GAA defends Cooke over trout plan for Puget Sound

The Global Aquaculture Alliance has stepped in to defend Cooke Aquaculture in its bid to switch from farming Atlantic salmon to steelhead trout in Washington state’s Puget Sound.
In a letter submitted to Washington state’s Department of Ecology, GAA commended the New Brunswick-based company for its history of responsible aquaculture.
Cooke Aquaculture is seeking permission to switch from salmon to trout at four of its net-pen sites in Puget Sound. The proposed change has proved controversial, attracting criticism from the Wild Fish Conservancy, an environmental lobby group based in Washington state. The WFC has partnered with outdoor apparel company Patagonia and its subsidiary Patagonia Provisions to mount a campaign against net-pen farming in Puget Sound.
The GAA said: “As a global leader in responsible aquaculture and a leading proponent of the world’s largest and most comprehensive third-party aquaculture certification program, Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP), Cooke Aquaculture is well positioned to ensure that all-female, sterile steelhead trout (also called rainbow trout) is raised in a responsible manner with minimal impact to the surrounding environment.”
Cooke Aquaculture has achieved four-star BAP status, one of only three salmon-farming companies in the world to do so at the time. Four-star BAP status is the highest designation in the BAP program, representing that a combination of a company’s processing plants, farms, hatcheries and feed mills are BAP certified.
GAA said it applauds Cooke Aquaculture for its work to greatly reduce the use of antibiotics, and as a number of its salmon hatcheries and farms were audited last year to verify that no antibiotics were used throughout the entire life cycle of those fish.
Steelhead trout are exempt from a law passed in March 2018 that aims to phase out not-native species in Washington’s marine waters by 2022. The GAA commented: “Cooke Aquaculture’s decision to raise all-female, sterile steelhead trout is a responsible solution that preserved jobs and contributes a healthful food to the local community.”