Did you catch this:
"“The department may remove only content that is duplicated at one or more libraries and, in rare instances, materials which fall outside the subject disciplines pertinent to the department’s mandate,” says the DFO website, describing the material discarded from its collection."
Departmental mandates are revised to suit the political flavour of the day as part of strategic planning activities (mission, vision, values, etc.) and it happens every couple of years. This allows for some really pernicious and creative manipulation of public institutions that exist to regulate and monitor shared resources. Here is the mandate for DFO. In real terms, a high level deputy minister might instruct his senior management staff that, "it is not in our mandate to keep records of X because it is not required by the legislation that defines our work." It's a very prescriptive and disingenuous approach, but it works with career bureaucrats because they lack the expertise to form a cohesive argument against it. You can be sure they're digging in their heels, but they have to pick their battles very carefully. Federal agencies have been eviscerated in the last few years and management is trying to weather the storm in the hopes that the political climate will change soon.
This is reminiscent of the de-funding of the Experimental Lakes Area in 2012, which also involved the DFO. It was a project area that had existed for 45 years and produced 745 peer-reviewed scientific articles, 126 graduate theses, 102 book chapters and synthesis papers, 185 data reports, and several books. With respect to the destruction of data, I'm sure one could argue, "Since the ELA is no longer part of the DFO's mandate, that data can be destroyed."
What's noteworthy about this article is that the DFO has impressive, far-reaching regulatory power and this cost saving measure is part of an attempt to make the department more "effective" in conducting its regulatory duties. Ultimately, the hope is that industry projects can be approved in a more timely manner. I don't think it's an evil plot to destroy the environment, rather it is a misguided attempt to make a Canadian governmental agency better able to do its day-to-day job. Ultimately, it will impede the agency's ability to adapt and respond to changing client needs. A lot of people of a certain political ideology don't value research because it is hard to describe its utility in financial terms. This is self-evidently foolish, as continuous research is essential to improving the health of the population, effectively managing resources, and developing new technologies and techniques. Unfortunately, this reasoning really appeals to the masses of Canadians who "don't want their tax dollars wasted."