Do your own research on Cohen Commission

The “Watershed Watch” environmental group has announced today that because of their “broad interest in salmon conservation” they have put together a “Synopsis of Key Evidence from the Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Fraser River Sockeye” to aid people in understanding the evidence presented at the commission.

Watershed Watch and several other environmental groups were part of the “Conservation Coalition” which did little more than hammer on salmon farming throughout the commission.

So not surprisingly, their 70-page synopsis contains 31 pages of aquaculture-related evidence and quotes from the hearings, versus 21 pages for EVERYTHING ELSE. Commercial and recreational fishing? One page. Climate change? Not even one page. Pulp mills, gravel extraction, aboriginal fisheries and logging? Barely three pages for all of them.

And even in the 21 pages of “other” they still manage to throw in aquaculture-related comments and evidence.

If they’re trying to hide how much they hate aquaculture, and believe it’s responsible for the Fraser sockeye decline, they’re not doing a good job.

If you are really interested in the evidence presented at the commission, do yourself a favour. Don’t read someone else’s opinion or skewed version of events, not even ours.

Go read the transcripts for yourself. Use “Ctrl-F” to search for keywords you are interested in. Read it in context. Get the big picture.

All the transcripts are available here. Pick a date in the calendar, the transcript will show up below along with all the exhibits presented that day.

And don’t take our word for it, look for yourself.


12 thoughts on “Do your own research on Cohen Commission”

  1. In response to WildSalmonFirst I will supply a referenced quote from some folks that have given these issues a lot of thought
    The Great Salmon Run summarizes the issue of hatchery vs. wild vs. farmed salmon quite well:

    “Recognize that the choices are not between wild and farmed salmon. It is essential to move away from the simplistic perspective that policy makers and consumers face a choice between wild salmon and farmed salmon. Salmon farming is a major world industry which is here to stay. Wild salmon is incapable of supplying the much larger domestic and world salmon market which has been created by farmed salmon. Natural wild salmon, hatchery salmon, and salmon farming all offer potential economic opportunities and benefits to consumers. All also have inherent risks. The real issues are how to take responsible advantage of the potential economic opportunities and benefits to consumers from both wild and farmedsalmon.”

  2. I attended the Coihen Commission on the morning of Sep 15 to see for myself that which i knew already. This is the highest court in the province. I am a 3rd generation British Columbian. I have faith that this inquiry will be thorough and serve the people of Canada’s interests with the upcoming conclusions and recommendations.
    Ms. Alexandra Morton was not in the courtroom. I would have recognised her.

  3. Yes, the link works now and I see refers to the “Leggat” Inquiry- an inquiry that was independent, not federal nor specific to the decline of wild Sockeye salmon, which is what I was referring to and which the Cohen inquiry refers to. Though Justice Leggat does indeed offer some accurate and wise recommendations. Shame the salmon farming industry did not/does not apply them.

    Perhaps you could post the link to your blog that gives historical accounts of why salmon farming began, because the information I have reviewed indicates that it was seen as an opportunity to profit off a new farming endeavor that seemed more efficient than other forms of farming protein. Regardless, the “pioneers” of the industry should have quit when they first realized the environmental issues that came with salmon farming rather than plowed ahead.

    Yes, I recall the climate report, and I recall the scientist who did the report giving testimony almost in tears because he said he does not believe humans are capable of giving up a lifestyle that demands mass industrial practices (like salmon farming) which greatly contribute to climate change. And since my brother is a climate scientist who also states that while climate change is a serious issue, salmon farming will kill off wild salmon a lot sooner that climate change will, I’d say your clinging to climate change as the causation of the decline of wild salmon is bunk.

    So since your belligerent suggestions that I sat in a courtroom to warm a seat for a year and not to listen to what expert witnesses were saying, I don’t much see the point in continuing to engage with someone who is clearly irrational.

    And finally, rather than continue what is ultimately an “is not/ is too” dialogue it seems we shall have to agree to disagree, as it is quite clear (as you state) that you are unashamedly pro salmon farming, and I am unashamedly pro wild salmon. For all your beliefs (and selective scientific “facts”) that the two can co exist, when you put aside the pretense that you can effectively manipulate nature and ultimately get away with it you will see the two are not compatible since one breaks the biological laws of nature and the other is being impacted by that intentional manipulation of nature. That’s a fact, not an opinion.

    Any amount of science showing that the negative impacts of salmon farming outweigh the benefits is not likely to sway your intentions, so I bid you adieu in your ongoing pro farm salmon advocacy and will carry on trying to protect wild salmon from the impacts of salmon farming among other things. 🙂

    P.S.- I here that an anti salmon farming activist just won a court case against a salmon farming industry. But I’m sure you’ll only claim that the judge made an unjust ruling…

  4. The “incorrent” link did not work and I’ll delve into your previous blogs to see your perspective (and “facts”) since you are so obviously willing to try to see where others trying to protect wild salmon are coming from.

    You obviously strongly believe in salmon farming and don’t seem to wish to acknowledge the vast flaws that come with it. Sorry, but feeding a population of 7 billion people as a reason for salmon farming is not a good enough reason to put such a threat to a wild species. In fact, it’s exploiting a situation that will have devastating impacts on the human population as a whole.

    Just as you suggest that I pick and choose info to back my “conclusion to suit my opinion” it does seem you are doing just that to protect your opinion that salmon farming is sustainable and not a problem. Just to help clear up your misconception that I fail to acknowledge all impacts to wild salmon I’ll repost my previous response:

    “My “thoughts” on the aforementioned is that they all have negative impacts on wild salmon stocks and the human population is not about to stop contributing to global warming anytime soon or investing in these industries which are ultimately causing irreparable damage. Should all of these industries and individuals take responsibility for their contribution to habitat destruction and wild salmon depletion? Yes. Should the human race get it’s shit together and stop pretending we aren’t part of the problem? Yes. Should the salmon farming take responsibility for it’s intrusion in the marine environment of wild salmon? Yes.”

    Further to that, rather than continue with your own selective science to defend the industry, why not focus on getting the farms out of the ocean? Even staff within the salmon farming industry have said that on land farming is a solution and the technology available but the reason they don’t do it is because profits would drop significantly. That is really not a good enough reason.

    1. The “Incorrect” link works fine.

      We have acknowledged that salmon farming is imperfect and has flaws many times in previous posts, and in the “About This Blog” page.

      What threat to wild species? How will it devastate the human population? You say those things as if they are facts but they are not. We understand your concerns, but they are not propped up by the evidence. As we showed before, there is no connection between farm diseases or sea lice and wild salmon productivity. And if you want to play the “correlation equals causation” game, rising ocean temperatures due to the PDO, a massive increase in fishing and hatchery fish in the North Pacific and climactic changes since the early 1990s explain far more about salmon declines than “salmon farms showed up, therefore salmon farms did it.”

      Of course we have a bias, we have made that crystal clear. But we have also made it clear we are committed to looking at the science and seeing where it leads us. We are not working backwards from a conclusion.

      Yes, we read your thoughts the first time. To us it sounds like you are saying “we can’t do anything about those things so who cares.” Hopefully that is not what you mean because if it is, you are choosing to ignore the giant forest fire in the forest next to your house while you nag your neighbour to put out his backyard weenie roast fire.

      Get the farms out of the ocean? Farm fish in a completely unnatural environment? We have expressed our thoughts on this many times in the past here on this blog.

      Closed Containment salmon farming less attractive as world’s freshwater sucked up

      The true salmon feedlots

      RIP Agrimarine

  5. Wow, you are a sour one! And seemingly as prone to jumping to conclusions as those you accuse of having preconceived notions!

    Yes, I attended the entire commission (would you like to know how many cavities Justice Cohen has? Or which lawyer yawned the most?), not just the aquaculture hearings, and yes, heard all the testimony on over fishing, mining effluence, toxic effects on salmon, sewage, aboriginal fishing, logging, climate change, habitat destruction, habitat offences, DFO structure, commercial fishing, recreational fishing, predation, the Wild Salmon Policy, all of the scientific reports and more, and you may or may not be aware that most of those topics have been examined in other salmon inquiries, all of which went nowhere. This was the first inquiry to examine the role of aquaculture in the decline of wild salmon. All the other issues do not change the fact that salmon farming is an industry that does not belong anywhere NEAR wild salmon populations, especially when dealing with a once world renowned salmon run, or that the steady decline of the salmon began at the same time as the spread of salmon farms. Wild salmon have quite enough to contend with without being subjected to viruses and parasite outbreaks which increase mortality ten fold. Seriously, wtf is the deal with putting an industry to make fake unnatural farmed salmon in a place where wild salmon are the most revered species in the province?

    Why on earth don’t you stop making excuses for salmon farming and focus on getting them out of the ocean and on land at the very least? Which still would not change the matter of salmon feed being comprised largely of herring, which is taking a natural food source of wild salmon away. Talk about stealing candy (or in this case nutrition) from a child! How about you address that rather than ignore it and jump to conclusions.

    My “thoughts” on the aforementioned is that they all have negative impacts on wild salmon stocks and the human population is not about to stop contributing to global warming anytime soon or investing in these industries which are ultimately causing irreparable damage. Should all of these industries and individuals take responsibility for their contribution to habitat destruction and wild salmon depletion? Yes. Should the human race get it’s shit together and stop pretending we aren’t part of the problem? Yes. Should the salmon farming take responsibility for it’s intrusion in the marine environment of wild salmon? Yes.

    And yes, people should do their research. And question the intent of every blow joe who chooses to defend something that is a huge part of the problem.

    1. “This was the first inquiry to examine the role of aquaculture in the decline of wild salmon.”


      “the fact that salmon farming is an industry that does not belong anywhere NEAR wild salmon populations”

      That’s your opinion, not a fact.

      “the steady decline of the salmon began at the same time as the spread of salmon farms.”

      No. Salmon farming was started IN RESPONSE to the decline of wild salmon catches, as a way to meet growing demand for seafood without overfishing wild stocks. And apparently you only heard what you wanted to hear at the Cohen Commission, to make that statement. Lots of other things have been going on in the 20 years since sockeye runs started declining. Remember the climate change report? The one which included this paragraph:

      Climate change affecting sockeye

      It also included this:

      Warming temperatures very likely

      Also no because as scientists presented at the Cohen Commission (if you were listening you would remember this) information showing how sockeye salmon from Alaska to Washington, including places where there are no salmon farms, have been in decline since the 1980s.

      If you want to blame salmon farms, you go ahead, but the facts don’t back up that claim. The data do not show any connection, as the Cohen Commission heard. Scientists found no connection between sea lice from salmon farms and wild salmon productivity. Likewise, they found no connection between disease data from salmon farms and wild salmon productivity.

      We have covered your other points in previous blog posts.

      Viruses from salmon farms are low risk to wild fish

      Climate change and pre-spawn mortality linked by genetics

      Sea lice science ain’t done yet

      Context counts (and sexy graphs help)

      Virus myths and facts

      Fishing guides subjected to conspiracy theory nonsense

      How to properly calculate fish-in fish-out (FIFO) ratios

      Efficient use of limited resources

      Finally, to see why we defend salmon farming, please feel free to read the “About this Blog” page.

  6. Having attended the entirety of the Cohen Commission, public forums and all, I am not speaking out of turn in saying that the government that allowed salmon farms to be placed on the migratory paths of wild salmon is entirely in the wrong and DFO admits this to have been an oversight. Further to that, there is serious cause for concern in the overall management of wild fish and the last thing that should be endorsed is an industry that is known globally to have impacts on the marine environment and wild salmon. Given that Dick Beamish and others testified that one likely cause of the 2009 collapse was due to an “extraordinary event” which caused starvation in the wild salmon due to a lack of herring, (also note that another reason for starving salmon is because of disease, something you will learn more about in reading through Dr. Miller’s testimony) the salmon farming industry only further insults wild salmon stocks in that a vast amount of herring is taken for farm fish feed.

    It is with good reason that various environmental groups flag salmon farms as destructive to the future of wild salmon; because they are. Take into consideration that in spite of the salmon farming industry constantly claiming “best husbandry practices” it has been unable to prevent viral outbreaks and the management of sea lice has fluctuated over the years with the issue of sea lice resistance to drugs increasingly becoming a problem. Claims that the industry is “always improving” is not adequate when it comes to protecting a species upon which the B.C. coast was built on.

    Sorry sir, but it’s long past time for this industry (and all industries destroying salmon habitat for profit) to take responsibility and stop making excuses. Salmon farms need to get away from wild salmon stocks.

    It is unfortunate that the Canadian government has so heavily invested in this industry, as one thing that became clear throughout the Cohen Commission was how much the lawyers for Canada and B.C. were in bed with big industry.

    For shame sir, for shame.

    1. You attended the entirety of the Commission? Then what are your thoughts on overfishing? Climate change? Black market aboriginal fisheries and sales? Logging? Pollution? Aluminum smelters? Cross-border fishing politics? Because all those things were examined as having impacts on wild salmon in B.C.

      Or did you just attend the aquaculture hearings, and base your opinions on your pre-conceived notion that salmon farms are “bad?”

      Again, we encourage our readers to read the transcripts for themselves, not to take your word for it, or our word for it. You can select certain pieces of information and paint the picture you want, and so can we. But the truth is up to Justice Cohen to find, after sifting through all the information.

    2. You have basically picked through which information you wanted to hear from the inquiry so it would come to the conclusion which suited your opinion. Shame on you.

  7. You are of course quite correct.

    The only person who will decide what is key evidence is Justice Cohen himself.

    I am ok with groups flagging what they think is important evidence from their viewpoint. From my standpoint, the most important element was the evidence that the scientific credibility of the DFO scientific staff has been eroded by the layering of communications experts on top of the scientific data.

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