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, November 7, 2019

Cooke Aquaculture and Football Shaped Rainbow Trout: Are they really "native steelhead"?

Comments due by November 22
Our Sound Our Salmon provides a how and why to submit comments here

Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me.
Above - 2017
Below - 2019

Genetically altered sterile rainbow trout are not native.
Our Sound Our Salmon is encouraging citizens to take advantage of the extended comment period on whether Cooke Aquaculture should be allowed to grow genetically altered rainbow trout in Puget Sound. Cooke intends to brand these rainbow trout raised in Puget Sound as "steelhead".*
*Steelhead are rainbow trout which have out-migrated from fresh water into salt water, then returned to their native streams to spawn. In the case of Cooke's fish, they are genetically modified to become sterile, will be fed pellets enriched with Omega 3, obtained from harvested forage fish, and fed supplements such as astaxanthin to turn the flesh pink. Whether raising a rainbow trout this way qualifies it as a "steelhead" is questionable, at best.
What altered genetics gets you:
Fish "shaped like footballs, with smaller heads"
(Seattle Times article)
"They're steelhead"
Maybe, but that's not native.

By altering the genetics of rainbow, most of the female fish will be sterile (Cooke cannot guarantee all will be), unable to develop gonads. Because of this, energy continues to be focused on growth as the fish age and continue to be fed. Documents submitted by Cooke, as reported in the Seattle Times,  describe the fish as "..often shaped like footballs, with smaller heads and stout bodies" (see image above, provided by WDFW). Economically, these genetically altered fish create more "meat on the bone." But they are not native.

These cows on the Serengeti 
can spread into native habitat.
Old science, new science, the reality is
farmed fish spread when they escape.
(WDFW estimated in a worse case scenario 
up to 1,000,000 genetically altered rainbow
may escape from Cooke Aquaculture's pens)

But "science" said they wouldn't travel far if they escaped.
One of the most significant lessons learned from Cooke Aquaculture's alleged negligence in 2017 which allowed over 250,000 farmed salmon to escape was they do not simply sit by the pen. As seen in the map above, created by WDFW from reported catches of Cooke's escaped salmon, they spread not only throughout the Salsish Sea, they also migrated up rivers use by native and endangered salmon for spawning. Despite documents submitted which try to show escapes would not travel far, not know where to go or what to do, the facts provided by WDFW clearly showed they do spread and do know how to find rivers with spawning habitat. There is no reason to believe these "steelhead" would not follow the same behavior as their closely related Atlantic salmon did. A fact based on reality, not a model created from behavior of fish somewhere else in the world. 

Cooke Aquaculture needs to move
into the future and stop polluting
public and tribal waters.
You can grow smolt here, 
you can grow steelhead here. 
And you have an additional 300 acres
less than 5 miles away to the west.

There is a better way to do things, creating jobs and infusing capital. You have the money and the land.
Of most significance to anyone concerned about the risks these genetically altered rainbow trout pose to Puget Sound, whether it be nutrients discharged from the pens or habitat and spawning grounds, is that Washington's Department of Fish and Wildlife did not consider the alternative of upland/contained operations. These facilities are being built throughout the world. Atlantic Sapphire has a facility in Florida which when complete will grow an estimated 50% of the USA demand for farmed salmon. Nordic Aquafarms has 2 projects, one in Maine and another in California. Whole Oceans has a project in Maine. And around the world facilities are being built, close to population centers. Water is filtered and treated. Risks from disease and sea lice are eliminated. Cooke could be a shining example of the future if they wanted to be. Or were forced to be. Or they could return to Canada.

Get involved. Cooke is. 
Canadian owned Cooke Aquaculture and operators before them have dominated the political process in Washington State. Cooke's alleged negligence in 2017 which led to the collapse of the Cypress Island net pen and subsequent release of over 250,000 nonnative Atlantic salmon motivated the public and legislators to ban these operations in Puget Sound. Cook's current attempt to claim these genetically altered rainbow are "native steelhead" is not what the public intended when legislation was passed in 2018. Cooke and their lobbyists are now heavily involved in convincing regulators and legislators that in fact, this is what the public intended.

Educate yourself on Our Sound Our Salmon's website, then submit meaningful comments. If you don't you'll end up with what somebody else wants.

No comments:

Post a Comment