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Stand up for Wild Salmon,
Orcas and Public Waters

The damage is done. The net-pen failure at Cooke Aquaculture’s Atlantic-salmon farm, 70 miles north of Seattle, resulted in more than 260,000 non-native, domesticated Atlantic salmon escaping into Puget Sound. Cypress Island, Washington.
Photo courtesy of Wild Fish Conservancy

Industrial net-pen salmon farms are pushing endangered wild salmon—and the dwindling southern resident killer whales that depend on them—closer to extinction. We’re working with Wild Fish Conservancy to kick commercial net pens out of Puget Sound for good—and you can help. (See petition link below.) The plan? Lease the net-pen locations out from under Cooke Aquaculture, which owns the salmon farms in Puget Sound, evict them and restore the habitat.

Sign the Petition

Tell Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz to put an end to commercial net-pen aquaculture and restore Puget Sound for the benefit and use of all.

Act Now

Taking Back Puget Sound

Read The Story
As part of the Our Sound, Our Salmon protest, Skyla and Weston Tomine show how they really feel about net-pen salmon farms in their home waters. Bainbridge Island, Washington.
Photo by Ben Moon

Here's Why

What is a net-pen salmon farm?

Net-pen salmon farms are marine feedlots where large numbers of domesticated food fish are raised for profit. The fish are concentrated in nets suspended from structures anchored to the seafloor, where they are fed commercial food pellets to encourage rapid growth. Compared to land-based feedlots, net pens can operate at relatively low cost because the owners rely on public waters to dispose of waste and other pollutants.

With only a thin net separating dense populations of livestock from the surrounding environment, net-pen salmon farms allow pollution and pathogens to impact marine life in public waters. Discovery Islands, British Columbia.
Photo by Tavish Campbell

Parasites and Disease

Like any feedlot system, the massive concentration of livestock—in this case, salmon—creates ideal breeding grounds for parasites, viruses and other pathogens. Sea lice infestations not only impact the captive salmon, but spread to migrating wild salmon with devastating effects. When viruses and disease outbreaks occur in the net pens, they proliferate quickly, often exposing wild fish in the surrounding waters.

Would you eat this? A deformed, domesticated Atlantic salmon, afflicted with disease and parasites, awaits harvest in a net-pen off the coast of British Columbia.
Photo by SeaLegacy

Pollution

In addition to the tons of fecal waste that net pens generate every year, operators need to employ large quantities of pesticides, antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals to keep their fish alive. These chemicals pass freely through the net pens into surrounding waters, impacting wild salmon and other marine life. At some facilities, thousands of gallons of processing waste—mostly blood, often carrying parasites and viruses—are piped directly into local waters for disposal.

Blood effluent from a net-pen salmon-farm processing plant is released into British Columbia’s largest wild salmon migration route. This blood was found to be infected with intestinal parasites and a contagious fish virus. Discovery Passage, British Columbia.
Photo by Tavish Campbell

Invasive Species

Net-pen salmon farms have a long history of catastrophic failure, resulting in large-scale escape of non-native salmon. Most recently, Cooke Aquaculture’s Cypress Island facility in northern Puget Sound imploded in 2017, allowing more than 260,000 non-native Atlantic salmon to escape. These invasive species spread for hundreds of miles, and were later found to be carrying a highly contagious fish virus.

Months after the catastrophic failure of Cooke Aquaculture’s net pen in northern Puget Sound, escaped Atlantic salmon infected with an exotic, contagious fish virus were found in locations up to a hundred miles away. Nooksack River, Washington.
Photo by April Bencze

Endangered Species

As state and federal agencies spend tens of millions of public dollars every year to protect endangered wild salmon and southern resident killer whales, net pen salmon farms, which have been shown to further endanger these same species, continue operations to generate profits for privately held, multinational corporations.

A wild female Chinook salmon powers upstream toward her spawning grounds on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. In Puget Sound, wild Chinook and the southern resident killer whales that depend on them are both endangered and negatively impacted by net-pen salmon farms.
Photo by Eiko Jones

Food For Thought

Net-pen farmed salmon are fed pellets made by harvesting large quantities of forage fish, which deprives wild salmon of critical food sources. The food pellets often contain chemicals and pharmaceuticals to keep fish alive in crowded feedlot conditions, and dyes, without which the flesh of pen-raised salmon is an unappealing grayish white color.

Fishmeal pellets manufactured from large quantities of wild forage fish create rapid growth in domesticated net-pen salmon, but significantly reduce the natural food source needed by wild salmon.
Photo by Dave Donaldson/Alamy Stock
Watch Artifishal

Our film about fish farms and hatcheries