Cooke Aquaculture to settle $332K fine for Puget Sound salmon escape

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Settlement agreement reached between the company and the Washington Department of Ecology for collapse of floating fish farm pen near in 2017.

In August 2017, over 250,000 Atlantic salmon escaped into the Puget Sound from Cooke Aquaculture’s Cypress Island facility on the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. state of Washington.

At the time, the company blamed the net pen failure on ‘exceptionally high tides’ coinciding with the solar eclipse and incident sounded death knell for US salmon farming operations. Consequently, Washington state legislature passed a bill to phase out non-native fish farming, starting in 2022.

On Tuesday morning, Cooke Aquaculture Pacific Vice President of Public Relations Joel Richardson wrote the following in a press release:

“Cooke Aquaculture Pacific was not interested in going through the hearing, putting additional stress on our employees, and reliving the regretful events of August 2017. When presented with the opportunity to dedicate 80% of the penalty ($265,600 USD) to a supplemental environmental project, Cooke made the decision to not litigate the penalty amount, and instead dedicate its resources to a project that will directly result in fisheries enhancement in the North Puget Sound region. Cooke is actively working on identifying such a project and partners in enhancing fisheries in North Puget Sound.

“We understand that our relationship with the environment is vital to producing top quality seafood. Cooke Aquaculture Pacific will continue to work with local communities, tribes, and regulators, and we are investing in upgrading operations and equipment. We view this as a significant component of our corporate social responsibility and we are committed to farming sustainably in Washington state as we do in other locations globally.”