Bainbridge fish farm to be protested by Wild Fish Conservancy

A protest “flotilla” led by the Wild Fish Conservancy will be setting its sights on a Bainbridge fish farm.

Between 2 and 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, islanders are invited take to the waters of Rich Passage between Fort Ward Park and Manchester State Park to protest the use of net pen-style fish farms in Washington state.

Kurt Beardslee is the executive director at the Wild Fish Conservancy. Beardslee says net pen fish farms can pose greater negative effects on local fish populations than just large-scale escapes, like the one that occurred at the Cooke Aquaculture farm on Cypress Island late last month.

“The reason we chose Bainbridge was, in 2012, there was the largest IHN outbreak on the entire coast — that’s a deadly salmon virus — that spread to all three of those pens during that event, and it happened right during juvenile salmon out-migration,” Beardslee said. “It’s just things like that event, and this massive escape, these are unavoidable when you have this industry in these waters.”

Beardslee is encouraging residents with boats and kayaks to paddle out and, “vote with your boat,” in the Our Sound Our Salmon’s flotilla.

The flotilla, he said, is a visual reminder of the harm that can come from net pen fish farms.

“They use our public waters for their benefit and it’s a one-way street. We lose; they pollute our waters every day, they put our native fish at risk every day. I think Puget Sound is more important than that,” Beardslee said.

For more information, email info@wildfishconservancy.org or call 425-788-1167.

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