Salmon farm net spill

Members of the public in Washington state are being asked to help mop up a spill of Atlantic salmon from an imploded net holding 305,000 fish at a Cooke Aquaculture fish farm near Cypress Island.

Washington state's Department of Fish and Wildlife is urging the public to catch as many of the fish as possible after Lummi fishers out for chinook on Sunday near Samish were surprised to pull up the Atlantic salmon — escapees that turned up in their nets again on Monday.

The fish are about 4.5 kilograms each, and the department is asking people to catch them with no limit on size or number.

No one knows yet how many escaped, but Ron Warren of Fish and Wildlife said the net had some 1,360 tonnes of fish in it when it imploded Saturday.

Warren said the spill was caused by tides pushed unusually high by Monday's approaching total solar eclipse.

The department has been monitoring the situation and crafting a spill-response plan with New Brunswick-based Cooke Aquaculture.

The company could not be reached for comment, but on its website it says Atlantic salmon "have safely and sustainably grown" in Puget Sound for more than 30 years in waters it says are "ideal" for growing the fish.

Lummi fishers were incensed at the Atlantic salmon intruding in home waters of native Washington Pacific salmon.

"It's a devastation," said Ellie Kinley, whose family has fished Puget Sound for generations. "We don't want those fish preying on our baby salmon. And we don't want them getting up in the rivers."

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