British Columbia

Salmon inquiry focuses on fish farms and disease

Possible links between fish farming, disease and the collapse of the 2009 Fraser River sockeye salmon run will be the focus at the Cohen Commission hearings this week in Vancouver.

Possible links between fish farming, disease and the collapse of the 2009 Fraser River sockeye salmon run will be the focus at the Cohen Commission hearings this week in Vancouver.

On Wednesday, Fisheries and Oceans scientist Kristi Miller is slated to testify about her studies suggesting some sort of virus may be killing salmon before they reach the spawning grounds.

Miller's long-awaited testimony is expected to be controversial, following allegations the federal government attempted to prevent her from discussing her work with the media.

The inquiry will also hear about fish farms and their impact on wild salmon, including testimony from outspoken fish farm opponent Alexandra Morton of the Raincoast Research Society.

"As these hearings proceed it will be a detective effort. The best fit answer is going to have to explain an 18-year decline of only the sockeye that migrate along eastern Vancouver Island, while other neighbouring runs were unaffected, even increasing," said Morton in a statement issued on Friday.

The B.C. Salmon Farmers Association also says its members are ready to testify starting on August 31.

"We have been actively participating in the Cohen Commission process since it started nearly two years ago and we are ready to help correct the misconceptions and misinformation regarding our B.C. salmon farms," said Mary Ellen Walling, the executive director of the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Bruce Cohen is leading the federal inquiry.  


With files from the Canadian Press