Cooke destroys 800,000 Atlantic salmon

Published on
December 20, 2018

After a test required by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife showed that 800,000 of its juvenile farmed Atlantic salmon carried a strain of piscine orthoreovirus (PRV), Cooke Aquaculture Pacific destroyed the fish, according to the Seattle Times.

This is the second time the Canada-based company has had to destroy PRV-infected fish, the last time being in May 2017. The strain of PRV is the same that was found at the Icelandic hatchery where Cooke sources its Atlantic salmon eggs. 

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife considers the illness to be a threat to native salmon and other marine life and, in keeping with its agreement with the state in its permit to operate in Thurston Country, Washington, the aquaculture company was forced to destroy the fish. 

The juvenile fish had been in quarantine before they were destroyed and the water in which they lived at the hatchery was disinfected before its discharge.

“[Cooke is] complying with the terms of the permit, and we are protecting Puget Sound from this exotic strain,” Amy Windrope, a director for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said. 

Washington State Director of Fish Health Ken Warheit said that the state has not yet tested Cooke’s adult salmon for the virus, although a test may take place in the spring. 

Cooke Aquaculture did not comment on the incident. 

An August 2017 escape of more than 250,000 farmed Atlantic salmon at a Cooke Aquaculture farm in Cypress Island, Washington due to inadequate net maintenance was a catalyst for the state to phase out net-pen farming of Atlantic salmon by 2025. 

Reporting from Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.

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