Poachers on the hook in Cohen

A response to Tom Fletcher's column Nov. 14. on the Cohen Commission.

Dear editor,

Re: Salmon mystery far from solved (B.C. Views, Nov. 14).

Discussing the Cohen Commission report on the decline of Fraser River sockeye salmon runs, Tom Fletcher writes, “Poaching on the Fraser? Cohen didn’t get around to that.” This is inaccurate.

In volume two, chapter two, page 35, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Bruce Cohen states: “I am also concerned that Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) does not estimate illegal or unauthorized catch to use in its management of the fishery. This information could be helpful to fisheries managers in a variety of ways – for example, in directing enforcement activities, allocating fishing access, and providing post-season accounting of returns.”

Justice Cohen goes on to say: “I accept the evidence of those witnesses who said that conservation is best served by proactively preventing fish from being taken illegally from the water. Preventing the illegal taking of fish will likely involve a combination of community education and stewardship and on-the-ground enforcement activities.

“Effective catch monitoring of all sectors is an important component of this plan, as is the realistic allocation and identification of food, social and ceremonial fish to Aboriginal groups. I do not want to suggest that after-the-fact investigations are not also important; they are. Indeed, enforcement activities aimed at illegal sales may provide an effective deterrent to taking fish illegally out of the water.”

On page 54 of the same volume: “In my view, preventing the illegal taking of fish should be the priority consideration when DFO is faced with focusing its resource expenditure within any of the three pillars.”

John Newcomb

Victoria

 

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