Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Netpen Aquaculture in Washington's Jefferson County?


Jefferson County spans Washington's Olympic Peninsula, from the remote western coast of the state to Hood Canal. The county approved has been working to update its shoreline management plan since 2009 and has been seeking Department of Ecology (DOE) approval for the plan since then. Recently the DOE approved the plan however not without a number of changes. Among the changes made by DOE is a requirement that Jefferson County scrap a ban on net pen aquaculture that had been included in the shoreline management plan saying that there is "not a conclusive scientific basis on the record," to support an outright ban on net pen aquaculture. The impacts of open net pen fish farming in British Columbia have been profound where disease and ecotoparasites spread from salmon farms have dramatically reduced the survival of some species. Wherever salmon farms have gone, destruction of wild salmon has followed and the last thing Hood Canal's ESA listed chum, chinook and steelhead need is a proliferation of salmon farms. This decision by no means ensures the expansion of salmon aquaculture in Washington's waters, however the fact that DOE does not believe there is conclusive scientific evidence on the issue is deeply concerning. Perhaps it's time to consider a statewide ban on open net pen aquaculture? Alaska, understanding the economic importance of robust runs of wild salmon has already passed similar legislation.

See an article in the Peninsula Daily news:
http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20110202/news/302029981/state-ecology-oks-most-of-jefferson-county-shoreline-plan

More information on the shoreline management plan on DOE's website:
http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/shorelines/smp/mycomments/jefferson.html

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