Cooke has found an ally in Washington state to help it farm rainbow trout and black cod, as it works to ensure its troubled salmon farms aren't phased out of business.
The company said Thursday it has created a joint venture with Washington state's Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe to farm sablefish (black cod) and sterile triploid, all-female rainbow trout.
The venture will require reinstatement of the farm lease at Cooke's Port Angeles site, in exchange for significant investment in new infrastructure and local jobs in the area. The two partners will work together to rear these Northwest native species in Port Angeles harbor, according to the entities.
While Washington state officials gave Cooke the preliminary OK to move forward with harvesting trout at some of its former salmon-filled Puget Sound sites, Cooke is still working with state officials to resolve issues at its Port Angeles site.
“Our council is committed to pursuing our self-reliance goal through diversified economic development and education, and we believe this partnership with Cooke Aquaculture Pacific will contribute to meeting that goal,” said Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe Chairman CEO W. Ron Allen. “We, along with our sister tribes, are strong stewards of our environment. And we firmly believe we can implement net pen aquaculture consistent with our tribal heritage and cultural values."
The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe is the second largest employer in Clallam County, providing jobs for over 750 people in its government and businesses, it said.
“The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe is known for being progressive and forward-thinking in its approach to resource management and economic development,” said Cooke CEO Glenn Cooke.
Since 2015, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe has worked with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Manchester Research Laboratory and the University of Washington on black cod aquaculture research.
Before Seattle-based Icicle Seafoods became a subsidiary of Cooke in 2016, the company also experimented with raising black cod. Today Cooke-owned Icicle--which describes itself as one of the largest buyers and processors of black cod--supplies product harvested in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska, according to the company's website.