Submission 0229-COX

Submitter: J. David Cox

Community: Surge Narrows

Date Submitted: September 25, 2023

The commission’s Terms of Reference should be rejected for failing to permit the Commissioner to lay blame or investigate marine issues such as climate change, fishing by foreign nations, food supply changes and the El Nino effect. The commission should consult with people who have real fisheries experience, rather than with former DFO staff. The commission should recommend that DFO be dismantled and reconstructed as a citizen-driven organization headquartered on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. All resources should be dedicated to salmon enhancement programs, and industry must be required to undertake enhancement efforts similar to those in the forestry industry.

The challenge facing the commission is almost impossible. How does one investigate the life and times of an ocean going fish?

In reality, the commission can only investigate the circumstances and influences present when the salmon are nearing our shores. And those investigations are really limited to man’s actions in the matter, rather than the salmon’s.

So, why do the terms of reference for the commission exclude the roles of men? Why would the terms of reference prohibit naming names and apportioning blame? Isn’t that all there is that can reasonably be investigated?

Is the Cohen commission going to examine climate change? Offshore fishing by foreign nations? Food supply changes in the wild? El Nino? Offshore pollution? I don’t think so. Your job is to look at us. Look here. Look at our rivers, our management, our industries and our politicians. We may not be the whole of the issue but that is the only part that can reasonably be investigated and influenced.

Some my first recommendation is to reject the terms of reference or resign.

The government (DFO) has a commitment to conserve, preserve and manage the fisheries for the people. Their record in this matter is abysmal. So, why would the commissioner first appoint DFO staff and consultants to look into the matter? These are the same people who have mismanaged the resource for some fifty years. Wouldn’t it make more sense to appoint óutside’ experts, ‘local’ fishermen, even waterfront residents over failed PHDs who model fish simulations on computers in Ottawa or ‘dip for fish’ as their learned contribution to fish stock managment?

My second recommendation is to appoint ‘real’ people with ‘real’ experience on the ocean. And to do so in all aspects of the fish stewardship responsibility.

DFO has only two real fisheries: The east coast and the west coast. The majority of staff are in Ottawa. That is ludicrous.

My third recommendation would be to deconstruct Ottawa DFO entirely and reconstruct a citizen driven ministry/department managed and located on each of the coasts.

My fourth recommendation would be to put all resources into salmon enhancement programs and to hire local people to manage them.

My fifth recommendation would be to ensure that industry (fish farms, packers, guides, etc.) ensure they ‘put back’ more fish than they ‘take out’. Just as silvaculture programs require the replanting of areas harvested, so should industry ‘re-plant’ fish stocks.

It is unconscionable that government would choose a judge to lead even a psuedo-scientific commission like this. Why not a policeman, a nurse or even a retired fisherman or a politician? MP J. Cummins is better suited. Why not him? Presumably it is because a judge has a sense of integrity, a knowledge of natural justice, an awareness of administrative justice and a neutral, unbiased view. But this standard has been violated already with DFO appointments and a strong perception of bias in the terms of reference.

My sixth recommendation would be to resign the commission and ask for another – this time with unfettered terms of reference.

Finally, I urge the commission to see the truth, tell the truth and do so with courage. DFO is incompetent and political. It is practicing racial policies, it is ignoring it’s duty to enforce the laws and it is endorsing an industry detrimental to the fish stocks. The single greatest threat to the health of our fisheries is DFO. Get rid of them!

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