A First Nation near Bellingham, Wash., has declared a state of emergency after last weekend's collapse of a U.S. fish farm that allowed thousands of Atlantic salmon to escape in the San Juan Islands near Victoria, B.C.
The Lummi Nation says 300,000 Atlantic salmon escaped into the Pacific Ocean after a net pen failure on Saturday. That number has not been confirmed by the company, Cooke Aquaculture, although it concedes estimates are now higher than the initial 4,000 to 5,000.
"The tribe has not received confirmation that the Atlantic salmon spill has been contained, so we have to assume that the invasive fish continues to spill into these waters, putting the spawning grounds for native salmon species at risk," Timothy Ballew II, the chair of the Lummi Indian Business Council, said in a statement.
The statement says the Atlantic salmon spill must be addressed by all levels of government.
Lummi added it is encouraging its tribal fishermen to continue fishing the waters through the weekend to remove as many Atlantic salmon as possible.
There is long-standing concern that foreign, farmed fish — Atlantic salmon is farmed around the world — could do damage to native fish stocks like sockeye salmon.