Cypress Island Atlantic salmon pen break: Track the response and recovery effort on the joint-agency page.

Net Pen Aquaculture

Net pen finfish aquaculture is the practice of raising fish in an underwater net that serves as a pen; hence the term, “net pen”.

This is a historic, water-dependent use of Washington’s shorelines. Two main types of net pen aquaculture exist in Washington – commercial pens containing Atlantic salmon raised for market, and enhancement pens raising native salmon for release into the wild and eventual tribal, recreational, and commercial catch.

Policies and regulations

On behalf of the people of Washington, Ecology has a policy and regulatory role in net pen aquaculture. Ecology works with a variety of local, state and federal agencies to manage this shoreline use and ensure that net pens do not put Pacific salmon recovery at risk.

Commercial pens are currently subject to state and federal permits and are required to mitigate and monitor for environmental impacts. Local governments also may use shoreline master programs to require permits, mitigation and monitoring.

Science leads the way

Ecology relies on science and research to guide our policies. Commercial net pens have greatly improved in the last 20 years and have become increasingly regulated. Many historic concerns have been substantially addressed by the industry and regulations. Ecology will continue to monitor the science and other information and adjust our policies as needed.

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Shellfish Safety Hotline (Washington State Department of Health)

Shellfish Aquaculture Debris Hotline (Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association)

WA Shellfish Initiative(PDF)

Shellfish Interagency Permitting Team Results

Governor's Office for Regulatory Innovation & Assistance