Cypress Island Atlantic Salmon Pen Break
In August 2017, a net pen owend by Cooke Aquaculture near Cypress Island in Skagit County failed and released tens of thousands of non-native Atlantic salmon into the surrounding waters. The Washington State Department of Natural Resources worked with area tribes, the Washington Department of Ecology, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, and Cooke to respond to the incident.
In light of this incident, DNR has been evaluating our own practices to the extent possible to prevent something like this from happening again. The agency has also ordered inspections of all net pens in Washington's waters to ensure they are secure.
Investigators have released this report after investigating the cause of the August net pen response, along with appendices. Cooke provided this response.
Understanding who to contact:
Atlantic salmon aquaculture in Washington involves oversight from multiple state agencies. Agencies and their respective roles are explained below.
DNR manages the land on which the incident took place and has a tenant contract with Cooke Aquaculture. DNR is the lead agency on contract compliance in collaboration with other agencies, to ensure compliance with lease terms.
WDFW reviews the permit requirements fish escape prevention and response plans, and monitors the health of farm-raised fish in collaboration with the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission fish health group. The department also requires fish transport permits to ensure fish are not at risk of disease.