Inspection finds corrosion at Cooke Aquaculture salmon pen in Washington

An inspection carried out by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources has revealed structural flaws in salmon fish pens owned by Cooke Aquaculture.

In August, a Cooke pen near Cypress Island, Washington collapsed, allowing the escape of hundreds of thousands of farmed non-native Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound.

A recent inspection of Cooke’s facility at Rich Passage, south of Bainbridge Island, revealed a hole in its nets and corrosion at the facility. Cooke is required to keep its farm in working order under the terms of its lease with the state of Washington, and faults such as those found during the inspection could have an impact on the company’s retention of its aquaculture lease, according to the report produced by the DNR.

The state has notified Cooke of the infractions and has given the company 60 days to correct the failings or face possible cancellation of its lease. 

Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz said that after August’s fish escape, steps had to be taken to ensure that no more fish could escape from a Cooke farm.

“Given the failure of the Cypress Island facility, we have to be extra vigilant in making sure Cooke’s other existing aquaculture facilities are structurally sound,” Franz said. “We cannot tolerate any risk that more Atlantic salmon will be released in Washington’s waters.” 

The news of the inspection comes a week after Cooke announced it will move one million Atlantic salmon hatchlings from their hatchery on the U.S. East Coast to the waters of Washington State. Cooke released a statement last week saying it will continue with the move of the hatchlings and that the company is “meeting all permit requirements.”


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