Cohen Response Status Update – October 2018

Announced during the International Year of the Salmon event on October 11 in Vancouver, a new update on the Cohen Commission recommendations has been released. See details below.

In 2009, Canada established the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River (Cohen Commission) to investigate the decline of sockeye salmon stocks. While the final report of the Cohen Commission, The Uncertain Future of Fraser River Sockeye, released in October 2012, did not find any “smoking gun” or single factor leading to decreased Pacific salmon stocks, it did make 75 recommendations. The Government of Canada, including Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), as well as the Province of British Columbia (BC), have now taken actions to address all 75 of these recommendations (see Table 1 below).

Wild salmon are important to the Government of Canada, and through its actions, DFO continues to protect and rebuild the iconic and keystone Pacific salmon species in collaboration with partners for the benefit of the people of Canada and Canada’s marine, coastal and terrestrial ecosystems. DFO has reviewed each recommendation to ensure that the department is doing all that it can, within its mandate and resources, to address the health and long-term sustainability of Fraser River sockeye salmon stocks, as well as wild Pacific salmon more broadly, but there remains more that can be done. Previous updates of actions taken were provided in August 2016 and September 2017. This final status report provides updated information on actions taken over the past year under the 5 themes of Wild Salmon Policy (WSP), fisheries management, habitat, aquaculture, and science, with a more detailed summary of DFO’s response to all 75 recommendations over the past 3 years included as an annex.

Although this is the final Cohen Response status update, the governments of Canada and British Columbia recognize that acting on many of the recommendations is an ongoing, incremental task. Going forward, ongoing work on many of the Cohen recommendations will continue, particularly across several key areas, such as salmon stock assessment, health status assessment, habitat protection and restoration, precautionary approach to salmon aquaculture, and fisheries management. Many commitments to ongoing action are also reflected in the Wild Salmon Policy 2018-2022 Implementation Plan which outlines specific activities and approaches that will be led by the department over the next 5 years towards restoring and maintaining healthy and diverse Pacific salmon populations and their habitats.

For more details on the October 2018 update visit Fisheries and Oceans Canada website.

MCC Salmon Committee sends letter to Terry Beech

On February 8, the MCC Salmon Committee sent a letter to Terry Beech, MP, and recently appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and Canadian Coast Guard.

The letter introduces the MCC to Terry Beech and our current priorities in salmon management:

  • Ensuring recovery of at-risk salmon species
  • Improving transparency and openness, ensuring precautionary management, and reducing overfishing of at-risk stocks in Pacific salmon fisheries
  • Implementing the recommendations of the Cohen Inquiry
  • Implementing Canada’s Policy for the Conservation of Wild Pacific Salmon (a.k.a., the Wild Salmon Policy or WSP), which is a key focus of the Cohen recommendations
  • Improving compliance and monitoring in Pacific salmon fisheries

We have also asked for a meeting with him to discuss two particularly pressing matters: (1) DFO’s current efforts to weaken the Wild Salmon Policy, which was brought in by the previous Liberal government, and (2) the coastwide crisis in stock assessment funding for Pacific salmon, which hit a historic low in 2016.

Read the full letter: 2017-02-08 MCC SC letter to Terry Beech