WFGA to Governor, "Veto salmon farming ban!"



March 7, 2018

Governor Jay Inslee
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 40002
Olympia, Washington 98504-0002

Re: HB 2957

Dear Governor Inslee:

On behalf of all of the members of the Washington Fish Growers Association (WFGA), I urge you to veto HB 2957 when it reaches your desk.

WFGA represents all sectors of our state’s multi-million-dollar finfish industry. Our members include all aspects of the seafood value chain: producers,feed suppliers, technology businesses, manufacturers of sonar equipment and underwater cameras and acoustic sensors, egg producers, net system manufacturers, transportation and distribution companies, vaccine manufacturers, fish health specialists, and seafood processors from around the state.

We estimate that there are 180 direct jobs employed through Atlantic salmon farming in the state, as well as another 424 jobs that our industry supports indirectly. These are family-wage jobs that we fear will be lost if you sign HB 2957 into law.

Equally important, we fear that this ill-conceived legislation, whose very premise runs counter to science, will have a chilling effect on future business opportunities in this sector in Washington.

You are known to be a strong believer in science. As such, we urge you to use your veto powers to prevent HB 2957 from becoming law until such time as a more science-based framework can be established. In the days leading up to the final debate on the Senate floor, WFGA received unprecedented support from many of the world’s leading fisheries scientists—whose illustrious careers included leadership positions at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center, the Manchester Research Laboratory, Battelle-PNNW, the Northwest and Alaska Fisheries Science Center—expressing alarm over the legislation, which they viewed as based on myth rather than peer-reviewed, evidence-based scientific fact.

Because of the pressures to “do something” this session, we firmly believe the legislature in fact did great harm—to our state’s reputation as a place to do business, and to a Canadian company that sought to go above and beyond to make reparation for an unfortunate accident this past August.

We are greatly dismayed by the Senate’s failure to pass a compromise amendment that would allay the fears of those concerned over escapes by requiring aquaculture operators who choose to raise Atlantics to adopt new technology that results in using only single-sex fish in grow-out pens. We also wonder why many other amendments were voted down—in particular, the amendment establishing a Task Force to study this contentious issue more thoroughly.

We look forward to answering any questions that you might have.

Senator Dan Swecker (retired)
Executive Director