PORT ANGELES – The future of Atlantic salmon farms in Washington state was set to go on trial Monday in Seattle, but Canadian company Cooke Aquaculture settled with the environmental group Wild Fish Conservancy Northwest today.

Conservancy Executive Director Kurt Beardslee:

“This afternoon, Cooke agreed to a settlement over the Clean Water Act violations with us. It was a 2.75 million dollar settlement and you have the breaking story on this.”

Beardslee says about half of the settlement will pay for legal expenses.

“The rest of it’s going to the Rose Foundation in the Rose Foundation is going to be opening up to receive grant opportunities for helping to save wild salmon and killer whales.”

Cooke owns the net pen facility in Port Angeles Harbor as well the one that collapsed two years ago at Cypress Island in the Puget Sound, releasing a quarter million Atlantic salmon into northwest waters.

Wild Fish Conservancy Northwest was suing Cooke, saying they failed to keep the collapsed farm in good condition and was claiming they are further neglecting their other facilities as well.

Cooke still has two fish farms with Atlantic salmon in Washington waters, and plans to harvest the last of those fish in the next six months.

After the collapse of the Cypress Island pens, the state outlawed farming of non-native fish in Washington waters.

Cooke is now proposing to raise native steelhead and cod at its farms instead, and announced a partnership with the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe in October to transition the Port Angeles Harbor facility to do just that.

That lease has not yet been approved by the state.

(DNR photo of collapsed netpens at Cypress Island in 2017.)