Aquaculture North America

NWAA launches campaign spotlighting damage caused by ending net pen fish farming in Washington

March 22, 2023
By Maryam Farag

The Northwest Aquaculture Alliance (NWAA) has launched a campaign, where Washington fish farming workers, who have grown affordable, high-quality fish in Puget Sound for over 40 years, are speaking out for the first time to expose the pain they and their families have endured as the result of DNR Commissioner Hilary Franz’s decision to ban fish farming in state waters.

“Franz’s blatantly political action last November not only forced fish farmers out of work, but also ended the availability of affordable, nutritious, sustainable, and locally farmed fish for Washington consumers,” said Jeanne McKnight, executive director of NWAA.

In its new grass-roots advocacy campaign, NWAA appeals to Washington citizens, asking them to send a letter to state legislators requesting an examination of Franz’s actions. Click here to watch and share the video:

“This unscientific ban on commercial net pens shows that Hilary Franz is playing politics with your dinner plate—at the expense of hard-working, dedicated people who have made the production of nutritious seafood their life-long career,” said McKnight. “It’s outrageous that Franz ignored multiple peer-reviewed scientific studies proving the ecological safety of farming fish and completely disregarded a unanimous Supreme Court decision affirming the legality of farming native steelhead in our state waters. We are outraged that she completely ignored the multi-year comprehensive study, conducted right here in Puget Sound, that gave rise to the recent biological opinion from NOAA showing no significant adverse impacts on endangered species by fish farms operating in the state. Hilary Franz needs to act like a true leader and explain to our farmers who lost their livelihoods, just what science she used to make this harmful decision. She refuses to do that.”


NWAA believes the Franz decision to ban fish farming in commercial net pens represents egregious government over-reach on the part of a politically ambitious agency head, and in its campaign, NWAA urges the legislature to take back its definitive authority to establish state policy around this critically important issue.

After the last farmed steelhead was harvested in Puget Sound last month, a USDA-funded study revealed the Seattle-Tacoma market has the highest per capita consumption of farmed steelhead of any other metropolitan region in the country. With local fish farmers banned from producing such in-demand fish, Commissioner Franz’s actions will lead to higher prices and less availability of fresh, local, sustainably farmed, affordable fish.

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