OFCO Board VP Lorna Smith has spearheaded OFCO’s request to Governor Jay Inslee to permanently ban Atlantic salmon net pens in marine waters off the Olympic Peninsula. Click here to see OFCO’s letter. Commissioner of Public Lands Hillary Franz called for a temporary ban after the disastrous release of non-native Atlantic salmon from Cooke Aquaculture’s Cypress Island operation.
The State has temporarily suspended new net pen permits while they investigate the incident. Click here to view the State’s Incident Command page. OFCO has asked the Governor to ban all non-native net pens in Washington, to close existing ones and to stop any permitting of future pens. The damage has been done, however. According to Smith, tribal natural resources agencies have reported gravid Atlantic salmon upstream. On September 15, Washington State Dept. of Ecology ordered Cooke to turn over information by Oct. 30.
DOE is pursuing Cooke’s violation of state and federal law. The Dept. of Natural Resources’ longer-term plans include recovery of salmon, developing better oversight of existing net pen operations, but not a ban. Tribes on the OP are calling for a ban to protect native fish following efforts to capture released fish in an attempt to prevent their entering Washington’s rivers.
The solution: a long-term ban and payment of clean-up and damages by Cooke. Watch for updates as a campaign for a permanent ban develops.
Recommended for viewing to learn more about the issue: Salmon Confidential, a documentary about net pens in Canada.