PORT ANGELES – Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe President Ron Allen on Tuesday pledged to move forward with plans to establish a fish farm in Port Angeles Harbor despite a recent court ruling in Port Angeles. appeal from the State confirming the termination of the lease of its business partner.
On December 14, the three-judge panel upheld a Thurston County Superior Court ruling that dealt a blow to the joint plans of the tribe and Canadian aquaculture company Cooke Pacific LLC.
They wanted to use Cooke’s Aquatic Land Lease – terminated by the state’s Department of Natural Resources in 2017 – to grow sable, or black cod, and rainbow trout in a harbor fish farm.
The court upheld the DNR’s action, taken after the agency cited multiple violations, including the rejection of styrofoam, operation with a faulty net anchor system, the salmon farming of the Atlantic outside the company’s lease area and default on rent.
âThe Washington State Court of Appeals decision regarding the Port of Port Angeles is under review by Cooke Aquaculture Pacific and our joint venture partner, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe,â the door said Monday. – Company speech, Joel Richardson, in an email.
Allen said on Tuesday that even as Cooke appeals the decision to the state’s Supreme Court, and even if the termination of the lease is confirmed again, the tribe is considering applying for a permit for the fish farm – and wants to build a fish processing plant to complete the installation.
âIt’s essential for the business to function,â Allen said, adding that he wanted to work with the Port of Port Angeles on this aspect of the project.
Discussions with port officials which he called “very preliminary” focus on the marina area, Allen said.
“They have a great interest in working with us,” he added.
The port’s deputy executive director, John Nutter, said on Tuesday that port officials have had ongoing discussions with the tribe about a potential installation for about nine months.
“That’s all it is so far,” he said, confirming that the Boat Haven marina area has been the center of attention.
âWe talked about it conceptually,â Nutter added.
It will take longer for the project to come to fruition given the court ruling and a possible appeal, Allen said.
âIt depends on what Cooke is doing, but we are partners on this point. It is their market; it is their call.
The new net pens would be located west of the location of Cooke’s other pens.
âIf they don’t appeal, we will advance our application for a new license. We still think it’s legitimate. We’re excited to do something to support the industry, âAllen said.
“We’re just going to be patient.”
The state legislature voted in 2018 to end state leases and permits for non-native fish farming operations in state waters by 2022.
The Port Angeles harbor violations were discovered during a statewide MNR-initiated inspection of net pens following the collapse of Cooke’s Cypress Island mesh enclosure, which released 160,000 non-native Atlantic salmon to waters west of Anacortes.
The Port Angeles fish farm included 14 connected floating pens that could hold up to 700,000 salmon.
Four months after the failure of Cypress Island, an inspection of the Port Angeles facility found structural deficiencies, the appeals court said. The lease was terminated on December 15, 2017.
Cooke argued the decision was quasi-judicial rather than administrative and that the court should reconsider the MNR’s findings.
âThe MNR’s decision to terminate the lease was based on facts supported by substantial evidence, in accordance with the clear terms of the contract, was well reasoned and made with due regard to the facts and circumstances,â the court said.
Cooke also defaulted on his rent two months after the Cypress Island failure, the court said.
“MNR provided notice and an opportunity to remedy Cooke’s breach of the rent provision on October 20, 2017,” the court said in its notice.
âOn December 9, 2017, the MRN became aware of additional defects in the lease concerning the property itself. At this point, MNR may consider one or more of the Subsequent Defects to be an Event of Default. Cooke was not entitled to an opportunity to heal.
Senior Editor Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [emailÂ protected].