Cooke cites “misunderstanding” in Washington license loss

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Canadian Producer Cooke Aquaculture’s U.S. business said the U.S. Department of Natural Resources’ termination of its Port Angeles lease came as a surprise to the company and was “likely the result of miscommunication with DNR”.

“Prior to receipt of the Dec. 15 termination notice, Cooke Aquaculture Pacific had already addressed and completed – or was addressing – each of the inspection items cited by the Department of Natural Resources as the basis for its decision to terminate the Port Angeles lease, Joel Richardson, VP of public relations for Cooke Aquaculture, said in a statement sen to SalmonBusiness Monday.

“We do not believe DNR understood that we were aware of and in the process of addressing these items and we do not believe the facts support DNR’s decision to terminate the lease,” the statement said, adding that “preventative mooring work had been under way to replace any worn equipment as part of our ongoing inspection and maintenance schedule; prior to the default notice being received, we had already completed replacing anchors and removing line components. Replacement anchors were already in place before we received DNR’s December 15 default and termination notice.”

His statement said a single metal plate to encapsulate a Styrofoam float — cited as a reason for termination by Washington authorities — had been scheduled.

“DNR has known about the location of the anchors outside the lease area for close to twenty years, and raised the issue to us for the first time in November, after which we proposed a solution to the department but have yet to receive a response,” the statement continued, adding that Cooke hoped to speak to the Department to show “the work completed” and “enhancements scheduled”.

“DNR has acted punitively without fully understanding the facts or reaching out to us for constructive dialogue,” Richardson said.

“This farm has operated safely for more than three decades, providing working-wage jobs to Clallam County, and revenue to the state that is used for enhancement of state-owned aquatic lands. We will use all means at our disposal to protect our ability to continue to operate at this farm site and to maintain these jobs.”