Feds respond to Atlantic salmon escape from Washington state fish farm
Several days after a net holding over 300,000 salmon imploded at a fish farm near Cypress Island, Wash., federal officials responded to Canadian worries about the Atlantic fish invading Pacific waters north of the border
OTTAWA—After a net holding over 300,000 Atlantic salmon at a fish farm in Washington state imploded over the weekend, officials are scrambling to clean up the mess caused by thousands of alien fish flooding into a fragile underwater ecosystem.
In response to the incident at one of New Brunswick-based Cooke Aquaculture’s fish farms near Cypress Island, Wash., our federal minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Dominic LeBlanc, had this to say:
“We are closely monitoring the incident that resulted in Atlantic salmon being released from a net in an aquaculture facility into the waters off Washington state and British Columbia. Although this incident happened at an American facility subject to U.S. laws and regulations, our government takes this incident very seriously given its proximity to Canadian waters. The protection of our aquatic ecosystems and the sustainable management of all our aquatic resources are of primary importance.”
LeBlanc said Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is communicating with its U.S. counterpart and other U.S. regulators to help ensure impacts from the incident are minimized and Canada’s marine ecosystems are protected.
Parliamentary Secretary Terry Beech issued similar sentiments:
“British Columbians can rest assured that Fisheries and Oceans Canada is taking this incident very seriously. While our science shows that there is an extremely low likelihood of Atlantic salmon becoming established in B.C. waters, we are constantly monitoring to ensure the health of our marine ecosystems.”
Beech said DFO will conduct stream surveys in areas closest to the U.S. border to monitor for any escaped Atlantic salmon. He also asserted that the fish aren’t expected to enter into rivers and streams until they mature in the fall, and that past research indicates most won’t survive that long.
Cooke Aquaculture said in a statement that many fish are still contained within the net pens at the Cypress Island facility, and that it is working to stabilize the farm.
The company also says it maintains a detailed fish escape and recapture plan as part of its operations that has been implemented, and that it plans to recover as many fish as possible.