Dear Justice Cohen,
In regards to the proposal by the province to keep fish farm disease records from being released into the public record: May I suggest that complete transparency of this matter is essential for the people of B.C. to have faith in the commission process.
DFO, the salmon farming companies, and the governments of B.C. and Canada have ignored too much good science, have failed to screen for diseased when importing salmon eggs, have failed to put adequate effort into maintaining our wild salmon populations, and have gone to much effort to hush up or discredit science which may be detrimental to salmon farms. If salmon farms are not the source of disease or decline in our province's wild salmon, the Cohen Commission process must be open, transparent, and rigorous in order to restore our faith in the Aquaculture industry and its regulators.
If salmon farms are causing disease or decline in wild salmon, this is a matter of public interest. Lawyers for B.C. have argued that releasing the salmon farm disease information is akin to releasing chicken and cattle farm disease information, however there are important differences in the case of aquaculture. Chicken and cattle farms are not situated in the middle of bird or caribou migration pathways. Salmon farms are positioned in such a way that they have the possibility of influencing the majority of the Fraser Fiver Sockeye salmon run. These fish are a valuable resource to many British Columbians – First Nations groups, commercial fisherman, sports fishing lodges, wildlife viewing lodges etc. If these Norwegian owned companies are influencing the livelihoods of British Columbians, the people of B.C. have a right to know in what manner. We have a right to see the fish farm disease records.