As reported previously on this blog, the failure of a net pen structure near Cypress Island, Washington, in August 2017, resulting in the escape of more than 100,000 salmon into Puget Sound, led to calls by members of the Washington State legislature to ban Atlantic salmon net pen farming. Canadian-based Cooke Aquaculture owns the net pen structure that failed.
On December 17, Hilary Franz, Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands, announced the termination of Cooke Aquaculture Pacific’s Port Angeles net pen lease. An inspection of the net pen operation at Port Angeles earlier in the month by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) determined that:
Cooke’s had net pens outside of the leasehold,
Two of the net pens’ anchor chains were not connected, and
Styrofoam from the net pen was leaching into the environment.
The termination of the Port Angeles lease came as a surprise to Cooke, according to the Seattle Times. The farm at Port Angeles currently holds nearly 700,000 Atlantic salmon.
DNR is still investigating the circumstances of the failure of Cooke’s net pen operation at Cypress Island, which is operated under a separate lease agreement. The investigation is expected to be completed in January 2018. Once it is complete, Commissioner Franz will assess DNR’s full range of options under its lease with Cooke for the Cypress Island net pens.