Documents filed with state regulators show that a fish farm that broke apart Aug. 19 in the San Juan Islands released more than 160,000 farm-raised Atlantic salmon into Washington state waters -- far more than the original estimate -- and that the holding pen for the fish was "due for complete replacement." The Canadian company that operates the farm originally claimed that "several thousand" non-native Atlantics escaped into the Salish Sea, the ecosystem that runs from the Strait of Georgia in British Columbia to the southernmost waters of Puget Sound in Washington state, home of the wild Pacific salmon. The company also initially said that unusually strong currents, triggered by the moon during the solar eclipse, had caused the pen to break open. The company, Cooke Aquaculture Pacific, later backed off the linking of the failure to the eclipse. But records filed by the company with the state Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers indicate that the 30-year-old floating farm's failure was probably the combination of a strong underwater current winning out over a weakened anchoring system that kept the pen in place.
The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife is encouraging anglers in the area of the San Juan Islands to fish for thousands of escapes salmon. The fish escaped from a net pen that failed in the Cypress Island area managed by Cooke Aquaculture. The company is blaming "exceptionally" high tides and currents they say coincided with Monday's total solar eclipse for the net pen failure that resulted in the release of the fish, reported the Seattle Times. On Saturday, the anchor lines of the pens broke and then walkways to the pens tipped and employees couldn't get to the pens to assess the damage or how many fish had escaped. However, overhead footage from KIRO-TV shows extensive damage and even some dead fish.
As many as 305,000 Atlantic salmon have been accidentally released into the waters near the San Juan Islands in Washington State, and officials are asking anyone with a valid fishing license to help reel the escapees back in. The breakout happened Saturday when a net imploded at the Cooke Aquaculture net pen operated off Cypress Island. Thousands of 10-pound salmon fled from the containment out into open water. In a report from The Seattle Times, tribal fishers are calling the accident "a devastation," and are concerned about the negative impact this could have on native salmon populations. Many fishers in the area have concerns about the Atlantic salmon preying on the native Pacific salmon babies.
Fishermen in the US have been issued a free pass after nets containing 305,000 farmed Atlantic salmon were damaged in the lead up to Monday's solar eclipse. Although the exact number of escapees is unknown, conservative estimates put it between 3,000 and 5,000 fish, although this could be much higher. Exceptionally high tides and strong currents caused by the eclipse were blamed for the breakout, which occurred after the collapse one of the farm's net pens. It is feared that large numbers of the non-native species could wreak havoc on the local marine ecology. Fishermen in the US have been issued a free pass, after nets containing 305,000 farmed Atlantic salmon were damaged in the lead up to Monday's solar eclipse.
Salmon have a lousy problem, and the race to solve it is spanning the globe. A surge of parasitic sea lice is disrupting salmon farms around the world. The tiny lice attach themselves to salmon and feed on them, killing or rendering them unsuitable for dinner tables. Meanwhile, wholesale prices of salmon are way up, as high as 50 percent last year. This undated photo provided by Cooke Aquaculture shows a sea lice in its early stages.