It’s been a nightmarish year for Washington State’s only active Atlantic salmon farming company — Canada’s Cooke Aquaculture Inc.
On Tuesday, a Cooke subsidiary was found responsible for an August 2017 fish farm mishap that released up to 263,000 Atlantic Salmon into Washington’s Puget Sound — in addition to misleading the public and regulators about the cause, and lowballing the number of fish that escaped.
Those were the key findings of an investigation led by Washington’s Department of Ecology, Department of Fish and Wildlife and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) — which started last fall after a net pen near Cypress Island in Puget Sound (about 50 km east of Victoria) broke up on August 19.
“The collapse was not the result of natural causes,” said Hilary Franz, commissioner of public lands at a press conference Tuesday. “Cooke’s disregard caused this disaster and recklessly put our state’s aquatic ecosystem at risk.”