Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cohen Report spawns much debate along the coast

Almost three years of consultations have come to an end and last week, former British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Bruce Cohen released his 1,191 page report, outlining some possible clues to the Fraser River Salmon fishery collapse of 2009.

As the final report is made public, we find that while there was no definitive cause into that stock collapse divined from the sessions, there were however, some key recommendations of note for our consideration.

The Cohen Report did recommend that more attention be paid to the commercial fish farm industry, with the ultimate goal of doing whatever is required to protect the wild fish ecosystem.

Among his many thoughts on the fish farm controversy on the west coast, Former Justice Cohen recommended that salmon farms should not be permitted to operate unless it is clear that they pose no more than a minimal risk to the Fraser River sockeye salmon.

Not quite a wholesale demand for the aquaculture industry to be shut down, but a clear declaration that more attention needs to be provided to the industry and any negative effects that it may have on the wild sockeye species.

The other key point from the Report was a call for the Federal Government to refrain from politicizing the Department of Fisheries, leaving that branch of the regulatory arm of fish management to focus purely on the wild fish and their survival.

Leaving the political fallout of their science based decisions to be handled by the politicians, who it would seem should not use DFO as their cover over allocation decisions and the various battles that the department and stakeholders in the fishery engage in on a season to season basis.

The Commission began it's long journey to the final report back in March of 2010,  travelling across British Columbia, including a September 2010 session in Prince Rupert.

Over the course of the Commission's 133 scheduled days of evidentiary hearings, a number of testimonials and presentations were made by a variety of stakeholders and interested observers.

In addition there were a large number of witnesses interviews conducted by commission counsel and 14 site visits were made by the Commissioner during the course of the process.

In total the Commission held ten public forums, attracting over 600 attendees and featuring presentations from 109 of them. After all the reading is done however, the three volume report by Justice Cohen boils down to the 75 recommendations made to try and improve the sustainability of one of the provinces most iconic images and valuable resources.

His report, is another in a long line of inquiries, investigations and reports over the years into the troubled fisheries of the west coast.  Proponents of a sustainable fish stock are no doubt hoping that maybe this one will be accorded more attention, than those of the past.

While the report focused on the Fraser River stock collapse, there are cautionary tales for the North Coast and other regions of the West Coast, many of the recommendations and observations could just as easily be transferred to the North Coast Fishery.

Those inclined to reading government reports can view the complete work from the Cohen Report website (see here)

Of course, with it's release there has been much in the way of discussion and debate over the findings of Justice Cohen, some of the debate can be reviewed below.

November 7-- Cohen report wide ranging
November 6-- Donnelly asks Conservatives about Cohen Commission, gets no answer
November 5-- Salmon farmers respond to Cohen report reaction
November 4-- Salmon at heart of federal report could face pipeline spill danger
November 3-- The future of fisheries management
November 2-- Sockeye Salmon Report Sobering, But Definitive
November 2-- No smoking gun in Cohen report
November 1-- Wild Salmon Report Released (video)
November 1-- Island Fish Farms Weigh in on Cohen Report
November 1-- The Results are in: Wild Salmon Need Action Now
November 1-- Cohen's Report Gets Mixed Reaction
November 1-- Fish report cast on good line
November 1-- Craig Orr on the Cohen Report (audio)
November 1-- Salmon farmers put brave face on chilling report
November 1-- Cohen Commission Report Rightly Targets Salmon Farms...
November 1-- Wild Salmon Advocates Cheer Cohen Report
November 1-- Salmon farmers find sockeye report 'quiet balanced'
October 31-- Cohen Salmon Report (As it Happens report) (audio)
October 31-- Report on B. C. salmon decline, short on details, long on maybes
October 31-- No 'smoking gun' for Fraser River sockeye salmon collapse
October 31-- Justice Cohen Gets Tough on Fish Farms - Inquiry Report released (video)
October 31-- Cohen Report makes 75 recommendations on the future of Fraser River sockeye salmon
October 31-- Salmon inquiry commissioner critical of Fisheries Act changes
October 31-- NDP accuse the Feds of undermining the Cohen inquiry report
October 31-- Freeze new salmon farms on sockeye migration route: Cohen
October 31-- The Cohen Commission: A report that could save BC's wild salmon
October 31-- Cohen Report reaction (audio)
October 31-- B. C. Sockeye collapse report to be released today
October 30-- Release of B. C. salmon inquiry report generates debate
October 26-- Deadline looms for Cohen report on sockeye collapse
October 26-- Salmon inquiry spawns opportunity

You can view our archive of items on the Fishing Industry on the North coast here.

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