Washington Senate votes to ban salmon-farming

Salmon Business

The State of Washington’s Senate has passed a bill for it’s lawmaking lower House to vote on that would effectively eliminate salmon-farming, stateside, once and for all.

“The risk is simply to great,” Governor Jay Inslee, who voted for the measure, was quoted by the Seattle Times as saying.

“It is no longer acceptable to the people of the state of Washington to expose our waters to the threat of Atlantic salmon net pens,” he reportedly said.

The decision is inextricably linked to the State’s decision in January and December to cancel two of Cooke Aquaculture’s licenses for farming salmon in the Salish Sea. Last week, Cooke lost its Cypress Island lease over a collapsed cage array that led to the mass escape of Atlantic salmon in an area known for its Coho salmon. In December, Cooke’s Port Angeles lease was withdrawn.

The State’s Web page revealed a “substitute bill” was introduced by Senators and supported by Cooke. It recommended the stocking of female-only fish at expired leases. It was “easily defeated”.

If passed into the law, the new bill would kill an industry present in the province since the 1980’s.

Read State fines Cooke, promises word on future of aquaculture

The nine-page document introduced by Senator Ranker and 14 others was aimed at “protecting the state’s marine waters from the release” of non-local fish, namely Atlantic salmon. The bill ignores the historical efforts by Canadian wildlife officials north of the border who tried for years to get Atlantics to adapt to rivers of the Pacific Northwest only to seem to them not survive.

Escapee plan
The bill, if passed, would also start a series of disease inspections at existing net-pens. The owners of those farms would not, however, be able to renew their leases.

Of interest, the State appears not to have ever had a policy on escapees as one finds in other salmon-producing countries. The industry-killing bill, if passed by the Legislature’s House (not as non-partisan as the Senate), would seek “The development of an Atlantic salmon watch program similar to the one in operation in British Columbia, Canada. The program must provide for the monitoring of escapes of Atlantic salmon from marine aquatic farming locations.”


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