Recovery of Escaped Atlantic Salmon
Reaches 145,101 Fish

Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife officials say that 145,101 of the Atlantic salmon that escaped with failure of a net pen in the San Juan Islands owned by Cooke Aquaculture have been recovered, and more fish are being counted.

Current estimates are that the incident released upwards of 165,000 of some 305,000 fish.

An investigation into what caused the net pen failure is continuing.

The unified incident command also noted that Cooke Aquaculture crews are continuing to deconstruct damaged net pen array two, with outside walkways removed from two of the pens, as well as one half and one full outrigger.

All ten stock nets have now been taken out and all fish left on site have been recovered, along with four anchors, including chain and rope. Structures removed from the wreckage are being staged for lifting by the crane barge. All rope and netting must be discarded and the pieces split into 40-foot lengths, state officials said.

Water quality samples are being conducted on a daily basis and have shown no adverse effects.

Meanwhile tribal, commercial and recreational harvesters are continuing to recapture fish that escaped the enclosure, and the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife is collecting data on those catches.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists noted that Atlantic salmon, which are not native to the Pacific Ocean, could potentially compete with native salmon and trout for spawning and rearing habitat and/or introduce pathogens.

Wild Fish Conservancy Northwest meanwhile has served a 60-day notice of intent to file a citizen suit against Cooke Aquaculture under the Clean Water Act. The conservancy said that the net pen failure resulted in the discharge of the farmed salmon, dead fish carcasses and massive amounts of debris, among other pollutants. These discharges represent blatantly negligent violations of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits under which Cooke Aquaculture’s Atlantic salmon net pens currently operate.