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Farmers Voice Final Arguments At Cohen Inquiry

Salmonids Health Biosecurity +7 more

CANADA - Lawyers for the British Columbian Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) are presenting their final oral arguments to the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the decline of Fraser River Sockeye.

"This has been a long, in-depth process that has highlighted the complex questions around wild salmon survival," said Mary Ellen Walling, Executive Director of the BCSFA. "We hope it will assist British Columbians to have a better understanding of the seafood industry in their province."

The Commission of Inquiry into the decline of the Fraser River Sockeye salmon was established in November 2009. In April 2010, the BCSFA was granted participant status in the commission which included aquaculture within its extensive terms of references. Public hearings began in October 2010 to examine a number of topics including aquaculture, fish biology, urbanisation, logging, hydro, changes in ocean currents and climate change.

In that time, the BCSFA has contributed thousands of documents to the commission and heard from many experts. The process has been a challenging one both in staff resources and financial costs for the association and its members.

"We agree that this is an important process and it was very important for us to present our information and knowledge before the commission," said Ms Walling. "The evidence corrects much of the misinformation about our industry."

Last week, Justice Cohen announced hearings will be re-opened in December to review suspect findings of ISAv in British Columbia. Information about ISAv and the nearly 5000 farm samples that have tested negative for the virus has already been presented to the commission. The BCSFA is eager to see the CFIA's follow-up testing complete and released.

The BC Salmon Farmers Association represents farmers as well as those who provide supplies and services to the industry, which employs 6,000 people directly and indirectly and contributes $800-million to the provincial economy each year