Healthy Oceans. Healthy Communities.

Cohen Commission report confirms net-pen farmed salmon is a threat to Fraser River sockeye

October 31, 2012

Vancouver, B.C.— Living Oceans Society is pleased to hear a number of the Conservation Coalition recommendations were adopted by the Cohen Commission, reinforcing the concerns of DFO’s mismanagement and the serious threat of net-pen salmon farms on the British Columbia coast. The Cohen report is further proof that a transition away from an open-net pen salmon farming to closed containment is needed immediately.

One key recommendation stated that the management and regulation of the farmed salmon industry should remain with DFO. However, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Commissioner Bruce Cohen articulately identified the mandate conflict of DFO to protect wild salmon and shamelessly promote farmed salmon. He went on to recommend that the promotion of  salmon aquaculture be removed from DFO.

“Living Oceans is delighted with the recommendation that DFO get out of the aquaculture business,” said Karen Wristen, Executive Director of Living Oceans Society. “Commissioner Cohen made it clear that promotion of farmed salmon is completely at odds with DFO’s primary duty to protect wild fish.”

An example of this mandate conflict was addressed directly with the recommendation that industry data be released not only to DFO, but to conservation groups as well.

“Transparency is definitely not a trait of the salmon farming industry,” said Kelly Roebuck, Living Oceans’ Sustainable Seafood Campaign Manager. “Data on disease and pathogens for example have been hidden from the public for many years.”

Justice Cohen also recommends no expansion of salmon farming should take place within the Discovery Islands, referring particularly to the risk that they communicate diseases to wild salmon. New siting criteria should be developed, he said, that would apply to all salmon farms, not just those in the Discovery Islands.

“We look forward to seeing those new siting criteria,” said Will Soltau, Living Oceans’ Sustainable Fisheries Manager. “Many of the farms in the Broughton Archipelago will likely have to be moved.”

Living Oceans echoes the Commissioner’s frustration with the current federal government’s direction, as evidenced by Bill C-38 and the funding and regulatory cuts that it enacted.

“We are looking to the government to restore the funding and legislation that B.C.’s salmon require,” said Wristen. “Implementation of the Cohen recommendations is urgent.”


Contact Information

Karen Wristen, 604-992-6534

Kelly Roebuck, 778-232-0329

Will Soltau, 250-973-6580