Cooke Aquaculture sues Washington over lost permit

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Canadian company Cooke Aquaculture’s business in Washington State has started proceedings to sue the U.S. Department of Natural Resources for “an unlawful attempt to terminate the company’s longstanding lease to operate a salmon farm in Port Angeles,” the company announced Friday.

“Cooke’s lawsuit contends that the decision to terminate the lease, which was made by Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, is not supported by the facts,” a statement said, adding that the surprise December loss of its lease was based on outdated information about the pace of its maintenance at the site.

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The company maintains the State’s investigators knew of the Port Angeles grow-outs condition, when it approved the transfer of the lease to Cooke in 2016 “knowing that the mooring lines extended outside the lease area … without notifying Cooke that this might constitute grounds for termination”. Cooke bought the farm from Icicle Seafoods in 2016 and contends the Department had “no concerns” with the way that company ran the sea farm.

The farm contains 700,000 salmon in 20 net-pens, one of eight Cooke farms in Washington State waters which in total produces 15,000 tonnes of salmon annually, according to documents filed by Cooke’s legal firm, Northwest Resource Law.

The Cooke statement maintained, as the company did in December 2017, that they still hope to meet the State Commissioner over the lease’s annulment.