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  • We rowed by the salmon pens yesterday along the western side of Black Island.

    Last week the big silver fish leaped in sparkling flurries as we passed. Each one as long as my arm. Each pen held tens of thousands of 20-24 pound fish roiling the water, all going nowhere. But yesterday the mesh covering was pulled back from many of the pens. Here and there a huge fish leapt heavily into the air and splashed back. The rusting barge and scow stood idle and only one pen had its feed sprinkler spinning, broadcasting pellets of ground fishmeal and corn. The salmon spend 2-3 years in the pens and this was harvest year.

    98% of the fish in the long lines of house lot sized pens had been hauled up to Canada for processing. In a week or so they’ll be back plastic wrapped as steaks in styrofoam trays.

    But 2% don’t get rounded up. The loners stay on. It isn’t economically practical to go after them. But this is no divine dispensation. The pen can’t be opened to let them go. It has been years if not generations since wild salmon swept through this channel but there is a strict separation of the gene pools. Freedom isn’t an option.

    They are on their own and they’re hungry.

    You know Ben, said GG the other day. You ought to take a hook and line and fish the pens. The guys are done at 5:00. They have cameras set up to watch for boats but they’d never see you row out there.

    At the edge of dark, walking up the hill, it’s easy to imagine that the dark silhouettes of the spruce clad islands are immortal. So easy to think that the ocean is so vast we do not make our mark on it.
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