In this Aug. 28, 2017 photo, a crane and boats are anchored next to a collapsed “net pen” used by Cooke Aquaculture Pacific to farm Atlantic Salmon near Cypress Island in Washington state after a failure of the nets allowed tens of thousands of the nonnative fish to escape. (David Bergvall/Washington State Department of Natural Resources via AP, file)

In this Aug. 28, 2017 photo, a crane and boats are anchored next to a collapsed “net pen” used by Cooke Aquaculture Pacific to farm Atlantic Salmon near Cypress Island in Washington state after a failure of the nets allowed tens of thousands of the nonnative fish to escape. (David Bergvall/Washington State Department of Natural Resources via AP, file)

Cooke Aquaculture to pay $2.75M over net-pen collapse

In 2017, more than 260,000 nonnative Atlantic salmon escaped near Cypress Island.

Associated Press

SEATTLE — Fish-farming company Cooke Aquaculture has agreed to pay $2.75 million to settle a Clean Water Act lawsuit following the collapse of one of its net-pens in 2017.

The Seattle Times reports that the settlement with the nonprofit Wild Fish Conservancy still needs the approval of a federal judge, but the money would pay for legal fees as well as Puget Sound restoration projects.

The nonprofit sued the company after a net-pen near Cypress Island collapsed, allowing more than 260,000 nonnative Atlantic salmon to escape.

Fears that they would survive and spread into Washington waters, posing a threat to native salmon, did not materialize, but the Legislature passed a law phasing out the farming of Atlantic salmon in the state by 2025.

Cooke recently proposed to farm native steelhead in Washington.

More than $1 million of the settlement money would go to the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, an Oakland, California-based nonprofit, for projects to improve Puget Sound water quality and aquatic habitat.

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