The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved Canada-based Cooke Aquaculture's application to raise rainbow trout in its Atlantic salmon net pens, which are set to be phased out of existence by 2022.
The five-year Marine Aquaculture Permit applies to Cooke's four existing netpens in Puget Sound, where the company already owns valid land leases with the Washington Department of Natural Resources.
Cooke's facilities that will make the transition from Atlantic salmon to trout include Fort Ward, Orchard Rocks, Clam Bay and Hope Island. However, the permit may extend to three other Cooke-owned netpens in the future.
The move means Cooke could be allowed to remain in the state, following a ban lawmakers instituted on Atlantic salmon farming following the collapse in 2017 of the company's floating pen near Cypress Island that released 250,000 non-native fish into Puget Sound.
In October, Cooke found an ally in Washington state to help it farm rainbow trout and black cod. It created a joint venture with Washington state's Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe to farm sablefish (black cod) and sterile triploid, all-female rainbow trout.
Cooke is still working with state officials to resolve issues at its Port Angeles site.
Cooke first submitted its application to raise trout in January 2019. The public comment period, which was originally scheduled to close in October, closed a month after.