From: the Globe and Mail, Published on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009 12:00 AM (EST), Last updated on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009 3:02AM EST

delicious, disputed, and dwindling

Immediate comparisons arise between West Coast salmon and East Coast cod – delicious, disputed, and dwindling at a rate so alarming, the Cohen commission has been named to investigate why only one in 10 sockeye returned to the Fraser River this year (Sign Of The Fish: Another Judicial Inquiry – Oct. 13).

It is no longer possible to deny that salmon may soon suffer cod’s fate. The glaring question is why? Is it overfishing or the single-stock focus of fisheries science? Is it bad politics versus good science, or perverse subsidies obstructing rational economics? In any event, worldwide stocks of large fish are estimated to have been reduced to one-tenth of what they were 50 years ago.

Mr. Justice Bruce Cohen should be urged to look at the full breadth of the marine ecosystem within which we and the salmon live. We must accept that the Fraser River salmon are more than one threatened species in a singularly large river. Ecosystem-level problems require ecosystem-level solutions. If a narrow view is taken, or politics-as-usual prevails, the salmon become, for better or worse, the cod of the West Coast.

Jeff Ardron, Victoria, BC
Pacific Marine Analysis and Research Association

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