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Hilary Franz, Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands, signed today a partnership agreement with the company Sustainable Blue to determine the implementation of sustainable finfish on-land aquaculture in Washington State.

“[It] represents an important step toward restoring finfish aquaculture in a sustainable, healthy way that does not pit farmed fish against the native salmon we all work so hard to sustain.” These were Franz’s words after signing the agreement.

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This accord is based on the reputation of Sustainable Blue. The Nova Scotia-based company is North America’s longest-running commercial zero-waste recirculating aquaculture systems (zRAS). Through Sustainable Blue’s zRAS method, 100% of its saltwater is recirculated.

Through this partnership, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Franz were demonstrating their commitment to both the marketplace and the citizens of Washington without neglecting the state’s natural capital.

Thus, this agreement starts the path of a long-term partnership that seeks to explore potential locations for facilities. The most important part is that its facilities must not require a marine or watershed environment.

No more open-net finfish

The move follows a bad experience in 2017. It resulted in the collapse of the Cooke company which led to thousands of non-natives farmed Atlantic salmon escaping. Based on this event, it was clear to Franz – who would cancel contracts after that – the potential risk that commercial open-water aquaculture poses to native salmon and their habitat.

Henceforth, Franz announced that this kind of commercial facility would no longer be permitted on state-owned aquatic lands. Although, it is a step forward in on-land aquaculture.

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The Letter of Intent

The Letter of Intent seeks to launch an exploration of land-based sites managed by DNR that would be suitable for closed-containment aquaculture on state-owned lands. In total, the lands under study are about 4.7 million acres between state-owned aquatic lands and public uplands.

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