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FROM GLOBE & MAIL: Fish-farm critics got a high-profile assist on the first day of the Cohen commission’s hearings on disease in fish populations, when former Vancouver Canucks defenceman Willie Mitchell showed up to advocate for closed-containment pens.

Mr. Mitchell, who grew up in the coastal fishing community of Port McNeill, B.C., had already sent the inquiry a written submission. In it, he called on the public inquiry to recommend fish farms move to closed containment to eliminate mortality stemming from sea lice.

Fish-farm opponents have argued that sea lice from the facilities are to blame for the collapse in Fraser River sockeye in 2009 – a collapse the commission was set up to investigate. The inquiry heard from a panel of experts Monday who said the exact reasons for the massive decline were unclear.

Mr. Mitchell, a popular Canuck during his four seasons with the team, cautioned he’s not a scientist. But in his first appearance at the inquiry he listened from the gallery and is not scheduled to testify. The 34-year-old said B.C.’s ecosystem is too valuable for him to simply stand on the sidelines.

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