1-Year Anniversary of the Government’s Response to the Cohen Commission Recommendations

News Release

Vancouver, British Columbia -- Healthy fish and fish habitat are a key part of Canada’s livelihood. From the food we eat to the coastal waters we enjoy, ensuring the right protections are in place will help safeguard the health of our fish and the habitat they live in for generations to come.

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced today that Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and partners have now acted on 64 of the 75 recommendations made in Justice Cohen’s 2012 final report from the Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River.

Today, DFO released the Cohen Response 2017 Status Update and detailed annex which describes how the recommendations have been or are being addressed.

DFO is working under five major themes: Wild Salmon Policy (WSP); Fisheries Management; Habitat; Aquaculture; and Science. Addressing the recommendations thematically allows DFO to take a comprehensive and integrated approach to managing wild Pacific salmon and deliver on the Government’s commitment to act on the recommendations.

After extensive preliminary engagement in fall 2016, DFO is now drafting the WSP Implementation Plan with collaborators. In fall 2017, DFO will begin broader consultations on the draft WSP Implementation plan to ensure activities and timelines reflect the priorities and capacities of Indigenous, provincial and territorial partners as well as environmental stewards and resource users.

This meaningful progress on the Cohen Commission recommendations was made possible by the Government’s recent new investments in aquatic science and initiatives like the Oceans Protection Plan (OPP). By continuing to respond to these recommendations, DFO is ensuring the sustainability of wild Pacific salmon for years to come.


“Our government knows that wild Pacific salmon have cultural, social and economic significance to Canadians—particularly to those in British Columbia and the Yukon—and that’s why we’re working hard to protect these iconic species. Major investments in science, as well as consultations underway on the Wild Salmon Policy Implementation Plan, have allowed us to act on 17 more Cohen Commission recommendations over the last year, meaning that 64 of the 75 recommendations have been acted on. I look forward to continuing to deliver on our commitment to protecting wild Pacific salmon for generations to come.”

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“Wild Pacific salmon are the lifeblood of the West Coast.  While I am pleased that investments from the $1.5 Billion Oceans Protection Plan have allowed us to make significant contributions to the protection of BC’s coast, I know we still have more to do.  Our Government and our various partners will continue to work to ensure the health and long-term sustainability of Fraser River Sockeye salmon stocks, as well as wild Pacific salmon more broadly, as recommended by Justice Cohen.”

Terry Beech, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and Member of Parliament for Burnaby North-Seymour

Quick Facts

  • The Cohen Commission was established in 2009 to investigate and provide recommendations related to the decline of sockeye salmon stocks in British Columbia’s Fraser River. The Commission released its final report, The Uncertain Future of Fraser River Sockeye, in October 2012 and it includes 75 recommendations.

  • This fall, DFO will consult broadly with Indigenous groups, Canadians, stakeholders and other interested parties on the Wild Salmon Policy draft Implementation Plan. The detailed, five-year Implementation plan is expected to be finalized and released in 2018.

  • DFO and its partners are undertaking research to evaluate the biological, chemical and physical oceanographic variables affecting the abundance, health, condition and rates of mortality of Fraser River sockeye salmon, with recent publications on topics such as the presence of microbes in Pacific salmon.

  • The 2016 investment of $40 million annually for five years to oceans and freshwater sciences continues to support the sustainable management of Pacific salmon. For example, DFO scientists are conducting research and monitoring to improve the health of fish stocks, understand the impacts of ecosystem stressors and support sustainable aquaculture.

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