Cooke employees defend jobs
Cooke Aquaculture Pacific employees in Washington State on Tuesday testified before a state Senate committee against a bill that would ban Washington’s long-standing salmon farming industry and effectively terminate their employment.
Senate Bill 6086, sponsored by Washington State Senator Kevin Ranker, calls for a ban on any new leases for net pen aquaculture in the state, leading to a total phase-out by 2025.
“This bill will immediately cease the issuance of permits necessary to conduct normal operations at each of the four salmon farms in Washington,” said Troy Nichols, lobbyist representing Cooke Aquaculture Pacific. “The bill will kill dozens of rural, family-wage jobs were it to pass, and it acknowledges as much.”
Tom Glaspie, the site manager of Cooke’s Hope Island Fish Farm near Anacortes, was one of several employees who addressed the committee at the public hearing. He expressed the sentiments of his colleagues: “We’re worried about our jobs… I’ve been doing this my whole adult life. I invite all of you to come out and look at what we do before you judge it, and you’ll see how sustainable it is.”
Cooke said it currently employs over 80 individuals directly and supports 100 workers on harvesting boats and in processing plants, representing an investment valued at more than $70 million into Washington’s economy.
The company is urging lawmakers to make their decision based on the best available science and not on unfounded fears regarding the impact of Atlantic salmon on the health of native stocks.