Go Fishing Thousands of non native salmon released
On August 19th, over half of the total population of Atlantic Salmon in the Cooke Aquaculture Pacific’s Cyprus Island fish farm, escaped. Scientists are left baffled by how this was allowed to happen. It seems as though the company knew there were issues all along. “The farm site No. 2 was identified as the first priority for upgrades. We knew it was at the end of its life cycle and it needed upgrades right away, and we were in the process of doing that,” said Chuck Brown, the company spokesman.
The farm sank down allowing hundreds of thousands of non native fish to escape and immerse themselves into the Puget Sound ecosystem. Although damage to the native salmon population as well as the ecosystem does not seem to be to bad, the accident has raised questions on whether or not to shut down the Atlantic Salmon fish-farming industry in Washington. The state already won’t allow new or expanded current farms until further review. Twenty Washington tribes with protected fisheries say they want the farms shut down entirely.
However, this is not the first time that this has happened in the Puget Sound. Spills in 1996, 1997 and 1999, including one of 369,000 fish have rocked the ecosystem. However, no cross breeding between Pacific and Atlantic salmon has been documented. Development of a new marine net-pen industry began in the late 1960s, beginning in Puget Sound near Manchester by the National Marine Fisheries Service. Clearly this system doesn’t always work.
Hopefully in the future this won’t be an issue and our ecosystem won’t be affected. In the meantime, what can we do to help the situation? “Go fishing,” said a Seattle Times article. Try to catch these escaped Atlantic Salmon to diminish their numbers.