New rules for Cooke Aquaculture Puget Sound fish farms

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Salmon farmer mulls new species for sites ahead of 2022’s Atlantic ban.

KUOW reports that the four remaining Atlantic salmon farms in Puget Sound have new water quality permits from the Washington State’s Department of Ecology.

In April, Cooke Aquaculture settled a USD 332K fine for 2017’s salmon escape where 250,000 Atlantic salmon escaped into Puget Sound.

The Washington state legislature voted in 2018 to phase out non-native fish farming in 2022. In response, Cooke is considering farming steelhead and trout in some sites.

“They’ll have to have regular inspections,” said Ecology spokesperson Colleen Keltz to the publication. “They would do underwater video monitoring of all of the net pens.”

“Part of what we’re looking at is making sure we don’t have things like barnacles and mussels and algae building up on those nets, which hurts the structure of the net and could lead to a fish release,” Keltz explained.

Ecology outlined the new rules in release sent out on Thursday, July 11. Cooke applied to renew its water quality permits for one pen near Hope Island in Skagit Bay and three pens in Rich Passage near Bainbridge Island. It is also required to update its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits.

The new water quality permits go into force on August 10. Cooke Aquaculture can appeal the new permits.