State should follow county in banning fish net pens

Editor,

I want to take a moment to express my appreciation to the past and present Island County Board of Commissioners for their efforts to ban fish net pens on our shores. Now we must continue that effort for Washington state.

There are currently three bills in the Legislature regarding fish net pens in our state. Unfortunately, one of those bills that was rewritten in committee and significantly supports the Atlantic salmon fishing industry, subsequently reopening the possibility of fish pens in our county.

House Bill 2957 now instructs the Department of Natural Resources, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Department of Ecology to “continue the existing effort to update guidance and informational resources to industry and governments for planning and permitting commercial marine net pen aquaculture,” thus defeating the intention of the original bill of “reducing escape of nonnative finfish from marine finfish aquaculture facilities.”

Given the recent net pen failure and horrific release of Atlantic salmon from Cooke aquaculture, it is imperative that we put forth a clean bill to prevent this in the future.

The two bills that more effectively ban Atlantic salmon fish net pens in our State are SB 6086 in the Senate and in the House, HB 2260. Please call your legislators and let them know you support SB 6086 and/or HB 2260.

State Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, has already voted in committee against banning fish net pens through SB 6086 and needs to hear from all of us. Advocate to stop HB 2957 which does not pass the muster of protecting our Pacific salmon and our shorelines.

Janet St. Clair

Camano Island

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