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Cypress Island Disaster Was Anticipated by Tribes, Local Fishermen

This is the Text of Resolution #02 – 78, adopted by the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians at their 2002 annual conference, which was held in Ocean Shores Washington. It outlines the position of the tribes regarding farmed fish and efforts to end the practice. There is lots of great information here, and important historical context to the current situation. What happened off of Cypress Island is not without precedence. It is time to ban fish farms in our state.

– The Principals of Lummi Island Wild Co-Operative




Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians

2002 Annual Conference

Ocean Shores, Washington








     We, the members of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians of the United States, invoking the divine blessing of the Creator upon our efforts and purposes, in order to preserve for ourselves and our descendants rights secured under Indian Treaties and benefits to which we are entitled under the laws and constitution of the United States and several states, to enlighten the public toward a better understanding of the Indian people, to preserve Indian cultural values, and otherwise promote the welfare of the Indian people, do hereby establish and submit the following resolution:

    WHEREAS, the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI) are representatives of and advocates for national, regional, and specific Tribal concerns; and

    WHEREAS, the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians is a regional organization comprised of American Indians in the states of Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Nevada, Northern California, and Alaska; and

    WHEREAS, the health, safety, welfare, education, economic and employment opportunity, and preservation of cultural and natural resources are primary goals and objectives of Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians; and

    WHEREAS, residents of Whatcom County and Northwest Tribes have made significant sacrifices and foregone harvest opportunity and restrictions on land and water use; and

     WHEREAS, residents and Tribes have volunteered and invested considerable time, money and resources to the restoration of Tribal salmon runs; and

     WHEREAS, various economic sectors in Whatcom County such as recreational and tourism enterprises, fishing industry, and tribal natural resources depend upon healthy naturally-spawning/hatchery Pacific salmon and fish populations; and

     WHEREAS, the Washington State Pollution Control Board has determined that escapement of introduced farm-raised Atlantic salmon are a serious threat and biological pollutant under the Federal Clean Water Act and the State’s Water Pollution Control act Chapter 90.48. RCW; and

     WHEREAS, farmed salmon pose a threat to naturally-spawning Pacific salmon stocks because of the use of antibiotics to treat disease in net pen rearing, further increasing antibiotic resistant bacteria into the marine environment: and

     WHEREAS, scientific evidence indicates marine net pens degrade the marine environment through impacts to water quality and accumulated toxic sediment, as well as on the health of benthic and pelagic organisms: and

    WHEREAS, scientific studies have shown that Atlantic salmon are capable of competing with naturally- spawning/hatchery Pacific salmon species for increasingly scarce quality habitat; and

    WHEREAS, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife reports that over 500,000 Atlantic salmon have escaped from net pens into Washington waters in the last decade and even larger numbers of Atlantic salmon have escaped into British Columbia, Canada, waters; and

    WHEREAS, recent scientific evidence documents the presence of Atlantic salmon in 78 rivers and streams in British Columbia, spawning populations have been documented in three Vancouver Island rivers; and Atlantic salmon have been observed in the Nooksack River; and

    WHEREAS, the goals of tribal, federal, state and local salmon recovery efforts are jeopardized by the negative impacts of commercial marine salmon net pens; and

    WHEREAS, currently there are no commercial marine salmon net pens operating in Whatcom County and other Pacific Northwest locations and precautionary approaches to marine habitat protection are in the region’s best interest; and

     WHEREAS, quality comparisons between farmed Atlantic salmon and naturally-spawning/hatchery Pacific salmon undertaken by prominent chefs in the national restaurant trade have determined in taste tests and cuisine evaluation that the farmed Atlantic is inferior in taste, texture and appearance to our Pacific Northwest salmon species thereby threatening customer appeal for salmon as a dining selection; now

    THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, now that the Whatcom County Council and Pacific Northwest Tribes oppose the establishment of commercial marine farmed Atlantic salmon pens in our region; and

    THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that federal, state and local agencies deny renewal of permits for any Atlantic salmon rearing facilities.



    The foregoing resolution was adopted at the 2002 49th Annual Conference of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, held at the Quinault Beach Resort & Casino in Ocean Shores, Washington on September 19, 2002 with a quorum present.

Ernest L. Stensgar, President                                           Patricia L. Martin, Secretary