Here Comes Cohen! Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper is facing a nightmare Halloween tomorrow (31 October) with the publication of the Cohen Commission's final report into the decline of wild salmon in the Fraser River.
The Canadian Press & The Vancouver Sun (29 October) reported:
“Marine biologist Alexandra Morton says Justice Bruce Cohen has done a phenomenal job heading up the commission of inquiry," reported News 1130 (28 October). "I'm hoping Justice Cohen will make a very strong statement about aquaculture and about habitat protection."
"But she has some concerns, too. "Why has this report been delayed and delayed, for one. That's concerning for me. Will we actually get a chance to see the report? Will we actually Stephen Harper actually do anything? Probably not." Morton says Cohen has set an impressive precedent, in obtaining the disease records of salmon farms in BC and making them public. "It was groundbreaking, and what I think he has to say is that we have to reduce the exposure of wild salmon to the viruses in these feedlots."
Justice Bruce Cohen will be holding a press conference in Vancouver tomorrow (Wednesday 31 October) to finally publish a report which has been delayed three times. Cohen's report originally faced a deadline of May 1, 2011, but that deadline was extended to June 30, 2012, Sept. 30, 2012, and then Oct. 29, 2012.
The doors may finally be closing on Norwegian-owned Atlantic salmon farming in British Columbia and a Canadian Government which has promoted the disease-ridden industry instead of protecting wild Pacific salmon.
[Photo: Justice Bruce Cohen at the public hearing in Lillooet in August 2010 smiling in front of the jail (with the Cohen Commission’s Director of Communications Carla Shore and Senior Commission Counsel Brian Wallace: For more photos read “Cohen In Camera – Photo Review of the Salmon Inquiry”]
The stakes are high. If Justice Cohen takes a hard-line approach, the Cohen Commission’s final report could see British Columbia’s salmon farming industry in the dock for spreading infectious diseases and the Canadian Government for aiding and abetting in the cover-up.
"Mary Ellen Walling, executive director of the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association, said it’s clear pressure must be taken off the wild salmon stocks and farmed salmon can help achieve that goal" reported The Canadian Press (28 October). "We’re seeing growing demand for salmon in the Canadian marketplace, the U.S. marketplace, the European marketplace, the Asian market," she said. "It’s very important that we be able to provide that seafood to the world population in a responsible and sustainable way."
The likeable Justice Cohen could well give the Canadian Government and the Norwegian-controlled salmon farming industry a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card despite calls to ‘lock ‘em up and throw away the key’.
“Someone should be going to jail over this,” said John Werring of the David Suzuki Foundation in reaction to a secret Government report last year which detailed over 100 positive cases of ISA in farmed Atlantic salmon and wild Pacific salmon. “Never in my over 20 years of doing my work have I seen such duplicity by our government. The closest thing I can relate to is when whistle blowers in the U.S. released documents showing that tobacco companies knew their product harmed people. This document (2004 draft) shows our government has known for years that ISAV has been in the Pacific and they have done nothing except cover it up. Appalling!”
“Call it Salmongate,” reported the LA Times last December. “The deepening controversy over who knew what and when about a deadly virus that may or may not have been detected in West Coast salmon would be obscure fodder for biologists if there weren't so much at stake -- the health of the West's dwindling stocks of wild salmon, for one. And Canada's $2.1-billion fish farming industry.”
Read more via “Did Canada cover up deadly salmon virus? Report suggests yes”
Even if Justice Cohen does get tough there is no guarantee that the Harper Government will abide by his recommendations. “Whether Justice Cohen’s recommendations will have any sway on the Harper government’s current agenda is unlikely, but we can only hope that his report will not cater to the very things that put wild salmon at risk,” wrote Elena Edwards in Wild Salmon First (24 September).
“If nothing else, the Cohen Commission succeeded in one thing; it has clearly shown that government has been compromising wild salmon to death and that the DFO is in place not to protect wild fish but to protect the economic proceeds derived from the fish and oceans. If wild salmon are to have a chance of surviving into the future they must be prioritized before open-net salmon farming, oil pipelines, and mass industrial practices that destroy salmon habitat. In short, wild salmon must come first.”
Read more via "Justice Cohen’s 'Get Out of Jail Free' Card?"
As the final report hovers like an axe over the salmon farming industry, the BC Salmon Farmers Association is maintaining their untenable position that healthy wild Pacific stocks and disease-ridden Atlantic salmon farms can co-exist.
The Globe & Mail (29 October) reported:
“Colleen Dane, a representative of the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association, said she is anticipating a detailed, complex report – and is hoping it absolves fish farming of blame in the collapse of wild stocks. “I don’t want to guess at what Justice Cohen will recommend,” she stated in an e-mail, “but we certainly heard at the commission that wild salmon stocks are under pressure and that wild and farm-raised fish can and do co-exist.”
Read more via "Chronology of a Cover Up in Canada: ISA in British Columbia"
The sordid truth is that the disease-ridden salmon farming is belly up in the waters of British Columbia – as dead as the proverbial doornail, dodo and Monty Python’s parrot (the aptly named ‘Norwegian Blue’).
Greg ‘The Lion’ McDade, legal counsel for Alexandra Morton, hit the last nail in coffin during his final oral submission to the Cohen Commission in November 2011 when he said:
“Like the Monty Python sketch, we have a dead parrot.”
No amount of rattling the cage will resuscitate the Norwegian Blue.
Read more via "Norwegian Blues – Monty Python’s Dead Farmed Salmon"