Commission's hearing kick-off a welcome next step for thousands employed by salmon farm industry

October 25, 2010 12:56

The people who depend on the BC Salmon Farming industry want their voices to be heard loud and clear at the Cohen Commission Inquiry hearing when it gets underway tomorrow in Vancouver, reports with reference to BC Salmon Farmers Association. 

The industry is hopeful the commission's months of diligent investigation will ease the anxiety levels of 6,000 people in this industry and let them concentrate on what they do best rather than worrying as their livelihood is threatened by twisted facts and misinformation.

"We're looking forward to the opportunity to clarify misinformation that's been presented to the public about our business as well as bring forward the large amounts of research and planning our industry has conducted to ensure our operations are sustainable," says Mary Ellen Walling, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association.

"There has already been a lot of work done by many people both within the commission and from the general public," adds Walling. "We're glad to be at this stage and to see this complex process proceeding."

The BC Salmon Farmers Association has standing at the commission, headed by Justice Bruce Cohen. In June, Justice Cohen released a discussion paper outlining the issues he would be investigating - among them are the Department of Fisheries and Oceans regulations, harvesting methods, fish biology, water pollution, salmon farming, logging, hydro, urbanization, climate change and more.

Supporting the wild salmon population is an important cause for everyone and the salmon farming industry is confident that the Cohen Commission will see the big picture.  Changing climate conditions, the global warming effects, changes in ocean currents, the impact due to economic development and urbanization are just a few of the many other factors which need to be considered.

The salmon farming industry has been consistent -  in that the practice, the productivity, fish management, disease and health management have all been constant regardless of the sockeye return fluctuations.

There have been significant population variations in BC's wild salmon numbers although the farms have not changed how they operate; suggesting that farms are not responsible for these differences in return numbers.

 "We know our numbers are good, our farms have remained the same and there haven't been any notable differences. There is a lot to consider when discussing the Sockeye. The workers and people from the salmon farming industry have faith in the system", said Walling.

Over the last few months, the commission has hosted open forums, accepted public submissions, conducted observational visits and developed the process to come - all against the backdrop of a Sockeye return hailed as the largest in 100 years. Evidentiary hearings are scheduled until mid-December.

The BC salmon farming industry employs 6,000 people directly and indirectly and contributes $800-million to the provincial economy each year. For more information visit - a special page addressing the Fraser River Sockeye commission has been created under In the News in the top menu bar.

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