September 30, 2020 is the deadline for removing all fish farms from the Discovery Islands, near Campbell River according to the 19th recommendation of the Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River.

What is the Cohen Inquiry?

The Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River was headed by Justice Bruce Cohen, took over two years to complete and in 2012 culminated in an 1100 page final report and 75 recommendations. The entire inquiry cost taxpayers over $37 million.

The recommendations are pragmatic and wide-ranging; covering habitat protection, salmon farming, hatchery management, fisheries management, government accountability and more.

What is the 19th recommendation?

Recommendation 19 – On September 30, 2020, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans should prohibit net-pen salmon farming in the Discovery Islands (fish health sub-zone 3-2) unless he or she is satisfied that such farms pose at most a minimal risk of serious harm to the health of migrating Fraser River sockeye salmon. The Minister’s decision should summarize the information relied on and include detailed reasons. The decision should be published on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ website.

We have the evidence

We already have plenty of scientific evidence  that shows parasites and diseases from salmon farms threaten wild fish. Period.

A scientific article, “Risk and Precaution: Salmon Farming,” was published in the journal Marine Policy in December 2016. It concludes that salmon farms in the region of concern present greater than minimal risk of serious harm and that the farms in the Discovery Islands should be removed.

Other studies have shown that juvenile sockeye have elevated parasite loads after they pass by  fish farms in the Discovery Islands. Subsequently, more research has shown that these parasites can impede juvenile sockeye growth, which probably affects their survival. 

What to do about it?

To date, we have not heard any confirmation of the removal of the Discovery Islands farms. We are monitoring the situation and will keep our supporters updated. This is just a reminder that we haven’t forgotten about this important deadline, and you shouldn’t either. Factory fish farms would love it if everyone forgot about this upcoming deadline.

 In the meantime, you can help us show decision-makers that British Columbians want our wild salmon protected from the risks of open-net pen fish farms by signing and sharing our Safe Passage petition.