Cohen Aquaculture Daily: August 25, 2011

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Transcript: August 25, 2011 Hearing Transcript

Summary:

This morning the Commission continued with questioning the second panel of Disease witnesses. Discussion included questions about Dr. Kristi Miller’s ability to discuss her genomic sequencing research showing a mortality-related signature in Fraser River sockeye; the sampling of captive Atlantic salmon for the presence of this signature and the candidate virus; and funding for the research. See points listed below.

This afternoon, questioning began of the first Aquaculture panel; the authors of the Technical Reports related to Project 5 “Impacts of salmon farms on Fraser River sockeye salmon”. It was explained that, atypical for the other Cohen Technical Reports, there were two overarching Project 5 reports by two separate authors because a report by any single author would evoke controversy. The report written by Dr. Don Noakes is referenced as the “Noakes Report” and the report written by Dr. Larry Dill is referenced as the “Dill Report”. See points listed below.

Questioning of the Disease witnesses included discussion about:

  • Why Atlantic salmon had not been tested to date and how this may have been influenced by difficulty in getting the fish health science community to understand “what a genomic signature is”; concerns that a pathogen had not been identified at that time; and that, after initial contact between DFO and the BCSFA, it may have been that industry was advised by someone in DFO not to have the fish tested.
  • Recent communication between DFO and the BC Salmon Farmers Association regarding agreements/arrangements to test Atlantic salmon and that the related emails are to be presented to the Commission.
  • Dr. Kristi Miller’s ability to speak about her research. This included testimony from Dr. Miller that she learned, through the Cohen Commission process, that the order not to speak about her research came from the Privy Council, not DFO.
  • That Marine Harvest Canada and BC Salmon Farmers Association were present at a meeting with DFO where Dr. Kristi Miller discussed her research prior to her testimony at the Cohen Commission.
  • That there is currently no confirmed funding for the genomic work on Fraser River sockeye.


Questioning of the Aquaculture witnesses included discussion about:

  • The agreement of the Noakes and Dill Reports that, based on the available data, it is unlikely the following are causing the long-term population level decline of the Fraser River sockeye: benthic impacts; chemical impacts; escapes; and sea lice – with the caveat that there are localized impacts and that there may be cumulative impacts.
  • The limitations of the available fish health data used for the Reports.
  • The difference in opinion between the Noakes and Dill Reports that disease may be impacting the Fraser River sockeye on a population level.
  • The conclusion of the Report by Dr. Brendan Connors that there is a statistical association when adult pink salmon abundance in the North Pacific increases and fish farm production increases – then Fraser River sockeye mortality increases.
  • The difference in the conclusions between the Noakes Report and Dill Report that Cohen Commission Counsel likened to a criminal trial and that the Noakes Report concludes “innocence” while the Dill Report concludes “have not proven guilty”.

Questioning of this panel of Aquaculture witnesses continues on August 26th and 29th.

Witnesses:
Morning: Disease

  • Dr. Kyle Garver – Research Scientist, DFO
  • Dr. Kristi Miller – Head, Molecular Genetics, DFO

 

Afternoon: Aquaculture

  • Dr. Brendan Connors – School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University
  • Dr. Larry Dill – Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University
  • Dr. Josh Korman – Ecometric Research Inc.
  • Dr. Don Noakes – Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Thompson Rivers University

 

See evidentiary documents page for a listing of key exhibits discussed at the hearings.

News Coverage resulting from August 25th Cohen hearings: List is updated as additional media is published.

  • Maple Ridge News; September 1, 2011; “Key witness finally speaks at salmon inquiry”
  • Globe and Mail; August 26, 2011; “Privy Council blocked scientist’s access to media, Cohen probe told”
  • Chronicle Herald; August 26, 2011; “Scientist: Ottawa demanded silence”
  • Vancouver Sun; August 25, 2011; Fisheries biologist ends testimony but still cannot speak freely in public”
  • Vancouver Sun; August 25, 2011; “Funding woes may sink salmon research program”
  • CBC News; August 25, 2011; “DFO scientist suspects Privy Council silenced her”
  • CTV News; August 25, 2011; “Ottawa told me not to talk to media” salmon researcher”


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