More problems cited at Cooke Aqua salmon farms in USA

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An overview of Cooke Aquaculture’s Atlantic salmon net-pen operation off Cypress Island. (Beau Garreau/DAKO. 5TUDIOS)

“Maintenance conducted by the owner does not appear in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations or industry standards”

A new inspection has found deficiencies at more Cooke Aquaculture Atlantic salmon net pens in Puget Sound, near Seattle, Washington. The inspection report follows Washington state’s decision to terminate the company’s leases at five other pens.

Deficiencies have been found at Canadian multinational Cooke Aquaculture’s industrial Atlantic salmon net pens in Puget Sound by an independent inspector, the state Department of Natural Resources reports.

Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz ordered inspections of all nine of Cooke’s net pens after a catastrophic collapse of one of its net pens at Cypress Island in the San Juans last August, allowing more than 200,000 Atlantic salmon to escape into the Salish Sea.

“It is absolutely shocking that a corporation working in Washington would be this negligent and be so very untruthful about it. This is not the kind of business we want operating in the state of Washington.”

The latest inspections from the contractor hired by the state, Mott MacDonald of Edmonds, found deficiencies at Cooke’s operations at its Hope Island and Rich Passage facilities, according to the reports released Friday.

Problems included poor condition and deterioration of some anchor lines, surface rust and corrosion on parts of the facilities and concern about whether anchors were inside the boundaries of the net-pen leases.

Joel Richardson, vice president for public relations for Cooke, said the company was reviewing the reports and had no immediate comment.

Inspections at Cooke’s Cypress Island facility have led totermination of the lease by the department. Two more pens at Port Angeles also lost their lease, a revocation Cooke is fighting in court.

At the Fort Ward facility in Rich Passage, inspectors found chain links on an anchor line had lost up to 75 percent of holding capacity because of corrosion.

The inspector also could not confirm the Fort Ward anchors were inside the lease boundary for the fish farm. Several moorings ended on or near a dock that is part of an entirely separate lease, according to the report.

Maintenance was also an issue. “Maintenance conducted by the owner does not appear in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations or industry standards,” reviewers found. The frequency and thoroughness of inspections by the owner also could not be determined.

At Cooke’s Hope Island facility, five miles from the mouth of the Skagit River, inspections conducted by Cooke also “do not appear in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations or industry standards,” the report found.

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