Human travelers have I-5 and I-90. Salish Sea salmon have the Juan de Fuca Strait.

 

It’s the route that they all swim on their way to and from the wide Pacific — the salmon from the Elwha and all the rivers of Puget Sound, plus many salmon returning to Canada’s Fraser River, which are the main local food source for Puget Sound orcas and have always formed the bulk of Puget Sound’s commercial catch.

Now, Icicle Seafoods — recently acquired by Canada’s Cooke Seafood — wants to raise Atlantic salmon in 9.7 acres of salmon net pens in the strait, just east of Port Angeles.

Although it has its critics, salmon aquaculture isn’t new in Puget Sound — and certainly not elsewhere. British Columbia aquaculture produces salmon worth nearly half a billion (Canadian) dollars a year. And B.C. is a minnow compared to the salmon-raising industries of Norway (where salmon aquaculture is booming) and Chile (where it’s not.)

Icicle already has eight salmon aquaculture operations in the Sound, including one at Port Angeles tucked in behind Ediz Hook. The company’s plan for putting pens out in the Strait has been driven by U.S. Navy plans to expand its base on Ediz Hook, which won’t physically displace the existing pens but will ruin the neighborhood for salmon. Pile driving for the Navy project, scheduled to begin late this year, would actually kill salmon in nearby pens. Icicle has decided to move its operation.

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