AP

Jury awards $595,000 to Lummi tribe for salmon pen collapse

Jun 23, 2022, 1:13 PM
Photo from the Associated Press...
Photo from the Associated Press

A Washington state jury on Wednesday awarded the Lummi Indian tribe $595,000 over the 2017 collapse of a net pen where Atlantic salmon were being raised — an event that elicited fears of damage to wild salmon runs and prompted the Legislature to ban the farming of the nonnative fish.

About 250,000 Atlantic salmon escaped into the Salish Sea when the net pen owned by Cooke Aquaculture — an anchored, floating enclosure off Cypress Island — collapsed. The northwest Washington tribe quickly mobilized to capture the fish, and Cooke paid a bounty of $30 apiece for the more than 43,000 recovered by the tribe’s fishers — $1.3 million in all.

The Lummi Nation sued in 2020, saying that while the fishers themselves had been compensated for their efforts, the company had not reimbursed the tribal government for responding to the spill, including organizing the fishers and tracking the Atlantic salmon they brought in.

In addition, the tribe sought damages for what it described as the “existential threat” the collapse posed to its culture.

The King County Superior Court jury on Wednesday declined to award damages on that cultural harm claim, but it did grant the tribe $595,000 on its claims of negligence and unjust enrichment against Cooke, the tribe’s attorneys said.

Lummi staff attorney James Stroud said in an email the tribe was pleased the jury found the tribe should be compensated for having to “clean up Cooke’s mess.”

“While we regret having to litigate this issue, the Lummi Nation remains committed to improving the health of the waters of the Salish Sea,” Stroud wrote.

A spokesperson for Cooke Aquaculture, Joel Richardson, said the company accepts the verdict and will not appeal.

“We understand that salmon is sacred to the Lummi Nation’s ancestral tradition, tribal mythology and living culture,” he wrote in an email. “We look forward to continuing dialogue with the Nation to understand their perspectives and needs. … As a company with both wild and farmed fish interests, we share a commitment and expertise that we believe can be beneficial to the Lummi Nation.”

According to its website, Cook Aquaculture has more than 10,000 employees in nine countries.

The Washington Department of Ecology fined the company $332,000 over the collapse, which it blamed on negligence, including poor maintenance of the nets. Cooke also agreed to pay $2.75 million to settle a Clean Water Act lawsuit brought by the organization Wild Fish Conservancy. That money was directed toward environmental projects benefitting salmon and killer whales in Puget Sound, as well as toward the group’s legal fees.

At the time of the collapse, Cooke was planning to upgrade the net pens.

Cooke argued that there is no evidence any of the escaped Atlantic salmon survived past April 2018. Indeed, the company’s lawyers noted, even when humans have tried to establish Atlantic salmon populations along the West Coast, those efforts have failed.

“Atlantic salmon do not survive here and do not compete or breed with wild salmon,” they wrote in a trial brief. “Plaintiff itself attempted — and failed — to cultivate Atlantic salmon in Washington waters in the 1970s.”

Since the Legislature banned the farming of nonnative Atlantic salmon in the state’s marine waters in 2018, Cooke is instead raising native steelhead trout. The Washington Supreme Court in January unanimously upheld Cooke’s permits to do so.

AP

Associated Press

Bus falls into deep ravine in southwest Pakistan, killing 19

QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — A passenger bus slid off a mountain road and fell into a deep ravine in heavy rain in southwest Pakistan on Sunday, killing 19 people and injuring 12 others, a government official said. Mahtab Shah, assistant administrator for the district of Shirani in Baluchistan province, said about 35 passengers were traveling […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics play in game 4 of series

Oakland Athletics (26-54, fifth in the AL West) vs. Seattle Mariners (38-42, third in the AL West) Seattle; Sunday, 4:10 p.m. EDT PITCHING PROBABLES: Athletics: Frankie Montas (3-8, 3.10 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 99 strikeouts); Mariners: Robbie Ray (6-6, 3.78 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 105 strikeouts) FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK LINE: Mariners -153, Athletics +129; over/under is 6 1/2 […]
1 day ago
FILE - A pro-Russian separatist clears the way for a combat vehicle in Slovyansk, Ukraine, Wednesda...
Associated Press

Splintered Ukrainian city braces for new battle with Russia

SLOVYANSK, Ukraine (AP) — A group of young off-duty Ukrainian soldiers gathered at a military distribution center to enjoy a rare respite from the fighting that has again engulfed their fractured home in eastern Ukraine. As they shared jokes and a pizza, artillery explosions could be heard a few kilometers away — a reminder of […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

North Texas shooter kills 2, wounds 3 cops, takes own life

HALTOM CITY, Texas (AP) — A gunman killed two people and wounded four others, including three police officers, before taking his own life Saturday evening in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, police said. Haltom City Police Det. Matt Spillane said early Sunday that all of those wounded in the shooting in a residential neighborhood had non-life […]
1 day ago
FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011 file photo, Associated Press Special Regional Correspondent f...
Associated Press

Hope and despair: Kathy Gannon on 35 years in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Afghan policeman opened fire on us with his AK-47, emptying 26 bullets into the back of the car. Seven slammed into me, and at least as many into my colleague, Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus. She died at my side. I could barely whisper, “Please help us.” Our driver raced […]
1 day ago
FILE - In this Dec. 2, 2014 file photo, Associated Press journalist Kathy Gannon poses for a photog...
Associated Press

Hope and despair: Kathy Gannon on 35 years in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Afghan policeman opened fire on us with his AK-47, emptying 26 bullets into the back of the car. Seven slammed into me, and at least as many into my colleague, Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus. She died at my side. Anja weighed heavy against my shoulder. I tried to look […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Jury awards $595,000 to Lummi tribe for salmon pen collapse