The Seattle Times reports that photos it obtained show portions of nets at Cooke Aquaculture's operation off Cypress Island so heavy with mussel and other growth that the net was no longer visible. Net pens at that facility collapsed in August, releasing 160,000 non-native Atlantic salmon into the Salish Sea.
Washington state officials are asking anglers to come catch as many Atlantic salmon as they can pull from the waters around the San Juan Islands. But the reason behind the sudden open season is worrying. A fish-farm spill occurred Saturday off Cypress Island when anchor lines on a commercial net pen with more than 300,000 salmon gave way, allowing thousands of the 10-pound, farm-raised Atlantics to escape and, officials fear, mix with the wild Pacific salmon. Farm officials said the pen damage was the result of "exceptionally high tides and currents" that occurred in the days leading up to and during Monday's solar eclipse. Others doubted the moon's effect on the tides was the cause, noting there have been higher tides without pens being washed out.
What's good for farmed salmon may not be for natural ecosystems. Small fish called wrasse painlessly peck sea lice from the skin of farmed salmon, enabling salmon farmers rely less on powerful pesticides that can harm other marine life. But there's a catch: the wrasse are fished from the wild, and researchers have now found evidence that the practice may be depleting natural populations, with unforeseeable effects on marine ecosystems. A team from Norway discovered a decline in wild wrasse populations after comparing catch rates at four marine protected areas – where fishing is banned – and at four regions where fishing is allowed. The sampling sites were all along the Skagerrak coast of southern Norway, a region where wrasse have been caught and shipped to salmon farmers for decades.
Past midnight on Monday in Mallaig: a boat docks with a cargo of live salmon. They've been shipped from one of dozens of fish farms in the sea lochs of Scotland's north-west coast, where they swam earlier on Sunday in a large cage, machine fed for up to three years, growing as big as 8kg. Mallaig is on a picturesque promontory looking over the sea to Skye. Its harbour used to heave with herring boats: its bracing fresh air mingled with the potent tang of smoking kippers. The wild catch at Mallaig quayside is now langoustine, scallops and lobster.
Raids have been carried out at several salmon farming sites in Scotland in connection with an EU-wide probe into alleged illegal cartels. Officials visited offices in Shetland, Stirling and Fife amid concerns they may have violated anti-trust rules. The European Commission (EC) has said the investigation is at a preliminary stage. One of the companies raided, Grieg Seafood, denied wrongdoing and said it would co-operate with the inquiry. The investigation focuses on alleged anti-competitive business practices.