Cohen Commission Scientist Says Inquiry Should Be “A Science Issue”

The Cohen Commission has barely gotten underway and already one of the members of its scientific advisory panel is questioning its effectiveness and validity.

According to an article in Monday’s Vancouver Sun, the CEO of the Pacific Salmon Foundation, Brian Riddell, has questioned whether the judicial inquiry is really necessary. His belief is that the entire exercise is being conducted for “strong political reasons” rather than useful juidicial and scientific reasons. He suggests that salmon decline is a “science issue,” and argues that it will be difficult to separate the politics from the science. Riddell also believes that “old baggage” – presumably the long-standing debates which are referenced in the articles I told you about here – will get in the way of Justice Cohen’s ability to keep the inquiry focused.

The article also notes that Cohen is charged only with making recommendations for the future of the sockeye, not laying blame for what caused the decline. This blame-laying is another thing Riddell worries will get in the way:

Sea lice and salmon farms are a topic certain to surface at the inquiry, an issue that has become too polarized and pervasive, Riddell continued.
“B.C. does not need to continue this debate. This is not positive for us and it’s not helping the communities that want to have slamon farming. And it’s not helping us talk about conservation of wild salmon.”…[read full article]

Riddell also addresses the salmon farming issue, noting that it “may come down to a social choice for British Columbians.” He has high hopes for the DFO’s take-over of the industry, suggesting that the department may be in a good place to take a closer look at the idea of closed-containment farms. He is very familiar with the DFO, having been heavily involved in the federal government’s 2005 wild salmon policy.

He now works for the Pacific Salmon Foundation, which supports groups which work on conservation and recovery of Pacific salmon.

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