Last year, an aquaculture facility on Cypress Island collapsed and hundreds of thousands of Atlantic salmon entered local waters. This was a problem. The release of nonnative salmon pose a risk to our already endangered native salmon. We’ve invested so much in trying to recover our wild pacific salmon populations. Losing the Pacific Salmon is not an option: they are an important part of Washington identity, history, and economy.
Through a coordinated effort, local fishers, tribes, and state agencies, captured many of these nonnative fish. However, the Legislature needed to address the risk of future failures of the net pens.
The Atlantic salmon facilities have been in disrepair for years. Lack of maintenance on safe and secure facilities led to this incident. The owners of Atlantic salmon net pens in Washington waters had many chances to correct their problems and failed to do so.
I sponsored the bipartisan solution, HB 2957, because the risk to our native fish habitats is too great. The Atlantic salmon industry had many chances, and then some, to get their house in order and they chose not to do so. Instead, they hired high-priced corporate lawyers to try to stop this bill. Thankfully, democracy—and common sense—prevailed.
The bill bans future leases for Atlantic salmon farms and ends current leases when they expire and creates a heightened inspection process for the current Atlantic salmon net pens. It also directs state agencies to continue studying the planning and permitting of all commercial marine net pen aquaculture.
This bill is off to the governor’s desk and I’m encouraging him to sign it.