Covington, Wash.— The Northwest Aquaculture Alliance (NWAA) is an organization of industry leading companies from Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska, who are engaged in the responsible production of aquatic foods. Our member companies embrace and comply with some of the most stringent standards in the world in the production of both finfish and shellfish—making these products highly desirable and in-demand in restaurants and retail supermarkets. Consumers care how their seafood is produced. So do we. For this reason, we take exception to the latest anti-aquaculture book to hit the market. We believe it does a disservice to the public to publish what is essentially a rehash of old, largely disproven, claims.
From a Washington state perspective, agencies such as the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), the Washington Department of Ecology, and the Department of Natural Resources, have been leaders in developing stringent regulations governing the production of aquatic foods such as salmonids, while protecting wild fish stocks and the environment. Our members welcome the regulatory oversight of these agencies and strive to be transparent and open with respect to aquaculture practices in Washington.
For example, in 2020, when our member company, Cooke Aquaculture Pacific, sought to transition from farming Atlantic salmon to steelhead, the state approved the petition to grow all-female, sterile trout. That approval imposed numerous new conditions on fish farming in Washington, which Cooke readily accepted. As part of that approval, WDFW engaged in extensive analysis and found no risk of significant adverse impacts associated with Cooke’s farming.
Environmental groups unsuccessfully appealed that decision, losing a hearing in Superior Court in 2020, and then again after the Washington State Supreme Court upheld that approval in a unanimous decision. Additionally, after a multi-year evaluation, the National Marine Fisheries Service/NOAA recently completed its extensive analysis of fish farming in Washington, concluding that there is no harm to listed species at farming levels equal to or less than the historic maximum production in Washington.
Our NWAA member companies depend on a healthy environment to farm and are committed to supporting the environment. Cooke Aquaculture Pacific, for example, has not only embraced increased regulation of its operations, but the company has made enormous strides in working on fisheries enhancement projects in Washington as well as elsewhere. Cooke is committed to developing partnerships with the Tribes and local communities that benefit residents and the region, helping to ensure that there are wild fish for generations to come, and healthy, sustainable farmed fish to help meet the food demands of a growing global population.