Washington Halts on Net Pen Permits until Investigation is Complete

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has put a hold on any new permits for net pens until a thorough investigation is completed into the escape of Atlantic salmon from net pens on Cypress Island.

Inslee said this week that the release of net pen-raised Atlantic salmon into Washington’s waters has created an emergency situation that has state agencies working together to protect the health of Washington’s salmon.

The governor said those who fish Washington’s waters deserve a comprehensive response to the incident, including answers to what happened and assurances that it won’t happen again.

Inslee said the company–Cooke Aquaculture–must do everything it can to stop any additional escapes and to recover as many fish as possible, including adequate compensation for those working to remove Atlantic salmon from our waters.

Washington’s Department of Natural Resources has estimated that as many as 185,700 fish were released. DNR officials said they would be working with other state agencies and tribes to find a solution “to this serious threat to our native salmon species.” The incident took place on aquatic lands leased to Cooke Aquaculture by DNR.

DNR, along with the Washington departments of Fish and Wildlife and Ecology have joined with the governor’s office and state Emergency Management Division in setting up an incident command structure in Anacortes to respond to the incident.

As of Aug. 27, the incident command said that Cooke Aquaculture had removed 119,266 Atlantic salmon from the damaged cage structure at its Cypress Island farm site No. 2.

Company officials have not yet issued a firm number on how many fish escaped.

Cooke Seafood, the parent company of Cooke Aquaculture, acquired ownership of Icicle Seafoods last year.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is also asking sport anglers and commercial fishermen to report harvests of Atlantic salmon.

“Atlantic salmon are not native to the Pacific Ocean and their presence in Alaska waters is biologically undesirable,” said ADFG Commissioner Sam Cotten.