Cohen report out this week

Writer hopes report will include recommendation that open-net salmon farms be removed from migratory paths

Editor, The Record:

This week a final report is expected from Justice Bruce Cohen that may seal the fate of wild Pacific sockeye salmon in B.C.

After months of hearing reports and testimony from expert witnesses, DFO employees, First Nations and non-governmental organizations, Justice Cohen has had since December 2011 to weigh through the vast evidence of impacts to wild salmon.

Originally expected to make his final report in June of 2012, it was postponed to Sept. 30 after evidence showed infectious salmon anemia virus (ISAv) to be present in wild salmon stocks, thereby reopening the commission in December of 2011 for three additional days to examine potential impacts of ISAv on wild salmon.

Those three days only further exposed the extent to which the Canadian government has failed to protect wild salmon, right down to ignoring scientific evidence that clearly showed the threat of viruses introduced into Pacific waters.

If there is to be any justice for wild salmon, Justice Cohen’s report will have to include the recommendation that all open-net salmon farms be removed from the migratory paths of wild salmon immediately followed by the cessation of leasing out the sea floor to the industry. Beyond that, the protection of wild salmon and salmon habitat must come first.

Whether Justice Cohen’s recommendations will have any sway on the Harper government’s current agenda is unlikely, but we can only hope that his report will not cater to the very things that put wild salmon at risk.

Elena Edwards, Wild Salmon First