Puget Sound was the scene of a protest flotilla on Saturday, Sept. 16. Well timed as a response to the Aug. 19 catastrophic collapse of an Atlantic salmon net pen in Washington state waters, the organizers said the protest was actually planned before last month’s spill.

The flotilla, which steamed around a (working) Cooke Aquaculture pen, was organized to decry three decades of salmon farming in Puget Sound, but it gained much more attention following the Cooke Aquaculture net pen disaster.

Hundreds of protesters on dozens of boats met at Fort Ward Park on Bainbridge Island and streamed into Rich Passage to show solidarity on seiners, skiffs, gillnetters, tenders, sailboats, charter boats and a variety of personal watercraft, complete with inflatable salmon, orca and protest signs. A drone video from Sam George captured the huge block red letters reading Protect Our Sound.


“For years, people have been baffled by the fact that Washington state chose to actively promote an industry that so directly contradicts the values of Washingtonians and so clearly harms the natural health and character of our home,” says a statement on the Our Sound, Our Salmon Facebook page. “In the past, we've seen massive viral outbreaks, large escape events, and a relentless disregard for the needs of wild salmon recovery in the Northwest.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee ordered the Department of Ecology to put on hold any new mariculture permits, including salmon farm net pens, in the days following the spill.

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Jessica Hathaway is the former editor in chief of National Fisherman.

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