Rainbow Trout

(iStock Photo)

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today that it is extending a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) public comment period related to a proposal by Cooke Aquaculture to farm sterile (triploid) rainbow trout/steelhead in Puget Sound.

Earlier this month, WDFW posted a SEPA mitigated determination of non-significance regarding Cooke's proposal to transition from farming Atlantic salmon to farming steelhead in several of the company's existing facilities in Puget Sound.

The SEPA public comment period, which was originally scheduled to close on Oct. 22 before an initial 10-day extension, will now close at 5 p.m. on Nov. 22.

Cooke's proposal applies to four net pens currently operating near Rich Passage and Skagit Bay, but in the future may cover three more Puget Sound net pens owned by Cooke. Cooke submitted a five-year Marine Aquaculture permit application to WDFW in January of this year, and a SEPA checklist with supporting documents in July.

The extensions are meant to give the public ample time to review the proposal and submit comments, said WDFW Director Kelly Susewind.

"We know that there is significant public interest in this proposal," Susewind said. "We want to provide stakeholders with the best opportunity to make their voices heard in this process."

To submit comments and to view the determination and supporting documents, visit the SEPA documents available for public comment webpage at https://wdfw.wa.gov/licenses/environmental/sepa/open-comments. Only written comments will be considered.

WDFW is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting and other outdoor recreation opportunities. 

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