Cooke Aquaculture said it could take legal action under NAFTA if the Washington legislature approves a bill banning Atlantic salmon farming.

Cooke Aquaculture's Vice President of Public Relations, Joel Richardson, said company officials testified in Olympia earlier this week.

"We think that we have really tried to do everything that we can and we will continue to do everything that we can," Richardson said. "All we can ask is that state legislators and the people of Washington give us the opportunity to show what we have done already all around the world in other locations."

Senate Bill 6086 aims to protect the state's marine waters from the release of non-native finfish from marine finfish aquaculture sites. It passed through the state Senate and is in the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.

In August 2017, tens of thousands of Atlantic salmon escaped Cooke Aquaculture's Cypress Island net pen after the structure collapsed.

'We have spent literally millions and millions of dollars since that situation happened this summer," Richardson said. "We have done everything from cleanup of the bed of the floor in the sea, underneath that particular pen. We have worked with the tribes to collect salmons. We have worked with environmental monitoring consultants to help us. We have pretty much done everything we can think we can do to try and remediate that particular location."

As far as possible legal action Cooke Aquaculture could take if the SB 6086 becomes law, Richardson said, "We may need to move towards taking an arbitrated action, a dispute under chapter 11 of NAFTA. We feel at this time, that's a really strong option for us. We have been told by state legislators and they have testified that this foreign company doesn't belong in this state, and we disagree with that.'

SB 6086 will have a public hearing there on Thursday, February 22nd at 1:30pm.