Local

Lummi tribe declares state of emergency over Atlantic salmon spill

Luke Kinley of Whatcom County caught these Atlantic salmon while fishing near the Samish River Tuesday, August 22. A fish farm off Cypress Island collapsed August 19, releasing thousands of the non-native fish into the Salish Sea.
Luke Kinley of Whatcom County caught these Atlantic salmon while fishing near the Samish River Tuesday, August 22. A fish farm off Cypress Island collapsed August 19, releasing thousands of the non-native fish into the Salish Sea. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

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.

Estimates of how many fish escaped the collapsed net pens varies, though a Cooke Aquaculture Pacific spokewoman told The Seattle Times initial estimates of 4,000 to 5,000 fish may have been low.

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.

Related stories from Bellingham Herald

  Comments