Tsartlip chief says band member caught first Atlantic salmon in Saanich Inlet

That's a long way from Cypress Island, where a large number of Atlantic salmon escaped

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      People who make their livelihood from fishing for B.C. wild salmon have been alarmed by news reports of a massive escape of farmed fish in nearby Washington state.

      Now, they have one more thing to be worry about.

      The chief of the Tsartlip First Nation, Don Tom, has tweeted that a member of his band has caught the first Atlantic salmon found in Saanich Inlet.

      Earlier this month, a fish farm enclosure with 305,000 Atlantic salmon ruptured southwest of Bellingham.

      It's still uncertain how many got away, but it's clearly a large number.

      Washington state officials urged people to catch as many of the 10-pound Atlantic salmon as possible to protect wild species.

      "The escapement of Atlantic salmon poses threats of competition to native juvenile and adult salmon and steelhead," Wild Fish Conservancy fisheries scientist Nick Gayeski said in a news release. "The escaped fish still need to feed and thus are likely to compete with native juvenile Pacific salmon and steelhead, including preying on them."

      If any of those Atlantic salmon have made it up to Saanich Inlet, it would show that they can travel a tremendous distance in a relatively short period of time.

      This map shows that Saanich Inlet's northernmost point is just east of Sidney, B.C.

      The company that owned the fish farm, Cooke Aquaculture, has applied to develop another operation in Port Angeles. That's just across Juan de Fuca Strait from Victoria.

      In the meantime, Washington governor Jay Insley has decreed that no new permits will be granted to fish farms pending the outcome of an investigation into the recent escape from Cooke's operation near Cypress Island.

      The fish escaped from Cooke Aquaculture's operation near Cypress Island on the right side of this map.