anglers continue to catch stray Atlantic salmon in Puget Sound, the West Coast
of Vancouver Island and as far north as the Queen Charlotte Islands in Canada.
The salmon are some of the nearly 160,000 fish that escaped an aquaculture net
pen at Cypress Island in the San Juan Islands of Washington in August.
fish health report by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says the
Atlantic salmon were healthy when released, but further says that the fish are
not expected to live long in Puget Sound, nor are they expected to establish
themselves in the Sound.
is apparent given gall bladder size and GI tract analysis,” the September 7
report by Jed Varney of WDFW says. “Necropsy findings indicate an active
inflammatory process of unknown origin originating in the gastrointestinal
tract in the later September capture group.”
Atlantic salmon are a “domesticated species that is adapted to hatchery
conditions much like our domestic rainbow trout stocks,” Varney continues. “The
stress of a different environment and lack of food may play some role in
disease seen as time goes on post release, reducing survival. Previous
accidental releases in 1996, 1997, 1999 and others have not seen this species
establish itself in Puget Sound.”
Fish Health Report Summary is at http://www.dnr.wa.gov/publications/em_atlantic_salmon_wdfw_fish_health_report_9.11.2017.pdf.
Aquaculture, the owner and operator of the aquaculture operation in Deepwater
Bay on Cypress Island, said that about 305,000 Atlantic salmon were initially
in the net pen when it collapsed. Some 145,851 fish were removed from the
structure by the company. That includes 5,166 fish that were harvested prior to
the collapse August 20 and 388 fish the company caught using beach seines after
the last couple of weeks, Cooke has been working with a salvage contractor to
remove the stock nets at the facility and this week is completing removal of a
predator barrier net, which is a large net that encircles the stock nets to
protect the fish from predators. All walkway structures and the 10 stock nets
already are removed from the water, according to September 13 situation update (http://www.dnr.wa.gov/publications/em_atlantic_salmon_cooke_update_9.13.17.pdf). All updates are at
the Washington Department of Natural Resources website at http://www.dnr.wa.gov/atlanticsalmon.
sonar scanning of the area will begin soon. The scanning will determine the
precise location of any remaining gear that needs to be removed by divers.
Cooke will meet with the salvage contractor to review sonar results and discuss
retrieval of gear – an operation that is expected to take place this week, the
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.
have reported catches on the west side of Vancouver Island, north into the
Queen Charlotte Islands and in south Puget Sound. An angler report of catches
at the Columbia River mouth two weeks ago was erroneous, but catches have been
reported in the ocean off the Strait of Juan de Fuca, according to a WDFW map (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/salmon/atlantic_catch_map.php). Angler catches are
self-reported to WDFW.
conducts daily water quality sampling and says the readings show “no
irregularities compared with ambient samples taken up and downstream from the
days of Cooke Aquaculture net pens collapsing, 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, which is now on hold.
addition, on 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, wrote 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.”
called on NOAA and the Corps to direct federal resources to mitigate the risks
of this incident, including the capture of the escaped farmed salmon. The
letter also called on the 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.
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 8, 2017, “Over Half Of Net Pen Atlantic Salmon In San Juans Escaped;
Reported Catches At Columbia Mouth,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/439541.aspx
September 1, 2017, “Fish Farm Escape: Intent To Sue Filed, Washington Sets Up
Incident Command Structure To Contain,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/439510.aspx