Court Extends Western Washington Steelhead Harvest
On Friday, the Washington Superior Court sided with Cooke Aquaculture Pacific, LLC, and extended the deadline to safely harvest steelhead trout and remove equipment at the Rich Passage and Hope Island fish farm in Puget Sounds to April 14th. Last week’s decision came after Cooke filed suit against the Washington state Department of Natural Resources at Commissioner Hilary Franz.
Cooke company officials says they operate their farm sites according to carefully coordinated farm management plans, with “employee safety being its top priority”. Cooke noted that significant changes in harvest schedules can both increase safety risks for employees and disruptions for customers. They added the timelines set forth by DNR were arbitrary and impossible to meet without exposing Cooke employees to dangerous winter working conditions, increasing perceived environmental risks, and causing significant financial harm.
The company said in a Friday statement that they sought this preliminary injunction to protect its employees and ensure safe working conditions.
“We are grateful that the Court granted our request as this extension gives our employees the flexibility required in a marine environment to ensure safe working conditions. Cooke can now remove the fish on its original harvest schedule and properly remove our equipment without subjecting employees to unnecessary risk."
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