Washington lawmakers want immediate ban on Atlantic net pens

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1977

Two Republican state lawmakers have introduced legislation to immediately ban Atlantic salmon net pens in Puget Sound, reports The Seattle Times.

The ban seeks to cancel existing leases held by Canadian company Cooke Aquaculture, operating eight Atlantic net-pen farms in Puget Sound. Its leases expire at different times, with the latest in 2025. The bill, if passed by the Legislature, would take effect immediately upon signature by the governor. Prime co-sponsor of the legislation is. state Rep. Jim Walsh, representative of Aberdeen.

The ban takes a more urgent approach than another bill by Democratic state senator Kevin Ranker. His legislation would phase out the farms as the leases espire.

Washington is the only U.S. West Coast state with net-pen Atlantic salmon farming in its waters. All Western Washington tribes with treaty-protected salmon fisheries have come out in favor of an Atlantic salmon net-pen ban. The Upper Skagit tribe this month caught more Atlantics in a brief test fishery for chum salmon in a small stretch of the Skagit River.

There have been four major Atlantic salmon escapes from net pen farms since 1996.

Cooke purchased its operation from Icicle Seafoods last year. The company would like to expand its farms in the area. After a recent inspection, and following repairs, Cooke  received permission to stock a million salmon in the its Rich Passage farm.

Read also: King County Executive wants ban on Atlantic salmon farms