May 23, 2023–Today, a handful of supporters of Public Lands Commissioner-turned-Gubernatorial candidate, Hilary Franz, gathered on Bainbridge Island to “Celebrate the Removal of Puget Sound’s net pens” alongside the 501c3 nonprofit organization, the Wild Fish Conservancy (WFC).
The Northwest Aquaculture Alliance (NWAA), which represents aquaculture producers and support businesses in the Pacific Region of Hawaii, Oregon, Idaho, Washington, and Alaska, finds it shameful and appalling that a candidate for a high office in this state would choose to “celebrate” both the loss of an industry and people’s livelihoods. We also question the propriety of a government official’s working hand-in-hand with a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that, by law, is not allowed to lobby the government.
While Gubernatorial candidate Franz and supporters “celebrate” the destruction of a sustainable industry in Puget Sound, the people who lost their jobs over the Franz decision to suddenly ban commercial marine aquaculture in state waters—as she did last November—mourn the loss of their jobs, their careers caring for and raising beautiful, high quality, nutritious fish. And, sadly, consumers have lost as well and will pay for the loss of locally produced fish by paying higher prices at the fish counter.
The NWAA has gone on record challenging the “science” used by Commissioner Franz in terminating net pen aquaculture in this state, given that an enormous body of peer-reviewed scientific research, including a multi-year study by the nation’s highest science agency, NOAA, along with a state Supreme Court decision, exists to show that fish farm operations in this sate were not harming native species, including wild salmon.
Furthermore, despite a concerted attempt by DNR to keep NWAA out of the litigation, NWAA is now a party to the lawsuit against DNR and Commissioner Franz that the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe filed last December 2022, challenging the Commissioner’s authority to ban marine aquaculture.