Thursday, July 30, 2015

Update on net pen regulations in Island County

By Andrew Wineke, Ecology communications

One of the major responsibilities of Ecology’s Shorelands and Environmental Assessment program is working with counties and other local governments to develop regulations for activities like commercial salmon net pens.

There has been some recent confusion about potential limits on the use of net pens in Washington. Currently, Ecology and Island County are working on an agreement that would allow a temporary prohibition of net pens in the county. The proposal, which is still being developed, would not impact statewide regulations or policy.

Some local governments and their residents have raised concerns about commercial net pens, which currently operate in three Washington counties. Island County does not have any net pens at this time, nor has the commercial salmon industry indicated an interest in siting operations in the county.

Aquaculture, including net pens, is an “activity of statewide interest” in Washington’s shoreline regulations and other policies. However, state law does not require net pens be allowed everywhere and net pens may not be appropriate in some waters, depending on site-specific conditions and applicable scientific information.

Under the agreement being developed with Island County, the county would need to revisit the issue by 2020, when it is due to update its Shoreline Master Program.

For more information
Contact Cedar Bouta, environmental planner for Ecology’s Shorelands and Environmental Assistance Program at or 360-407-6406.

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