Canada’s Fisheries Minister says new measures will be taken to restore and protect sockeye salmon in the Fraser River.
This comes after an inquiry and 75 recommendations made four years ago in the Cohen Commission Report, looking into the decline of those fish in the Fraser River.
The report was commissioned after a significant decline in 2009, and an overall decline since the early 1990s.
Fisheries Minister Dominique LeBlanc says 30 recommendations have already been implemented, and with that, an investment by the Federal Government.
“This investment will result in the hiring of 135 new scientists, biologists, oceanographers, and technicians across the country…with twenty-nine additional permanent staff being hired here in the Pacific Region alone. These new staff will allow us to increase the monitoring of salmon populations, better predict where salmon mortality occurs and increase our investment in fish health.”
LeBlanc says he doesn’t see any conflict of interest with the government agency tasked with conserving wild fish stocks also being in charge of championing the salmon-farming industry.
LeBlanc says the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ mandate to preserve fisheries is fundamental to its responsibility to promote a sustainable salmon-farming sector.
Removing industry promotion from the department’s mandate was one of the key recommendations from a 2012 report by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Bruce Cohen into the 2009 collapse of sockeye salmon in BC’s Fraser River.
LeBlanc was in Vancouver today to provide a status update on the Cohen Commission’s report, reiterating a pledge outlined in his ministerial mandate letter to act on all 75 recommendations.
The minister’s comments prompted some skepticism from stakeholders. Chief Bob Chamberlin of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs applauds the government’s declared commitment to the Cohen report but calls some of its declared successes “disingenuous.”
Chamberlin says while the department has technically followed the recommendation not to issue any more open-net salmon farms permits in the Discovery Islands, it has gone ahead and approved facilities nearby.