The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) refused Cooke a permit to re-stock in May after testing revealed the smolts carried a strain of piscine orthreovirus (PRV) that was different to PRV found locally and was therefore suspected of being a threat to wild fish.
Cooke culled 800,000 smolts as a result, but now has another batch of fish which are free of the PRV strain and which it will use to re-stock its Orchard Rocks farm in Rich Passage and a farm at Hope Island near the mouth of the Skagit River.
The WDFW had no basis for denying the new permit because testing by both Cooke and the department showed the fish in this batch to be free of PRV, Ken Warheit, director of fish health for the WDFW, told The Seattle Times.
Earlier this year Washington state legislators voted to phase out non-native finfish open-cage farming, a decision that effectively applied only to Cooke, the sole Atlantic salmon farmer in the state.
Authorities have closed down two Cooke farms including one at Cypress Island, where around 250,000 fish escaped after a farm collapsed a year ago, but the Canadian company is continuing to use its other leases until they expire, which won’t happen until 2022 at the earliest.