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July 21, 1997
Contact: Jeff Weathersby, (360) 902-2256

Escaped Atlantic salmon provide fishing opportunity

OLYMPIA -- The escape of 300,000 of Atlantic salmon from a Bainbridge Island salmon farm has created an unusual fishing opportunity for licensed anglers, dip netters and a small number of commercial beach seiners.

There is no size or bag limit on the recreational catch of Atlantic salmon in marine waters although fishers must have a food fish license. Anglers also must observe gear regulations and open salmon fishing areas identified in the 1997 Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet.

Fishers also may take Atlantic salmon in dip nets in part of Marine Area 10 (Seattle-Bremerton). Dip nets may be used west of a line due north from the northern tip of Vashon Island. Dip netters must have food fish licenses. The emergency regulation allowing dip netting in that area is in effect for only 120 days.

Commercial fishers who have beach seine licenses also may take Atlantic salmon in the same area.

While the Department of Fish and Wildlife is concerned about the escape of these Atlantic salmon, there is no evidence that Atlantic salmon pose a threat to Pacific salmon species. There is no evidence Atlantic salmon have successfully reproduced in the Pacific.

The department has opened these Atlantic salmon fisheries to harvest as many of them as possible while ensuring orderly fishing and protection of native species.

Bruce Crawford, who heads the Fish Management Program, said additional legislative safeguards may be necessary to avoid future Atlantic salmon incidents.

Atlantic salmon carry one to three large black spots on their gill covers.