King County Executive wants ban on open net Atlantic salmon farms

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Opposition against net pen salmon in the US is growing, due to the spill at Cooke Aquaculture’s salmon net pen at Cypress Island, Washington State, last August.

King County Executive Dow Constantine is calling for a six-month moratorium on Atlantic salmon net-pen aquaculture along the shores of unincorporated King County, also in Washington State.

“We need to ensure these operations can never again pose a threat to indigenous salmon already struggling to survive,” Constantine was quoted by the Seattle Times.

Washington is the only state on the U.S. West Coast in which Atlantic salmon farming is practiced. Alaska and California have banned net-pen aquaculture of Atlantic salmon.

Net-pen farms need federal and state permits. King County undertakes an review of the county’s shoreline master plan. That update could include a permanent ban on Atlantic salmon net-pen farms. There are no Atlantic salmon farms operating in King County right now.

Cooke Aquaculture, based in Canada, operates eight salmon farms in Washington waters. State legislators consider not renewing permits of Atlantic salmon farms after expiring, this legislative session. Leases expire on different dates with the latest expiration in 2025.

Cooke Aquaculture, based in Canada, bought eight salmon farms in Washington waters last year, with hope of expansion. However, there is a state moratorium on any new Atlantic salmon aquaculture permits during the investigation of the August incident.