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Wild Fish Conservancy Sues Cooke Aquaculture Over CWA Violations Related to its Atlantic Salmon Farming Facilities in Puget Sound

November 27, 2017

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On behalf of Wild Fish Conservancy, on Monday, November 13th, Earthrise filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Washington against Cooke Aquaculture for Clean Water Act violations related to the near-complete structural failure of its Atlantic salmon farming facility in Deepwater Bay off of Cypress Island in late August. The incident released approximately 160,000 farmed Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound, among other pollutants. The facility that collapsed is one of eight Atlantic salmon net pen facilities that Cooke owns and operates in Puget Sound. 

According to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, escaped Atlantic salmon have been found from southern Puget Sound all the way up to northern Vancouver Island. While Cooke initially blamed the collapse on unusually high tide swings generated by the eclipse, it has since retreated from that claim, which was unsupported by tide data. In early October, Washington’s Department of Natural Resources inspected one of Cooke’s other Atlantic salmon facilities in Puget Sound, and concluded that Cooke was failing to maintain its facility in good working order and repair under the terms of its lease.

“The August release in Deepwater Bay is not an isolated incident. Rather, the escape represents yet another act of negligence in a long line of transgressions on the part of the Atlantic salmon net pen industry in Puget Sound, including three major escape events in the 1990’s and a deadly disease outbreak in 2012,” said Kurt Beardslee, Executive Director of Wild Fish Conservancy.

The incident has triggered a massive public outcry, and Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island) says he will file a bill to end Atlantic salmon farming in Washington State

Earthrise Legal Fellow Doug DeRoy and Senior Attorney Kevin Cassidy are working on this case alongside co-counsel Brian Knutsen and Paul Kampmeier of Kampmeier & Knutsen, PLLC.

Click here to read the Complaint

Click here to read Wild Fish Conservancy’s Press Release

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