Application for new salmon farm on hold amid mass escape

SEQUIM, Wash. -- Clallam County officials have put on hold aquaculture company's application to build a new marine salmon farm in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

County planning manager Steve Gray says Cooke Aquaculture asked that a Sept. 7 hearing for a project permit be postponed as it deals with the mass escape of thousands of fish at its other facility.

Cooke's net-pen holding about 305,000 Atlantic salmon in Skagit County failed Aug. 19. Thousands of the non-native fish escaped into local rivers and waterways.

The state says Cooke has recovered more than 122,000 fish from intact pens. The Lummi tribe says its anglers have caught another 20,000 fish.

Cooke is proposing to build 14 floating circular net pens about 1 ½ miles (1.61 kilometers) offshore. It would move current operations from Port Angeles Harbor and increase production by 20 percent.

Over the weekend Gov. Jay Inslee placed a moratorium on net pen permits until an investigation into the mishap is completed.