Cohen Inquiry Heats Up
The BC salmon farming industry is feeling hot under the collar as the Cohen Inquiry heats up. This week in Vancouver saw the first of what promises to be many heated exchanges on the issue of infectious diseases and viruses.
According to Elena Edwards, who is reporting via Cohen Inquiry Notes:
"One thing that is being brought into play this time around is the disease data from the fish farms and the province. Small potatoes? I think not. One does not have to dig very deep to find an unending supply of information about the devastating impacts open net salmon farms have had on wild salmon stocks on a global scale. At virtually every public forum held from August through September of 2010 people spoke of their concerns about fish farms and the effect they have on wild salmon. Through much perseverance by Dr. Alexandra Morton and Stan Proboszcz, the release of disease records from 120 fish farms from 2000-2010 has been issued by the commission and will be thoroughly examined in the months to come.
The topic of fish farms is the can of worms that has yet to be opened in the Cohen Commission, with the lid being quickly resealed when mention of them arises in the courtroom at this juncture. But make no bones about it, when that lid comes off there will be no putting it back on and some very fishy business will be put on the table! Dinner anyone?"
Mark Worthing, reporting for The Tyee, said:
"An expert in aquatic ecology told the Cohen Commission that a retrovirus is having a more devastating effect on salmon smolt as rising water temperatures put stress on them. Dr. Scott Hinch, expert in aquatic ecology and forestry professor at the University of British Columbia took the stand as a witness accompanied by Eduardo Martins, UBC population ecologist at the Federal Judicial Inquiry in to the collapse of the 2009 Sockeye Salmon runs".
And the BC salmon farming industry could be on the hook:
"Kristina Miller along with Dr. Hicks recently published a study in Science Journal that has “fairly significant findings with regards to early entry spawning”, according to lawyer Greg McDade during yesterdays cross examination. The retrovirus that has been hypothesized to be a hybrid of known strains of salmon leukemia or lymphoma, also what salmon farmers refer to as “Salmon AIDS”, has been suggested to be one of the single most important factors in the loss of salmon populations".
In her ‘Notes from the Cohen Inquiry’ Alexandra Morton wrote (9th March) that:
“Yesterday Scott Hinch, expert salmon scientist from UBC, was on the stand. Hinch has been trying to figure out why increasing numbers of sockeye are dying in the river just before spawning. In short, the late run Fraser sockeye began entering the river 6-8 weeks too early starting in the mid 1990s and thus are swimming into the peak annual water temps that occur in the Fraser River. What people have to ask is why is warm water attracting sockeye, when normally it repels them? Warm water is lethal to sockeye and they have developed a strategy wherein the ones that arrive at the river in August used to wait in the deeper waters off the Fraser River plume for 6-8 weeks for the river to cool. Now something is driving them into lethal waters”.
Alexandra Morton - escorted by the wet and Wild Salmon People - attended the opening day of the Cohen Inquiry in October. She will be testifying before the Cohen Inquiry later this year.
The Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River continues this month until 17th March (breaking until 4th April). Next week (Thursday 17th March) sees Dr. Laura Richards, Regional Director, Science at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans take the witness stand.
Hearings are open to the public and will be held at the Federal Court at 701 West Georgia Street, 8th floor, in Vancouver. As topic and witness schedules are subject to change, media and the public are advised to consult the calendar on the commission's website.
The public can access full transcripts and documents via the Cohen Commission’s web-site.
For regular updates on the Cohen Inquiry please visit Salmon Are Sacred’s web-page on the Cohen Commission.