UPDATED 10 A.M. 8-22-17
Atlantic salmon have escaped from a net pen on the east side of the San Juan Islands where they were being raised for market.
Strong pre-clipse tides are blamed for allowing the Cooke Aquaculture fish to get loose last weekend, with some turning up pretty quickly in Lummi fishermen’s catches.
The pen held 300,000 fish but a statement from Cooke says that “many” are still in the net. The Seattle Times says the company reports the loss at several thousand fish though it won’t be known for some time what the true scale is.
The news comes a week after a group announced plans to hold a flotilla protest in September elsewhere in Puget Sound, where other fish farms rearing the nonnative species are located and being proposed.
For more, see this Lynda V. Mapes piece in The Seattle Times. http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/oops-after-accidental-release-of-atlantic-salmon-fisherman-being-told-catch-as-many-as-you-want/
Here’s the latest from WDFW:
Here is an update on the Atlantic Salmon escaping a net pen in the San Juan Islands (Cypress Island). Cooke Aquaculture has several pens out there where they understood a collapse occurred (strong tides) and fish escaped over the weekend. There is no confirmation on the numbers that got out as they are harvesting the pens as we speak to help assess the number that escaped. The floating net pen had a capacity of about 300k, with some first estimates of 4k that escaped, though there are no current estimates of escaped fish. Fish were reported being caught in Bellingham Bay this morning.
WDFW’s authority to the net pen operation is with regards to fish health. With these fish escaping, they are immediately available for harvest as we already had rules in place from past experiences to allow no limits or minimum size limits.
Here is the WAC that pertains to the limits for Atlantic Salmon, which means as long as your salmon limit isn’t filled for the day, you can fish and retain as many Atlantic Salmon as you can catch (and harvest). You do not need to record these on your catch record card.
WAC 220-313-080 Atlantic salmon.
It is unlawful to fish for or possess Atlantic salmon except as provided in this section.
(1) There is no minimum size limit for Atlantic salmon taken from anadromous water, and no daily or possession limit.
(2) Atlantic salmon may be taken from all anadromous waters open to trout fishing under Title 77RCW except marine waters that are not open to salmon fishing under this title, and may be taken from all anadromous waters open to salmon fishing for salmon other than Atlantic salmon.
(3) Once the daily limit of salmon other than Atlantic salmon has been retained, it is unlawful to continue to fish for Atlantic salmon or salmon other than Atlantic salmon.
Again if you know of any methods that work to catch these fish, please let me know so I can distribute that information. Here are several Atlantic Salmon species pages on the WDFW site:http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/salmon/atlantic.html http://wdfw.wa.gov/ais/salmo_salar/