Our mission is to protect the habitat of Puget Sound tidelands from the underregulated expansion of new and intensive shellfish aquaculture methods. These methods were never anticipated when the Shoreline Management Act was passed. They are transforming the natural tideland ecosystems in Puget Sound and are resulting in a fractured shoreline habitat. In South Puget Sound much of this has been done with few if any meaningful shoreline permits and with limited public input. It is exactly what the Shoreline Management Act was intended to prevent.

Get involved and contact your elected officials to let them you do not support aquaculture's industrial transformation of Puget Sound's tidelands.

Governor Inslee:

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Atlantic "couch potato" Salmon Reach the Columbia River: A 271 Mile Journey

Update: 9/8 - WDFW has removed the reported catch of 2 non-native Atlantic salmon from the mouth of the Columbia River. This leaves the longest known distance traveled by the non-native Atlantic salmon at ~169 miles, caught off the west coast of Vancouver Island, near Tofino, British Columbia. Non-native Atlantic salmon continuing to migrate upstream in Washington rivers are indicated by reported catches from the Puyallup, Snohomish, Skagit, and Nooksack Rivers.

NOAA's Michael Rust
on non-native Atlantic Salmon:
"These things [Atlantic salmon] are kind of couch potatoes.."
20 years at NOAA's Northwest Fisheries 
Science Center in Seattle

Aquaculture is not terrestrial farming and farmed salmon are not dairy cows.
For the past 3 weeks NOAA's Michael Rust has been presented as the government's expert researcher who has attempted to minimize the risk of the 160,000 non-native Atlantic salmon which escaped from Cooke Aquaculture's failed net pen. As recently as September 1, Dr. Rust was still being quoted as saying the escaped salmon wouldn't travel far, comparing them to a "dairy cow" in the Serengeti. It's a bad analogy. For Dr. Rust, this incident has also largely dismissed his 2001 technical memorandum he co-authored which said escaped Atlantic salmon "carry very little or no risk" to wild native species. 
Note: This technical memorandum, "The Net-pen SalmonFarming Industry in the Pacific Northwest",  continues to be used by industry in support of expanding operations, most recently in Cooke Aquaculture's attempt to move and expand its operations into the Straight of Juan de Fuca (see reference to document submitted for permit here in 2016).

The 271 mile journey 
of 2 "couch potatoes". 

These are ripe potatoes ready to procreate, not adolescents.
Washington's Department of Fish and Wildlife's "Atlantic Salmon Catch Map" shows the invasive non-native Atlantic salmon are now entering freshwater streams and rivers of Washington, and now through the Columbia River, Oregon as well. Seeking to spawn where the endangered native species do. Unlike the failed attempts to introduce Atlantic salmon in the past which are referenced in Dr. Rust's "technical memorandum", consisting of young salmon or eggs, these are mature and well fed salmon with a drive to prorecreate. Unlike the escaped salmon referenced which failed to gain a foothold in the past, which weighed between .5 to 1.5 kg, these salmon are well fed, mature adults weighing over 4.5kg. They are neither "couch potatoes" nor "dairy cattle" in the Serengeti. They are a non-native and invasive species which has been let loose in a marine environment, in large part due to NOAA's drive to increase aquaculture and minimize the very real risks which industrial aquaculture brings with it.

271 miles away, looking for a new home.
From WDFW catch map, showing 
recent catches at the mouth 
of the Columbia River.

Don't know what you've lost till it's gone.
Rushing blindly along in support of an industry who sees Puget Sound's marine environment as little more than a template to generate profits from has resulted in one of the most significant and adverse impacts in recent history. Blinded by "science" created to support agendas with little more than higher profits as the goal, county, state and federal agencies have been led down a path believing aquaculture, of any type, must be good, thereby needing little oversight. Relying on industry's Best Management Practices results in a reliance on the fox in the hen house to police itself. In this case, instead of Cooke stopping production in its known failing net pen, it instead convinced agencies that one more cycle of farmed salmon could be squeezed out of its failing pen. When it failed, Cooke flailed between "the eclipse"  and the "addition of 3 million pounds" of free swimming salmon as the cause. Their original estimate of 6,000 salmon instead was 160,000 mature, non-native Atlantic salmon which escaped. It was Cooke, it was the agencies responsible for regulating them, and it was the public for not fighting hard enough to prevent industrial scale aquaculture from transforming a critical marine ecosystem.  

Get involved, and don't give up. "Sorry Phil. You were right."
Don't believe that the profits of a few corporations are in the state wide interest. Tell your elected officials it is time to remove these industrial scale net pen operations from Washington's waters and stop the expansion of industrial aquaculture. Alison Arthur's editorial in the Port Townsend Leader apologizing to past Jefferson County Commissioner Phil Johnson who opposed DOE forcing the county to allow net pens is something everyone should read.

Contact information for state and national elected officials may be found here:
Tell Governor Inslee if he really cares about Puget Sound, now is the time to stand up and tell DOE to allow counties to ban these operations.
Help support those who are focused on protecting the Salish Sea's diversity and health from these industrial scale operations:
Our Sound, Our Salmon
Wildfish Conservancy
Center for Food Safety:

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