Wow, shocking news. The Cohen Commission gets an extension and a near double of its initial budget of $14 million.
We now have a $25 million budget, and a couple years of quasi-legal wrangling.
For those of you who were holding your breath… take a deep breath.
And for First Nations attempting to negotiate Treaties with wild salmon as a key component — another year of waiting as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans made the brilliant decision to yank fisheries chapters off Treaty table when the Commission started.
Or, for things like Salmon Think Tanks and other events — don’t expect DFO to participate. They are just toooo busy.
Too busy doing what? (some might ask)
Too busy appealing Federal court cases that suggest their ministry is failing miserably in protecting endangered Orcas in the Salish Sea (protected under the Species at Risk Act – SARA).
Here’s the press release from Ecojustice (formerly Sierra Legal Defence Fund) back in mid-December when the initial decision came (there is a backgrounder and the actual court decision document):
In that decision Justice Russell declared that:
The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans erred in law in determining that the critical habitat of the Resident Killer Whales was already legally protected by existing laws of Canada; … Ministerial discretion does not legally protect critical habitat within the meaning of section 58 of SARA, and it was unlawful for the Minister to have cited discretionary provisions of the Fisheries Act in the Protection Statement.
And here’s a recent press release (Jan. 17, 2011) describing how DFO is going to fight this decision:
The Department of Fisheries and Ocean suggests that the Fisheries Act, its yearly Integrated Fisheries Management Plans (IFMPs), and its Minister’s discretionary decision-making — are all enough to protect the Orcas, which for a good chunk of the year have close to 90% of their diet comprised of Fraser River bound Chinook salmon. (see post from last year Cull the endangered Orcas…? for scientific article and media stories)
Those Chinook are largely on an extinction tract in many parts of the Fraser watershed, and serious downward spirals in other parts of the watershed.
Who is catching the bulk of those Chinook these days? — the recreational-sport fishery.
The Department’s protection (and rebuilding) of Fraser Chinook populations… is failing at so many levels.
And yet, DFO would rather spend money fighting court cases — as opposed to actually take real measures to protect Fraser Chinook and in turn endangered resident Orcas (now numbering less than 300).
This makes sense…