Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, September 22, 2020


Kurt Beardslee, Wild Fish Conservancy, (425) 788-1167,
Sophia Ressler, Center for Biological Diversity, (206) 399-4004,
Hallie Templeton, Friends of the Earth, (434) 326-4647,
Brian A. Knutsen, Kampmeier & Knutsen, PLLC, (503) 841-6515,

Fate of Puget Sound Commercial Fish Farms to Be Decided at Thursday’s Virtual Hearing

SEATTLE— A challenge to permits allowing continued commercial fish farming in Puget Sound will be heard via Zoom on Thursday in King County Superior Court. The complaint, filed in February by four conservation groups, demands the repeal of the permits and robust environmental review of this harmful practice. The decision could potentially affect seven commercial fish farms.

The Washington legislature banned all net-pen farming of non-native fish in the state in 2018 in response to the catastrophic collapse of Cooke Aquaculture’s Cypress Island facility, which resulted in the release of more than 250,000 non-native Atlantic salmon infected with an exotic virus.

New permits issued by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in January exploit a loophole by allowing Cooke to raise partially sterile, triploid steelhead trout in lieu of Atlantic salmon. The permits were issued without adequately considering the scientific evidence that these floating feedlots would harm wild, endangered steelhead trout, salmon and Southern Resident killer whales, degrade water quality, and damage the overall health of Puget Sound.

Thursday’s hearing will determine whether the project can go forward without more environmental analysis or the department needs to further consider the impacts net pens will have on water and wildlife.

What: A virtual legal hearing to determine whether a project to farm steelhead in Puget Sound net pens can move forward.

When: Thursday, Sept. 24, 9 a.m.


Who: The hearing is open to the public. Organizational contacts are available for interviews before and after.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Wild Fish Conservancy is a nonprofit conservation ecology organization headquartered in Washington State and dedicated to preserving, protecting and restoring the northwest’s wild fish and the ecosystems they depend on, through science, education and advocacy. For more information:

Center for Food Safety's mission is to empower people, support farmers, and protect the earth from the harmful impacts of industrial agriculture, including aquaculture. Through groundbreaking legal, scientific, and grassroots action, we protect and promote your right to safe food and a healthy, resilient environment.

Friends of the Earth fights to create a more healthy and just world. Our current campaigns focus on promoting clean energy and solutions to climate change, ensuring the food we eat and products we use are safe and sustainable, and protecting marine ecosystems and the people who live and work near them.

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