Work to support Cohen Commission’s recommendation 19

The Cohen Commission’s recommendation 19 states that:

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.

As part of our final update on the departmental response to the Cohen Commission recommendations in 2018, we committed to the completion of scientific research and a risk assessment process. The assessments focused on the risk of marine net-pen salmon farms in the Discovery Island area to migrating Fraser River Sockeye salmon.

The assessments concluded that the pathogens found in Atlantic salmon farms in the Discovery Islands area pose no more than a minimal risk to migrating Fraser River Sockeye salmon.

Aquaculture research related to Cohen Commission recommendation 19

This commitment to research and risk assessment was included as part of the Wild Salmon Policy 2018-2022 Implementation Plan’s Maintaining and Rebuilding Stocks section. Progress on this work is ongoing, and has been publically reported on an annual basis as part of the implementation plan.

We will be consulting with the seven First Nations in the Discovery Islands to develop a more complete understanding of their views and concerns with respect to the aquaculture sites in the area which will inform the Minister’s decision regarding aquaculture licences, prior to their expiry in December 2020.

The approach will consider Indigenous knowledge and also take into consideration social, economic, and environmental factors as the Government advances its commitment to create a responsible plan to transition by 2025 from marine net-pen salmon farming in coastal British Columbia waters.

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