October 8, 2019

Cooke "sorry" over ill treatment of fish at Maine, US facility



The CEO of the Cooke family of companies has said that he is "very sorry" over the alleged mistreatment of fish at a Cooke Aquaculture facility in Bingham, Maine, the United States.


Cooke CEO Glenn Cooke is responding to a release of a video on October 7 which purportedly showed workers slamming, stomping and throwing fish long distances into tanks. The video was shot secretly onsite and released by animal rights group Compassion Over Killing.


According to Glenn Cooke, the company was already contacted by the Maine Department of Agriculture in mid-September over the incident following a complaint submitted by an activist veganism organisation.


"I am disappointed and deeply saddened by what I saw today. As a family company, we place animal welfare high in our operating standards and endeavor to raise our animals with optimal care and consideration of best practice. What we saw today is most certainly not reflective of these standards," the CEO said in a press statement.


"Based on information received from the department, and after reviewing the footage issued today by the activist veganism organisation, it appears that unacceptable fish handling incidents have occurred at the Bingham hatchery. These are not our standards and will not continue. The Cooke family has been raising fish for over 35 years and we are not happy about this. We have already begun putting the necessary checks and balances in place to ensure this will not happen again."


The CEO added that Cooke will implement "a rigorous re-training programme" at its Maine site. "This is one that we apply across all our global operations to enforce the importance of animal welfare," he said.


He also revealed that Cooke regularly validates its best practices "through regulatory compliance and voluntary third-party audits" of its operations.


"In additional to a rigorous global employee training and operational standards training programme, we encourage employees to speak up when they have any questions or concerns, or if they feel that practices are not being adhered to," the CEO said.


"Our commitment to the health and care of our animals is nearly unequaled, matched only by our commitment to the highest quality, safest and most affordable farm-raised seafood products available anywhere in the world."


- Cooke