Tuesday August 9, 2011
The Art of Rallying
Salmon Are Sacred gathering at Vancouver Art Gallery August 30
Submitted by Elena Edwards, Mission BC
s many now know, the cycles of wild salmon stocks have been changing drastically over the past 20 years, with the returns declining steadily. 2009 brought the shockingly low return of Fraser River Sockeye that launched the federal Inquiry Into the Decline of the Fraser River Sockeye Salmon. Justice Bruce Cohen was appointed to oversee this inquiry.
Over the past nine months the Cohen
Commission has examined all possible
factors in the decline of Fraser River Sockeye salmon from over fishing to
impacts on salmon habitat to global warming. All that has been examined will
be considered in Justice Cohen's final findings.
What is different in this inquiry as opposed to others is that the
Aquaculture industry is finally being recognized for the serious impacts it
has had on the out-migrating salmon smolts, from heavy loads of parasites to
escaped farmed Atlantic salmon, to the effects on the marine environment and
most alarming, diseases being passed from the farms to wild salmon.
After 2010 saw a record run of salmon, many fell under the impression that the salmon are fine. Such is not the case. There is a correlation to the health status of the salmon farms and the health of wild salmon stocks.The
health records that will soon come out at the Cohen Commission this August 22-September 8 will show that the farms have been putting wild salmon stocks
at risk over the past 20 years.
Testimony has been heard from DFO employees that DFO is very embarrassed and concerned by the 2009 and 2010 salmon runs, as they were completely off two
years in a row. What does that mean for the years to come?
Why you are needed
DFO and government are heavily invested in the Aquaculture industry. As said
by one DFO Senior Aquaculture Management Coordinator; "DFO wears two hats
when it comes to Aquaculture." Which hat will they be wearing at the Cohen
Already the government has silenced scientist Dr. Kristi Miller about her
serious findings of a virus that could wipe out wild salmon stocks. In court
on March 17th during which Dr. Laura Richards (Regional Directer for DFO)
was witness, an email was brought up as evidence in which Dr. Miller wrote
to Mark Saunders (DFO);
"FYI- in case you do not already know, Laura does not want me to attend any
of the sockeye salmon workshops that are not run by DFO for fear that we
will not be able to control the way the disease issue may be considered to
the press. I worry that this approach of saying nothing will backfire."
Dr. Miller was right, as media throughout Canada and the U.S. has picked
up on the degree of secrecy put upon her findings by the Canadian
She will finally be free to talk about her findings on August 24th when she
is a witness at the Cohen Commission.
The Efforts to Get the Disease Records
For years Dr. Alexandra Morton has been working tirelessly to wake up the
government and the public to the negative effects of open net salmon farms.
She will be a witness at the commission on September 7th and 8th and is
asking for the public to be present to the testimony that will be heard
during the Aquaculture hearings from August 25th to September 8th.
On October 25th, 2010, hundreds of people concerned about wild salmon joined
in solidarity and marched from Vanier Park to 701 West Georgia St. where the
first day of the Cohen Commission was commencing. Many of those people had
just spent 5 days paddling the Fraser River, supported by First Nations
communities along the way. The message during the Paddle for Wild Salmon was
clear; demand the release of the disease and health records from the open
net fish farms along the coast of B.C.
In December of 2010, that request was met, with Justice Cohen ordering the
release of disease/health records from 120 salmon farms spanning 10 years.
Records going further back could have been demanded as well, but the BC
Salmon Farmers Association claimed that the records were not at hand and it
would cost them too much to retrieve them. It was with great reluctance that
the BCSFA had to concede to the release of the health records. (As can be
read in the transcript at www.cohencommission.ca/en/Rulings.php
Now, 10 months later, those records will be up for examination. People are
needed to bear witness to the testimony.
At the Cohen Commission, the BCSFA has two high payed lawyers who will be
objecting every which way they can. In the months past, any attempts made by
the lawyers of other participants to question witnesses about effects of
salmon farms was met with immediate objection from those representing the
BCSFA. It is a given that they will do all they can to prevent the truth
from coming out. In a process that is meant to establish all factors
effecting wild salmon at a cost of $25 million dollars, such interference
will be working to the opposite effect.
Justice Bruce Cohen needs to know that the public are concerned about the
effects of open net fish farms. He will be taking his findings from this
commission to Ottawa in June of 2012. The voice of the public should be a
large part of the recommendations he presents to the "Harper government",
and a strong unified voice to get the harms of salmon farms away from wild
salmon will require solidarity among us all.
There are 130 seats in the courtroom where this public inquiry is being
held. For the government to understand that the public want wild salmon
protected from the diseases and parasites from salmon farms those seats will
need to be filled with concerned public citizens.
Diseases will be examined August 22, 23, 24, followed by Aquaculture for
August 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, and September 1,2, 6,7, 8.
Court is in session from 10am-12:30pm and 2pm-4pm.
There will not be another inquiry of this magnitude again, and unless we
speak up, the next inquiry will be an "Inquiry Into the Extinction of Wild
Salmon." Let's not let it get to that point.
Rally for Wild Salmon: August 30th
On August 30th between 10 and 4 pm there will be a rally at the Vancouver
At 12:30pm the following will be speaking;
Chief Bob Chamberlin of the Kwicksutaineuk Ah-kwa-mish First Nation Grand Chief Stewart Philip, President of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs Dr. Alexandra Morton (Leading scientist in researching the B.C. salmon
farms.) Ernie Crey, Sto:lo Fisheries Adviser.
Your presence is needed for this moment in history.
Please spread this message far and wide!
If you are on facebook, ask to join Salmon Are Sacred and Supporters of Wild Salmon Circle groups for updates and to ask questions.
Join the event page; Justice for Wild Salmon.
FB event page 'Salmon Inquiry-Cohen Commission Watch' has postings from over
the past 8 months of the Cohen Commission.
To be put on a mailing list with news updates regarding salmon feedlots,
contact Don Staniford at by e-mail here.
In solidarity for Wild Salmon.
For more info on the Cohen Commission and salmon farms visit;
Cohen Commission Schedule, Witnesses and Transcripts here.
Salmon Are Sacred/Alexandra Morton www.salmonaresacred.org/cohen-commission
Farmed and Dangerous www.farmedanddangerous.org/scientific-case
News links regarding the silencing of Dr. Kristi Miller
The Common Sense Canadian
The Canadian National News