Washington state to cancel Cooke Atlantic salmon farm lease
2017-12-29 18:47:19   copyfrom:    hits:

Cooke salmon farm facilities (Photo: Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency)UNITED STATESMonday, December 18, 2017,23:0
 

Cooke salmon farm facilities. (Photo: Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency)

 

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Monday, December 18, 2017, 23:00 (GMT + 9)

 

Washington state officials have cancelled the lease of a Port Angeles salmon farm belonging to Cooke Aquaculture, from which more than 160,000 adult Atlantic salmon escaped last summer. The farm will have to stop operating for being considered “unsafe and illegal.”

The cancellation procedure was performed by state commissioner of public lands Hilary Franz, who explained the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would work with other state agencies to enforce an orderly shutdown and complete removal of the farm.

“There is no room for negotiation. The farm, which comprises one large pen with 14 cages and a smaller pen with six cages, is outside the boundaries of its lease with the department and causing a navigation hazard,” Franz pointed out as informed by The Seattle Times.

The official claimed that the inspections carried out in early December revealed that the farm is polluting the water with fragments of Styrofoam crumbling off its floats and that anchor lines for the farm that are missing or damaged pose a risk of collapse and fish escape.

Apart from the dangers, unauthorized placement of the farm was discovered as part of the ongoing inspections she had ordered for all of Cooke’s Washington fish farms following the Cypress Island escape.

From the firm, Joel Richardson, vice president, in charge of public relations, stressed the firm had received a notice from the Department of Natural Resources and that they are evaluating their request.

“This came as a surprise given the extensive improvements we have been undertaking to the site to ensure compliance, and our efforts to work with DNR to address self-identified issues in a cooperative manner,” said Richardson.

The farm, operated by a series of owners since 1984, currently holding nearly 700,000 Atlantic salmon.

Cooke’s future in Washington, where it runs eight Atlantic salmon fish farms in four locations, is up for debate during the upcoming legislative session.

Two GOP lawmakers have introduced legislation to terminate all of Cooke’s leases with emergency legislation that would take effect with the governor’s signature. A Democratic lawmaker also has proposed terminating all of the company’s leases as they run out; the last lease expires in 2025, CBC News reported.

Franz said that as long as the company continues to operate on DNR lands, it will be expected to maintain its farms in a clean and safe manner.

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