$26 Million and 2 Years Later: DFO must respond and implement the Cohen Recommendations
|News Release. May 23, 2014|
|(Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver – May 23, 2014) “The Harper Government established the Cohen Commission in 2009 at a cost of $26 million which heard from over 170 witnesses, over 3 years of study and resulted in a voluminous report with 75 recommendations. We are simultaneously appalled and deeply troubled by the Harper government’s deliberate destruction and refusal to implement the recommendations of the Cohen commission,” stated Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “Justice Cohen got it right when he prioritized the conservation and protection of wild salmon and placed this firmly as the top priority of DFO; at the same time concluding that fish farms along wild salmon migration routes have the potential for serious and irreversible harm to wild salmon. However, instead of implementing Cohen’s recommendations, the reverse holds true. DFO is making the expansion of the fish farm industry the priority at the risk and peril to wild salmon.”
Recently, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq and Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea revealed that the Harper Government and specifically the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) have only implemented one recommendation in its “day-to-day” operations of Commissioner Cohen’s exhaustive study into the decline of sockeye salmon in the Fraser River.
“Canada must not ignore the call for a formal investigation into Canada’s failure to protect wild salmon from disease and parasites from fish farm sites on the coast of BC made by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, a key NAFTA body which oversees signatories’ enforcement of environmental laws and standards. Unequivocal evidence points to the failure of DFO to keep harmful pollutants, viruses and parasites out of water used by wild salmon. DFO must stop their destructive policies and remove from their mandate aquaculture management and solely focus on the protection of wild salmon as recommended by Cohen.” stated Chief Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.
Chief Bob Chamberlin, Vice-President of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs stated, “Wild salmon is integral to our cultures, communities and Nations and with the continued expansion of fish farms into our territories we have witnessed the devastating impact fish farms have on wild salmon and this is simply unacceptable.” Chief Chamberlin continued, “The First Nations Wild Salmon Alliance, a coalition of approximately 80 First Nations have been turning their collective attention and expertise to the protection of wild salmon and we call on the Harper Government to immediately respond and fully implement Cohen’s recommendations. DFO does not have the best interests of the health and sustainability of wild salmon as a priority in their policies. This is clear as they continue to disregard Cohen’s recommendations and continue on with the promotion and expansion of the aquaculture industry.”
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip (604) 684-0231
Chief Bob Chamberlin (604) 684-0231
UBCIC is a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.