Salmon News: Cohen Commission, and Alexandra Morton’s Get Out Migration

Salmon have been in the news quite a lot in the last few days, starting with Thursday’s announcement by the Cohen Commission that 20 groups have been awarded either unique or shared standing for its inquiry into the declining Fraser River Sockeye Salmon stocks – which includes a total of 52 groups. We first told you about the inquiry here, when it was struck as a response to last year’s missing salmon.

Despite this huge number, and the Commission’s lauding of groups which agreed to submit to shared rather than unique standing, commercial fisherman David Ellis of the Fish For Life Foundation, expressed criticism of the process:

“The process that was started with a short, poorly advertised deadline, and with a flawed premise based on a ‘direct interest’ in the Fraser River, a common property fishery, leaves in serious question the structural integrity of the Commission, and its ability to spend taxpayers money wisely…[sic]”[read full article]

Today’s Vancouver Sun includes an article penned by the Executive Director of one of the groups with unique standing, the BC Salmon Farmers Association. If you’ve already read the above article, you’ll recall that Salmon Farmers were given unique standing because the Commission noted that they were “likely to face ‘adverse comment’ from ‘researchers, environmentalists and fishers [who] have pointed to the aquaculture industry as a major cause for the decline’.”

In her article, Mary Ellen Walling notes her concern that

…this inquiry — which has the potential to find real answers and potential solutions to the wild salmon question — will deteriorate into another inquiry on salmon farming alone. That’s not the answer…”

[read full article]

Walling is also critical of the other applicants, saying that many of them have been working on anti-salmon farm campaigns for years. According to her, the fact that salmon farms are one hundred kilometres from the mouth of the Fraser means that the problems with sea lice can’t possibly be tied to the farms – more importantly, she thinks, Skeena River stocks have also been depleted and “their juvenile sockeye go nowhere near salmon farms.” (Author’s note: wild salmon have to swim past the farms on their way to the sea, thus picking up the sea lice and transmitting them to other salmon.)

Walling and the Association will be up against some tough criticism when the Commission gets underway. Environmentalists like Alexandra Morton have been, and continue to be, critical about the effects which these salmon farms have on British Columbia’s wild salmon stocks – which brings me to my last piece of salmon news for today.

This Friday, April 23rd, Morton will embark on a two-week journey from Sointula to Victoria. As Morton herself states in an article on her website about the Get Out Migration, “This is not a protest – this is a celebration and call to stand up and be counted demanding that government give wild, not corporate salmon top priority and that wild salmon are essential to our society.”

Check out the itinerary if you want to join the walk – or even part of the walk – which will finish May 8th with a rally on the Parliament lawns in Victoria. If you want to support the campaign but can’t join the walk, Morton is also collecting signatures on an online petition against salmon farms.

If you do attend, please email your impressions to and we’ll compile them for a future post.

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