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Fraser Commission on Sockeye Reconvening After Summer Break

Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River is back at work after a summer recess.
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Summer recess is over for members of the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River, and the panel is reconvening on August 17.

The panel will study effects of habitat in the marine environment, aboriginal fishing, diseases and parasites, and aquaculture in a series of hearings between August 17 and September 8, the commission said in a press release. It has been working since 2009, charged with gathering evidence in the decline of sockeye salmon in the Fraser River and making recommendations for sustainability.

Fraser sockeye runs have been declining since the 1990s, attracting just a million spawning fish in 2009 instead of the expected 10 million. Then in 2010 the run came in at 30 million, a near-record. Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed the commisson, named for its head Bruce Cohen. Despite the large 2010 run, the salmon may still be in danger from overfishing, mismanagement and sea lice spread by fish farms.

In January 2010 a study published in the journal Science suggested the decline could have been caused by a virus. That and the commission’s work led to the extension of the commission’s mandate, with a final report now due in June 2012.

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The hearings schedule is below.

•August 17 & 18 – Effects of habitat in the marine environment
•August 19 & September 2 – Aboriginal fishing
•August 22 – August 24 – Diseases and parasites
•August 25 – September 8 – Aquaculture

Hearings are Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2–4 pm most days. They are open to the public. The commission's calendar has details, and exhibits and transcripts are also posted online once available, the press release said.