The March 7 letter “Bad trade policy threatens efforts to protect native salmon” makes four significant errors.
1. “Accidental release of salmon from a collapsed salmon net pen caused severe damage to our marine ecosystem and our native salmon.” This is not true based on peer reviewed science.
Atlantic salmon do not inter breed with Pacific salmon. Atlantic escapees have never spawned on the West Coast. They do not eat other fish or their natural foods. When examined, their stomachs are empty.
Disease transfer from farmed to wild salmon has never been documented in Washington.
2. “NAFTA favors large corporations over people, thus giving Cooke Aquaculture an advantage.” However, Cooke Aquaculture is a family-owned business with no corporate shareholders.
3. “Cooke was negligent in their maintenance of the net pen.” In fact, Cooke had already applied for the permits to replace it. They were about a month away from harvesting the fish it contained and dismantling the structure.
4. “Cooke is somehow abusing its rights under NAFTA to protect its investment.” In truth, several similar escapes occurred under U.S. ownership with no impact detected. And yet, after the first escape under Canadian ownership, the Legislature voted to prohibit the production of these salmon.
The accident has cost Cooke millions of dollars. They paid local tribes to help catch the escapees. It seems crazy that the State Legislature would vote to put them out of business when nothing was ever done to U.S. companies who suffered similar escapes.