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The Dangers of Puget Sound Net Pens

Puget Sound Net Pens 1Atlantic salmon farms pose an unacceptable health risk to ESA-listed wild salmon in Puget Sound. They pollute the nearby ecosystem and the crowded pens create an environment in which diseases, pathogens, and parasites can multiply and rapidly spread to wild fish.

Did you know that there are eight Atlantic salmon net pen facilities in Puget Sound? Three of these feedlots are situated just off Bainbridge Island, minutes from downtown Seattle, and float between two Washington state parks and the Orchard Rocks marine reserve (two of the net pens are actually within the reserve's boundaries). That’s right smack in the middle of prime wild salmon habitat.

Wild Fish Conservancy recently filed a 60-day Notice of Intent to sue the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for violations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) associated with the agencies’ evaluation of the harmful effects to threatened wild salmonids from commercial salmon farming in Puget Sound.

In 2012, there was a major outbreak of the infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV) at all three Bainbridge Island net pens.  We know that over a million pounds of Atlantic salmon died or were killed as a result of this outbreak, but because monitoring was not required we will never know what this did to our wild fish.

Should we allow permitting for something that risks the health of our delicate ecosystems? We spend millions of public dollars every year to save wild salmon yet we allow risky business practices to threaten our investment.

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