Atlantic Salmon Spread Far And Wide After August Escape

Oct 20, 2017

Atlantic salmon have spread far and wide since they escaped from a fish farm near Anacortes in August. That raises fears they could harm the Northwest’s wild salmon.

The jailbreak Atlantic salmon have swum south, past Tacoma, and north, past Tofino. That’s halfway up Vancouver Island.

They’ve been caught from Hood Canal to the Harrison River. That’s a tributary of Canada’s Fraser River. It’s where a fisherman caught one of the Atlantic fish 60 miles upstream from the Pacific Ocean.

A pair of the foreign fish were also caught 17 miles up the Puyallup River.

It’s possible some of these fish could spawn and reproduce, but scientists said it’s unlikely.

For much of the twentieth century, government biologists in the Northwest and Canada intentionally introduced Atlantic salmon here. They dumped millions of Atlantic eggs and young Atlantic fish into Pacific rivers, trying to start up new fisheries. Fortunately for the region’s wild salmon, the efforts were a gigantic failure.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources said its investigation into this summer’s great escape of Atlantic fish should finish by the end of December.

About a 100,000 of the jailbreak salmon are apparently still at large.