After Cooke Aquaculture’s Atlantic salmon net-pen collapsed off Cypress Island in August of 2017, sending 305,000 Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound, Washington State Senator Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island) proposed to file an Atlantic salmon net-pen farming ban that would slowly phase out the practice through 2025.
After taking state expenses and use of resources into account, State Representatives Jim Walsh (R-Aberdeen) and Drew MacEwen (R-35th District including Hood Canal) believe the issue calls for a more urgent plan of action—banning all farming of Atlantic salmon in Washington waters. If signed by Governor Jay Inslee, the ban will be effective immediately. Net-pen farming of native fin fish species would still be allowed under this proposal.
Samples collected by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife have confirmed the released Atlantic salmon are disease-free and sexually immature, with Cooke Aquaculture claiming their escaped salmon feed poses no competitive risks to native fish. The company shares interest in saving wild salmon, but they don’t believe the answer to restoring them is by banning salmon farming.
As of now, all new permits for net-pen operations are temporarily prohibited while the state investigates August’s Atlantic salmon spill. Both the Ranker/Walsh and MacEwen proposals will be considered on January 8 when lawmakers reconvene.