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Salmon farm sues after state cancels its lease

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Cooke Aquaculture fish farm. (Credit: Wild Fish Conservancy)

PORT ANGELES, Wash. — Cooke Aquaculture Pacific is appealing after Washington state canceled a lease for one of its farmed salmon operations in Port Angeles.

Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz ended the company’s net pen lease last month saying it had violated the terms. The farm holds nearly 700,000 salmon.

The company’s net pens at another location, at Cypress Island, collapsed in August and released thousands of non-native Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound.

Collapse at Atlantic salmon farm in Washington renews debate about fish farming

Cooke says it was not in default at the Port Angeles site and that agency had no basis to terminate the lease. It sued Thursday in Clallam County Superior Court.

Franz said in a statement Friday that her team will defend against what she called a “meritless lawsuit.”

“I encourage Cooke Aquaculture to drop this lawsuit and work collaboratively with the Department of Natural Resources to safely close down the facility,” Franz said.

Cooke owns and operates eight commercial salmon farms in Washington state. It is the nation’s largest producer of farmed salmon.