Some 1.8 million Atlantic salmon eggs have been cleared to ship to a private Washington fish hatchery later this week.
But Cooke Aquaculture received the transfer permit from WDFW late yesterday after the company applied for it in mid-September and the state agency determined Cooke “met all the fish health standards required under state law.”
Governor Inslee has ordered no new netpens be authorized before an investigation into the collapse of Cooke’s Cypress Island farm in mid-August is finished, but WDFW says it doesn’t have the authority to block the importation of the “healthy” eggs.
The eggs are coming from Cooke’s hatchery in western Iceland, near Reykjavik, and will be reared at its Rochester facility south of Olympia.
Last week, WDFW approved transporting 1 million 6- to 22-ounce Atlantics from the rearing ponds there to a netpen in Rich Passage in Puget Sound.
That saltwater facility came under scrutiny this week from the Department of Natural Resources after a contractor found above-water corrosion and a hole in a net. Cooke was given 60 days to fix it or lose their state lease.
There’s been much ado about raising Atlantics in Pacific waters in recent months, including before and after around 160,000 of 305,000 escaped from Cypress Island.
However, no known populations of the nonnative salmon have taken hold from spills in Puget Sound in the 1990s, and a recent article in the Vancouver Sun notes that despite British Columbia government making 200 attempts to kickstart runs in 52 different water bodies over a period dating back to 1905 using a total of 13.5 million eggs, young fish and smolts, zero were successful.
The Cypress escapees were 3-year-olds and incapable of breeding until next year, if any even are still alive.