Olympic Peninsula

Phasing Out Atlantic Salmon Net Pens in Washington

Active | July 15 2017

Clean Water

The goal of this campaign is to phase out existing Atlantic Salmon net pen facilities in Washington state by not renewing their aquatic leases within state waters when they expire in the next few years. Additionally, we hope to prevent any new facilities from being permitted from growing these non-native pollutant sources.

There has been significant interest in Atlantic Salmon net pen farming in Washington waters recent. After digging into the project description, supporting documents and hearing from chapter members with their concerns about the project proposal, the Olympic Peninsula Chapter took the administrative step to go on record with some questions and concerns. The chapter addressed concerns about the potential impact to the unique wave resources found at Green Point and wave height attenuation of other locations in the Strait further East, inadequate wave analysis and modeling, the potential for marine debris and catastrophic failure, impacts to human and aquatic ecosystem health, and the lack of comprehensive planning regarding this proposal.

You can read the full comment letter: OPC_AquacultureLetter_Final

Since August—when over 160,000 non-native salmon escaped into Puget Sound— there has been an outcry of public concern over the threat Atlantic salmon net pens pose to our already struggling wild fish populations and the complex ecosystems they rely on and support.Atlantic salmon net pens cause ecological harm everywhere they exist. Research shows these facilities:

  • Amplify and spread naturally occurring diseases and parasites to wild salmon and steelhead
  • Experience escape events—large and small—that increase the likelihood that non-native Atlantic salmon will establish themselves as an invasive species and compete with wild fish for food and habitat
  • Release hundreds of pounds of untreated pollutants into our public waters daily, in the form of fecal matter, urine, and pharmaceuticals

These risks:

  • Undermine and endanger the livelihood, treaty rights, and cultural identity of tribal members who depend on healthy wild fish populations
  • Undermine the millions of public dollars WA has invested in wild fish recovery
  • Threaten public access and enjoyment of some of Washington’s iconic recreational areas

Clean Water

Everyone should have access to clean water to surf, swim and play in. The Surfrider Foundation is taking a multi-tiered approach to tackle ocean pollution problems. We are testing the waters for bacteria and toxins, raising public awareness and finding real solutions to ocean pollution; solutions that restore healthy watersheds, protect local water supplies and keep pollution from reaching the ocean.

Learn More

Looking for more information?

Staff Contact

Gus Gates, Washington Policy Manager, ggates@surfrider.org