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Canada's Cooke Aquaculture faces new lawsuit in Washington State

Clearly Washington State has had enough of Cooke Aquaculture's net-pen operations in Puget Sound. For the second time this month Cooke's made headlines in Washington, the first event depicted their net-pens being towed out of Puget Sound (celebrated by local residents), then days later, more news of a potential lawsuit with claims the company had violated the endangered species act.

On February 10th, Wild Fish Conservancy (WFC) issued notice to sue Canada’s Cooke Aquaculture for killing and harming threatened and endangered salmon, steelhead, orcas, and other protected species through operations at the company’s Puget Sound net pens. Charges claim that "Cooke’s net pen facilities kill, capture, trap, harm and otherwise “take” federally protected species without authorization violating section 9 of the Endangered Species Act.”

“For over thirty years, and now under Cooke’s ownership, commercial net pens in Puget Sound have been harming the very species in which the public, Tribal Nations, and all levels of government have invested millions of dollars annually to recover and protect,” says Kurt Beardslee, Executive Director of Wild Fish Conservancy. “We cannot allow this industry to continue profiting in our public waters while pushing imperiled salmon, steelhead, orcas and other iconic fish species closer to extinction.”

“Even our federal agencies acknowledge net pens cannot operate in Puget Sound without causing harm to protected species. As long as Cooke continues to operate commercial net pens in our public waters, this harm to threatened and endangered species will continue to occur,” says Beardslee. “We encourage Cooke to join with progressive companies throughout the industry working in good faith to be a part of the solution and embracing the global transition to landbased, closed containment facilities that are capable of operating without harming the environment.”

In November 2019, Cooke was ordered to pay $2.75 million as a result of a lawsuit following a massive net-pen collapse that released over 250,000 nonnative Atlantic salmon infected with an exotic virus into Puget Sound.

Imagine what they must think of the Nova Scotia government welcoming Cooke's net-pens into our waters.

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