OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 28, 2011) - The Honourable Keith Ashfield, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, today issued the following statement:
"Regarding recent stories on Pacific salmon and the allegations of restricted access to Dr. Kristi Miller's research, I'd like to correct the record on the government's commitment to providing Canadians with access to our scientific research as well as our government's efforts to examine the causes of the declining number of salmon in the Fraser River.
"We share the concerns of many Canadians regarding the decline in the numbers of salmon in the Fraser River and that is precisely why Prime Minister Harper called for a judicial inquiry – the Cohen Commission - to look into the potential causes contributing to this decline. Justice Cohen's work is ongoing and we are committed to allowing him to conduct this inquiry free from outside influence. We look forward to his report and recommendations in June, 2012.
"We are committed to providing the media and public with information and access to our scientists and their research. Every year, Fisheries and Oceans Canada alone responds to over 300 science-based media requests for information on a wide variety of topics and research.
"Our scientists have also published hundreds of reports subscribed to by tens of thousands of people throughout Canada and the world. For example, this week, Fisheries scientist Dr. Kenneth Frank released a report about positive signs in the recovery of groundfish stocks off the coast of Nova Scotia. Dr. Frank's research was published in Nature, the world's most highly cited science journal, and he spoke to nearly a dozen interested members of the press on his report this week alone.
"In fact, the research and report by Dr. Kristi Miller on Pacific salmon was not withheld from anyone; Dr. Miller's report was published in a broadly circulated science magazine and remains widely available to the media and public through the Fisheries and Oceans Canada website, and as an exhibit through the Commission's website.
"Moreover, at Justice Cohen's request, the government has provided almost 500,000 documents and many hours of testimony deemed relevant by Justice Cohen to his inquiry. Dr. Miller will also present her research findings at the Commission in the coming weeks along with several other scientists and officials.
"Our government has been very clear that judicial inquiries are not conducted through the media. Evidence that may be relevant to Justice Cohen's findings should be managed through the commission process."