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October 1, 2011

The Cohen inquiry outcome

The disease and aquaculture hearings at the Cohen Inquiry have come to a close. While it wasn’t expected that a “smoking gun” would emerge during the hearings with headlines splashed all over the news, the victories for those working to protect BC’s wild salmon from the impacts of net-cage salmon farming were in the quality of information submitted as evidence that is now in the public domain, and available on the Cohen Commission website.

Many documents provide a clearer understanding of the degree to which the Canadian government is cooperating with the salmon farming industry – even including the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ (DFO’s) public relations strategy to help improve public perception of net-cage salmon farming. The following excerpt from a subsequent editorial in the Victoria Times Colonist captures CAAR’s key argument on the inherent conflict of interest in DFO both regulating the net-cage industry and concerning itself with salmon farming’s image:
Overall, the most beneficial outcome may be the release of fish health, disease, stocking and mortality records for 120 salmon farms from about the last 10 years. These data, historically held out of public view, are essential in determining the presence and rates of disease in open net-cage farms. While the data are often inconclusive or open to interpretation, they nonetheless provide a window into the frequency and severity of disease problems in the net-cages and could give researchers guidance into what warrants further investigation.
Despite these gains, the overall Inquiry process was flawed in the sense that it only allowed a partial look into the crisis facing the Fraser River sockeye salmon. The Commission did not permit the lawyers representing participant groups enough time to adequately question the witnesses, nor did the Commission allow the participant groups enough time to present all of their evidence. After CAAR members and others spent months poring over the Inquiry database, pulling out important pieces of evidence to make public at the Inquiry, much of it still remains hidden and excluded from the information the Commission will use to make its recommendations. For more on the flawed process, read our recent blog post: Prisoner of Hope.
The Cohen Commission will submit its final report to the Prime Minister by June 30, 2012. CAAR members are currently working with the other Conservation Coalition members on the group’s recommendations to the Commission which will be submitted by October 17th. These will be posted the Farmed and Dangerous website when finalized.
Read the rest of this very interesting article by clicking on this direct link to the FARMED AND DANGEROUS website.

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