To the State Legislators of Washington State,
We, the undersigned citizens working in Washington State’s commercial and recreational fishing industries, write with concerns regarding the Atlantic salmon net pen industry, and to voice our support for legislation phasing out Atlantic salmon net pens from Washington waters. Open-water Atlantic salmon aquaculture is a threat to our livelihoods, and we intend to draw your attention to the harm Atlantic salmon net pens impose upon our business and the rural communities that benefit from our work.
Specifically, we write to voice our support for the currently proposed Senate Bill 6086, or for any similar legislation that would institute a phase-out of Atlantic salmon net pens that includes no authorization of new leases and no renewals of existing leases.
The following points represent our main areas of concern:
The open-water farming of Atlantic salmon has been shown, through peer-reviewed science, to harm the fisheries upon which our industries rely. Net pens amplify diseases and parasites in the marine environment, pollute through the discharge of fish waste, uneaten feed and pharmaceuticals, and allow frequent escapes of non-native fish into our fragile ecosystem, all of which have been shown to harm commercially and recreationally important fish species in the Northwest.
In Washington State, the commercial and recreational fishing industries employ tens of thousands of people. In contrast, the Atlantic salmon net pen industry employs eighty. Due to the environmental harms presented by Atlantic salmon net pens, the net pen industry’s eighty jobs are placing tens of thousands of jobs at risk.
Commercial and recreational fishing own a rich history in our state, and many rural communities rely heavily upon the benefits of our occupations. To ignore the harms of open-water Atlantic salmon aquaculture would be an ill-advised move, one that would risk the well-being of our communities and undercut industries vital to our Northwest heritage.
Due to these concerns, we urge you to support legislation that would phase-out all Atlantic salmon net pens from Washington waters by or before 2025. Atlantic salmon aquaculture can be sustainably practiced on land, a transition that would avoid undermining the millions of public dollars Washingtonians have spent on wild salmon recovery. We believe the removal of Atlantic salmon net pens from Washington waters is the only way to ensure the future success of commercial and recreational fishing for generations to come.
Thank you for taking the time to hear our concerns.