Lawsuits filed over Cooke Puget Sound salmon escape

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Atlantic salmon escaped into Puget Sound last August appear to be gone, but environmentalists file suit.

The most recent report of a farmed Atlantic salmon being caught was Oct. 25, in a gillnet near Port Madison. But the legal consequences of the escape are just starting, with a legislative work session on the net-pen collapse, and the first lawsuit filed against Cooke on Monday, reports the Seattle Times.

Wild Fish Conservancy filed a citizen suit against Cooke under the Clean Water Act alleging the company was negligent in releasing the farmed Atlantic salmon into public waters.

Cooke Aquaculture’s Atlantic salmon fish farm off Cypress Island failed last August, releasing roughly 100,000 fish into Puget Sound. All Western Washington treaty tribes have since called for a ban on net-pen aquaculture of Atlantic salmon to protect native stocks.

Cooke has apologized for the escape, and called it ‘primarily a business loss.’

Cooke has accounted for 200,927 fish, including 145,851 fish recovered from the damaged structure, and 49,892 fish recovered through the company’s fish buy back program, with significant help from several Coast Salish tribal communities. Cooke has also made financial offers to Coast Salish tribes in excess of $1.5 million for their recovery assistance efforts.

Read also: Cooke begins massive clean-up after fish farm collapse