Wednesday August 24, 2011

Cohen Commission

In Solidarity For Wild Salmon

Hearing reaches critical stage now gag order is lifted

Submitted by Elena Edwards, Mission BC/Voice file photo


here are some crucial days fast approaching during which the very future of wild salmon may be determined.


This August 24 will see Dr. Kristi Miller, head of Molecular Genetics for DFO, as witness at the Cohen Commission. In her studies, Dr Miller has discovered a virus to be causing high mortality rates among the wild salmon, a virus that is most likely perpetuated through the salmon farms. Rather than being allowed to share this crucial information with others, Dr. Miller has been muzzled by the Canadian government.
See the Vancouver Sun article here.

Next Wednesday, August 24th, Dr. Miller will have the chance to give testimony to what she knows to be killing the wild salmon. Given that her employers have been putting pressure on her to keep silent about her research, this may very well be one of the most crucial days of the entire commission in getting the truth out. Public support for Dr. Miller to offer the whole truth and nothing but the truth is needed for this day. This is a public inquiry.

For those of you who have not been following the Cohen Commission's Inquiry into the Decline of the Fraser River Sockeye Salmon ( held at 701 West Georgia St, Vancouver on the 8th floor), it can be summarized as a long tedious ten months of mostly DFO witnesses giving testimony that has revealed the extent to which the structure of DFO is fractured and failing in it's duties to protect wild salmon.

Throughout the commission, efforts have been made by lawyers to question witnesses regarding the unsightly elephant of Aquaculture/salmon farms repeatedly, but have been cut off by the Council for the Commission saying that all questions pertaining to Aquaculture must wait until Aquaculture is examined in court.

This August 25th sees the first of the 9 days which will finally examine Aquaculture, and the long awaited questions will finally be asked and evidence given as to the full effects of salmon farms on wild salmon stocks. Given that the government of Canada is invested in the industry of aquaculture, as one DFO employee said, "it will take the public getting involved to see necessary changes happen."

It has been almost a year since we joined together as one strong voice for the wild salmon during the Paddle for Wild Salmon, and marched to the opening day of the Cohen Commission last October 25th.

During the five days leading up to the march, many of you traveled upon a river that the salmon swim each year as they return to their spawning grounds to continue a beautiful cycle of life that feeds all that is a part of us. You traveled upon a river that once boasted the world’s greatest salmon run, a river that was once so thick with salmon that the surface of the river would be vibrant with their movement.

The salmon have been compromised to a point where their future is most uncertain. The river without the salmon would be like mountains without trees, forests without animals, life without air.

It will be up to all of us to ensure that wild salmon not be compromised to death.

Justice Bruce Cohen has an immense job on his hands in taking all of the testimony given since last October as evidence and make his final recommendations to be brought to the Prime Minister in June of 2012. The recommendation that salmon farms be removed needs to be at the top of his recommendations.

Your presence is needed to bear witness to the testimony given during the Disease and Aquaculture hearings this August 22nd – September 8th to let Justice Cohen know that we are still here, and we are not giving up.

Alexandra Morton, who paddled tirelessly during those 5 days on the river, has been working non-stop since the beginning of the Cohen Commission to prepare for the upcoming days. Your support is needed in the courtroom on September 7 & 8th when Dr. Morton will finally be free to talk about all that has been impacting the wild salmon from the fish farms during her testimony.

On August 30th, a Rally for Wild Salmon will be held across the street from the courtrooms at the Vancouver Art Gallery. From there our voices will carry up to the 8th floor where the Cohen Commission is held for those in the Aquaculture industry to hear loud and clear that we will not be silent until the threats of salmon farms are removed.

Please mark your calendars, spread the word, and make an effort to be present for at least one of the 9 days examining aquaculture and the 3 examining diseases.

Court is in session each day from 10am-12:30pm/2pm-4pm. There are 130 seats in the courtroom.
At no point during this public inquiry have those seats been filled. May that not be the case from August 22-September 8th.

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