A bill that would phase out the farming of invasive, nonnative fish in Washington’s waters and entirely prohibit it in the future has left the Legislature tonight and is on its way to Governor Inslee following a successful vote in the Senate.
Engrossed House Bill 2957, prime sponsored by Representative Krys Lytton (D‑40th District: Bellingham, San Juan Islands, Anacortes, Mount Vernon) will put an end to the destructive activities of Cooke Aquaculture, which currently has four fish farms in Washington’s waters. The Department of Natural Resources has ordered the company to shut down two of them (located at Port Angeles and Cypress Island respectively) and is looking at taking further action against the remaining two.
“Investigations into the August collapse have shown that the industry facilities are in disrepair and safe and secure facilities are not being maintained. The problems should have been addressed by the industry long ago. Our native salmon are an endangered species that the Legislature is working hard to recover and this legislation ensures that nonnative finfish will not be a threat,” said Lytton.
Under EHB 2957, current leases will be terminated when they expire (unless they are terminated sooner for lease violations), while future leases will be banned.
“Current facilities will be subject to a heightened inspection process and state agencies are directed to continue working on guidance for planning and permitting of commercial marine net pen aquaculture,” notes a news release from the House Democratic caucus, which celebrated the bill’s passage.
“It was great working with Kris as she maneuvered through a lot of difficult personalities to get a policy solution that’s going to be what’s best for the 40th District,” said Representative Jeff Morris, Lytton’s seatmate.
“The state ban is a strong stance to ensure the protection of our marine environment and native salmon populations in the Salish Sea,” said Senator Kevin Ranker, prime sponsor of the companion bill in the Senate.
(Ranker is Lytton and Morris’ counterpart in the Senate.)
“I want to thank Representative Kristine Lytton for her key support and leadership in the House to keep this issue going forward. Washingtonians will no longer accept this risky industry in our state waters,” Ranker added.
“We have invested far too much in the restoration of our Salish Sea. The economic, cultural, and recreational resources of these incredible waters will no longer be jeopardized by the negligent actions of this industry.”
The roll call in the Senate on final passage of EHB 2957 was as follows:
Nonnative finfish escape
3rd Reading & Final Passage
Yeas: 31; Nays: 16; Absent: 1; Excused: 1
Voting Yea: Senators Angel, Billig, Chase, Cleveland, Conway, Darneille, Dhingra, Fain, Fortunato, Frockt, Hasegawa, Hawkins, Hunt, Keiser, Kuderer, Liias, McCoy, Miloscia, Mullet, Nelson, O’Ban, Palumbo, Pedersen, Ranker, Rolfes, Saldaña, Sheldon, Takko, Van De Wege, Wellman, Zeiger
Voting Nay: Senators Bailey, Baumgartner, Becker, Braun, Brown, Ericksen, Honeyford, King, Padden, Rivers, Schoesler, Short, Wagoner, Walsh, Warnick, Wilson
Absent: Senator Carlyle
Excused: Senator Hobbs
The Senate’s Democratic members all voted for the bill with the exception of Senators Reuven Carlyle and Steve Hobbs, who were not present. They were joined by Republican Senators Jan Angel, Joe Fain, Phil Fortunato, Brad Hawkins, Mark Miloscia, Steve O’Ban, Tim Sheldon, and Hans Zeiger.
The Senate rejected dozens of attempts by the other Senate Republicans to amend the bill, defeating a plethora of amendments offered by Shelley Short and Jim Honeyford, who are both from Eastern Washington.
In the House, the roll call in favor of the bill last month was as follows:
Nonnative finfish escape
Yeas: 67; Nays: 31
Voting Yea: Representatives Appleton, Barkis, Bergquist, Blake, Caldier, Chapman, Clibborn, Cody, Doglio, Dolan, Fey, Fitzgibbon, Frame, Goodman, Graves, Gregerson, Griffey, Hansen, Hayes, Hudgins, Irwin, Jinkins, Johnson, Kagi, Kilduff, Kirby, Kloba, Lovick, Lytton, MacEwen, Macri, McBride, McCabe, McDonald, Morris, Ormsby, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Pellicciotti, Peterson, Pettigrew, Pollet, Reeves, Riccelli, Robinson, Rodne, Ryu, Santos, Sawyer, Sells, Senn, Slatter, Smith, Springer, Stambaugh, Stanford, Stokesbary, Stonier, Sullivan, Tarleton, Tharinger, Valdez, Vick, Wilcox, Wylie, Young, Chopp
Voting Nay: Representatives Buys, Chandler, Condotta, DeBolt, Dent, Dye, Eslick, Haler, Hargrove, Harmsworth, Harris, Holy, Jenkin, Klippert, Kraft, Kretz, Kristiansen, Manweller, Maycumber, McCaslin, Muri, Nealey, Orcutt, Pike, Schmick, Shea, Steele, Taylor, Van Werven, Volz, Walsh
As in the Senate, all nay votes came from Republicans, who were split on the bill.
NPI called for legislation to ban the farming of invasive fish last autumn, and we are delighted that the Legislature has followed up by passing this bill. We’d like to see other pressing problems receive this kind of prompt response in the future.
We look forward to the day when Cooke Aquaculture is out of Washington’s waters. The Salish Sea is a treasure that belongs to everyone. It’s worth protecting.