Broken cages at San Juan Islands archipelago Near Cypress Island
Over 100,000 Atlantic salmon still in local waters raise concern
Friday, September 15, 2017, 00:50 (GMT + 9)
Despite the efforts of local fishing fleets, more than 100,000 Atlantic salmon are estimated to still be roaming West Coast waters after a fish farm's net pen belonging to Cooke Aquaculture collapsed August 19 and release thousands of fish.
Aerial photo of the broken cages at San Juan Islands (Photo: TimeNews/YouTube)
It has been revealed that the Lummi Nation estimated they had caught 43,522 Atlantic salmon but 114,000 were still out in the waters, The Bellingham Herald reported.
“Washington state law considers this invasive species a pollutant, and our hard-working fishermen have carried the burden of the cleanup efforts,” said Timothy Ballew II, chairman of Lummi Nation, in a news release.
“They continue to do all they can. The remaining Atlantic salmon have spread out well beyond Cypress Island. At this point many in the local commercial fishing fleet have quit targeting the Atlantic salmon and begun focusing on the local fish again,” said Riley Starks of Lummi Island Wild.
The organisation complained that neither Cooke Aquaculture nor the state has offered to buy back the fish caught by commercial fishing fleets.
“The company and state are expecting (local fishing fleets) to clean up their mess,” Starks said, adding he is still hopeful Cooke would eventually buy the fish back.
Fishermen catching salmon (Photo: Youtube)
Meanwhile, in a written statement last week, the company said it was “deeply sorry about this event,” and it had been focused on properly and safely removing the fish and equipment from the farm.
The non-native fish pose a risk to native stocks because they can potentially spread diseases and compete for food and spawning grounds, according to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.
However, Michael Rust, a NOAA researcher, recently told The Seattle Times the Atlantic salmon are more likely to be prey than predators.
On the other hand, a moratorium is still in place on new leases or permits for Atlantic salmon net pens until a review of the incident is completed.
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