State finds structural flaws in Cooke net pens off Bainbridge


BAINBRIDGE ISLAND – Cooke Aquaculture's Atlantic salmon net pens in Rich Passage have structural flaws, a state-commissioned inspection has found.

As a result, the state Department of Natural Resources, which leases the waters the company uses to farm the salmon, has issued the Cooke Aquaculture a default letter, notifying the company that it has 60 days to repair the problems or face a lease termination.

According to the letter issued Monday, the inspection found a square-foot hole in one of the structure's nets, as well as "severe" corrosion on railings, supports and walkways at the Rich Passage site.

DNR commissioned the inspection following the failure earlier this summer of Cooke's Atlantic salmon growing operation at Cypress Island, which housed 305,000 fish. Following the collapse, about half of the fish escaped into Puget Sound, DNR estimates.

“Given the failure of the Cypress Island facility, we have to be extra vigilant in making sure Cooke’s other existing aquaculture facilities are structurally sound,” Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, who leads DNR, said in a statement. “We cannot tolerate any risk that more Atlantic salmon will be released in Washington’s waters.”

Last week, state officials announced that the state had issued the company a permit to move a million juvenile fish to Rich Passage and said they lacked the authority to block the move. It's unclear how the inspection findings will affect those plans.

This story will be updated.

Copyright 2017 Kitsap Sun


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