Washington state officials have canceled the lease of a Port Angeles salmon farm where more than 160,000 adult Atlantic salmon escaped from another farm the Puget Sound last summer.
Public Lands State Commissioner Hilary Franz says the decision is final with no room for negotiation.
"My duty to the people of Washington is to protect our state lands and waters, while also generating revenue for schools, essential services, and restoration of natural areas like Puget Sound," Franz said in a statement. "After the collapse of Cooke's Cypress Island net pen in August, which released 160,000 non-native salmon into our waters, I directed my staff to inspect every net pen site in the state to ensure that Cooke was meeting its contractual obligations and that our waters are safe.
"It is now clear that Cooke has been violating the lease terms for its Port Angeles net pens," Franz continued. "In light of this violation, and in fulfillment of my commitment to protect our lands and waters, I am terminating the lease."
Franz says the Washington Department of Natural Resources will work with Cooke Aquaculture Pacific and other state agencies to complete an orderly shutdown and removal of the farm.
The farm currently holds about 700,000 Atlantic salmon.
Cooke Aquaculture released a statement Sunday night, saying it was surprised to receive the termination notice.
"We believe is likely the result of some miscommunication with DNR. Prior to receipt of the December 15 termination notice, Cooke Aquaculture Pacific had already addressed and completed, or was addressing, each of the inspection items cited by the Department of Natural Resources as the basis for its decision to terminate the Port Angeles lease," said Cooke spokesman Joel Richardson. "We do not believe DNR understood that we were aware of and in the process of addressing these items and we do not believe the facts support DNR’s decision to terminate the lease."