than half of the Atlantic salmon raised in a Cooke Aquaculture net pen in the
San Juan Islands escaped before the company could recover them from the damaged
145,851 of the fish were removed from the damaged pen by Cooke, including 5,166
fish that had been harvested prior to the incident. However, about 305,000
salmon occupied the pen at its collapse August 19, and since then about 159,149
of the fish have been released into Puget Sound.
anglers reporting to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife caught two
of the salmon as far away from Cyprus Island as the mouth of the Columbia
River. Anglers have reported other catches on the West side of Vancouver
Island, north into the Queen Charlotte Islands and several have been caught in
south Puget Sound, according to a WDFW map (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/salmon/atlantic_catch_map.php). Angler catches are
self-reported to WDFW.
Cooke crews are dismantling the Cypress Island Farm Site 2, according to a
September 6 report by the Washington Department of Natural Resources (http://www.dnr.wa.gov/publications/em_atlantic_salmon_cooke_update_9.6.17.pdf). Previous daily
updates are at http://www.dnr.wa.gov/atlanticsalmon\.
outrigger and outside walkway sections were removed from the farm’s main
walkway and staged for lifting,” the report says. “Some sections were lifted
onto the work barge on Wednesday and all but three sections of the farm’s main
walkway have also been staged for lifting and removal. Cooke and salvage
contractors have also recovered several anchors and associated bottom
addition, a predator net around the entire farm was secured and rigged for
lifting yesterday (Thursday). Sonar services will commence for sea floor
assessment shortly – this work will be carried out for marking and recovery of
individual items. Daily water quality sampling shows no irregularities compared
with ambient samples taken up and downstream from the site.
crews captured 388 escaped Atlantic salmon using beach seines under an
emergency permit issued by WDFW. Lummi Nation fishermen have caught over 20,000
of the fish and recreational anglers continue to report catches, as requested
by WDFW. Catch reports to WDFW can be made online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/salmon/atlantic_salmon_catch.php
week Washington Gov. Jay Inslee created an Incident Command group made up of
Washington state departments of Natural Resources, WDFW and Ecology, along with
the Office of the Governor and the state Emergency Management Division. He also
placed a moratorium on permitting new aquaculture farms in the state until the
incident has been fully investigated. Cooke Aquaculture has a permit pending in
the Strait of Juan de Fuca. That process is on hold.
Friday, August 24, the Wild Fish Conservancy sent a 60-day notice to Cooke
notifying the company that it intends to file a citizen suit under section 505
of the federal Clean Water Act, saying that the near-complete failure of the
net pen facility is resulting in discharges of farmed Atlantic salmon, dead
fish carcasses and debris, among other pollutants (http://wildfishconservancy.org/cwaletterofintentcookeaqua/at_download/file).
the federal level, U.S. Washington Democratic Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty
Murray, joined by Washington Democratic U.S. Reps. Adam Smith, Pramila Jayapal,
Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Denny Heck, and Suzan DelBene, have written a letter
to the heads of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to press the two agencies to “take quick and
decisive action to address the impacts of hundreds of thousands of escaped
farmed Atlantic salmon in Washington state waters.”
the importance of wild salmon fisheries to tribes, fishermen, and ecosystems in
the state, the members of Congress are calling on NOAA and the Army Corps to
direct federal resources to mitigate the risks of this incident, including the
capture of the escaped farmed salmon.
letter also calls on the Army Corps to work to stop all permitting for new net
pens or expansions to existing pens, as well as prioritize requests to update
or maintain existing pens.
salmon are central to our economy, our culture, and our environment in the
Pacific Northwest, and are a critical part of marine and estuarine ecosystems
in Washington state,” the members wrote. “The released Atlantic salmon pose a
threat to wild Pacific salmon, including multiple endangered and threatened
stocks in the region. Tribes, fishermen, and state agencies are working to
respond to the escapement but the scale of the release calls for immediate and
direct federal response…”
the breach at the aquaculture site, farmed Atlantic salmon have been found as
far afield as Canadian waters on the West side of Vancouver Island, at the
mouth of the Columbia River, as well as the Skagit and Nooksack Rivers in
released Atlantic salmon pose a threat to wild Pacific salmon, including
multiple endangered and threatened stocks in the region. Farmed salmon tend to
be larger and could out-compete wild salmon for critical resources such as prey
and preferred habitat, which is important for spawning, said the Washington
State U.S. Democratic Senators and Representatives in the letter.
and federal and state agencies have worked tirelessly towards restoration of
wild salmon populations in Puget Sound. At a time when stocks of many types of
wild Pacific salmon are at historic lows, the escape of thousands of farmed
salmon could be a devastating setback.”
members also asked the agency heads to conduct a review of the integrity and
operation of all currently operating net pen structures to address concerns of
further accidents at existing facilities.
of the letter:
Acting Administrator Friedman and Mr. Lamont,
write to request the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) immediately act to minimize the
impact of the Atlantic salmon net pen failure near Cypress Island in Skagit
County, Washington. The released Atlantic salmon pose a threat to wild Pacific
salmon, including multiple endangered and threatened stocks in the region.
Tribes, along with federal and state agencies have worked tirelessly to restore
wild salmon in Puget Sound and the escapement of thousands of farmed salmon
could be a devastating setback.
salmon are central to our economy, our culture, and our environment in the
Pacific Northwest, and are a critical part of marine and estuarine ecosystems in
Washington state. Pacific salmon support treaty rights for Tribes throughout
the region, commercial and recreational fishers, as well as predators like the
endangered Southern resident orcas. On August 19th, potentially hundreds of
thousands of farmed Atlantic salmon were released into the Puget Sound
ecosystem due to the structural failure of a net pen. While the fish farm
facility was permitted under Washington state law, the escapement may
negatively impact resources under the jurisdiction of NOAA, the Army Corps, and
other federal agencies. Most concerning is the threat farmed Atlantic salmon
pose to the wild Pacific salmon populations stocks in Puget Sound. Farmed
salmon tend to be larger and could out-compete wild salmon for critical
resources such as prey and preferred habitat, which is important for spawning.
fishermen, and state agencies are working to respond to the escapement but the
scale of the release calls for immediate and direct federal response including
mitigation, scientific support, and funding to improve response and capture of
the released Atlantic salmon. Further, as other net pens remain in our waters,
we request the Army Corps halt all permitting for new net pens or expansions to
existing net pens, while prioritizing permit requests to upgrade and maintain
existing net pens. In addition, we ask NOAA and the Army Corps to review the
integrity and operation of all existing net pen structures to determine any
additional threats to wild salmon in the area and prevent any further
escapement of farmed salmon into our waters.
appreciate your ongoing work to restore Pacific salmon in Puget Sound and
throughout the Pacific Northwest.
to WDFW (http://wdfw.wa.gov/ais/salmo_salar/), fisheries managers
are concerned that the escaped Atlantic salmon may impact native fish stocks,
many listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species
Act. Impacts, they say, could include competition, predation, disease transfer,
hybridization and colonization.
state agency said findings in the draft report “are consistent with the
findings of WDFW reported in 1999, i.e., evidence indicates that Atlantic
salmon aquaculture poses low-risk to native salmon and non-salmon species.”
says that a risk assessment of Atlantic salmon aquaculture in the Pacific
region by NOAA Fisheries is currently in process and will be released later
1999 WDFW report on Atlantic salmon aquafarming is at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/pub.php?id=00922.
September 1, 2017, “Fish Farm Escape: Intent To Sue Filed, Washington Sets Up
Incident Command Structure To Contain,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/439510.aspx