The Department of Fish and Wildlife in Washington state approved the permit, despite one of the largest fish-farm escapes in history having taken place from a Cooke facility.
On August 19 more than 100,000 fish escaped from Cooke’s pen at Cypress Island in the San Juan Islands.
No new permits are to be given during the investigation of the incident.
“However current laws and administrative rules do not give state regulators the authority to deny Cooke’s permit to move healthy fish into an existing net pen,” the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) stated in a Tuesday news release according to the Seattle Times.
Tim Ballew II, chairman of the Lummi Indian Business Council, said he was saddened by the decision.
“We should be putting our efforts into finding those fish that escaped rather than putting in 1 million more.”
He also said that the state did not adequately consult the tribes before issuing the permit.
Lawyers representing Cooke wrote that the permit is “not a permit for any new operation, but rather a routine permit to transfer fish from the hatchery to grow-out pens.”