Probe of farmed salmon collapse focuses on nets

Disasters declared for salmon fisheries along West Coast

State investigators probing the collapse of net pens at a salmon farm last summer are examining nets covered with mussels and other sea life as a cause.

The Seattle Times reports that photos it obtained show portions of nets at Cooke Aquaculture’s operation off Cypress Island so heavy with mussel and other growth that the net was no longer visible. Net pens at that facility collapsed in August, releasing 160,000 non-native Atlantic salmon into the Salish Sea.

Cooke is required under terms of its state lease to keep it farms in a clean and safe condition. Nets that accumulate too many organisms such as mussels can cause drag and change the way the nets behave under water in tidal currents.

Cooke’s vice president of communication, Joel Richardson, declined to comment on the nets or maintenance issues at Cypress Island. He says the company is cooperating fully with state agencies in the investigation.


Information from: The Seattle Times,