April 2017: Cooke submits applications to renew their permits for all eight of their net pen facilities.
August 2017: A net pen owned by Cooke Aquaculture near Cypress Island in Skagit County failed and released Atlantic salmon into the surrounding waters.
August 2017: Gov Inslee directs agencies to put a hold on any new permits until investigation was complete.
January 2018: Dept. of Natural Resources, Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, and Ecology release the Cypress Island Atlantic Salmon Net Pen Failure Investigation and Review document. Ecology fines Cooke $332,00 for the net pen collapse.
January 2020: Washington state approves Cooke's change of species to Steelhead for the protection of native fish and wildlife.
January 2021: Washington state gives given final approval to farm steelhead trout in Washington State.
Cooke Aquaculture is moving forward with its plans to farm rainbow trout in Washington state, despite opposition from NGOs in the region.
The Washington Department of Ecology announced Tuesday it received applications from Cooke requesting to modify its remaining permits for four netpens in the state.
The permits are for Cooke's Clam Bay, Fort Ward, Orchard Rocks and Hope Island netpens.
In 2018 Washington state passed a law to phase out all non-native finfish farming, such as Atlantic salmon farming. Cooke will not be allowed to operate in the state if it is not approved to switch to farming trout.
"Our role is to consider how the new species affects the discharges from the operation and what is required to protect water quality as a result," said the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which oversees Cooke's leases.
Environmental groups in February filed a lawsuit against the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, claiming Cooke Aquaculture's proposed steelhead trout farming operation could have catastrophic impacts on the health of the Puget Sound waters the fish would be raised in.
As of 2019, Cooke had 800,000 Atlantic salmon stocked in its remaining pens, down from 3.5 million fish a few years ago. In 2017 Cooke's catastrophic netpen collapse allowed more than 250,000 non-native fish to escape into Puget Sound.
The remaining permits were updated last year to create stronger measures to prevent another disastrous netpen collapse, according to Washington state officials.