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Salmon inquiry makes 75 suggestions to protect salmon, finds no 'smoking gun'

VANCOUVER - A public inquiry into the collapse of the Fraser River sockeye run recommends sweeping changes, but didn't come up with a single "smoking gun" that explains the salmon's disappearance.

In a report that runs more than 1,000 pages, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Bruce Cohen makes 75 recommendations stemming from his investigation into why millions of sockeye vanished from the 2009 Fraser River fishery.

Among them, Cohen recommends a 12-year freeze on the controversial practice of net-pen salmon farming around B.C.'s Discovery Islands, saying salmon farms have the potential to introduce disease to wild salmon.

The commission also said there is a conflict within Fisheries and Oceans Canada between conservation of wild stocks and promotion of the aquaculture industry.

Cohen recommends the government remove the responsibility for promotion of salmon farming as an industry from the Fisheries Department's mandate.

Cohen also expressed concern about recent changes to the federal Fisheries Act, which he warns appear to be taking DFO in a very different direction than the one laid out in his report.

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