FARMED-SALMON ESCAPE: Are they making their way here?

Kersti Muul sent that photo of what she identified as a two-foot-long Atlantic salmon, caught tonight at Seacrest Pier in West Seattle. She wondered about the timing, given that it turned up days after thousands of farmed Atlantic salmon escaped from a collapsed pen in the North Sound. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife news release about the situation says there’s no size or catch limit for Atlantic salmon, as long as you’re fishing in an area where it’s already open for Pacific salmon, among other caveats – here’s the latest info on salmon fishing in Elliott Bay.

Here’s a state-produced page showing how to identify Atlantic salmon. The North Sound pen collapse has rekindled long-running concerns about farming them in Northwest waters; as summarized by WDFW: “Potential impacts by escaped Atlantic salmon include competition, predation, disease transfer, hybridization, and colonization.

23 Replies to "FARMED-SALMON ESCAPE: Are they making their way here?"

  • Desk Biologist August 23, 2017 (11:55 pm)

    Well, I was just working in the field in Anacortes today and if you are willing to brave the CF at the boat ramp, there were lots of Atlantic salmon being caught there.  Many of the fishermen that we spoke with said that they were coming in because either their cooler was full or they were tired of catching fish.  Not saying this isn’t one of the Anacortes fish but those net pens are a long distance away. The phrases “pretty stupid” and “the fish are still milling about like they are in a net pen” seemed to be the story of the from the fishermen.  Manchester has net pens and they are a lot closer, but with up to 300,000 escapees from up north, some wayward fish have made their way down here.

    Some of the fishermen thought we were there to survey the situation at the net pens (our boat does have a big research sign on it and they would come by to ask us questions) but unfortunately we weren’t being paid to play fisherman:(   The lures of choice seemed to be small Buzz Bombs and Point Wilson darts (I didn’t ask about colors).  Bring an anchor as people are anchored up near the net pens as thousands of salmon are still milling about near their feeding station (it was a bit windy and the tides are big so the current is running pretty good). 

    • Kersti E muul August 24, 2017 (4:10 am)

      Good information, thanks…

      Hoping the next week sheds some light on this. I’m thinking if this is one of the Cooke pen escapees there should be a lot more around. This fish didn’t put up much of a fight.

      All Fisher-people (I was the only woman) were shocked to see it here….and very curious considering the timing. 

      • Desk Biologist August 24, 2017 (10:23 am)

        There were lots of Atlantic salmon wandering aimlessly all over the bays up there yesterday and certainly one could have wandered down here after 4 or 5 days.  But judging by the size of your salmon against the deckboards at Seacrest peir, your dalmon is pretty modest in size.  The salmon up there were “cooler plus” sized at probably 6-10 pounds.  We actuality asked about the fight and they said it was pretty good as the fish were pretty big.  

        • Kersti Muul August 24, 2017 (11:55 am)

          23″ and about 3 pounds

    • Blinkyjoe August 24, 2017 (9:03 am)

      Thanks for the 411, DB.

      What is the main concern? Is it about mixing genetic material or resistance to disease or….? How would these escaped salmonids ‘spawn’ and get genetically looped in with our pacific species? Could that even happen?? 

      • newnative August 24, 2017 (11:08 am)

        According to the link that WSB provided, those are all the feared risks-with the biggest fear being predation on native species and competition for food. However, it seems to also say that past escapes have shown very little evidence that this happens. It seems that being non-native (juveniles) means they are less equipped for survival in the “wild”. They don’t compete, they don’t prey on native fish eggs and they don’t thrive outside of the farming area. 

  • Eddie August 24, 2017 (9:03 am)

    Look no further than your local grocery store if you want to find farmed Atlantic salmon in West Seattle.

    • Mike August 24, 2017 (8:57 pm)

      I think you missed the point.  This is to mop up a mess of over 300,000 Atlantic salmon that got out of a caged in area North of here.  They are an invasive species and need to be OUT of Puget Sound and any lake or river in the area.  These are the same garbage Atlantic Salmon you’d normally get at the store, but this time it’s bad for the environment and will eat the food supply used for native species, which is already in low numbers.

  • Kersti Muul August 24, 2017 (10:26 am)

    i have reports of some caught on south whidbey on tuesday

  • Samuella August 24, 2017 (1:16 pm)

    Kersti Muul, my apologies right away if I am overlooking something…your earlier post says 23″ and 3 lbs. Thats pretty frightening if its accurate. I just read the “desmog” article so I’m vulnerable to going there if thats true. Yikes. But thank you.

  • Sam N. August 24, 2017 (1:37 pm)

    Bring back the Seafair salmon derby.

  • Mark August 24, 2017 (6:54 pm)

    I see a lot of folks fishing off of Harbor Island.  Maybe one of them has caught a salmon for dinner?

  • Eddie August 24, 2017 (9:12 pm)

    You’d think the resident Orca’s would be all over this.

    • WSB August 24, 2017 (9:41 pm)

      They are very particular – chinook salmon is THE food they need. And that’s part of the fear here, that Atlantic salmon will be competition for the already-in-trouble chinooks.

      https://www.whaleresearch.com/about-salmon

      • Bob August 25, 2017 (9:28 pm)

        If u people were really concerned about wild chinook u would be more worried about the gillnets in the rivers over 80% of all Returning salmon are hatchery fish anyway wild salmon are gone because they have been overfished 

        • Kersti E muul August 28, 2017 (9:19 pm)

          Catching and reporting these fish doesn’t mean you don’t care about other issues. Chinook aren’t the only thing impacted by this. The whole ecosystem is, including us.

  • Kersti Muul August 24, 2017 (9:49 pm)

    we don’t need or want our critically endangered, already highly polluted orcas eating these….

  • Squidward August 24, 2017 (11:40 pm)

    Why are they farming Atlantic salmon here? Who allows this?

    • Kersti E muul August 25, 2017 (8:19 am)

      Why do most BC salmon farms raise Atlantic salmon and not native Pacific species?

      Good question. Farming Atlantic salmon in Norway began in the 1970s. By the mid 1980s Norwegian companies began expanding their operations to BC waters due to our physical geography, and the introduction of production limits and controls in Norwegian waters. The influx of Norwegian operators meant the importation of the Norwegian species of choice—Atlantic salmon (Volpe, 2006). In Super Un-Natural (2001), Dr. John Volpe notes three reasons why Atlantic salmon is now the primary species being farmed:

      • The Norwegian-dominated industry had decades of experience with Atlantic salmon (vs. Pacific species).
      • Norwegian companies had already invested heavily in developing markets for an Atlantic salmon product.
      • Atlantic salmon are, on average, less aggressive and grow faster and more efficiently than Pacifics. Pacific salmon are more aggressive and prone to diseases, which makes production costs higher. (p.9).

      Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada state that on Canada’s west coast, salmon farming (starting with chinook, coho and sockeye) was first established around the town of Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast. However, the BC industry had problems with water temperature and algae blooms and by the mid-’80s many companies left the Sunshine Coast and relocated to more remote sites on Vancouver Island. At about the same time, BC farmers began culturing Atlantic salmon to capitalize on the demand created by Norwegian and Scottish farmed salmon.

      Learn More: Volpe, John (2001). Super Un-Natural: Atlantic Salmon in BC Waters. David Suzuki Foundation.

      Volpe, John (2006). “Salmon Sovereignty” and the Dilemma of Intensive Atlantic Salmon Aquaculture Development in British Columbia (Chapter 5). In: Resetting the Kitchen Table: Food Security, Culture, Health and Resilience in Coastal Communities. Editors: C.C. Parrish, N.J.Turner and S.M.Solberg, Nova Science Publishers

  • ACG August 25, 2017 (2:58 pm)

    I hope Judy will keep WSB posted if any of these are coming up the Fauntleroy Creek fish ladder. What a mess. 

    • Kersti E muul August 28, 2017 (9:17 pm)

      She will. She saw escapees from Manchester years ago

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