Justice Bruce Cohen will get until June 2012 to deliver the findings of his commission into the decline of Fraser River sockeye salmon.

Justice Bruce Cohen will get until June 2012 to deliver the findings of his commission into the decline of Fraser River sockeye salmon.

Cohen salmon probe extension criticized

Delay affects First Nations aiming to sign treaties

Justice Bruce Cohen will have an extra 14 months to get to the bottom of the mystery of the dwindling Fraser River sockeye salmon.

His inquiry into the downturn has been granted an extension, with a final report now due by June 30, 2012 instead of this spring.

Cohen cited the complexity of the commission’s work, the difficult and time-consuming document disclosure process and large number of participants in obtaining more time.

The commission’s budget is also increasing, from $14 million to an estimated $25 million.

Hearings are now slated to run until at least September.

The commissioner is to make recommendations on improving the future sustainability of the sockeye fishery, including potential changes in policies, practices and procedures of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).

The delay has caused anger among First Nations that are close to treaties that can’t be concluded until the federal government signs off on guaranteed shares of the salmon fishery.

Six treaty tables where agreements-in-principle are close are in limbo because Ottawa won’t finalize treaty fishing rights until it receives Cohen’s findings, according to Sophie Pierre, chief commissioner of the B.C. Treaty Commission.

“Because of the delay, what we’re concerned about is the growing debt First Nations are facing,” she said, referring to the loans aboriginal groups must incur to cover their negotiating costs.

“We have First Nations negotiating tables that are fast approaching the tipping point where what they’re going to get in terms of a cash offer for self-government is going to be less than what they owe for going through these negotiations. So what’s the point?”

The BCTC says aboriginal groups facing treaty completion delays as a result of Cohen include the Te’Mexw, Tla-o-qui-aht and K’okoks (Vancouver Island); the Namgis and Oweekeno (Central Coast), the Tsimshian (North Coast) and Yekooche (North).

Also critical of the delay is Conservative MP John Cummins (Richmond-Delta East), who argues Cohen is devoting too much money to his own staff and scientific studies without probing DFO’s management of the fishery hard enough.

“I see it as throwing good money after bad,” he said.

Testimony this month is concentrating on harvest management issues.

The judicial inquiry was called after the collapse of the 2009 sockeye run, when just over a million fish returned, about a tenth the expected number.

A huge return in 2010 of around 30 million Fraser sockeye is thought by most experts to be an anomaly, possibly due to an Alaskan volcano fertilizing the ocean and supercharging the food supply for juvenile salmon.

Just Posted

Port Hardy council has agreed to cancel Canada Day celebrations in wake of the discovery of the remains of 215 children being found on the grounds of a former residential school. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Council votes to cancel Canada Day celebrations in wake of mass grave sites being found

Coun. Treena Smith made the motion for the chamber to not host Canada Day celebrations this year

Port Hardy Fire Rescue responded to an early morning fire around 3:50 a.m. on Sunday, June 13. Two porta-potties were on fire at the Visitor’s Centre on Hastings Street. Anyone with information is asked to contact the RCMP at 250-949-6335. (Port Hardy Fire Rescue photo)
Firefighters respond to early morning fire near visitor centre in Port Hardy

Two porta-potties were on fire at the Visitor’s Centre on Hastings Street

North Island MLA Michele Babchuk. Photo contributed
COMMENTARY: MLA Michele Babchuk talks the future of forestry

‘These forests are important to every single one of us, myself included’

Dr. Prean Armogam hands over a cheque for $10,000 to Hardy Bay Senior Citizens Society president Rosaline Glynn. The money will be going towards a new roof for the Port Hardy seniors centre. This is the second donation Dr. Armogam has made to the society, giving them $5,000 a little over a year ago. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)
Doctor donates $10k to Hardy Bay Senior Citizens Society for new roof

This was the second donation Armogam has given to the society

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of May 30-June 5. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
COVID-19 cases drop again almost everywhere on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo had four new cases last week, down from 22 the week before

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate is promoting the Digital Innovation Group’s art impact survey. (File photo)
Vancouver Island artists get behind regional arts impact study

Artists urged to use their stature to help put arts and culture super-region on the map

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

Most Read