Cooke Aquaculture sought a court order to require the state Department of Natural Resources to allow the company to restock its Cypress Island facility in the San Juan Islands with 780,000 juvenile Atlantic salmon. Last week, Thurston County Superior Court Judge John Skinder denied Cooke's motion for a preliminary injunction.
Washington state Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz issued the following statement: "Today’s decision is a win for the people and waters of Washington. When I terminated Cooke’s lease, I did so based on clear evidence that the company failed to properly clean and maintain its facility, in violation of its lease. Once again, I encourage Cooke to drop this baseless lawsuit and work with us to safely and quickly wind-up its operations and vacate the site. We will continue to defend our right to responsibly manage and protect our public lands. And, as we did today, we fully expect to prevail.”
In February, the Department of Natural Resources terminated Cooke’s lease at Cypress Island after an investigation revealed that, due to improper cleaning and neglect, the company allowed 110 tons of mussels and marine organisms to accumulate on the nets of the pen resulting in the collapse that occurred in August 2017. An estimated 263,000 farmed Atlantic salmon were released into the Salish Sea.
Pending trial, Cooke was seeking a court order to override DNR’s refusal to allow the company to restock its Cypress Island facility with Atlantic salmon.