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WA: A second court rejects Cooke Aquaculture's challenge over termination of net-pen lease

"DNR (Dept. of Natural Resources) terminated the lease in December 2017 after an investigation revealed various violations at the Port Angeles facility, including operating outside of its boundaries, failure to pay rent timely, and not operating the facility in a safe condition. Shortly following the termination, the net pens were completely removed from Port Angeles Harbor."

"This week’s decision concludes a nearly four-year appeal process that began in early 2018 when Cooke filed suit against DNR, arguing the agency had wrongfully terminated the lease ahead of the 2025 expiration date. In 2020, a Thurston County Superior Court Judge rejected Cooke’s challenge and the company appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals which issued the opinion this week."

“I hope the public will join me in thanking Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz and her department for their unwavering commitment to protecting Puget Sound in the face of Cooke’s meritless, costly, and time-consuming lawsuits,” says Beardslee. “Under Commissioner Franz’s leadership, DNR has a proven record as the only regulatory agency in Washington willing to take bold action to hold this dangerous industry accountable.”

A CONSERVATION GROUP MAKES AN ALTERNATIVE PROPOSAL: "In July 2020, Wild Fish Conservancy submitted official applications to DNR requesting to lease all of the sites used by Cooke for commercial net pen aquaculture. This alternative proposal, the Taking Back Our Sound Restoration Project, seeks to hold these waters in public trust for the sole purposes of restoring these polluted sites to their natural state and restoring the public’s access to over 130 acres of Puget Sound that have been restricted for private profit for over three decades."

View the full Press Release by Wild Fish Conservancy North West here.

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