Gov. Jay Inslee and Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz today responded to Cooke Aquaculture’s plan to transfer 1 million Atlantic salmon smolts from Rochester to an existing net pen in the Puget Sound.
“We are very concerned about Cooke Aquaculture’s plan to transfer up to 1 million Atlantic salmon smolts to a net pen in Clam Bay across from Bainbridge Island. This is disappointing and frustrating, coming on the heels of the August collapse of Cooke’s net pen near Cypress Island that held 305,000 fish," Inslee said.
“While both Commissioner Franz and I have directed our respective state agencies not to issue permits or leases for any new net pens until we can review the results of the Cypress Island investigation, the Department of Fish and Wildlife does not have the means, based on current state law and regulatory rules, to prohibit the transfer into an existing pen. My office has asked Cooke to do the right thing – for our tribes, for our citizens, for our environment and for the industry’s long-term prospects – and withdraw their request."
"Though we cannot stop the transfer of these fish, the three agencies had the pens inspected by a licensed structural engineer to identify any deficiencies in the net pen structures at the Rich Passage facility. The Department of Ecology inspected the Clam Bay facility and did not find violations of the current water quality permit, but Ecology also requested that Cooke not move forward with its plans. We've had DNR staff on hand for that inspection, and we will continue to maintain a presence at the facilities," said Commissioner Franz.
”DNR will also be conducting inspections by a licensed structural engineer at all of Cooke's operations in Washington while the investigation into the Cypress Island incident is ongoing. The broad public outcry surrounding this net pen failure is understandable. So is the lack of confidence in how Cooke responded to the emergency, the recovery of fish and the management of future operations the company may pursue here in our waters.”
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife press release on the transfer.