Company behind farmed fish escape plans to move 1 million salmon

SEATTLE -- A company whose collapsed net pens released thousands of farmed Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound is planning to move juvenile fish into another aquaculture facility over objections by the governor.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife said Tuesday that Cooke Aquaculture received a permit to transport one million juvenile Atlantic salmon from its hatchery to existing net pens in waters off Bainbridge Island.

Gov. Jay Inslee and Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz said in a joint statement that they were concerned about the move. Inslee said he asked the company to withdraw its request and was disappointed it didn't.

But Inslee said wildlife officials don't have the authority to deny Cooke permits to transfer fish into existing net pens.

Inslee and Franz both halted permits for new net pens until an investigation into the August collapse at Cooke's farm off Cypress Island was done.

That facility held about 305,000 non-native Atlantic salmon.

A response from Cooke was not immediately available Tuesday morning.