might the Cohen Commission hit sticky territory?

The Cohen Commission, the judicial inquiry investigating the decline of sockeye salmon in the Fraser River is now underway (10 million forecast this past season; less than 1 million actually showed up). In reading over the Terms of Reference for the Commission, one might wonder if anything with teeth will arise out of this multi-million dollar exercise?

The history of wild salmon in Canada is racked with at least one Commission, “Plan”, inquiry, or major audit per decade over the last 40 years. Many interested and involved with wild salmon rattle of names that they can remember: Davis Plan, Mifflin Plan – named after federal Fisheries ministers of the time; Pearse Royal Commission of the early 1980s; various multi-million dollar Fisheries Restructuring plans coming out of Fisheries and Oceans Canada; and and so on and so on.

The “recommendations” for improvement of fisheries management are as common as ants at a summer picnic. The actual follow-through and monitoring of some of those recommendations… about as common as lightning hitting the picnic basket…

The Terms of Reference for the Cohen Commission suggest first off that the Commissioner will “conduct the inquiry without seeking fault on the part of any individual, community, or organization…”

However the third term suggests the Commissioner will “investigate and make independent findings of fact regarding I) the causes for decline of Fraser River sockeye salmon…”

So which one of these two terms of reference win out if the Commissioner, by chance, finds gross negligence – as a matter of “fact” – of an organization in relation to causes of decline of Fraser sockeye?

I recently finished reading Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything. I have some longer posts I’m working on in relation to some ideas from the book and wild salmon. One of the telling quotes:

There has long been recognition that organizational bureaucracy impedes innovation, agility and success. Walk into a typical office less than a century ago and one would expect to see long rows of desks, regimented in army fashion… – all under a managerial ethos that borrowed heavily from the military’s command-and-control structure.

So what is one to think of an organization such as Fisheries and Oceans that has “Regional Director Generals” and “Director Generals” and “Sector Heads” and so on?

Maybe a little too much command-and-control and not enough innovation and agility?

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