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Cooke agrees to farm trout and sablefish with Native American tribe

Jim Parsons, general manager of Cooke Aquaculture Pacific, and Ron Allen, Tribal Council chair/CEO of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, signing the partnership agreement. Photo: Cooke.
Jim Parsons, general manager of Cooke Aquaculture Pacific, and Ron Allen, Tribal Council chair/CEO of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, signing the partnership agreement. Photo: Cooke.

Salmon farmer Cooke Aquaculture Pacific has entered into a joint venture with a Native American tribe to grow sablefish (black cod) and sterile, all-female rainbow trout in Washington state.

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The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe said the venture will require the reinstatement of Cooke’s former fish farm lease at Port Angeles, in exchange for significant investment by the venture in new infrastructure and local jobs.

The state’s Department of Natural Resources terminated the Port Angeles farm lease in December 2017, alleging Cooke’s cages were 500 feet outside the authorised area, that there was an unsafe anchoring system and that the company was polluting the harbour with Styrofoam from floats.

Salmon to trout

In July this year Cooke revealed that it had applied to switch production of its Washington farms from salmon to trout following last year’s decision by state legislators to ban open net pen farming of non-native fish – which in effect meant Atlantic salmon - from 2022.

Cooke and the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe will work together to rear the sablefish and rainbow trout, which are both native species to the north west of the United States, in Port Angeles Harbour.

“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 and chief executive W Ron Allen.

We firmly believe we can implement net pen aquaculture consistent with our tribal heritage and cultural values.

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe chairman and chief executive 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.

“By working together, combining our history and experience fishing on the Olympic Peninsula with Cooke’s experience and expertise in aquaculture, we are confident that we can raise a sustainable supply of trout and sablefish and contribute to our local economy.”

The tribe already has a well-established working relationship with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Manchester Research Laboratory and the University of Washington, who have worked together since 2015 on black cod aquaculture research.

The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe provides jobs for more than 750 people in its tribal government and businesses.

‘Forward-thinking’ 

In addition to the businesses that provide revenues for tribal programs and services, the tribe is an active partner in many community projects focusing on protection and restoration of natural resources and habitat, improving health and wellness for the Olympic Peninsula, public safety, and promoting quality education.

“The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe is known for being progressive and forward-thinking in its approach to resource management and economic development,” said Glenn Cooke, chief executive of Cooke Aquaculture Pacific.

“We look forward to working together to produce top quality seafood for consumers in Washington and across the US.”

The partners are expecting to start operations imminently. 

Cooke Aquaculture Pacific is a subsidiary of Atlantic Canada-based Cooke Inc, which farms salmon in Canada, the east and west coasts of the US, Scotland and Chile.

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