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January 10, 2018

Atlantic Salmon Net Pens in Washington Need to be Phased Out

Since August—when over 160,000 non-native salmon escaped into Puget Sound— there has been an outcry of public concern over the threat Atlantic salmon net pens pose to our already struggling wild fish populations and the complex ecosystems they rely on and support.

The Cooke Aquaculture net pen facility located within the Port Angeles Harbor. Photo credit: Gus Gates, flight provided by LightHawk

These concerns have not gone unnoticed. Last week a key committee held a public hearing where tribal leaders, commercial fishermen, and a panel of conservation organizations testified side by side in support of a bill sponsored by Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas)—SB-6086. This bill would phase-out Atlantic salmon net pens by preventing all new leases from being authorized and blocking renewals of existing leases. Take Action Today and Contact Your State Legislators with an email or phone call!

Cooke Aquaculture and their lobbyist are working hard to convince legislators we need to study the issue more and that farming Atlantic salmon in our public waters poses no risk for Washington’s marine environment. But the research is clear. Atlantic salmon net pens cause ecological harm everywhere they exist. Research shows these facilities:

  • Amplify and spread naturally occurring diseases and parasites to wild salmon and steelhead
  • Experience escape events—large and small—that increase the likelihood that non-native Atlantic salmon will establish themselves as an invasive species and compete with wild fish for food and habitat
  • Release hundreds of pounds of untreated pollutants into our public waters daily, in the form of fecal matter, urine, and pharmaceuticals
 These risks:
  • Undermine and endanger the livelihood, treaty rights, and cultural identity of tribal members who depend on healthy wild fish populations
  • Undermine the millions of public dollars WA has invested in wild fish recovery
  • Threaten public access and enjoyment of some of Washington’s iconic recreational areas
  • Risk thousands of jobs in the commercial and recreational fishing industries which depend on a healthy marine ecosystem
The science is in and we can’t afford the risk. It’s time to pass a phase-out bill and unite our coast by joining Alaska, Oregon, and California in protecting our public waters from net pens.

WA Surfrider Staff love their wild, Pacific Salmon

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