Canada’s fisheries minister says he doesn’t see any conflict of interest with the government agency tasked with conserving wild fish stocks also being in charge of championing the salmon-farming industry.
Dominic LeBlanc says the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ mandate to preserve fisheries is fundamental to its responsibility to promote a sustainable salmon-farming sector.
Removing industry promotion from the department’s mandate was one of the key recommendations from a 2012 report by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Bruce Cohen into the 2009 collapse of sockeye salmon in the Fraser River.
LeBlanc was in Vancouver today to provide a status update on the Cohen Commission’s report, reiterating a pledge outlined in his ministerial mandate letter to act on all 75 recommendations.
The minister’s comments prompted some skepticism from stakeholders, Chief Bob Chamberlin of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs applauds the government’s declared commitment to the Cohen report but calls some of its declared successes “disingenuous.”
Chamberlin says while the department has technically followed the recommendation not to issue any more open-net salmon farms permits in the Discovery Islands, it has gone ahead and approved facilities nearby.
He calls for the Minister to follow the principles of Cohen, and not just the narrow details.
Chamberlin says he’ll be following up the minister after presenting a First Nations salmon report that was put together earlier this year.
He says the report works with the Liberal government to preserve wild salmon stocks.