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Lummi chairman calls bribery attempt ‘insulting and preposterous’

(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

The company that owns the fish pens where thousands of Atlantic salmon escaped this summer is being accused of trying to buy the silence of the Lummi Nation by offering the tribe $42 for every Atlantic salmon it caught, as long as the tribe kept quiet about the incident.

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Lummi Tribal Chairman Tim Ballew II says the tribe has taken in 90 percent of the salmon that have been removed from our waters and, in the process, has strained it’s financial resources. But when they asked for some kind of compensation from Cooke Aquaculture, their offer came with conditions that the tribe remain silent about the issue.

“They were pretty blunt in asking for our silence in relation to this issue,” he told KIRO Radio.

Ballew says that condition was “insulting and preposterous,” and the tribe told the company it would not be “muzzled for any amount of money.” He says he hopes some kind of compensation will be arranged for his tribe, but the tribe will continue to capture the fish and protect the iconic salmon for generations to come.

“The Pacific salmon is a defining resource for our area,” Ballew said. “That’s our goal, making sure we have a way of life to pass on to future generations.”

Despite the unintentional release of thousands of farmed salmon into our waterways, Cooke Aquaculture received a permit to transport 1 million juvenile Atlantic salmon from its hatchery to net pens off Bainbridge Island. Gov. Jay Inslee expressed his concern, asking the company to withdraw the request.

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