State: Cooke can’t move juvenile Atlantic salmon to net pens

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington state fish managers have denied a request by Cooke Aquaculture to move thousands of juvenile Atlantic salmon from its hatchery to marine net pens in waters of Kitsap County.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife said Thursday it denied a permit because the move would increase the risk of fish disease transmission both within and outside the pens.

State lawmakers in March passed legislation to phase out farming of Atlantic salmon when two current Cooke leases expire in 2022.

Cooke sought permission in April to move 800,000 juvenile fish from a hatchery in Rochester to grow out in net pens in Rich Passage.

WDFW’s Ken Warheit says tests showed the population of fish to be moved had a form of virus known as PRV that has not been known to occur in Washington waters. He says that created an “unknown risk that made it unacceptable.”

Cooke did not immediately respond to an email Thursday.