The successful completion of scientific public policy: lessons learned while developing Canada’s Wild Salmon Policy

Abstract

Canada’s Wild Salmon Policy gives Canadians the opportunity to make informed decisions about the amount of habitat, ecosystem, and salmon diversity to protect, in order to provide
salmon with the potential to adapt and survive in a changing environment. Valuable lessons learned during the completion of this recent landmark conservation policy include: (1) there
must be an express need for major new policies and decision makers should be receptive to proposed changes; (2) resource and expertise allocation should be realistic to ensure
successful and timely policy completion; (3) science-based policies must be based on good science; (4) environmental policies require input from multiple disciplines–biological
consequences are only one element that politicians and decision-makers need to consider; (5) since there will always be uncertainty, and different perspectives on the level of risk that
various stakeholders are willing to accept, a precautionary approach is appropriate; (6) to be effective, communication should be open and transparent; and finally (7) it is important to
think beyond policy completion–how will the policy be implemented? Documenting these lessons should assist others, thereby resulting in more efficient completion of science-based
policies.