Salmon Leaks Part 9: Predation, Contaminants and Fisheries Monitoring and Enforcement

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Fraser Chum FisheryThe Cohen Inquiry continued to tackle more issues in its efforts to investigate the decline of Fraser sockeye. The commission turned to examining the effects of predators, contaminants, fisheries monitoring and enforcement.

See transcripts for the sessions on predators, contaminants, fisheries monitoring and enforcement below:


On May 4, commission counsel established with predator experts Dr. John Ford (DFO) and Peter Olesiuk (DFO) that “Only Steller sea lions and Pacific white sided dolphins appear to be potentially significant predators of sockeye” (see page 36, line 9). Counsel for Watershed Watch highlighted the point that humans are also predators of salmon and that there were healthy populations of sockeye up until commercial fishing began, Dr. Andrew Trites—a professor from UBC—agreed (see page 99, line 33). Counsel continued to question Dr. Trites about the effect of (non-human) predators of sockeye and their relative importance as a factor in the decline in sockeye, he responded:

“We recognize that it [predators] is a contributing factor, but it would appear, at least when we sit back and look at the whole North Pacific, what’s going on, that there’s a much bigger force at play” (page 102, line 39).

On May 9, Don MacDonald from MacDonald Environmental Sciences Ltd., the lead author of the expert report on Potential Effects of Contaminants on Fraser Sockeye , was questioned by commission counsel. An errata sheet for the report was also submitted by MacDonald to correct some errors in the report. On May 10, counsel for Watershed Watch pointed out that the report didn’t take into account “synergistic effects between some of the contaminants” and the possible multiplicative effects on fish (see page 31, line 4), nor did the report detail “contaminants from the marine environment” (see page 32, line 29).

On May 17, counsel pointed out to Randy Nelson—Director of Conservation and Protection, DFO—that a 1994 review criticized DFO and stated:

“We recommend that, for the 1995 fishing season, DFO institute a plan to ensure that an effective and credible enforcement level is re-established” (see page 7, line 18 of transcripts).

Counsel then brought up the Williams’ Review in 2004 which highlighted a similar concern years later:

“At the present time, DFO through its C&P [Conservation and Protection] Division is not maintaining a credible enforcement presence and not properly enforcing the Fisheries Act and Regulations including those that relate to habitat protection. Accordingly DFO must ensure that adequate resources are available and that the budget and staffing available for enforcement be increased.”

The conversation turned to the subject of illegal fishing and sockeye sales. Council referred to a memo and operational intelligence assessment on this subject and asked Mr. Nelson to describe what transpired in regards to “Project Ice Storm” (see page 23, line 6)—an investigation into illegal fisheries and sales.

For more information see:


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