D.C. Reid on Fishing: Make your voice heard in fight to save salmon

From the dozens of media articles that followed my column on the Cohen Commission Report this fall, you will likely know that Fisheries and Oceans Canada has not responded to the report issued Oct. 31, 2012.

What you may not know is that the entire Cohen site has been taken down as though this $26.4-million inquiry had never occurred. Some of us who follow salmon issues at the policy level have saved important documents so the commission can’t just disappear and wild salmon issues in B.C. along with it.

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I have all three PDFs of the 1,200-page report and can send them to anyone who would like some good reading of a major attempt to come to grips with bringing wild B.C. salmon back — specifically why Fraser River sockeye collapsed in 2009. Furthermore, the Watershed Watch environmental group also thought there was the possibility of the Harper government making the report disappear, and has done a great deal of work to make synopses of the main action. See watershed-watch.org/resources/cohen-inquiry-highlights/.

Watershed Watch also undertook to save everything from the Cohen site. This includes more than 500,000 documents of more than 3.3 million pages and more than 2,000 exhibits. As you can imagine, it would be a Herculean task to go through everything, order it, and write summaries. But at least the information is not lost.

Here is the action part: you may want to send a letter to Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, asking for her response to the Cohen Report — min@dfo.mpo.ca. And there is more action: the Auditor General for Canada has an environmental petition process (a protocol, not a list of names) that groups, media and prominent pundits, which means any Canadian, can undertake to get answers about our salmon.

A minister receiving such a petition is required to answer it in 120 days — he or she must answer.

My good buddy Gail just sent a note telling me she has received my petition pursuant to section 22 of the Auditor General Act on Nov. 26, 2013. My environmental petition is No. 0353 regarding “DFO’s response to the Cohen Commission Report into the Decline of Fraser River Sockeye, B.C.”

See the Auditor General site for the guide to the petition process: oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/docs/pet_lp_e_930.pdf. Roger B. Hillier is the director and can be reached by email at roger.hillier@oag-bvg.gc.ca or by phone at 1-613-952-0213, ext. 4664.

Here is my request to DFO (without the background information): It is one year since the $26.4 million Cohen Commission on Decline of Fraser River Sockeye delivered its report to DFO.

I would like to know what concrete results, and detail them individually, with associated timelines, and funding that DFO has committed or expensed to resolve each of the 75 environmental recommendations in the three-volume Cohen Report cohencommission.ca/en/FinalReport/. The recommendations are pages 105 –115, of Volume 3. I am speaking of the boldfaced recommendations and the concrete results DFO has taken to achieve each of the 75 recommendations that can also be found in a Cohen PDF of Chapter 2, Volume 3.

One final thing: if the AG receives enough petitions and if DFO’s answers are not good enough, the AG has the power to launch an audit into the matter.

Time to get writing on behalf of our salmon who cannot.

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