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No Atlantic salmon released from sinking Cooke Aquaculture pen

A portion of a salmon pen began sinking near Bainbridge Island, bringing to mind the 2017 incident where 250,000 invasive salmon were released into Puget Sound.

PORT ANGELES, Wash. — Editor's note: The above video is from a 2017 story regarding the state canceling Cooke Aquaculture's fish farms lease in Port Angeles.

The Washington State Department of Ecology said no Atlantic salmon were released into the waters near Bainbridge Island when a Cooke Aquaculture pen with the fish started to sink.

On Sunday, a pen owned by Cooke Aquaculture started to sink near Fort Ward Park. 

The Department of Ecology said the salmon were not in the sinking portion of the pen, so they did not escape into Washington waters. 

Divers found a dime-sized hole in one of the pontoons that were sinking. 

"A small hole was identified in one bulkheaded pontoon on the Southeast portion of the Orchard Rocks net pen and we completed the necessary welding repairs immediately today. We will also have an engineer onsite tomorrow to assess the welding repair and pontoon. There were no fish in the corner section of the pen where the pontoon required repair," said a Cooke Aquaculture representative in a statement. 

A crane was brought in to keep the sinking part of the pen from going under. 

Crews are currently working on fixing the pontoon and it is expected to be fixed by Tuesday night. 

No word what caused the hole in the pen at the Bainbridge Island location.

Initial reports of the sinking caused a stir among conservation groups. 

In 2017, a damaged pen from Cooke Aquaculture caused 250,000 non-native Atlantic salmon to be released into the Salish Sea.

RELATED: Lummi Nation declares state of emergency after salmon spill

A report that found Cooke violated its water quality permit leading up to and during the net pen collapse near Cypress Island. 

“This investigation confirms Cooke Aquaculture was negligent in operating its net pen,” Ecology Director Maia Bellon said in a statement in 2017. “What’s even worse is that Cooke absolutely could have – and should have – prevented this incident.”

Cooke agreed to pay a $332,000 fine for the negligent release of the salmon. 

As a result of the release and investigation, Washington state’s Commissioner of Public Lands terminated Cooke Aquaculture’s lease at the company’s Cypress Island net pen facility. 

RELATED: Cooke Aquaculture agrees to pay $332,000 fine after net pen failure