Scene in Edmonds: Salmon pen moved into place

On Sunday morning, volunteers from the Puget Sound Angler Association SnoKing chapter (PSA) — along with Port of Edmonds employees — spent two hours moving the coho salmon fish pen, which has been moored in the marina for the past three weeks, out to the Edmonds fishing pier.

This pen was initially stocked with 30,000 coho salmon smolt. It will remain moored at the fishing pier until April or May, when the fish will be released. This will give them time to grow, become acclimated to salt water, and hopefully become imprinted to the Edmonds area.

Some fish will stay locally and some will make their way to the Pacific Ocean. When they mature, those that survive may be caught by local fishermen or find a local stream to navigate and spawn.

— Story and photos by Doug Parrott

  1. A combination of destroyed river habitat, water degradation, high sea fishing practices, and climate change the salmon spiral to extinction continues to accelerate. Growing hatchery fish in pens accelerates the process. Concentrated effluents from the pens, pollution of the salmon gene pool, and educating the public that this is the right thing to do for the environment causes further damage.

  2. Is this considered “Farmed Salmon” ? I don’t know much about this….but what John Karp said hit home. Just wondering.

    1. Delores,

      The article states these fish are there until they are old enough to fend for themselves.

      Meanwhile, it seems – to me – that this is – similar – to “farming fish”, lots of fish stuck in a tight place, they eat and … can I say it? … shit in a confined place… Unlike “farmed fish”, I assume they are not fed red dye to change their color.

      Back at the end of the 20th century, I happened upon a “fish farm” off of Puget Sound. There were numerous signs – stay out of the water! it was pretty polluted

      That really got me thinking…

      Would I really want to eat fish that live in water that is not healthy for swimming???

  3. These are not farmed raised salmon. Hatchery raised and farm raised salmon are two completely different things.

    Farm raised salmon are raised in one place from birth to death. Hatchery raised salmon are born in a hatchery, usually on a river that has or has had a natural run of salmon. They are released either at a normal river stage size into the river or stream and live a natural ocean going life cycle after that. Or, they are retained at the hatchery site for a prolonged period of time in the Puget Sound Basin so they tend to grow up and remain in the Salish Sea area rather than migrating into the ocean. This is to try to assure a somewhat year around salmon fishery in our local waters for both Chinook and Silver salmon species. In addition virtually all hatchery produced salmon have their adipose fin removed before release so wild fish (with the fin in place) can be identified and always released for conservation purposes, assuming they weren’t caught in a gill net which kills everything in it.

    If it weren’t for hatchery raised Chinook salmon, our beloved Orca wales would be in an even bigger world of hurt than they already are. If it weren’t for hatchery raised salmon (like are in the Edmonds net pen right now) there would not be much of a sport or commercial fishery for the most valued, Chinook and Silver species, anywhere in the Salish Sea. Considering the small number of fish, short duration in that net pen, and normal Salish Sea currents the potential for pollution from the practice is virtually nil.

  4. I was one of the volunteers helping to anchor the net pen in Edmonds last Sunday. We work in partnership with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Sound Salmon Solutions who operate the Willow Creek Hatchery in Edmonds. We receive our fish from the Issaquah hatchery, whose silver salmon are of the genetic strain native to the Lake Washington Basin and surrounding watersheds. If memory serves the Green/Duwamish silver salmon are also of the same strain. This volunteer effort is under the same permit as similar, but much larger operations run in Elliott Bay and Squaxin Island by the Treaty Tribes who co manage these resources with the State. We are expecting a return in two years of 2% of adult fish from the 30,000 smolts we are now raising, as birds, seals, sea lions and other fish predate upon them as part of the food web. Every smolt has been adipose fin clipped for identification so we humans know we are retaining Food Fish meant to be caught. Any surviving adults will find their way back to their natal waters to hopefully be part of the next generation. I have personally fished the Edmonds Pier since the late 70’s starting at 8 or 9 years old and there has always been a similar net pen operation. I am very proud to continue this tradition of community involvement as a member of PSA SnoKing. Look forward to seeing everyone in late May early June when we release to fish and remove the pen for storage!

  5. Thanks Dan,

    Will be sure to keep an eye open for the release..on one of my Pier Walks. . Good work. thanks for he clarification.

  6. As Clinton Wright has explained, the difference between farm-raised fish and hatchery fish is great. Though 30,000 smolt sounds like a lot of fish, most of them will meet their end during the period they gestate in salt water. I can’t say for sure how many will return, but it will not be many.
    What needs to be mentioned is there is a limited amount of feed at sea. As a recent article in Hakai explains, the release of pink salmon smolt from large Alaskan hatcheries impacts the feeding of wild salmon at sea. Though this small Edmonds release does not impact the salmon moving into the Gulf of Alaska as coho salmon prefer “hanging around” the coast, it is important to know and understand.
    If people in Edmonds really want to do something for wild salmon, they should focus on restoring the creek in South County Park, which I believe, giving a little help, could be quite a nice little producer. First thing would be to build a small bridge over the road by the sound instead of those pipes, and then ensure the fish can climb through the neighborhood houses to the spawning gravel farther upstream. This would be a great help.

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