In just 12 days, every lease that authorizes commercial net pens to operate in Puget Sound will have expired. Without new leases, Washington’s sole net pen operator, Cooke Aquaculture, will be required to pack up and remove their net pens from Puget Sound, effectively eliminating this industry in Washington. The expiration of these leases offers Washington a once-in-a-decade opportunity to take bold action to protect Puget Sound and join governments around the world in abandoning this dangerous and antiquated industry.
Further elevating the urgency and importance of this exact moment is that after four years and countless appeals, every single lawsuit Cooke Aquaculture has waged against the state has been dismissed or is quickly coming to a close. The conclusion of this litigation eliminates all remaining legal leverage Cooke could wield in a last-ditch effort to pressure the state into granting the company new leases that would secure their future in our public waters for the next decade or longer.
It is your unwavering dedication and support that made it possible to reach this critical moment and with only 12 days left, we’re calling on you to help finish this fight for the health of Puget Sound.
HILARY FRANZ’S MONUMENTAL DECISION
With the clock counting down to November 10th when every net pen lease in Washington will have expired, the future of the commercial net pen industry and the health of Puget Sound lies solely in the hands of Washington’s Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz. In the coming days, Commissioner Franz will need to make a monumental decision whether to give in to pressure from Cooke Aquaculture to issue new 12-year leases for net pen aquaculture or calls from the public to restore Puget Sound for the benefit and use of all.
Commissioner Franz has a strong record when it comes to holding the net pen industry accountable. She led the investigation finding Cooke at fault for the catastrophic Cypress Island net pen collapse, terminated half of the company’s leases following that event, and refused to concede or compromise the public’s natural resources when defending Washington from four years of Cooke’s meritless lawsuits.
By statute, Commissioner Franz is required to make a decision that is in the best interest of the public. Earlier this year, we delivered a nearly 200-page Taking Back Our Sound petition on behalf of nearly 10,000 individuals and over 100 businesses and organizations all calling on Commission Franz to restore Puget Sound for the public’s benefit and use by all. Through emails and letters, Commissioner Franz heard directly from individuals, groups, and elected officials throughout the northwest and even international advocates urging the importance of Washington’s decision for the future of this industry in communities worldwide.
These efforts are just one example of the countless milestones and accomplishments we’ve celebrated and made possible together since we launched the Our Sound, Our Salmon campaign five years ago to protect wild salmon, killer whales, and the health of Puget Sound from this dangerous industry. All of these efforts will now culminate in Commissioner Franz’s pivotal decision.
But this fight isn’t over and Cooke Aquaculture is a billion-dollar corporation actively fighting tooth and nail to continue using our public waters to profit at the expense of the health of Puget Sound. If we don’t speak out now, we risk the threat of another decade of chronic pollution, viral outbreaks, and massive escape events. With only 12 days until Cooke’s leases are expired, this is your last chance to fight for the future health of Puget Sound.
Working Together to Protect Puget Sound
For over two decades, Wild Fish Conservancy has been watchdogging the industry, advancing our region’s scientific understanding of the risks net pens pose, and working with colleagues around the world to bring an end to this practice in public waters.
Your support makes it possible for us to stand up and react quickly to the commercial net pen aquaculture industry as we work to end this practice in Puget Sound and protect our public waters for benefit of all.