Washington state halts salmon farm permits after fish escape

Fishing quality in 2018 was particularly good for Chinook salmon and brown trout. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo)

SEATTLE — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has directed the Department of Ecology to put on hold any new permits for salmon farm net pens after thousands of Atlantic salmon escaped earlier this month.

State officials also announced the formation of a response team comprised of the departments of Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife, and Ecology. The team also includes the Office of the Governor and state Emergency Management Division.

It’s not yet clear how many non-native Atlantic salmon escaped into Puget Sound from Canada-based Cooke Aquaculture’s salmon farm off Cypress Island.

Officials say the pens held about 305,000 fish.

Anglers are being urged to catch as many of the escaped salmon as possible. Some of the fish reportedly weigh up to 10 pounds.

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