Wash. House votes to end Atlantic pens, but doubts linger

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The Washington Legislature’s House has voted to effectively end the farming of Atlantic salmon in the waterways of its stretch of the Pacific Northwest.

The vote came just a few days after the Senate voted on a bill to stop the renewal of salmon-farming licenses and sent it up to the House for official assent. Both bills allow most farms to continue operating, in theory, for another seven years, however a provision in the Senate bill that SalmonBusiness has seen suggests the state could use a state-sanctioned run of immediate inspections in the weeks ahead to terminate other leases.

Read Washington State votes to ban salmon-farming
Read Danger of new collapse cited, as Cooke loses another lease
Read State fines Cooke, promises word on future of aquaculture
Read mussels played part in Cooke pen collapse

Oregon Public Broadcasting, reported Republican Senator, David Taylor of Moxee Washington as saying the votes were overreactions to the loss by Cooke Aquaculture of thousands of salmon after one of its Puget Sound net-pen arrays collapsed. State investigators blamed uncleaned biofouling, especially mussels, and said Cooke was negligent, but the company — which still has a lawsuite filed against the state — said the mussels attached themselves in the weeks after the collapse.

Against: Washington State Republican, David Taylor, during a 2015 legislative session

“You have an accident on a farm, we don’t try to eliminate that industry,” Taylor said. “But in this case, we are.”

Atlantic panic
Although senators seemed to be citing the risk to native species as the reason for supporting the bill, Washington’s own wildlife agencies have pointed to decades of failed Canadian government efforts to establish Atlantics in the Pacific as reason to not fear the farmed species escapes. Atlantics in the Pacific Rim are known to perish to a single fish.

Gone appear to be the future jobs of at least 80 Cooke employees in Washington, although the company could have an ace up its sleeve: the state approved its purchase fish farms known to be full of fish in need of months of follow-up maintenance.

Governor’s “yes”
Governor Jay Inslee, who has openly opposed farming Atlantics in the state, is expected to sign the bill to kill salmon farming in Washington into law.

Taylor — whose credo includes “Less government, lower taxes, more freedom” — has appealed to lawmakers in the United States to be more cautious and take a balanced approach to legislation affecting livelihoods.

“The continual drumbeat for more regulations and more taxes has eroded much of the freedoms upon which our country was founded,” he says on his Web page