Tag Archives: Netpen

Cooke Disputes Washington Agencies’ Report On Netpen Escapee Numbers


Cooke Aquaculture Pacific on Tuesday criticized the state’s multi-agency draft report on the Cypress Island net pen collapse, pointing out numerous factual inaccuracies that led investigators to leap to erroneous conclusions.


“Cooke Aquaculture was shut out of this investigation by the state agencies,” said Joel Richardson, vice president of public relations at Cooke, Inc. “As a result, investigators with limited experience in aquaculture or net-pen operations have produced an inaccurate and misleading document that appears to be intended to fuel the push by aquaculture opponents to put Cooke out of business in Washington state.”

Notably, the state accused Cooke of overestimating the number of fish it recovered from the collapsed nets. In fact, Cooke employees counted each fish as it was recovered under the state’s supervision. The report’s estimate, meanwhile, was based on a flawed estimate of the average weight of the recovered fish.

The report, “2017 Cypress Island Atlantic Salmon Net Pen Failure: An Investigation and Review” was compiled by the state’s Ecology, Fish & Wildlife, and Natural Resources departments. The final report is slated for release today at an 11 a.m. news conference timed to influence the Legislature’s ongoing deliberations about bills related to aquaculture, including proposals that would effectively ban salmon farming in Washington.

Cooke Aquaculture Pacific was given just three days to provide feedback on a 266-page draft – a review period that ran from Friday to Monday – and was instructed not to dispute the report’s analysis or conclusions. Today’s press conference was announced three hours after the agencies received Cooke’s comments.

“We provided substantive comment back to the agencies under an unfairly brief timeline to address the report’s major factual errors and omissions about what occurred at our facility last August,” said Richardson. “We cooperated fully with the investigation and stood ready to provide expertise, background and context to help the investigators in their work. Unfortunately, we don’t believe the public or lawmakers are getting a complete and accurate picture from this report.”

The after-the-fact questioning of Cooke’s accounting of fish removed from the net pen structure is the most egregious – but not only – example of the report’s inaccuracy.

“The same people that supervised and approved the counting of the fish created this new analysis, based on back-of-the-envelope math involving the capacity of a tender vessel and the ridiculous notion that the recovered fish weighed 7 pounds apiece,” Richardson said. “As the photographs in the report itself show, many of the fish were severely damaged by the time they were recovered and would have been far lighter.”

Another example of the report’s inaccuracy is the blanket assumptions about the condition of the nets.

“We acknowledge that the site fell behind in net hygiene prior to the mooring failures in July. However, Cooke provided the investigators extensive documentation of the washing performed at Site 2 after the July incident,” Richardson explained. “Although the report is correct that mussels were present in the bottom of the nets, the investigative panel lacked the expertise to make that judgment about the relationship between fouling and drag and did not rely upon alternate expertise when forming the conclusions reflected in the report.”

Cooke endeavoured to cooperate with the investigation from its inception but was excluded from meaningful participation after only a few weeks. While Cooke was excluded, two Native American tribes which have repeatedly called for the ban of Cooke’s operations were given full access to the process and allowed to provide comments and observations during the deliberations.

“Excluding Cooke but including net-pen opponents stacks the deck against Cooke,” said Richardson. “Tribes, lawmakers, Cooke, the public – we all deserve to know the truth, and this report should be driven by a full and accurate understanding of the facts. Unfortunately, this document is neither accurate nor objective.”

Cooke responded to the draft report on Monday morning with a thirteen-page letter highlighting its glaring inaccuracies. Slightly more than three hours later, Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz called today’s news conference, demonstrating that the agencies never intended to evaluate or respond to Cooke’s legitimate concerns.

More Tips For Catching ‘Prison-break Atlantics’


If you’re heading out after the prison-break Atlantics, here’s how I had success (there could be better ways).


The salmon are in tight to the shoreline, and not necessarily *just* at Secret Harbor!  I motored around on my main looking for jumpers, then dropped the kicker to stay in place around the schools.  Anchoring was effective for alot of people, but only if you are in a spot they are holding.  They will hold to specific areas, and those areas change with the tide, so you have to keep moving til you find them. And move on when they clear out.  Blind casting was not effective at all, you have to find the jumpers.

I pitched alot of different things, but a pink/silver size 3 or 4 Vibrax with a small crescent sinker about 2-3 feet up the line seemed most effective.  The sinker was key, straight Vibrax didn’t work well.

The retrieve was lift-n-reel, then drop. They almost always hit on the drop. I also saw some guys pitching Krocodiles and they were slaying ’em.  Buzz Bombs worked but were less effective.

For rod/reel, I was using pink salmon gear which was too light (these fish average 10lbs!). I think your average steelhead gear would be perfect.

The fish are not shy at all; you can roll up right right on top of them, and use 30lb test and a large hook.

The bite turns on and off, and can go off even when they are still jumping everywhere.  Basically, this is straight-up coho fishing. (I only tried trolling a bit, and didn’t get a bump, but I didn’t really give it an honest go)

They will short-bite like crazy. And I wouldn’t say they crush the bait, but when they are hooked they fight HARD and will peel drag and jump. Keep the line tight, the will throw the hook easily!

It really is a blast!


Regulations are (again) for fishing in the saltwater:

  1. License plus salmon catch record card
  2. Open only where salmon is open
  3. Must stop fishing once the appropriate salmon daily limit is reached (Chinook, coho, pink)
  4. No limit on Atlantic Salmon or size limit
  5. Be prepared to be sampled at the boat ramp per our baseline creel sampling staff – and if you have tips on how to catch them, please share that information with staff

EDITOR’S NOTE: Be sure to check the regs for whether salmon fishing is open or any emergency rule changes. For example, not all of Area 7 is open for salmon fishing right now and Area 9 is closed boat fishing then closes to all fishing after September 4th.