Lummi fishers out for chinook were shocked to find Atlantic salmon in their nets on 21 August 2017,  after an escape of an unknown number of Atlantic salmon from a Cooke Aquaculture net pen operation off Cypress Island. A pen holding more than 300,000 salmon imploded on 19 August 2017. Photo: Ellie Kinley

By Lynda V. Mapes
22 August 2017

(Seattle Times) – It’s open season on Atlantic salmon as the public is urged to help mop up a salmon spill from an imploded net holding 305,000 fish at a Cooke Aquaculture fish farm near Cypress Island.

Lummi fishers out for chinook on Sunday near Samish, south of Bellingham Bay, were shocked to pull up the spotted, silvery sided Atlantic salmon — escapees that turned up in their nets again on Monday.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is urging the public to catch as many of the fish as possible, with no limit on size or number. The fish are about 10 pounds each. No one knows yet how many escaped. But the net had some 3 million pounds of fish in it when it imploded about 4 p.m. Saturday, said Ron Warren, fish program assistant director for the WDFW.

The department has been monitoring the situation and crafting a spill-response plan with Cooke, Warren said.

In a statement Tuesday morning, Cooke said “exceptionally high tides and currents coinciding with this week’s solar eclipse” caused the damage [but see “Solar eclipse” tide not responsible for release of 300,000 Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound]. Cooke estimates several thousand salmon escaped following “structural failure” of a net pen. […]

Lummi fishers were incensed at the Atlantic salmon intruding in home waters of native Washington Pacific salmon. “It’s a devastation,” said Ellie Kinley, whose family has fished Puget Sound for generations. “We don’t want those fish preying on our baby salmon. And we don’t want them getting up in the rivers.” [more]

Solar eclipse’s tides blamed for broken net, up to 305,000 Atlantic salmon dumped into waters near San Juans

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