Cohen Inquiry and salmon farming
Cohen Commission – Recommendations on Salmon Farming – Oct. 31, 2012
Fish health data from salmon farms
In order to provide a longer time series of data on which to test for relationships between stressors found at salmon farms and the health of Fraser River sockeye salmon, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should continue to require the collection of fish health data directly from operators of salmon farms and through DFO audits.
For research purposes beyond routine monitoring, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should require, as a condition of licence, that the operator of a salmon farm provide, on reasonable demand by DFO, fish samples, including live fish or fresh silvers (recently deceased fish), in a quantity and according to a protocol specified by DFO.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should give non-government scientific researchers timely access to primary fish health data collected through DFO’s routine monitoring programs, including data that relate to farmed or wild salmon.
Limiting salmon farm production and licence duration
Beginning immediately and continuing until at least September 30, 2020, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should ensure that
- the maximum duration of any licence issued under the Pacific Aquaculture Regulations for a net-pen salmon farm in the Discovery Islands (fish health sub-zone 3-2) does not exceed one year;
- DFO does not issue new licences for netpen salmon farms in the Discovery Islands (fish health sub-zone 3-2); and
- DFO does not permit increases in production at any existing net-pen salmon farm in the Discovery Islands (fish health sub-zone 3-2). Revising and applying siting criteria for salmon farms
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should explicitly consider proximity to migrating Fraser River sockeye when siting salmon farms.
After seeking comment from First Nations and stakeholders, and after responding to challenge by scientific peer review, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should, by March 31, 2013, and every five years thereafter, revise salmon farm siting criteria to reflect new scientific information about salmon farms situated on or near Fraser River sockeye salmon migration routes as well as the cumulative effects of these farms on these sockeye.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should apply revised siting criteria to all licensed salmon farm sites. Farms that no longer comply with siting criteria should be promptly removed or relocated to sites that comply with current siting criteria.
Re-evaluating risk and mitigation measures for salmon farms
If at any time between now and September 30, 2020, the minister of fisheries and oceans determines that net-pen salmon farms in the Discovery Islands (fish health sub-zone 3-2) pose more than a minimal risk of serious harm to the health of migrating Fraser River sockeye salmon, he or she should promptly order that those salmon farms cease operations.
On September 30, 2020, the minister of fisheries and oceans should prohibit net-pen salmon farming in the Discovery Islands (fish health sub-zone 3-2) unless he or she is satisfied that such farms pose at most a minimal risk of serious harm to the health of migrating Fraser River sockeye salmon. The minister’s decision should summarize the information relied on and include detailed reasons. The decision should be published on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ website.
To inform the decision under Recommendation 19, the minister and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should take the following steps:
- Conduct the research and analysis recommended in Recommendation 68 and publish the results of this research.
- Assess any relationships between salmon farming variables compiled in the fish health database and Fraser River sockeye health or productivity.
- Invite from the salmon-farming industry and from other interested parties written submissions respecting the risk that net-pen salmon farms pose to the health of migrating Fraser River sockeye salmon.
- Publish on the DFO website the full text of all submissions received.
- Provide to submitters a reasonable opportunity to respond in writing to other submissions and publish such responses on the DFO website.