers Burke and Ludwig, deliberately refrained from disclosing the full picture – one presumes in an effort to quiet what they perceived as public hysteria in relation to the imminent arrival of the supertrawler “Margiris”.

In my view scientists should stick to science, and leave “calming the public” to politicians.


*Earlier on Tasmanian Times (includes links to bio of Dr Nevill):

Celebrations are premature over the Margiris

Borthwick fisheries review compromised?

First published: 2012-10-26 09:15 AM