Submitted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has authorized Cooke Aquaculture to transport about 800,000 juvenile Atlantic salmon from the company’s hatchery in Rochester, Washington, to existing net-pen facilities in Puget Sound.
WDFW issued the fish transport permit this week after working to ensure Cooke had met all of the state’s requirements for fish health.
Earlier this year, state lawmakers passed legislation to phase out Atlantic salmon net pen operations in Puget Sound as soon as 2022. Cooke is continuing its operations in the meantime.
On Aug. 2, Cooke submitted applications to move a total of 800,000 1-year-old Atlantic salmon from its Scatter Creek facility in Rochester to two different net pen locations in Puget Sound.
Both WDFW and Cooke tested samples of the fish, which met the state’s health requirements, including testing negative for all forms of the fish virus PRV (piscine orthoreovirus), said Ken Warheit, WDFW’s fish health manager.
Cooke typically transports fish eggs from an Iceland facility to Scatter Creek, where the eggs grow into smolts before being moved to net pens. In May, an exotic strain of PRV that shows up in North Atlantic waters was detected in a different batch of smolts at Cooke’s Scatter Creek facility. WDFW denied the company’s request to transfer those fish into net pens.
The state also requires that Cooke leave its net pens empty (or “fallow”) for at least 30 days before transferring fish there.
Warheit noted that Cooke will also meet this requirement as it transfers fish in October and November.
Cooke will move about 400,000 juvenile Atlantic salmon to its Cooke’s Hope Island facility in Skagit Bay and another 400,000 fish to its Orchard Rocks facility Kitsap County in Rich Passage.
All future notifications about Atlantic salmon transfer permits will be posted online at wdfw.wa.gov/ais/salmo_salar/ where people will be able to sign up for email notifications in the near future.