Cohen made 75 recommendations and RECOMMENDATION #3 is:
DFO’s obligations in relation to net-pen salmon farms
3 The Government of Canada should remove from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ mandate the promotion of salmon farming as an industry and farmed salmon as a product.
He cites potential for "conflict of interest," "that DFO will impose less onerous fish health standards on salmon farms, than it would it its only interest were the protection of wild salmon" and he states "There is a risk DFO will be less rigorous in enforcing the Fisheries Act against the operators of salmon farms." Powerful words!
In Recommendation 14 Cohen warns that salmon farm licenses should only be for one year:
Limiting salmon farm production and licence duration
14 Beginning immediately and continuing until at least September 30, 2020, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should ensure that
the maximum duration of any licence issued under the Pacific Aquaculture Regulations for a net-pen salmon farm in the Discovery Islands (fish health sub- zone 3-2) does not exceed one year;
DFO does not issue new licences for net-pen salmon farms in the Discovery Islands (fish health sub-zone 3-2); and
DFO does not permit increases in production at any existing net-pen salmon farm in the Discovery Islands (fish health sub-zone 3-2).
Justice Cohen is the first person of authority to present salmon farming as an activity so dangerous to wild salmon that salmon farms should "cease to operate" if risk to wild salmon is more than minimal:
If at anytime between now and September 30, 2020, the minister of fisheries and oceans determines that net-pen salmon farms in the Discovery Islands (fish health sub-zone 3-2) pose more than a minimal risk of serious harm to the health of migrating Fraser River sockeye salmon, he or she should promptly order that those salmon farms cease operations.
A lot of salmon feedlots are included in sub-zone 3-2:
While industry claims this will only affect 9 farms, a close look at the map above from the DFO website puts the number of farms affected closer to 20. Salmon farm spin at work.
In a crucial series of recommendations 15-17, Cohen recommends the siting criteria for salmon farms require a serious and continuous update to protect wild salmon migration routes, something that was never even considered when the Province of BC gave salmon farms their rental agreements to the seafloor.
15 The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should explicitly consider proximity to migrating Fraser River sockeye when siting salmon farms.
16 After seeking comment from First Nations and stakeholders, and after responding to challenge by scientific peer review, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should, by March 31, 2013, and every five years thereafter, revise salmon farm siting criteria to reflect new scientific information about salmon farms situated on or near Fraser River sockeye salmon migration routes as well as the cumulative effects of these farms on these sockeye.
17 The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should apply revised siting criteria to all licensed salmon farm sites. Farms that no longer comply with siting criteria should be promptly removed or relocated to sites that comply with current siting criteria.
This means Fraser River First Nations must be asked if they agree to allow salmon they have specific rights to swim through salmon farm effluent. It also means ALL the salmon farm leases that are up for Provincial tenure renewals have to examined for wild salmon migration routes. Many First Nations are under pressure to respond to renewals of these tenures by November 15, 2012. Is Premier Clark going to ignore the $26 million dollars tax-payers have paid to find out that salmon farms on wild salmon migration routes might be causing "irreversible damage." I would venture a guess that yes, this information will be ignored unless we are heard. I have created a place for you be heard.
The report is grabbing headlines such as:
Cohen Commission report makes 75 recommendations on the future of Fraser River sockeye salmon