WATCH: Four years later, the federal government responds to the Cohen Commission’s report on B.C.’s disappearing salmon. Monica Martinez reports.
It’s a quite day on the water for anglers, but there hasn’t been much activity in the water either.
“Just not as many fish this year. It seems they are either late or haven’t shown up,” said Mark Steer, president of the Esquimalt Anglers Association.
People have spent more time waiting for fish than actually catching them, especially salmon, leading the Esquimalt Anglers Association to cancel their annual derby.
“We have been running the derby since the early 50s we all decided it was in the best interest of salmon conservation to cancel the derby for the season,” he said.
In 2009, only 1.4 million sockeye salmon showed up in B.C.’s rivers and streams in a run that was anticipated to be around 10 million.
The Cohen Commission looked into causes and while there was no smoking gun, he did point to warming oceans and disease from fish farms as factors.
The 2012 report outlined 75 recommendations, but it has taken four years for the federal government to respond.
“We became the government on the 4th of November of last year so the period from 2012 to November 4, 2015 you should ask someone else who was involved in that time,” said DFO Minister Dominic LeBlanc.
He said it’s a top priority for the Prime Minister.
“And today I am pleased to announce that our government is continuing to take action in a rigorous and robust way on the recommendations of this thoughtful report,” said LeBlanc.
Speaking in Vancouver, he highlighted $197.1 million in funding over five years to increase the ministry’s science program and monitor the health of fish stocks, but said commercial fishing and salmon farming can co-exist together and did not see a need to end the promotion of salmon farming.
Biologist Alex Morton said the two industries do not co-exist anywhere and the salmon population will remain in jeopardy as long as salmon farms continue to put diseased fish into the water.
“It doesn’t make sense and I don’t understand why this government won’t touch that industry. You know, they are Norwegian and Japanese, they are not even Canadian and Canada could become a real leader,” Morton said.
30 of Cohen’s 75 recommendations have already been implemented and the government says they are able to act on 10 more.