We, the undersigned business leaders working in Washington's restaurant industry, write with concerns regarding the Atlantic salmon net pen industry. Open-water Atlantic salmon aquaculture is an unsustainable seafood source, and we believe Washington state should prioritize the protection and recovery of sustainable seafood sources for the benefit of both our economy and environment.
With this letter, we wish to voice our support for legislation phasing out Atlantic salmon net pens from Washington waters. Specifically, we support the currently proposed Senate Bill 6086, or 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 wild Pacific salmon and the marine environment at-large. Net pens amplify diseases and parasites, 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 cherished Northwest wild fish species.
As conscientious business owners, it is our responsibility to source our seafood as sustainably as possible. We know that not doing so would ultimately result in the endangerment of our livelihoods. Seafood consumers in the Northwest value wild-caught Pacific salmon, and we plan to meet that demand for generations to come. If Atlantic salmon net pens are allowed to persist and expand in Washington waters, we have deep concerns about the potential negative impacts to our business.
Our restaurants support and work alongside the commercial fishing industry in Washington state. In Washington, commercial fishing employs tens of thousands of people. By 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.
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. The removal of Atlantic salmon net pens from public waters is the only sustainable way forward for Washington state, and we believe a decision to phase out the Atlantic salmon net pen industry would significantly benefit our business.
Thank you for taking the time to hear our concerns.