Resource: Cohen Inquiry Highlights: Synopsis of Key Evidence from the Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Fraser River Sockeye

Authors / Publisher: Watershed Watch Salmon Society

Date: July 2012

PDF: Cohen Inquiry Highlights: Synopsis of Key Evidence from the Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Fraser River Sockeye


Watershed Watch has a broad interest in salmon conservation and is involved in many issues including sustainable harvesting and aquaculture, habitat protection and enhancement, the Wild Salmon Policy, water conservation, and more. Given the Cohen Inquiry’s unique nature and mandate—and the substantial overlap in our activities and interests—Watershed Watch was an active participant. We were involved by:

  • attending the majority of all sessions;
  • providing submissions on previous inquires;
  • submitting a sworn affidavit regarding the release of salmon farming disease data;
  • submitting numerous evidence documents;
  • providing expertise and strategy support to our legal team;
  • searching Ringtail for evidence documents; and
  • testifying as an expert witness on sea lice and water issues.


We also examined mountains of evidence by attending hearings and reading exhibits and transcripts, and summarized it for the public in two blogs. Salmon Leaks is a high-level summary of key evidence revealed in each of the inquiry subject areas. Given ours and the public concern around negative effects of aquaculture—and the overwhelming number of public submissions on this subject as reported in the inquiry interim report—we teamed-up with SOS Marine Conservation Foundation to produce the Cohen Aquaculture Daily. This blog is a summary of key evidence from each hearing day that broached the subjects of salmon farming and disease.

As the inquiry unfolded, we were astounded by the sheer volume of illuminating and previously confidential information revealed through the process. Both excited by and concerned with the nature and volume of information being released, we felt strongly that key evidence and testimony should not become buried and forgotten. Hence, we took on the task of refining and summarizing key highlights from the inquiry to ensure a meaningful and permanent record was accessible to the public. For our report we drew from our blogs and notes, and read numerous transcripts and exhibits summarizing the information we found to be most compelling in the Fraser sockeye story. We hope this report will arm the reader with a compelling overview of some of the key evidence, maybe even a jumping off point to further research on specific exhibits and testimony. Finally, Watershed Watch offers this report as a measuring stick against what is considered in the final report of the Commissioner—and more importantly, what actions government eventually decides to take in response to its federal sockeye inquiry.

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