Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Cohen Commission Report Released, Oct. 31, 2012

The Cohen Commission Report into declines in the Fraser River sockeye runs has been released.

Here is the news release:

And this statement from it:  'Cohen emphasized that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) should fully implement and fund both the 2005 Wild Salmon Policy and the1986 Habitat Policy. “DFO should develop and publish a detailed implementation plan as set out in the Wild Salmon Policy and, without further delay, honour its commitment to implementation,” he noted. “The goals of the Habitat Policy and its No Net Loss principle are sound and should be retained.”'

This is a sound recommendation. Anyone who follows salmon issues knows that the Wild Salmon Policy disappeared from view almost immediately after it was written. And the Habitat Policy also contains good information on protecting salmon habitat. It also died an early death. On both issues, DFO has failed badly.

In addition, the Harper government recently gutted the Fisheries Act, the Environmental Protection Act of fish protection as well as began cutting 200 scientists in 2012.

And this statement about fish farms, in the news release preceding the report, states the issue directly and correctly:

'To address the potential conflict for DFO between promoting salmon farms and regulating them, the Commissioner recommended that DFO no longer be responsible for promoting salmon farming as an industry and farmed salmon as a product. “As long as DFO has a mandate to promote salmon farming, there is a risk that it will act in a manner that favours the interests of the salmon farming industry over the health of wild fish stocks,” he said.

The Commissioner concluded that salmon farms along the sockeye migration route in the Discovery Islands have the potential to introduce exotic diseases and to aggravate endemic diseases which can have a negative impact on Fraser River sockeye. “Mitigation measures should not be delayed in the absence of scientific certainty,” he said.

For that reason, Cohen recommended a freeze on net-pen salmon farm production in the Discovery Islands until September 30, 2020. “If by that date, DFO cannot confidently say the risk of serious harm to wild stocks is minimal, it should then prohibit all net-pen salmon farms from operating in the Discovery Islands,” he said. Cohen also recommended that if before September 30, 2020, the government determines that salmon farms pose more than a minimal risk to Fraser River sockeye, the government prohibit their operation immediately.'

Here is the report: Click on the icon and read the 1200 pages of the three volume report. The third volume contains more than 75 recommendations.

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