Cohen Aquaculture Daily

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Disease and salmon farming highlights from the sockeye inquiry

 

On August 22nd to September 8th, the evidentiary hearings focusing on Disease and Aquaculture were held for the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River.  The hearings were also re-opened for three days in December to further examine the issue of the Infectious Salmon Anemia virus (ISAv).

Anticipating the volume of information that will result from these hearings, Watershed Watch Salmon Society (a participant with standing in the inquiry and represented by Tim Leadem and Judah Harrison of Ecojustice) teamed up with the SOS Marine Conservation Foundation to provide the “Cohen Aquaculture Daily” – a daily update on the testimony presented and a bundling of the related media coverage.

Salmon Farm

Witnesses included Watershed Watch’s Dr. Craig Orr who took the stand on September 6th. For the full list of witnesses for the Cohen Disease and Aquaculture hearings, read the September Watershed Watch / SOS media advisory and the December Watershed Watch media advisory.

For key highlights from transcripts and evidence examined prior to August 22nd, see Watershed Watch’s Salmon Leaks series.

Daily Updates:

  • December 19, 2011: The third day of ISAv hearings focused again on a panel of senior scientists and managers from the federal government. This was the final day of the inquiry hearings. Read more…  
  • December 16, 2011: The Cohen Commission continued its second of three days of hearings to examine the issue of ISAv in the Pacific. Nellie Gagné and Dr. Fred Kibenge made up the morning panel.  Read more…  
  • December 15, 2011: Due to the recent detection of ISAv in wild salmon in BC by a lab in UPEI and Are Nylund’s lab at the University in Bergen, Norway, the Cohen Commission added three days of hearings to examine this issue.  Read more…
  • September 8, 2011: Today’s continued questioning of the “Perspectives on Aquaculture” panel included discussion on the appropriateness of siting criteria; the sufficiency of regulation to protect wild salmon; and disease control in open net-pen salmon farms. Questioning also probed the expertise and background of witnesses and concern was expressed about the absence of First Nations representation on the “Perspectives on Aquaculture” panel of witnesses. Read more …
    September 7, 2011: Today’s panel on “Perspectives on Aquaculture” offered very differing views on how aquaculture is regulated; how the science related to salmon aquaculture is interpreted, and which documents should be entered as exhibits (and therefore become public). The panel of witness was comprised of: Clare Backman (Marine Harvest Canada); Alexandra Morton (Raincoast Research Society); Mia Parker (formerly Grieg Seafood); and Catherine Stewart (Living Oceans Society). Read more …
  • September 6, 2011: Today’s testimony involved varying perspectives on the potential impact of sea lice on the reduced productivity of Fraser River sockeye. The differences of opinion included the potential of the sea louse species Caligus clemensi having an impact on wild juvenile salmon and whether impacts can be managed. The panel of experts on sea lice included Dr. Craig Orr of Watershed Watch.  Read more …
  • September 2, 2011: No Cohen Aquaculture Daily post today as the Cohen Commission turns its focus back to Aboriginal Fishing issues.  Check back on Tuesday, September 6, 2011 for the next update.
  • September 1, 2011: The third Aquaculture Regulatory Panel was comprised of DFO staff and was cross-examined today on subjects that included monitoring, compliance and enforcement. Record keeping, the new federal compliance and enforcement regime and examples of non-compliance of the industry were main topics.  Read more…
  • August 31, 2011: The second Aquaculture Regulatory Panel was comprised of federal, provincial and industry employees and was cross-examined today on subjects that included fish health management plans, disease data collection, and egg importation. The panel was referred to various documents including fish health management plans, audits and data. Read more…
  • August 30, 2011: Aquaculture Regulatory Panel 1 was cross-examined today on subjects that included siting, licensing, consultation, and adequacy of regulations. Various licence requirements and regulations were discussed, as well as the transfer of regulatory jurisdiction of aquaculture from the province to the federal government. Read more…
  • August 29, 2011: Cross-examination continued of the Aquaculture expert panel and the techniques they used in their expert reports. Much of the discussion focused on how the report authors applied analytical methods and interpreted farm disease records, scientific literature and other available data. Read more…
  • August 26, 2011: Today, there were important developments regarding fish health records and whether they will be made public or not.  Despite the public nature of the Cohen Inquiry, the Province of British Columbia continued its objection that farmed fish health audits be made public as a Cohen Inquiry exhibit. These records, which are considered essential in determining if there was disease found in open net-pen farms, will be “non-public” until objections from the Province can be processed.  The BC Salmon Farmers Association had no objection to their fish health databases being made a public exhibit.  Read more . . .
  • August 25th, 2011:
    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.
    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”.
    Read more . . .
  • August 24th, 2011: Today the Commission continued with the 2nd panel on the topic of Disease. This included testimony from Dr. Kristi Miller, Head of Molecular Genetics, DFO, whose research has been the topic of much media coverage both due to findings related to a purported viral infection in salmon as well the perspective that she has been “muzzled” and “silenced” by government. Today’s Cohen Commission hearing had the highest public attendance to date. Discussion of Dr. Miller’s genomic research included . . .
    Read more . . .
  • August 23rd, 2011: Questioning of the Disease witness panel continued today. This included discussion about why diseases from fish farms were not addressed in Technical Report 1 (Infectious Diseases and Potential Impacts on Survival of Fraser River Sockeye Salmon); why certain seminal papers relating to fish farm diseases were not included in this Technical Report  . . .
    Read more . . .
  • August 22nd, 2011: Technical Reports 1: Infectious Diseases and Potential Impacts on Survival of Fraser River Sockeye Salmon and 1A: Hatchery Disease Impact Assessment were entered into evidence and cross-examination of the witnesses was conducted by the Commission Counsel, the Crown and Province of British Columbia. Read more . . .