Smoking Gun in Cohen Report is Lack of Knowledge about Factors Affecting Wild Salmon Populations

HALIFAX, Nov. 5, 2012 /CNW/ - The Canadian Wildlife Federation supports the recommendations made by the Cohen Commission Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River, particularly those on open net-pen salmon aquaculture. However, CWF disagrees with Commissioner Bruce Cohen's statement that there is no single cause or "smoking gun" to explain the decline in sockeye productivity.  Dr. Sean Brillant, CWF Manager of Marine Programs says "it is clear throughout the report that there is an inadequate level of knowledge on the effect of human activities like net-pen aquaculture on sockeye salmon and on the ecology of the wild salmon populations - that is the smoking gun."

"Although the focus of the Commission was sockeye salmon of the Fraser River, its recommendations clearly can apply to other parts of the country where open net-pen salmon aquaculture is large or quickly developing and where wild salmon populations are threatened," says Brillant.

The CWF position on open net pen finfish aquaculture is that it alters important aquatic habitats and significantly affects indigenous populations of wild salmon and other wildlife. Although the aquaculture industry creates economic benefits, because of its significant impact on wildlife, CWF endorses a phasing-out of net-pen finfish aquaculture on both coasts of Canada over the next 10 years and, in the meantime, a moratorium on new aquaculture operations.

"We fully support the recommendation to prohibit further net-pen salmon aquaculture development in the BC Discovery Islands unless risk of serious harm to wild salmon populations can be rejected or else prohibit net-pen salmon aquaculture entirely," states Brillant.

With more than 300,000 supporters, CWF is the largest conservation organization in Canada and has provided a balanced voice on conservation issues for more than 50 years.

About the Canadian Wildlife Federation
The Canadian Wildlife Federation is a national not-for-profit charitable organization dedicated to ensuring an appreciation of our natural world and a lasting legacy of healthy wildlife and habitat.  By improving knowledge of human impacts on the environment, developing and delivering programs, recommending policy changes and cooperating with like-minded partners, CWF encourages a future in which Canadians can live in harmony with nature.  For more information, visit CanadianWildlifeFederation.ca.

SOURCE: CANADIAN WILDLIFE FEDERATION

For further information:

Pam Logan
Tel (613)599-9594 ext. 250
Cell (613)222-1405
pamelal@cwf-fcf.org