The campaigners claim that the decision by the state's Department of Natural Resources Commissioner, Hilary Franz, to end an industry that has been providing food and jobs in the state for 40 years is “unilateral and unscientific”.
“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 the Northwest Aquaculture Alliance (NWAA), the organisation behind the campaign.
In its new www.stophilaryfranz.com 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.
“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,” McKnight said. “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,” McKnight said.
“As the video reveals, Washington fish farm workers first learned about the Franz decision from a news story. This is unconscionable. This is NOT the kind of transparent leadership we should expect from our elected public servants.” McKnight said.
“We applaud these dedicated farm workers for making a public appeal, and on their behalf, we are pleading with Governor Jay Inslee and the Washington state Legislature to take a closer look at the devastating consequences of the Franz decision by hearing directly from the farmers who lost their livelihoods with no warning. It is important to question whether this unilateral decision runs counter to the letter and spirit of Washington law,” she added.
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. NWAA points out that “Commissioner Franz’s actions will lead to higher prices and less availability of fresh, local, sustainably farmed, affordable fish”.