US Cooke Aquaculture facility found not guilty of violations involving salmon deaths
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in Maine, the United States, announced on September 27 that it has closed an investigation into salmon mortalities at a Cooke Aquaculture site after an inspection of the facility and data found no violations.
The investigation followed a die-off event that Cooke Aquaculture said was caused by "uncommonly low oxygen" at one of its salmon sites off Black Island, located near the town of Frenchboro, Maine, the United States. The mortalities occurred in August, and a "low percentage" of the overall harvest was killed, according to the company.
28,212 salmon died at the Black Island site, and 87,607 at the Black Island South site, according to the Maine DEP.
Following the announcement, the Maine DEP announced it would investigate the mortalities.
"DEP stated that they had started an investigation even though DMR is the regulating authority for a fish health incident," Cooke Aquaculture vice president of public relations Joel Richardson told SeafoodSource.
Maine DEP staff inspected the net pen sites and did not find any evidence of potential violations, it said in a press release. Pen densities were all "within permit limits," and dissolved oxygen readings at the 30-meter mixing zone outside the net pens were also within legal limits, the agency said.
"The department acknowledges Cooke Aquaculture’s cooperation in this matter, and having found no infractions, has therefore closed the investigation into this matter," DEP said. It added that Cooke "is not required to report mortalities to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection," but did so anyway.
Cooke accepted the findings of the report, and said it will "take the department’s recommendations put forth under advisement."
"Throughout this event, Cooke Aquaculture USA followed all responsible steps to safely remediate the unfortunate fish-loss incident as quickly as possible with protecting the environment as our priority," the company said. "We cooperated fully with the DEP during its subsequent investigation, and we accept their reports that no corrective actions are to be taken."