Aquaculture North America

Cooke says lease cancellation a result of ‘miscommunication’

December 18, 2017
By Liza Mayer

Cooke Aquaculture says the cancellation of the lease on its Atlantic salmon farm in Port Angeles, Washington came as a surprise and “likely a result of miscommunication” with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The company said it received the termination notice from the DNR on December 15 but prior to that Cooke Aquaculture “had already addressed and completed – or was addressing – each of the inspection items” the department cited as the basis for its decision to terminate the lease.

“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,” Cooke Aquaculture said.

It itemized the issues that it has already addressed. “We look forward to discussing the notice of default with DNR officials to ensure that they are fully aware of all the work completed prior to their notice, as well as the enhancements we have scheduled. DNR has acted punitively without fully understanding the facts or reaching out to us for constructive dialogue,” said the company.

Joel Richardson, vice president public relations, told Aquaculture North America (ANA) that Cooke plans to “spend significant amounts of capital over the next few years” to upgrade all Cooke’s facilities in Washington.

Cooke Aquaculture purchased in June 2016 the salmon farm facilities in Washington State from Icicle Seafoods and said it is in the process of upgrading them to meet the company’s high standards.

“Cooke Aquaculture Pacific is continuing to collaborate with Washington state and federal agencies and our tribal partners, and we’ll also be sharing concepts from our experience in other regulatory environments throughout the world with lawmakers and regulators to enhance and strengthen the state’s regulatory framework for net-pen aquaculture,” added Richardson.

File photo of a Cooke Aquaculture facility in Washington State. Cooke acquired the farms from Icicle Seafoods in 2016 and is in the process of upgrading them

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