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Lawsuit Claims Salmon Farms Harm Native Fish In Puget Sound

caption: Salmon in the Ballard Locks, Seattle, Washington.
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Salmon in the Ballard Locks, Seattle, Washington.
Flickr Photo/goodmami (CC BY SA 2.0)/

The Wild Fish Conservancy sued federal environmental and fisheries agencies Wednesday, saying they inadequately monitor the impact of commercial salmon farms in Puget Sound.

The lawsuit says commercial farms pose many risks to wild salmon.

In 2011 the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Marine Fisheries Service found the opposite. They concluded that commercial salmon farms are unlikely to harm wild salmon.

But Kurt Beardslee, executive director of the Wild Fish Conservancy, said the findings about commercial farms should be revisited.

“This industry is literally floating in the heart of our most important salmon habitat. The public has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in wild salmon recovery and if we are undermining the recovery effort this is not in the public's best interest,” Beardslee said.

Beardslee said the outbreak of a deadly virus killed thousands of salmon in commercial pens near Bainbridge Island in 2012, but a lack of monitoring means the impact on native populations was never identified.

The Wild Fish Conservancy says the EPA and the National Marine Fisheries Service are violating the Endangered Species Act.

KUOW contacted both agencies. Neither are commenting on the lawsuit at this time.

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