Lummi Nation declared a state of emergency Thursday over a fish farm collapse that spilled thousands of Atlantic salmon into the Salish Sea, saying it threatened native salmon species.
“The tribe has not received confirmation that the Atlantic salmon spill has been contained, so we have to assume that the invasive fish continues to spill into these waters, putting the spawning grounds for native salmon species at risk,” said Timothy Ballew II, chairman of the Lummi Indian Business Council, in a statement.
“The Atlantic salmon spill must be addressed immediately by all levels of government,” Ballew added.
Earlier this week, the LIBC said it was deploying its tribal fleet to catch as many of the farmed fish as possible, and encouraged them to continue through the weekend.
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Nell Halse, vice president of communications for Cooke, said the farm held more than 300,000 fish weighing a total of about 3 million pounds. Cooke operates several Atlantic salmon farms in the region, including the failed facility off Cypress Island.
The company bought the salmon farm about a year ago, and just last month made repairs to the Cypress Island facility because it had begun to drift, Halse said.
Local commercial fishermen were taking their catch for processing to Home Port Seafoods in Bellingham, among other facilities.