Aquaculture advocacy group criticizes Washington’s decision to terminate Cooke lease
The Northwest Aquaculture Alliance (NWAA) said in a press release that it was “disappointed” that the Thurston County, Washington, Superior Court has upheld the Department of Natural Resources decision to terminate an aquaculture lease at Port Angeles.
The site was to be used for a joint venture between Cooke Aquaculture and the Jamestown S’Kallam Tribe to raise steelhead trout.
In January, state authorities approved a five-year permit for Cooke to raise sterile, female trout at existing Puget Sound net-pen sites, but the decision was challenged in court by Wild Fish Conservancy, The Center for Biological Diversity, The Center for Food Safety, and Friends of the Earth.
“We are deeply disappointed and saddened that the DNR chose to terminate an aquaculture lease that produces healthy seafood in an area where traditional stocks are in trouble, while also creating family-wage jobs in rural areas where they are desperately needed,” NWAA President John Dentler said. “Commissioner [of Public Lands] Hilary Franz often talks about using her authority to leverage our natural resources to produce jobs in rural areas, but sadly, her actions depart from her promises. This is a case where DNR could have chosen to work with the joint venture partners, CAP and the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, to ensure that DNR’s current and future conditions were fully met – but chose not to do so.”
Dentler said that he believes the DNR could have coordinated terms of the lease with Cooke to ensure that the conditions set by the department were met.
“In an era where other U.S. states such as Maine, Hawaii, Florida, and even Michigan are fully developing their aquaculture potential, we find it puzzling that this resource and people-rich state has decided not to follow such a path,” Dentler said.
The Northwest Aquaculture Alliance describes itself as an organization committed to making aquaculture work in the U.S. Pacific Northwest.
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