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News >  WA Government

New law phases out Atlantic salmon net pens

UPDATED: Thu., March 22, 2018

In this Aug. 22, 2017, file photo, Allen Cooke, left, and Nathan Cultee emerge from the hold of the Marathon after having separated out the 16 escaped, farm-raised Atlantic salmon they caught fishing off Point Williams, Wash. Washington state will phase out marine farming of Atlantic salmon and other nonnative fish by 2022 under legislation signed Thursday, March 22, 2018, by Gov. Jay Inslee. (Dean Rutz / Seattle Times)
In this Aug. 22, 2017, file photo, Allen Cooke, left, and Nathan Cultee emerge from the hold of the Marathon after having separated out the 16 escaped, farm-raised Atlantic salmon they caught fishing off Point Williams, Wash. Washington state will phase out marine farming of Atlantic salmon and other nonnative fish by 2022 under legislation signed Thursday, March 22, 2018, by Gov. Jay Inslee. (Dean Rutz / Seattle Times)

OLYMPIA – Large underwater enclosures that raise Atlantic salmon or other non-native fish will be banned from Washington waters by 2022.

The commercial structures, known as net pens, will slowly disappear from Puget Sound as leases the state has with aquaculture companies expire. Under a bill signed Thursday, those leases can’t be renewed.

Resistance to net pens among tribes, commercial fishermen and environmentalists intensified after a structure near Tacoma owned by Cooke Aquaculture collapsed last August, releasing tens of thousands of Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound. A later state investigation said the structure had not been adequately cleaned and some 110 tons of material had accumulated on the nets, leading to the collapse.

Cooke officials initially tried to blame the collapse on unusual tides from the solar eclipse.

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