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Cooke Aquaculture wins approval to farm steelhead in Washington


January 7, 2021
By ANA staff

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Cooke Aquaculture has officially received the green light to grow steelhead in Washington State.

The Washington State Department of Ecology announced Jan. 7 it has officially granted five-year permits for the aquaculture producer to start raising sterile, all-female steelhead at four of its former salmon net-pen sites.

This issuance became a topic of controversy last year when conservation and environmental groups filed a lawsuit last February to challenge the decision by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“This decision is a victory, not only for science, but also for food security and job creation in rural areas,” said Jeanne McKnight, executive director of the Northwest Aquaculture Alliance. “Despite the concerted misinformation campaign that some anti-aquaculture ENGO groups have waged against marine aquaculture, in the end, such groups failed to prove any negative impacts of fish farming on the marine environment.”

WDFW approved Cooke’s permit following a year-long analysis of potential impacts to the local region which was made up of more than 150 studies on marine aquaculture. The WDFW concluded that farming steelhead posed no significant risk to the marine environment.

The Fish and Wildlife department also conducted a public comment period, according to State Environmental Policy Act which saw more than 3,500 comments submitted.

“Giving the green light to Cooke to raise much-needed protein and to do so in a responsible manner is great news for the Blue Revolution — aquaculture — in this region,” said McKnight.