The Wild Fish Conservancy (WFC) has filed suit against the owner of the net pens, Cooke Aquaculture Pacific LLC, under section 505 of the Clean Water Act, in an effort to hold the company responsible for negligent release of the farmed salmon.
The Wild Fish Conservancy contends that the net pen failure resulted in the discharge of the farmed salmon, dead fish carcasses and massive amounts of debris, among other pollutants.
The conservancy also contends “the escape event off Cypress Island represents a dire threat to already imperiled wild fish populations, beloved marine mammal species and the fragile Puget Sound ecosystem.
“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,” the conservancy said.
Along with the lawsuit, the WFC said it is working to more precisely quantify the potential impacts of the August release by sending escaped Atlantic salmon samples obtained by the Lummi Nation to independent labs to test for a variety of toxins and viral diseases. Those tests will be crucial in determining the true impact on the well-being of wild fish and marine mammal populations.
Earlier this year, the WFC launched the “Our Sound, Our Salmon” campaign to oppose expansion of Atlantic salmon net pens in Puget Sound. More information on that campaign can be found online at www.oursound-oursalmon.org