Editor’s note: This is a copy of a letter to local Member of Parliament John Weston. It was forwarded to The Chief for publication.
The Squamish to Whistler Fisheries Roundtable greatly appreciates the dialogue we’ve had with you over the last several years, especially your work in facilitating the 2009 announcement of the Inquiry into the Decline of Fraser River Sockeye. We watched intently as Justice Bruce Cohen led the investigation that produced 33 expert and policy and practice reports, compelled over 180 witnesses to take the stand, and resulted in more than 14,000 pages of testimony transcripts. In the end, the $26 million inquiry culminated on Oct. 31, 2012, when Justice Cohen released his final synthesis report and recommendations to government. We welcomed Justice Cohen’s comprehensive and thoughtful recommendations and hoped many, if not all, of these recommendations would be fully implemented in a timely manner.
On the same day, in a DFO news release, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Randy Kamp, said, “We will continue to work with stakeholders and partners, and review the Justice Cohen’s findings and recommendations very carefully.” Unfortunately, this is the last Canadians have heard from government on this crucial investigation funded at their expense, that ultimately made recommendations on how to protect and sustain sockeye salmon for future generations. This is unacceptable, especially when significant salmon fishery closures have occurred on the Fraser River once again this year, along with predictions of high in-river mortality of migrating sockeye. Currently we are concerned Fraser sockeye — including endangered stocks _ will be by-catch and harmed as a result of the pink salmon fishery. Action needs to occur to ensure the management of Fraser sockeye and other salmon is improved via implementation of the Cohen Inquiry recommendations, which were so thoroughly researched.
We are interested in learning:
• Who in Ottawa is responsible for reviewing the report and can speak to detail on it?
• What stakeholders and partners have participated in reviewing the report?
• What are the details of the report review process in Ottawa to date and the timeline for a response to participants of the inquiry and the general public?
It was good to meet with you in Squamish on July 9 to discuss this issue and others and we continue to appreciate all the time you make for discussing salmon and habitat issues with us. We look forward to continuing our discussions with you and to a timely reply to our letter and questions.
Dave Brown, Vice Chair Squamish to Lillooet Sportfish Advisory Committee
Hon. John Fraser, former Speaker of the House
Randall Lewis, Squamish First Nation