Fishermen catch farmed Atlantic salmon in Skagit River

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More than three months after being released during the collapse of Cooke’s salmon farm near Cypress Island, Atlantic salmon are being caught about 40 miles up the Skagit River.

Since the Aug. 20 collapse, Upper Skagit fisheries crews have caught the nonnative fish in Mount Vernon, near Lyman and east of Hamilton while pursuing native salmon, reports Skagit Valley Herald.

Most recently, a crew gathering chum to stock the tribal hatchery caught dozens of the farm-raised fish east of Hamilton, about 40 miles from the mouth of the Skagit River.

Last week the tribe caught more Atlantic salmon than chum — a ratio of 6 to 4 — in the quarter-mile area of the river used for the hatchery work, Upper Skagit Indian Tribe Natural Resources Director Scott Schuyler said.

Of 305,000 fish in the farm before it collapsed, about 102,000 remained unaccounted for as of Oct. 1, according to catch totals from various groups.

Cooke spokeswoman Nell Halse said the company isn’t entirely sure the fish the tribe is catching are Atlantic salmon from its collapsed farm.

“Our investigation is ongoing so we can’t provide more information at this time,” she said in an email.