On August 19th, one of the operating Cypress Island Atlantic salmon net pens broke and released up to 305,000 Atlantic salmon into the waters near the San Juan Islands. Our friends over at the Lummi Island Fishery reported catching escaped Atlantic salmon shortly thereafter. Now, the state is encouraging anglers to help clean up this catastrophic mess by catching as many of these escaped farmed fish as possible.
Naturally, tribal fisheries and wild fish advocates are incensed with yet another catastrophic accident of the Atlantic salmon net pen industry. The checkered history of the eight existing net pens in Washington had already made a compelling case for why expanding this environmental destructive industry in Puget Sound is a bad idea. This incident is proof positive that Atlantic salmon net pens are a major threat to wild fish and Puget Sound and that they do not belong in our waters.
Over the weekend, Governor Inslee announced that the Department of Ecology will put on hold the permitting of any new net pen until a thorough investigation of this incident is completed. This announcement is a silver lining in an otherwise grim story. However, as great as this announcement is, the fight to protect Puget Sound and its wild steelhead and salmon from Atlantic salmon net pens is far from over.
The Wild Steelhead Coalition is proud to be a member of the Our Sound, Our Salmon Campaign, which is leading the charge to stop the expansion of this destructive industry in our waters. Please take a few minutes to learn more about this critical issue and how you can get involved.