Defiant Cooke loses Washington permit

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Department of Natural Resources terminates Cooke’s Port Angeles license, says judgement coming for Cypress Island

The State of Washington has announced that they have ended Cooke Aquaculture’s lease for its Port Angeles salmon farm, citing the loss of 160,000 Atlantic salmon when its grow-outs collapsed into the Pacific Ocean.

Washington’s Commissioner of Public Lands, Hilary Franz, took to Twitter to make the announcement: “Cooke has been violating the lease terms for its Port Angeles net pens. In light of this, and in fulfillment of my commitment to protect our lands and waters, I am terminating the lease,” she tweeted.

The State said the termination for integrity failures of Cooke’s lease at Port Angeles is unrelated to the Cypress Island farm collapse in August 2017.

Grim aftermath: Cypress Island reduced to flotsam

Cooke VP Joel Richardson told KUOW.org that the company would use “all means at our disposal to protect our ability to continue to operate at this farm site”. The farm that collapsed was one of four the company has offshore Washington.

Inherited problem
An investigation by Washington’s Department of Natural Resources in early December revealed the Canadian company’s collapsed salmon farm had two “disconnected” anchor chains and one with an “open link” that threatened collapse. The farm might have had up to 24 anchor chains.

“Replacement anchors were already in place before we received DNR’s December 15 default and termination notice,” Richardson told the news outlet.

The State’s acting deputy supervisor for aquatics, geology and IT said Cooke took over a year to close-in Styrofoam that stabilized a concrete float and to bring its moorings back within its assigned lease area. Richardson confirmed the state had known about the moorings since before it bought the farm from Seattle-based Icicle Seafoods.

Wind-up
The Department had granted Icicle Acquisition Subsidiary a lease for the Port Angeles site in October 2015, when the State said it “questioned whether the net pens were operating outside of the leasehold.”

“Per the terms of the lease, Icicle agreed to ensure that its net pens were fully within the allowed location by October 1, 2016. Cooke assumed this lease when it purchased Icicle in May 2016,” the State said.

The fate of an unknown number of salmon at Port Angeles is uncertain, although SalmonBusiness has sought comment from Cooke on the weekend story and will update should events warrant.

“(The Department) will work with Cooke to wind up its operations at the site,” an official communique said, ominously, adding that Cooke could expect judgement on its Cypress Island lease in mid-January 2018.

Read Cooke cites misunderstanding in Washington license loss