Aquaculture North America

U.S. seafood industry trade groups call for independent review of Washington DNR decision

November 16, 2022
By Maryam Farag

In response to the November 14 announcement that the State of Washington’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will not renew the leases for Cooke Aquaculture Pacific’s steelhead farms in Washington waters, three U.S. trade groups: the Northwest Aquaculture Alliance (NWAA), National Fisheries Institute (NFI), and the National Aquaculture Association (NAA) are calling for an independent review of DNR’s decision by one or more third parties such as the University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences.

“This was not a decision based on science,” said , Jim Parsons, NWAA president and CEO of tribally owned Jamestown Seafood. “If that were the case, we would be seeing a very different decision. In terminating Cooke’s marine net pen leases, the DNR has ignored the best available science from NOAA, a state Supreme Court ruling, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Washington Department of Ecology, to name just a few of the countless scientific studies from other regions demonstrating that marine aquaculture does not harm endangered species or wild fish stocks.”

Parsons added, “The DNR decision will have devastating consequences for our rural communities where living-wage jobs are scarce, while at the same time taking healthy protein off American plates. This will result in a great loss to local economies and public health.”

NOAA recently issued a five-year strategic plan to develop a strong U.S. aquaculture sector. The U.S. currently ranks 18th in the world in aquaculture production, according to NOAA.


“The U.S. aquaculture farming community recognizes the value and benefits of regulations to protect the public, environment and farming operations,” commented Sebastian Belle, president of the National Aquaculture Association. “In this instance where science is ignored, which is so very critical to achieving excellence in governance and finding a balance between man and nature, no one benefits. We strongly support an independent review by objective scientists and hope the citizens of Puget Sound will agree.”

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