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431-00015 (Fisheries)

PETITION TO THE HOUSE OF COMMONS IN PARLIAMENT ASSEMBLED

We, the undersigned residents of Canada draw the attention of the House to the following:

THAT, WHEREAS a public survey done in 2011 found that 70% of British Columbians agree with the statement that, "wild Pacific salmon are as important to British Columbians as the French language is to Quebeckers";

WHEREAS the Fraser River sockeye run unexpectedly collapsed in 2009, with only 1 million of the expected 10 million salmon returning to spawn;

WHEREAS this collapse prompted the Government of Canada to launch a comprehensive Federal Commission of Inquiry, headed by the Honourable Bruce Cohen and released in 2012, to investigate the cause of this catastrophic decline;

WHEREAS among the 75 recommendations stemming from Justice Cohen's inquiry were:

  • The Government of Canada should remove from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans mandate the promotion of salmon farming as an industry and farmed salmon as a product;
  • The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should explicitly consider proximity to migrating Fraser River sockeye when siting salmon farms, should consider relocating existing salmon farms that are too close to existing salmon runs, and should consider prohibiting net-pen salmon farming altogether, especially in the Discovery Islands;
  • Department of Fisheries and Oceans should encourage British Columbia to require users of pesticides in forestry and agriculture to record, and report annually to the province, the areas where pesticides were applied and the amounts used; and
  • To improve future sustainability of the Fraser River sockeye, the Government of Canada should champion, within Canada and internationally, reasonable steps to address the causes of warming waters and climate change; and

WHEREAS years later, the recommendations made by Justice Cohen in the Inquiry have yet to be implemented;

THEREFORE, YOUR PETITIONERS call upon the House of Commons to act on the precautionary principle and immediately implement all of the 75 recommendations made by Justice Cohen to save our salmon.

Response by the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Bernadette Jordan

The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of the Cohen Commission’s recommendations and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), along with Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and the Province of British Columbia (BC), have now taken actions to address all 75, or 100% of the recommendations as of October 2018.

Many of the Cohen recommendations are broad reaching, and consequently, the governments of Canada and BC recognize that acting on many of the recommendations is an ongoing task. Ongoing work on many of the Cohen recommendations continues, particularly across several key areas, such as salmon stock assessment, health status assessment, habitat protection and restoration, precautionary approach to salmon aquaculture, and fisheries management.

Commitment to ongoing action is also reflected in the Wild Salmon Policy 2018-2022 Implementation Plan which outlines specific activities and approaches that will be led by the department over the next five years towards restoring and maintaining healthy and diverse Pacific salmon populations and their habitats.

 In 2016, an extensive review of the 2012 changes to the Fisheries Act was undertaken. On  June 21, 2019, Royal Assent was given to Bill C-68, “An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence” (https://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/campaign-campagne/fisheries-act-loi-sur-les-peches/introduction-eng.html). The changes to the Fisheries Act are aimed at protecting fish and fish habitat, supporting Indigenous reconciliation and protecting biodiversity (https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/F-14/index.html). The Department expects to add activities to the Implementation Plan based on the renewed Fisheries Act

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has addressed the Cohen Commission’s Recommendation 3: “The Government of Canada should remove from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ mandate the promotion of salmon farming as an industry and farmed salmon as a product” as per the ‘Annex to the Cohen Response 2018 Status Update: recommendation response detail’ (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/cohen/annex-annexe-2018-eng.htm).  Additionally, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard’s 2019 mandate letter includes the commitment to “work with the province of British Columbia and Indigenous communities to create a responsible plan to transition from open net-pen salmon farming in coastal British Columbia waters by 2025 and begin work to introduce Canada’s first-ever Aquaculture Act” (https://pm.gc.ca/en/mandate-letters/minister-fisheries-oceans-and-canadian-coast-guard-mandate-letter).

Please see the 2018 Cohen Response Status Update Report and Annex (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/cohen/report-rapport-2018-eng.htm) for more detail on DFO’s actions to date in response to the Cohen Commission recommendations and the Wild Salmon Policy 2018-2022 Implementation Plan (https://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/species-especes/salmon-saumon/wsp-pss/ip-pmo/index-eng.html). Additionally, the first Wild Salmon Policy Annual Report was released on April 30, 2019 (http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/salmon-saumon/wsp-pss/annual-annuel/2018-2019-eng.html).

Presented to the House of Commons
Paul Manly (Nanaimo—Ladysmith)
December 9, 2019 (Petition No. 431-00015)
Government response tabled
January 22, 2020
Photo - Paul Manly
Nanaimo—Ladysmith
Green Party Caucus
British Columbia

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