Smoking gun missed its mark

The biggest mystery about Rob Brown’s latest column from Sept. 21 is why it so poorly represents the discussions which happened at the Cohen Commission nearly a month ago.

Dear Sir,

The biggest mystery about Rob Brown’s latest column from  Sept. 21 is why it so poorly represents the discussions which happened at the Cohen Commission nearly a month ago.

Apparently in that month Mr. Brown did not read through any transcripts and studies from the week he writes about, even though they are all publicly available online at www.cohencommission.ca.

The transcripts show that all four scientists tasked with writing technical reports about aquaculture for the commission had to agree, despite their differences, that aquaculture and wild salmon can co-exist. As well, they also had to agree that there was not enough evidence to conclude salmon farms influenced the 2009 Fraser sockeye decline.

If Mr. Brown had done some research before echoing conspiracy theories from the blogosphere, and read the publicly available facts for himself, he would have read how Dr. Kristi Miller was uncomfortable with her work being called a “smoking gun” which could solve the mystery of the 2009 sockeye decline.

“Actually, I had no intent of saying that,” she said (transcript for Aug. 25, 2011 hearing, page 29, line 8). “And I should clarify… what I really meant was that this could be a major factor. Not the major factor, because I also agree with others that there is no single major factor.”

Miller and most other salmon scientists involved with the Commission agree that there was no single factor which led to the 2009 sockeye decline.

In fact, a cumulative impact report which looked at all data gathered for the Commission during the past year concluded there were only two things likely to have had an effect on the Fraser sockeye run: climate change and marine conditions. Not salmon farms or logging or mining or anything else researchers studied. This can be seen in the addendum to technical report six, which is publicly available on the commission’s website.

Hopefully instead of taking Mr. Brown’s speculative and baseless opinion as fact, his readers will research for themselves the science presented at the Cohen Commission, and the transcripts of the discussions.

As for his comments about salmon farms being dirty and a “sin of the first order,” perhaps if he comes to tour a farm for himself he will see that salmon farms in B.C. are clean, highly-regulated and operated by people who care about the environment and wild salmon as much as anyone else in this province.

Grant Warkentin,

Mainstream Canada,

Campbell River, BC

(Editor’s note: Mainstream Canada is a fish farm company.)