Cohen Commission releases interim report reviewing previous investigations into state of Fraser River sockeye

November 2, 2010 14:17

The Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River today released its interim report titled "Fraser River Sockeye Salmon: Past Declines. Future Sustainability?" The full report is available at /, reports with reference to Cohen Commission.

This report meets the commission's Terms of Reference, which direct the Commissioner, Justice Bruce Cohen, to submit an interim report setting out his preliminary views on, and assessment of, any previous examinations, investigations or reports that he deemed relevant to the inquiry and the federal government's responses to those examinations, investigations and reports.

"I believe that there is a common will to do what is necessary to conserve Fraser sockeye stocks and I am cautiously optimistic that, with the cooperation of the participants, recommendations will be made to satisfy our mandate of improving the future sustainability of the fishery," wrote the Commissioner. "In saying this, I am under no illusions about the challenge that lies ahead for the commission, the controversial nature of some of the issues that must be investigated, or the fact that there is a long history of recommendations advanced and responses proffered."

In "Fraser River Sockeye Salmon: Past Declines. Future Sustainability?" the commission notes that previous investigations have generated more than 700 recommendations to improve management of the Fraser sockeye fishery. The commission has reviewed these and the responses of the federal government to these recommendations, and will use this information to probe causes for the sockeye's decline during evidentiary hearings which began this past week. All the evidence generated by the commission's proceedings, including the recommendations and responses, will form the basis for the Commissioner's conclusions.

"In my opinion," wrote the Commissioner, "this fair and reasonable approach should result in a set of findings and recommendations that, I trust, will end the cycle of reviewing the same issues over and over again."

The interim report states that it is too early to tell whether the high production of Fraser River sockeye in 2010 will be sustained into the future, but it is clear that the variability from 2009 to 2010 has important implications for the commission's work. "My mandate to make findings of fact regarding the causes for the decline of Fraser sockeye and to develop recommendations for improving the future sustainability of the fishery still remains, but that decline must now be understood and evaluated in the context of an unprecedented rebound in 2010," wrote the Commissioner.

Evidentiary hearings began Monday, October 25 and will continue to the spring of 2011. Full information about these hearings, including transcripts and evidence presented, will be available on the commission's website at .
About the Cohen Commission

The Cohen Commission ( was established on November 5, 2009 with the appointment of the Honourable Bruce Cohen as Commissioner. Under its Terms of Reference, the commission will hold hearings to investigate and report on the decline of sockeye salmon in the Fraser River. Based on its findings, the commission will make recommendations for improving the future sustainability of the sockeye salmon fishery in the Fraser River, including, as required, any changes to the policies, practices and procedures of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in relation to the management of the Fraser River sockeye salmon fishery.

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