Published on:

Cooke Aquaculture Pacific Drops Appeal

Atlantic_Salmon-300x200Cooke Aquaculture Pacific has decided to withdraw its appeal against the cancelation of its net pen leases at Rich Passage and Hope Island. The move was announced by Washington state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on March 15th, 2024.

Hilary Franz, the Washington Commissioner of Public Lands, announced the dismissal of the appeal, emphasizing that state residents should mark this day as the definitive conclusion to hazardous and harmful net pens in the region.

“Cooke Aquaculture has finally realized that its fight to continue to put our waters and salmon at risk was futile. And as the courtroom battles and corporate tantrums fade away, we’re left with a Washington with cleaner waters, stronger habitats, and healthier salmon,” Franz said.

This marked the conclusion of an issue which began on August 19, 2017, with the escape of 300,000 Atlantic salmon due to a collapsed net pen at the Cooke Aquaculture facility near Cypress Island, Washington. In response, the Department of Natural Resources revoked the lease and imposed a fine of $332,000. Cooke was also found to be negligent by the Washington Department of Ecology.

In 2022, Franz issued a commissioner’s decree banning the practice of commercial net pen aquaculture on state-owned aquatic lands, saying “there is no way to safely farm fish in open sea net pens without jeopardizing our struggling native salmon.”

In May 2023, Cooke was mandated to remove the final pen from Washington waters in Rich Passage, and by early 2024, the Department of Natural Resources initiated formal proceedings to prohibit finfish net pen aquaculture in Washington state.

Franz stated that the measures implemented by the Department of Natural Resources have garnered support from various stakeholders, including the Suquamish Tribe, Lummi Nation, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, and Samish Indian Nation, as well as local wildlife organizations, affected communities, and the general public.

Over the years, Stacey and Jacobsen, PLLC has reported on the various issues surrounding finfish net pen aquaculture. Readers can learn more about a deadly boating accident caused by an unlit net pen as well as the escape of at least 300,000 Atlantic salmon into the Salish Sea at Aquaculture News.

Contact Information