Cooke Aquaculture pays 2.75 Million dollar fine for net pen collapse

The company responsible for the net pen collapse that released large numbers of Atlantic Salmon into Puget Sound has settled out of court in advance of a Monday court date.

Cooke Aquaculture has reached a settlement to pay $2.75 million in legal fees and to fund Puget Sound restoration projects, putting an end to a Clean Water Act lawsuit that followed the 2017 collapse of one of the fish-farming company’s net-pen structures. – Seattle Times. Read the full article here and consider subscribing to the Times and keeping local reporters working.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/cooke-aquaculture-settles-lawsuit-with-wild-fish-advocates-over-net-pen-collapse/

These funds will go to help pay legal expenses, and the rest of the funds will go to the Rose Foundation to fund environmental projects to protect wild salmon and killer whales in Puget Sound, as well as WFC’s litigation expenses. Cooke also agreed to change their practices and address additional dangers identified in the course of the lawsuit, according to Wild Fish Conservancy, who brought the lawsuit.

“This is truly a victory for the future of our sound,” said Kurt Beardslee, executive director of Wild Fish Conservancy. “Open water net pen aquaculture is a risky business, and thanks to this settlement we are one step closer to getting this dirty industry out of Puget Sound once and for all. This was long in coming. Last year, the public demanded an end to Atlantic salmon net pens. Just last week, thousands of people spoke out against switching these farms to different species. Now a federal judge ruled that Cooke broke the law. It’s time for this industry to leave Puget Sound.”

Cooke’s operations continue to put wild salmon and the health of Puget Sound at risk. Just weeks ago, one of the Bainbridge Island net pens began sinking due to a hole in a flotation pontoon; luckily, the damaged portion was not stocked with Atlantic salmon at the time but may have resulted in an escape were the pens occupied. Marine engineer Tobias Dewhurst, an independent expert testifying on behalf of Wild Fish Conservancy, reviewed conditions at each farm site and determined “conditions at each of its eight sites exceeded the maximum rated conditions specified by the net pen manufacturer,” and that as a result “pens and cages operated by Cooke were at risk of failure.” Even given subsequent changes, Dewhurst concluded, “certain remaining sites appear to be operating in conditions that exceed those specified by the net pen system manufacturers,” and therefore “may be at risk of partial or catastrophic failure.”

http://www.wildfishconservancy.org/cooke-aquaculture-to-pay-2.75-million-ending-wfc-lawsuit-over-net-pen-collapse-1

Recently, Cooke has partnered with the Jamestown S’Klallam to reopen the net pens in Port Angeles to raise native, but genetically modified steelhead. While the danger of these fish escaping and somehow altering native stocks is dramatically lessened, there is still the issue raised by Wild Fish Conservancy, of destruction of the environment in and around the feeding pens, along with possible affects of raising large quantities of fish in a small enclose. Virus and parasites are traditionally the concern, yet the Tribe has claimed that they are working on mitigation techniques. The Tribe has been researching raising these steelhead at the NOAA research facility at Manchester for the last few years. Their goal is to do this as environmentally responsibly as possible giving current scientific best practices. Many in the environmental community remain unconvinced that this won’t become another problem.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife has issued a mitigated determination of non-significance, which allowed only  a 21-day comment period. This requires neither a full environmental assessment nor environmental impact statement under the State Environmental Policy Act. Such an assessment would have considered the risks of diseases, pollution, further escapes and collapses, and the potential harm to federally-listed native steelhead. Kurt Beardsley of Wild Fish Conservancy said of the lack of EIS, “The 2017 collapse revealed that these pens are dramatically under-built for conditions in Puget Sound, and that Cooke’s recovery plan in the event of escapes was woefully inadequate. More escapes would directly threaten our wild salmon, steelhead trout, and endangered killer whales. Without a full EIS, the state cannot address the evidence from their investigations and WFC’s.

The Tribe at least brings a local group that has a a track record of being  concerned with long term viability of the resource, and is not going to be moving operations like many international corporations do.

Just to the north, on the Canadian Coast, a long running battle over farmed fish has pitted environmental scientist and activist Alexandra Morton against the fish farming industry. She has been working with the local tribes in documenting a horribly destructive virus that has appeared from Norway in both the local wild fish and the farm raised fish.

While Washington state passed legislation banning PRV-infected farm salmon, it is still an unknown as to whether the virus is affecting the ever decreasing numbers of wild chinook that are the primary food of the resident orcas. Reopening net pens here could provide a vector for fish carrying the disease that could be passing through the infected waters to the north on their way here.

(more on this story at The Georgia Straight News)

In October, Cooke paid another large fine in Maine for multiple violations of their laws for fish farming.  https://www.seafoodsource.com/news/aquaculture/cooke-to-pay-fine-for-overstocking-maine-salmon-farms-not-conducting-environmental-testing

In April, Cooke paid over $300,000 for water quality violations here in Washington.

Their back! Cooke Aquaculture that is.

Proposal made to raise steelhead at area fish farms
The company whose collapsed fish farm off Cypress Island in August 2017 allowed hundreds of thousands of Atlantic salmon to be released into the region’s waters may use its remaining net pens to raise steelhead trout.  That company, Cooke Aquaculture, has applied for permits to begin raising steelhead at its floating facilities in Puget Sound, where the state Legislature no longer allows the raising of Atlantic salmon. On Tuesday, the state Department of Fish & Wildlife announced plans to approve those permits. Fish & Wildlife also determined the proposal doesn’t warrant an environmental impact statement, or EIS, under the state Environmental Policy Act. “This proposal will likely not have a significant adverse impact on the environment,” Fish & Wildlife documents state. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

The Battle Over Fish Farming In The Open Ocean Heats Up, As EPA Permit Looms – OPB

The Feds look to open up aquaculture into the open ocean. While this project is in the Gulf of Mexico, the threat to us here is very real. After watching the incredibly incompetent way that our legislators allowed the industry in this state to function with virtually no over-site because they fashioned the laws back in the 70s/80s to split enforcement  between two different government agencies (Department of Ecology and DNR) ending in the disastrous blow out of the Cypress Island pens. This finally led to regulation and a shutting down of the industry in this state, and we will never know the true cost of what allowing these pens into our waters meant to our endangered salmon. Old timers I interviewed talked of how wild runs collapsed in the Agate Pass area after the pens went in to the south side of Bainbridge Island. They suspected the wild fish were somehow compromised by the pens. While many other issues were simultaneously showing-up, rampant development, over-fishing in the Strait, etc. the old timers thought the timing highly suspicious. Now this. Whatever could go wrong?

States control up to three miles offshore from their coastlines, but between three and 200 miles falls under federal control. Attempts to introduce aquaculture in federal waters have so far been stymied by concerns about aquaculture’s impact on ocean ecosystems and wild fisheries.

https://www.opb.org/news/article/npr-the-battle-over-fish-farming-in-the-open-ocean-heats-up-as-epa-permit-looms/

State taking comment on permits for Atlantic salmon fish farms – PDN

Get your comments in now.

How to provide comments

We will accept comments from Dec. 27, 2018 until 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 25, 2019.

Online (preferred): Submit your comments through our online comments form.

http://ws.ecology.commentinput.com/?id=7kdj4
By mail: Rich Doenges
Washington State Department of Ecology
PO Box 47600
Olympia, WA 98504

The state Department of Ecology is taking comment now on permits for four Cooke Aquaculture Atlantic salmon farms — three in Kitsap County and one in Skagit Bay. Farming Atlantic salmon in net pens is officially banned from Puget Sound starting in 2022. Ecology is using the investigation from the 2017 Cypress Island net pen collapse to mandate more protective permit requirements. Cooke Aquaculture, the only company farming Atlantic salmon in Washington state, lost its lease in Port Angeles in 2017. Ecology is accepting comments on the permit through Feb. 25 and will make a final determination after reviewing them. Information on the draft permit, and a link to comment online, is available here. (Peninsula Daily News)

State taking comment on permits for Atlantic salmon fish farms

After a decade of litigation, NOAA Fisheries and EPA will prepare a biological opinion on harm caused by Atlantic salmon net pens

From the Wild Fish Conservancy Press Release this morning. It’s unfortunate that those of us concerned about this issue needed to spend 10 years trying to force them to get to this simple issue. NOAA Fisheries have been one of the biggest boosters of net pen Atlantic salmon, never studying the wider effects of pens beyond a few hundred yards away from them. There has never been a wholistic approach to studying the effects of fish waste, food waste, chemicals added to the water, fish escapement, nor the issue that wild fish are attracted to the pens by food. What we learned from the net pen collapse last fall, was that the claims of the industry, repeated by spokesmen for Taylor Shellfish (who support net pens), that there was no way that Atlantic salmon would survive after escapement, were nothing but wishful thinking. Atlantic salmon from the pens were found far up the Skagit River basin and along the north outer shore of Vancouver Island. The misinformation campaigns of these industries that put profit ahead of environment are stunning in their audacity.


After a decade of litigation, NOAA Fisheries and EPA make the 11th hour decision to prepare a biological opinion on harm caused by Atlantic salmon net pens to ESA- listed salmon and steelhead.

The agencies have finally begun formal consultation under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to evaluate the potential harm caused by Atlantic salmon net pens in Puget Sound October 11th, 2018

Duvall, WA – On the eve of court proceedings over a legal battle Wild Fish Conservancy initiated in 2015, NOAA Fisheries and EPA have entered into formal consultation under the Endangered Species Act, consultation that will lead to the issuance of a biological opinion.

Under the Endangered Species Act, a biological opinion evaluates the extent of harm a proposed action will have on threatened or endangered species and whether such harm could jeopardize the continued existence of the species. Biological opinions also include conditions for monitoring and reducing harmful impacts to protected species.

Considering the abundant scientific evidence that open-water Atlantic salmon aquaculture may harm threatened and endangered salmonid species, Wild Fish Conservancy first argued that formal consultation and a biological opinion was necessary back in 2008, when we argued against the agencies’ decision that Atlantic salmon net pens were ‘not likely to adversely affect’ threatened and endangered species. We won that case in 2010, with the court ruling that NOAA and EPA had failed to use the best available science when making their decision and must reconsider whether a biological opinion is necessary.

Less than one year later, after a brief consultation, NOAA and EPA again decided that a biological opinion was unnecessary. This decision was shortly followed by a large-scale disease outbreak in Atlantic salmon net pens off the coast in Bainbridge Island in 2012, which killed over 1 million pounds of farmed Atlantic salmon during a time when juvenile wild salmon were out-migrating through Puget Sound.

Wild Fish Conservancy again challenged the agencies’ decision to avoid a biological opinion in 2015, a case that prompted NOAA and EPA last week to announce their intention to re-initiate consultation and finally prepare a biological opinion. That decision came only after the Court soundly rejected the agencies’ efforts to dismiss the case and ruled that the duty under the Endangered Species Act to re-initiate consultation does apply to EPA’s underlying action.

Since the case was filed in 2015, we have learned far more about the potential for harm the Atlantic salmon net pen industry presents to wild salmon and steelhead. In 2017, a collapsed net pen off the coast of Cypress Island released over 260,000 farmed Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound, nearly all of which are estimated to have been infected with Piscine Reovorius, a highly contagious and potentially lethal virus that may infect wild salmon. A study in 2018

demonstrated that PRV leads to debilitating disease in Chinook salmon, the primary food source of endangered Southern Resident killer whales.

This case comes at a time when key provisions of the Endangered Species Act are under threat in the United States Congress and underscores the monumental importance of the ESA, an act that has been critical in providing key protections to over one thousand threatened and endangered species across the country.

“While it shouldn’t have taken ten years of litigation for our agencies to realize the necessity of a biological opinion,” said Kurt Beardslee, Wild Fish Conservancy’s Executive Director, “I am glad to hear they have decided to change course, and I am hopeful that a biological opinion will lead to conditions and terms that will limit and monitor the harm caused by net pens to ESA-listed salmon and steelhead.

“Taking the utmost precaution is necessary to avoid the extinction of imperiled Pacific salmon and steelhead species, especially when considering the dire plight of Chinook salmon and the Southern Resident killer whales that are starving due to their struggling population.”

Contact

Kurt Beardslee, Executive Director, 425.788.1167/kurt@wildfishconservancy.org

About

Wild Fish Conservancy is a science & research conservation non-profit dedicated to the preservation, protection & restoration of wild fish ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest. We are headquartered in Duvall, WA. Learn more at wildfishconservancy.org

Wild Fish Conservancy is represented in this matter by the law firm of Kampmeier & Knutsen, PLLC, with offices in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington.

More on the impact of farmed fish – The Nation

As if we needed more evidence. The Nation brings another damning indictment of raising farmed salmon. This time from Chile.

“The sea around the salmoneras is dead. The waste they produce falls to the seabed. The waters here used to be so clean.…”

The Eco-Disastrous Salmon

Farmed salmon is Chile’s second-biggest export. Twice, it’s proved an environmental hazard. By Cédric Gouverneur

https://www.thenation.com/article/the-eco-disastrous-salmon/

 

 

B.C. municipalities call for end of open-net fish farms -The Star Vancouver

Interesting article about what’s happening around net pens north of the border. While these calls for land-based farms are growing stronger by the month, there are plans afoot in Norway to rollout new designs for in-water pens. The issues will still remain, however. Norway has banned all in-water pens for a while now, but the fish farming industry there (the largest in the world) is rolling out new experimental pens that likely will be allowed by their government, and probably, by association, by Canada’s. This issue is far from finished being a lightning rod.

https://www.thestar.com/vancouver/2018/09/12/bc-municipalities-call-for-end-of-open-net-fish-farms.html

 

State denies request to move juvenile Atlantic salmon to Bainbridge net pens -AP & various

Well, this is likely the end of the line for Atlantic net pen raised salmon in Puget Sound. Good news for wild fish and the benthic layer in those locations.

Washington state fish managers have denied a request by Cooke Aquaculture to move thousands of juvenile Atlantic salmon from its hatchery to marine net pens in Kitsap County. The Department of Fish and Wildlife said Thursday it rejected the company’s application because the move would increase the risk of fish disease transmission both within and outside the pens…. Tests taken from samples of fish that would have been transported showed they had a form of the fish virus PRV that has not been known to occur in Washington waters. WDFW fish health manager Ken Warheit called it an “exotic strain” that differs from the variety that had been present in the eastern Pacific Ocean, creating an “unknown risk that made it unacceptable.” (Associated Press)

Atlantic salmon, caught in Skagit 8 months after escape from pen, had eaten a fish – Seattle Times

For years, we’ve heard the assumptions from NOAA scientists and the supporters of the Net Pen industry, claiming there was no way an escaped Atlantic salmon could survive and posed “no threat” to native salmon. I have heard the representative from Taylor Shellfish berate me in front of the Marine Resources Committee as well as attack Kurt Bearsley for this just two months ago in front of a room full of people at the Jamestown S’Klallam Red Cedar House in Blyn at a gathering of the Puget Sound Partnership’s Strait LIO meeting, over the “fact” that these Atlantic salmon “couldn’t survive”. Well, once again, their made up stories to support their own industry turned out to be just so much B.S. I’d expect aquaculture P.R. people to make up anything to further their own industry. But shame to the NOAA scientists who seemed to have been bought by the industry over the last three decades. Your names are on the ‘studies’ you claimed were scientific.

Upper Skagit tribal fishermen caught a lively Atlantic salmon more than 40 miles up the Skagit River Tuesday, eight months after Cooke Aquaculture’s Atlantic salmon net pen collapsed at Cypress Island and sent more than 300,000 Atlantics into the home waters of Washington’s Pacific salmon. The Atlantic caught Tuesday had bones in its stomach, indicating it had eaten some kind of fish. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)
Atlantic salmon, caught in Skagit 8 months after escape from pen, had eaten a fish

This Canadian First Nations group wants you to buy salmon raised on land -PRI

Good work being done north of us in B.C. But they face stiff challenges. Read why. It might just work here, since we have a much closer market and  have eliminated the Atlantic salmon in the pens in the water.This is exactly what some of us have been pushing the state to help get some trials going.

Cranmer says if he and his Namgis First Nation people had their way, they’d get rid of open-water salmon farms. But they can’t, so they’re trying another idea for rebuilding a salmon economy for their community. They’ve built their own salmon farm — on land.

https://www.pri.org/stories/2018-03-27/canadian-first-nations-group-wants-you-buy-salmon-raised-land

Governor Signs Ban on Atlantic Salmon

Grateful for all the legislators, tribal leaders and environmentalists who backed and pushed this through. Sad that it took a disaster to get this done, but sometimes that’s the way it goes. Now the lawsuits begin, and Tim Eyman is apparently going to try and get an initiative put in place to overturn this.

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/

The whole bill language is here.

Click to access 2957.PL.pdf

Wild Fish Conservancy Stands Firm Behind PRV Statements

We are reproducing today’s new press release from WFC to allegations by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife about the previous findings by the WFC in lab tests. There is obviously pushback from WDFW because if these findings are accurate, and there is no reason at this point to question them, it opens up many questions about whether WDFW has been doing it’s job, or whether they have been protecting the net pen industry. I can only say that there has been considerable support of net pens by WDFW (and Department of Ecology for that matter) over the years, so much so that it has been very difficult for any outside organization to question them about it. But of course, in B.C. a similar thing happened with the government agencies that should have been protecting the wild fish, but were actually simply in support with the net pen industries no matter what independent science found to be true.

 

 

In light of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) response to Wild Fish Conservancy’s (WFC) press release on February 15th, we stand firm behind our original statements, and aim to briefly but fully clarify our position on the matter of Piscine Orthoreovirus (PRV) of Norwegian origin found in escaped farmed Atlantic salmon in Puget Sound. It is our intention that this clarification will dispel any charges of inaccuracy when it comes to the PRV threat.

As is stated in the original release, WFC received independent lab results confirming the presence of PRV in 19 of 19 farmed Atlantic salmon tested that had escaped from a large-scale escape event off of Cypress Island in August 2017. Furthermore, testing of the samples showed the strain of PRV to be of Norwegian origin. Specifically, the S1 gene from tissue samples from eight of the 19 fish were sequenced and all identified as Geneotype 1a, which is known to be of Norwegian origin.

We take issue with a number of claims made by WDFW in response to this press release, mainly that the agency did not attempt to accurately represent WFC’s views on the matter, and that WDFW is not taking an appropriately precautionary approach when it comes to evidence of a potentially harmful virus being proliferated in Washington’s public waters.

WDFW mischaracterizes our view regarding the Heart and Skeletal Muscle Inflammatory (HSMI) disease. In the press release we accurately state that HSMI has caused up to 20% mortality in Norwegian net pens. We also state that PRV is known to be the causative agent of HSMI, which has been well documented.

We do not claim, however, that HSMI has been shown to occur in wild Atlantic or Pacific salmon and steelhead. We do not confuse HSMI with PRV, but we do express unease over PRV’s demonstrated relationship to the lethal disease. We are clear that our primary concern is with infection of the virus itself and the concerning possibility that it may cause harm to wild salmon and steelhead, particularly juveniles.

In the press release, WFC states:

“As PRV builds up in a salmon’s red blood cells, the virus may reduce the amount of oxygen cells can transport to the fish’s muscles, lowering the fish’s performance. For a wild fish, reduced performance means a reduced ability to capture prey, evade predators, and swim upriver to spawn.”

This quote identifies a credible biological mechanism by which PRV infection may lead to increased mortality in wild salmon and steelhead. Even in the absence of HSMI, there is the potential for PRV infection to harm wild fish. We believe this potential for harm should not be taken lightly, especially considering the status of the wild ESA-listed salmon and steelhead in Puget Sound.

WFC additionally takes issue with the claim that escaped Atlantic salmon were infected with PRV as a result of stress in the aftermath of escape. 100% of escaped Atlantic salmon tested by both WDFW and WFC (a total of 23 fish) tested positive for

PRV. In a recent broad effort to survey for disease among Alaska and Washington, only 4.6% of Chinook, Coho, and steelhead sampled in Puget Sound tested positive for the virus, a finding that dispels the notion that PRV is ubiquitous among wild fish. Similarly, Norway’s wild salmon disease surveillance program data shows that escaped farmed Atlantic salmon in wild salmon rivers have much higher levels of PRV infection (55% of fish sampled) than either wild-origin conservation hatchery brood stock (24%) or wild salmon (13%). Lacking data that would indicate the absence of the disease prior to escape, WDFW cannot state with any amount of certainty that the disease was contracted in the days following the escape.

As for the issue of the virus’ origin, WFC strongly disagrees with WDFW’s implication that PRV in Puget Sound and the Salish Sea originated in the Pacific Northwest, rather than being imported from Norway. Our independent lab results identified the S1 gene samples of Atlantic salmon as Geneotype 1a, which is known to be of Norwegian origin. WDFW’s implication that the virus is native to the Salish Sea is, at best, highly controversial. Our evaluation of the recent scientific literature on this issue leads us to conclude, in agreement with a majority of researchers who have published on the matter, that it is highly improbable that PRV is native to the eastern Pacific Ocean, and that its presence in Puget Sound and the Salish Sea is the result of importation from Norway.

Much of WDFW’s reply treats the press release as if it were a detailed scientific article, rather than a news brief presenting a summary of critical information. In the release WFC provided members of the press and public with references to the relevant scientific journal articles that informed our position; those interested in digging deeper are encouraged to dig deeper. Still, a press release is necessarily brief and general. It is not a scientific document, and a reviewer should not treat it as such. The testing of the tissue samples from the Atlantic salmon that escaped from the Cypress Island pen, the general results of which we announced in the press release, is part of an ongoing collaborative research project soon to be published in a major scientific journal. Contact information has been provided at the bottom of this press release, please don’t hesitate to contact WFC to request more information regarding the information provided in this release.

When it comes to the impacts of PRV on our wild salmon and steelhead, the science strongly indicates that Washington state agencies need to take a measured and precautionary approach, not a dismissive one. In Puget Sound, wild Pacific salmon and steelhead find themselves at considerable risk, with several species threatened with extinction and many surviving at only a fraction of their historical abundance. Even a small amount of risk from the spread of PRV, compounded with the other stressors our wild fish populations face, has the potential to bring about disastrous consequences to already imperiled wild salmon and steelhead. Due to this concern, a measured and precautionary approach dictates that state agencies must err heavily on the side of caution.

The burden of proof that PRV does not cause harm to wild fish does not rest on wild fish. The burden of proof, rather, lies squarely with the Atlantic salmon net pen industry and regulatory state agencies. This burden has yet to be shouldered by the industry and its defenders.

To date, WFC has not seen sufficient evidence from either of these entities that PRV will not harm wild fish. In standing firm on our concern over the impacts of PRV to wild Pacific salmon, WFC calls on WDFW and other state agencies to accomplish the following:

1. Stop all restocking of Atlantic salmon net pens until thorough industry-independent testing has proven the Atlantic salmon hatchery is not planting PRV infected fish.

2. Immediately test all Atlantic salmon net pens in Puget Sound for PRV.

3. Remove all PRV-infected Atlantic salmon from Puget Sound net pens.

4. Immediately disinfect facilities showing any trace of PRV.

We maintain that these actions are essential to ensure that PRV-infected fish are not being planted into public waters and that Atlantic salmon raised in net pens are not amplifying and spreading the virus in public waters where it places our native salmon and steelhead at risk.

For more information, please contact:

Kurt Beardslee, Executive Director

(425) 788-1167

Or email us at:

info@wildfishconservancy.org

 

Cooke Aquaculture inspection finds problems at 2 other Atlantic salmon pens  – Seattle Times

Deficiencies have been found at Cooke Aquaculture’s Atlantic salmon net pens in Puget Sound by an independent inspector, the state Department of Natural Resources reports. Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz ordered inspections of all nine of Cooke’s net pens after a catastrophic collapse of one of its net pens at Cypress Island in the San Juans last August, allowing more than 200,000 Atlantic salmon to escape into the Salish Sea. The latest inspections from the contractor hired by the state, Mott MacDonald of Edmonds, found deficiencies at Cooke’s operations at its Hope Island and Rich Passage facilities, according to the reports released Friday. Problems included poor condition and deterioration of some anchor lines, surface rust and corrosion on parts of the facilities and concern about whether anchors were inside the boundaries of the net-pen leases. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/cooke-aquaculture-inspection-finds-problems-at-2-other-operations/?utm_source=referral&utm_medium=mobile-app&utm_campaign=ios

Contrary to agency claims, escaped Atlantic salmon were infected with a highly contagious and harmful virus – Wild Fish Conservency

The stories and assurances  that the net pen industry and their allies have told for years are now proven to be just lies.  I have sat in Marine Resource Committee meetings and had the industry rep blithely tell the group, with no scientific evidence,  that “there are no diseases down here, that’s a Canadian problem. ”  The WDFW, DNR and Ecology have been telling lawmakers there’s no problem, the escaped fish represent no threat because they are healthy and can’t interbreed. One thing that nature teaches us is that it only takes one genetic mutation to change everything in evolution. Let’s get the bill to phase out net pens passed and put this nightmare to an end.

To remedy the harm that may be imparted to our wild fish, and to get to the bottom of the disease’s source, WFC calls on WDFW, Washington Department of Natural Resources, and Washington Department of Ecology to:
1. Stop all restocking of Atlantic salmon net pens until thorough testing has proven the Atlantic salmon hatchery is not planting PRV infected fish.
2. Immediately test all Atlantic salmon net pens in Puget Sound for PRV.
3. Remove all PRV infected Atlantic salmon from Puget Sound net pens.
4. Immediately disinfect facilities showing any trace of PRV.
These actions are essential to ensure that diseased, PRV-infected fish are not being planted into public waters and that Atlantic salmon raised in net pens are not amplifying the virus and spreading it in the public’s waters where it places our native salmon at risk.
“Hopefully the Washington state legislature will successfully pass legislation to phase out Atlantic salmon net pens in Puget Sound, but in the interim, this alone is far from enough to protect our wild salmon from this industry,” said Kurt Beardslee.“
It’s absolutely critical that our state agencies take immediate action to ensure we’re not planting or amplifying viruses into our public waters.”

WFCPressRelease2.15_Page_1WFCPressRelease2.15_Page_2WFCPressRelease2.15_Page_3

Washington state House votes to ban Atlantic salmon farms – KUOW

This has been a wild ride to try and keep up with the various bills in the House and the Senate and whether they are in or out as of this moment as to banning Atlantic salmon farms. Here’s 8PM on Feb 14th’s latest report:

The Washington House of Representatives has voted to phase out farming of non-native fish in state waters, drawing the end of Atlantic salmon farming in Puget Sound one step closer.

http://kuow.org/post/washington-state-house-votes-ban-atlantic-salmon-farms

Washington state cancels lease for Atlantic salmon farm off Cypress Island -PDN & Seattle Times

Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz has terminated Cooke Aquaculture’s lease to operate Atlantic salmon farms at its Cypress Island site, where a second fish farm is at risk of catastrophic collapse, state inspectors say. In a letter to Cooke managers sent Saturday, Franz said the lease is terminated immediately and the company should wind up its operations and clear out of the site in the San Juan Islands, where one of three pens fell apart last August, releasing more than 260,000 Atlantic salmon in Puget Sound. The termination comes just days after state investigators released a report blaming the net-pen failure on company negligence. The investigators also said the company misled the public and regulators about the scope and causes of the collapse. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times) See also: Mix of net pen bills takes aim at non-native salmon http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/politics/mix-of-net-pen-bills-takes-aim-at-non-native-salmon/ Mark Swanson reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/washington-state-cancels-lease-for-atlantic-salmon-farm-off-cypress-island/

5 counties warned state about salmon-farming back in 2012 – Everett Herald

A good review of the work done in the last ten years fighting net pen salmon. Here in Jefferson County, it was work by the Jefferson County Marine Resources Committee, which voted to recommend supporting the SMP language that would ban net pens in the county, and followed by the support of all three county commissioners, especially now retired Commissioner Phil Johnson.

Not long ago, some of the loudest political voices railing against the danger of farming Atlantic salmon in the waters of Puget Sound came from within chambers of county governments. Back in 2012, leaders of Island, Whatcom, Jefferson, Skagit and San Juan counties — Democrat and Republican — called for a moratorium on such fish farm operations. They also sought authority to include a ban on them in their respective shoreline management plans. They reached out to executives in state agencies as well as former Gov. Chris Gregoire and, later, Gov. Jay Inslee. They lobbied lawmakers and sought backing of tribes in their quest. “While Washington state missteps with outdated science, local governments desiring to recognize modern science, job, and environmental and public threats, ask that they be permitted to ban these open finfish feedlots before they destroy the native species, their habitats, and the jobs we have worked so diligently to protect,” former Island County Commissioner Angie Homola wrote in a six-page issue paper delivered to Inslee in August 2014. Jerry Cornfield reports. (Everett Herald)

http://www.heraldnet.com/news/5-counties-warned-state-about-salmon-farming-back-in-2012/

Norwegian company to build large, land-based salmon farm in Belfast Maine – Republican Journal

News from Maine, shows that fish farming corporations have finally come to grips with the fact that it’s net pen aquaculture doesn’t work, and are moving to build upland facilities that are financially viable. We hope that the Tribes here in Puget Sound, who are holding off support for banning net pens, can use this information to press State Senators Ranker and Van de Wege to add funding for a couple of experimental sites to prove the viability here in Puget Sound. The use of our waters for ‘feed lot’ kind of fish farming, pouring vast arrays of chemicals and fish food must end. We know that the Tribes ‘do the right thing’ as it comes to aquaculture and we hope that they can exert pressure to help them get from this dying technology of net pens, to a new way forward with upland containment.

A Norwegian company plans to build one of the world’s largest land-based salmon farms in Belfast, a project that would create 60 jobs within two years and up to 140 once it is completed, according to the company’s chief executive officer.

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/01/30/norwegian-company-to-build-large-land-based-salmon-farm-in-belfast/

Support for Atlantic Salmon Ban bill in WA Legislature needed now!

We have a historic opportunity to call for a ban for farmed Atlantic salmon that are in net pens in our waters. Tomorrow  1/31/18, there are hearings on two salmon bills in House Ag and Natural Resources:

HB 2957 sponsored by Lytton and Chapman phases out leases and permits for Atlantic salmon net pens only) no renewals or new ones granted.  Tribes support this.  This is the  best bill we are likely to get this session.  It eliminates study requirements. The other bill,

HB 2956 sponsored by Blake,  is a proposal for only FEMALE Atlantic salmon  to be grown.  This of course does not address the antibiotics, disease threats and fecal and food decay pollution issue.
While we are not getting rid of net pens themselves in these bills, starting with Atlantic Salmon in this shortened session is wise. The Tribes are for this, momentum is with us now.We need to do more education of the problems with net pens in general, and see what can be done to address tribal concerns about an outright ban on net pens.
A possible future could be to help fund more experimentation with commercially viable upland tank farming. A similar bill like that was done a decade ago, sponsored by then Representative Kevin Van de Wege to launch hog fuel plants in Port Angeles, Port Townsend and a few other limited sites. While it proved not economically viable, the successful legislation  showed a method  that could be updated and reused to help tribes and others explore some real choices other than net pens. Exploring the work of Atlantic Sapphire out of Miami could be part of this effort.
People can use this link https://app.leg.wa.gov/pbc/bill//2957 to comment in favor of the Lytton/Chapman bill.  Your support is needed now!  The Senate Bill is already out of committee and may be the ultimate vehicle, but  we need to keep the pressure on.

State investigation finds Cooke’s negligence was primary cause of Atlantic salmon net pen collapse

NEWS RELEASE

Washington Department of Natural Resources -Washington Department of Ecology -Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

January 30, 2018

OLYMPIA – State investigators have determined that an excessive buildup of mussels and other marine organisms on nets – caused by Cooke Aquaculture’s failure to properly clean them – led to the August 19 collapse of the company’s net pen at Cypress Island.

An investigative report – authored by the departments of Natural Resources (DNR), Ecology, and Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) – found that 110 tons of mussels and plants had accumulated on the nets before the incident. The report was released today at a news conference in Olympia.

The investigation determined that tidal currents pushing against the tremendous mass of organisms on the nets overwhelmed the pen’s mooring system and crushed the pen.

Extensive corrosion of the net pen structure also contributed to the collapse.

In addition, the agencies identified shortcomings in engineering practices that likely contributed to the failure.

Properly designed and maintained net pens would have withstood the tidal currents of August 19.

“The collapse was not the result of natural causes,” said Hilary Franz, Commissioner of Public Lands. “Cooke’s disregard caused this disaster and recklessly put our state’s aquatic ecosystem at risk.”

“The results of our investigative report clearly show a significant violation of Washington’s water quality laws,” said Ecology Director Maia Bellon. “Cooke Aquaculture could have prevented this failure.”

“Cooke made this situation even more difficult by under-reporting the number of fish that escaped during the net-pen collapse, and over-reporting the number it recovered afterward,” said Amy Windrope, WDFW’s north Puget Sound regional director.

Growth of mussels and other marine organisms on nets – called “biofouling” – is documented in state agency videos that show a “rain” of mussels falling off nets as debris from the collapse was removed.

The severe biofouling produced 110 tons of material – an average of 11 tons per net.

Cooke’s Failure to Act

Prior to the collapse, Cooke was aware of both the excessive biofouling and the poor condition of the facility.

The report details how Cooke didn’t follow its net pen cleaning schedule when broken net washers were not repaired or replaced. This allowed mussels to accumulate on the nets, which increased the drag from currents and added pressure to the structure.

Cooke also failed to take necessary precautions after the net pens were moved out of position in July when strong currents broke ten mooring points.

Cooke documents show that after the July incident, the company had serious concerns about the facility. An internal company email stated, “We almost lost the farm.”

Nevertheless, after the July incident, Cooke considered, but did not:

·         Replace the biofouled nets,

·         Begin their salmon harvest early, or

·         Increase monitoring of the net pens and have a tug on standby when strong currents were again expected on August 19.

The report notes that state agencies did not investigate the July incident because they received incomplete and misleading information from Cooke.

More Salmon Escaped Than Cooke Reported

The report also found that Cooke misrepresented the number of fish it harvested when the pen collapsed. According to the report:

  • There were 305,000 fish in the net pen prior to failure.
  • Cooke reported harvesting/extracting 145,000 fish from the collapsed net pen.
  • The investigation concluded that Cooke could only have extracted between 42,000 and 62,000 fish.
  • Therefore, between 243,000 and 263,000 fish actually escaped. Previous estimates, based on Cooke’s reports, put the number of escaped fish at 160,000.
  • Of the escaped fish, 57,000 have been caught.
  • Between 186,000 and 206,000 Atlantic salmon remain unaccounted for.

The report concludes that monitoring through the winter and next fall’s salmon run season will be critical to knowing if any escaped Atlantic salmon remain in Washington’s waters and if they are reproducing.

Commissioner Franz is currently reviewing the report and will make an announcement about the future of the Cypress Island facility in the coming days.

In December, DNR terminated Cooke’s lease of state aquatic lands in Port Angeles, citing a failure to maintain the facility in a safe condition.

Ecology intends to take enforcement action against Cooke Aquaculture for violating Washington’s water quality laws.

This multi-agency report included information collected during and after the incident, interviews with Cooke staff, and an engineering review of the failure.

More documents and information is available at www.dnr.wa.gov/atlanticsalmon.

# # #

MEDIA CONTACTS
Carlo Davis

Communications Director

Department of Natural Resources

Office: 360-902-1101

Cell: 360-999-9165

carlo.davis@dnr.wa.gov

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