Gov. Jay Inslee is supporting a plan for the state to phase out net pen leases that are currently in place. There’s a measure under consideration at the statehouse that would prohibit new leases or extensions of leases for fish farms, while also adding new regulations on existing operations.
Inslee says the risk of another net pen collapse like the one last summer near Cypress Island is “intolerable,” and something must change.
"We're going to see these failures in the future if we continue down this road. They are inevitable, given the tides and the consequences of lack of maintenance. And the fact that we can't have inspectors out there every single day, we don't have the capability of doing that," Inslee explained.
"We should be putting these millions of dollars into recovering native stock, not putting a million dollars like we've done here trying to chase non-native salmon, trying to keep them out of our water.
Inslee says he was holding off on announcing his support of this plan until the conclusion of an investigation by three state agencies into what caused Cooke Aquaculture’s net pens to collapse.
A report was released at the end of January and showed negligence by the company to maintain the pens.
Roughly 250,000 non-native Atlantic salmon spilled into Puget Sound in August last year, and officials have yet to account for about 200,000 fish.