This is the Pacific: Atlantic Salmon Not Wanted Here

Aboard the fishing vessel Marathon, Nicholas Cooke (left) and Nathan Cultee unload 16 farm-raised Atlantic salmon into a container on Tuesday in Bellingham, Washington.
Megan Farmer – NPR

Published August 28, 2017

TAHOLAH, WASHINGTON – The Quinault Indian Nation supports Governor Jay Inslee’s ban on new net pens until investigated and the establishment of an ‘incident command’ team of state agencies in the wake of the disastrous escape of thousands of

However, the Tribe is making two demands:

  • The focus of the effort must include the ocean and rivers that connect with the ocean, as well as Puget Sound;
  • As co-managers of the salmon resource, affected tribal governments must be factored into and fully considered in any related decision making.

“The problem is not excluded to Puget Sound alone. It is a problem for ocean fishing Tribes as well, said Quinault Nation President Fawn Sharp. “And it’s not a new problem. More than a decade ago, Atlantic salmon were found in the Black River and Scatter Creek, both remote tributaries to our Chehalis River, and they have been found in the ocean as well,” she said.

Thousands of Atlantic salmon escaped into Puget Sound from Canada-based Cooke Aquaculture’s salmon farm off Cypress Island Saturday. The damaged net pens there held about 305,000 of the non-native fish.

“We have been objecting to the open water farming of Atlantic salmon for years. The disaster near Cypress Island seems to have finally generated a strong response from the state. We’re glad about that. But we want the state and the public to know it’s a serious problem here, too,” said President Sharp.

She concurred with all the specific objections to Atlantic salmon that have been voiced by Puget Sound Tribes over the past two days. These objections include concerns about the spread of disease and sea lice, feeding on salmon fry and smolts, competition for fish food and habitat and the environmental impacts of the salmon, even while in the net pens.

“We live on the Pacific Ocean, not the Atlantic. We have our own species, and we’re working very hard to preserve and protect them to benefit this generation and the generations to come. Keep Atlantic Salmon on the east coast where they belong,” she said.

She pointed out that the sole purpose for having Atlantic salmon here is that some fish raising corporations think they can make more money with them. Some corporations have gone so far as to increase the growth potential of Atlantic salmon through genetic experimentation, e.g., creating hybrid ‘Frankenfish’ by propagating them with eels.

“They don’t even want to label them,” she said.

“That’s how far some corporations are willing to go to pad their profits. The priority has to be the protection and restoration of our own magnificent Northwest Salmon, throughout all Northwest waters,” she said.

“We do not want these invasive species here,” she said.

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