08/22/2017: "Fish Farm Failure Frees Atlantic Salmon"
(Arrows indicate fish pens; See detail below -Google map photo)
The Seattle Times has reported the solar eclipse is being blamed for the release of 300,000+ Atlantic salmon from a net failure next to Cypress Island, and you can have as many as can catch -all restrictions and limits are off.
Cooke Aquaculture notified the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) of a net pen failure on Aug. 19 that caused the release of Atlantic salmon from the Cypress Island location
So what happen?
There is some history that may help to explain it. Back in July of this year Goskagit.com reported there was an emergency with the pens moving, but a spokesperson stated “All of the farm is exactly where it should be today,” after they added anchors and cables to “ keep the nets in place in the event of future high tides and strong currents.”
The major concern for some is the Atlantic salmon will not only be in competition with wild Pacific salmon, but farm raised salmon have are said to have a history of parasites, and viral outbreaks.
G.I. James is a member of Lummi Natural Resources, and is quoted as stating ““It is potentially a disease issue, and impact on our [Pacific salmon] fish, as dire a shape as they are in, right now any impact to them is difficult to absorb.”
"Our first concern, of course, is to protect native fish species," said Ron Warren, head of WDFW's Fish Program. "So we'd like to see as many of these escaped fish caught as possible."
Warren said there is no evidence that these fish pose a threat to native fish populations, either through disease or crossbreeding with Pacific salmon. To date, there is no record of Atlantic salmon successfully reproducing with Pacific salmon in Washington's waters, he said.
"It will be some time before we know how many fish escaped the net pens," Warren said. "That's why we've authorized Cooke Aquaculture to fish with beach seine nets and we're encouraging anglers to go out and harvest these fish."
But in spite of the WDFW statement, the Lummi nation is not the only group concerned about fish farms in general, and excapes in particular. Orca Conservancy notes on their webpage that “Atlantic salmon net pens have been banned in every West Coast state except Washington. Atlantic salmon net pens pose a major threat to not only the health of Puget Sound and its salmon, but ultimately the endangered Southern Resident killer whales that rely on wild Chinook salmon for their survival.“
The Wild Fish Conservancy also has listed their concerns about fish farm impacts on native fish that echo those of others who work to protect the native fish stock
It is estimated that the pen the salmon escaped from held as many as 3 million pounds fish.