After fisheries officers cut, complaints plummeted, commission hears

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Mark Hume of the Globe and Mail is sitting in on the habitat hearings this week at the  Cohen Inquiry.  Monday’s testimony provided material for the article “Fisheries habitat being steadily eroded, panel told” that describes how a government policy with a goal of ensuring “no net loss” of fish habitat has been failing.  All three DFO panelists on the stand Monday agreed fisheries habitat has been declining in large part due to unproductive replacement habitat often provided as compensation for development.  Audits evaluating habitat compensation projects have been released to the commission and there is strong evidence refuting the “no net loss” goals.

On Tuesday, the Cohen Commission heard from Jason Hwang, a manager for DFO’s Habitat and Enhancement Branch in the Kamloops Region and a memo was introduced into evidence that contains information about DFO’s struggles to protect habitat and the difficulties DFO has faced with huge amounts of development through the interior of BC.  The Mark Hume article “Unguarded note conveys Fisheries’ manager’s frustrations” provides further evidence of capacity issues with DFO and sheds some light on the relationship between it and managers at the Provincial level.

The Habitat Memo (or Exhibit 662) is available here.

Habitat sessions continued Thursday at the Cohen Inquiry, where Mark Hume of the Globe and Mail reports that “After fisheries officers cut, complaints plummeted”, in some cases by 1,000 percent per year, after government cuts reduced fisheries officers and patrols and lead to a new policy that favoured voluntary industry compliance, over enforcement.

The Policy and Practice Report 9 on Habitat is available here.

Habitat sessions continue Friday April 8, and Monday April 11 at the Cohen Inquiry.  A detailed schedule and location can be found here.  For more information on the Cohen Inquiry visit our Salmon Biodiversity Pages and for more information on the importance of salmon habitat click here.

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