Salmon Farm Falls Apart

The friendliest place on the web for anyone who enjoys boating.
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.
I was under the impression that farm raised fish were sterile so that if they escaped they could not reproduce. Is that not the case? There is still the impact of whatever salmon feed on will now take a huge hit, and there will not be enough natural food to feed the existing Pacific Salmon population.

Benthic: Talked to a Native American fisherman selling fresh caught Atlantic Salmon last night at the marina. Apparently the Indian fishermen are in Secret Harbor (that's where the pen is located) gillnetting very successfully. Lot's of fish are laying in the harbor. The inner bay is to small to have more than 9 or 10 nets at a time, so they're taking turns. He had three sets yesterday and over 300 fish, average 10 -15lbs. Fish buyers are paying $1.25 lb and he was selling them at $2.00 lb to the public. So he had a pretty good pay day in a year where the native fish runs are very diminished.

(No, I didn't buy any.)

The fish were gutted already and he said the egg sacks were mostly empty, some had feed pellets in their gut. He thought the absence of eggs was probably a result of the way they're raised, feed and captivity, in a pen and maybe the fish were staying in the bay because there are two other operating fish pens still feeding fish. They can eat the stray pellets that fall through the pen.

At least some of the fish have scattered and there are reports of them being caught by commercial fishermen in small numbers throughout Puget Sound.
Last edited:
I'm under way just south of Lund so I will be brief. I'd like to clear up a few misconceptions. For the record, I'm a former fisheries biologist, now retired. First, to my knowledge, while there were attempts at introducing wild Atlantic salmon on this coast in the early 1900's, probably with eyed eggs or fry, or smolts those attempts were not successful. To my knowledge, there were no attempts in the 1980's. That information, to my knowledge is not correct.

While there have been several escapes of Atlantic salmon from fish farms in the past, there have been no reports that these resulted in any kind of successful spawning in local rivers. There was a real large escape from a Puget Sound farm about 20 years ago. I managed the test fisheries for the Pacific Salmon Commission and one of our gillnetters in Juan de Fuca Strait caught over 350 one evening several days after the event. However, I do not recall any being subsequently caught in the Fraser River, or observed spawning in any local rivers. Further, there is little risk of these fish hybridizing with any local populations of salmon. It's also unlikely there would be any competition for food with local salmon. They are habituated to being fed with pellets and just could not compete with the locals.

All that said, there is some risk of them being vectors for disease and parasites. That's a complex and contentious issue. In my opinion, the "burden of proof" should be on the fish farms to demonstrate, scientifically that there is NOT a problem rather than the other way around.

And finally, I have never purchased farmed Atlantic salmon. And on the table, it does not compare with wild chinook, coho or sockeye salmon!

Last edited:

Thanks. It is always nice when a TF member with expertise in a field weighs in.

I agree that it should be up to the fish farms to prove they are safe, but it is hard to prove a negative. Interesting that we expect that type of proof only in our pet areas. Coal trains are cruising up the shore of Puget Sound. Many scoff at proving they are safe. The same is true for the oil trains on the same tracks. Boaters lost the fight against a NDZ in Puget Sound. They simply couldn't prove the absence of harm and the proponents weren't required to prove harm.

So with fish farms, do we make them prove they can't be harmful (pretty hard to do) or do we make the opponents prove they are harmful? Of course the stakes are high. The proof of harm may come too late.

But then how do you prove the rash of hundreds and thousand year weather events in recent years is related to human caused climate change?
Top Bottom