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Maine: Cooke blames seals for escape of 50,000 salmon from net pen farm

Cooke Aquaculture recently reported salmon escapes at two open pen sites off Cross Island in Machias Bay, Maine. The escape of 50,000 juvenile salmon has again raised concerns about the risks posed to wild Atlantic salmon by net-pen aquaculture.

Cooke has blamed the escape on holes in the nets caused by seals. As a solution they say they'll increase the number of dives to inspect the nets, and use better netting. This response merely points out there are more/better precautions that they could have been taken, but they didn't.

All the predictable media lines were used to downplay the incident including the "highly unusual" and "never before" , "uncontrollable" descriptives, and the go-to-comparison to terrestrial farming. They want the public to believe 50,000 farmed salmon escaping into the open ocean is no different than a fox breaking into a chicken coop.

"The incident has prompted reactions from wild salmon advocacy and environmental groups. Matt Dundas, campaign director at Oceana, an ocean conservation organization, said the escape “shows that salmon aquaculture in Maine is not risk‑free.”

“We can’t just put our oceans in the hands of the finfish aquaculture industry,” he said. “Maine’s waters are for everyone — from lobster fishermen and tourists who support Maine’s economy, to locals who call the coast home. We need to take a hard look at where these farms are headed and the rules around them.”

“The industry hasn’t demonstrated they can keep the fish in the cages.”

Quoted excerpts above from article below.


Salmon escape raises concerns about seals, risk to wild fish

by Edward French, The Maine Monitor August 26, 2023

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