State cancels lease at site of salmon net-pen collapse

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz has canceled a state lease with Cooke Aquaculture Pacific at the site where net pens collapsed last summer releasing thousands of non-native Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound.

Franz said in a statement Sunday that the Canada-based company “flagrantly violated the terms of its lease at Cypress Island” off in northwest Washington state.

A multi-agency state investigation released Tuesday blamed Cooke’s negligence in failing to adequately clean its nets at the marine aquaculture facility led to the net-pen failure in August.

The state also fined the company $332,000 for alleged clean water laws.

Cooke did not immediately respond to an email Sunday. It previously criticized the state’s investigation as incomplete and inaccurate.

In December, Franz canceled another lease with Cooke at its facility in Port Angeles. Cooke has sued in state court to challenge that decision.