The state Department of Ecology on Thursday issued what are expected to be final permits for Atlantic salmon farms in the region.
One of the four permits is for a farm, or net pen, located near Hope Island in Skagit Bay. The other three are near Bainbridge Island.
The permits, which regulate water quality, take effect Aug. 10 and will expire Aug. 9, 2024. The pens are expected to close, however, by the time their leases though the state Department of Natural Resources expire in 2022.
All Atlantic salmon farms in the state are operated by Cooke Aquaculture. The farms are slated to close by 2022 due to state law enacted after the collapse of a farm in Skagit County in August 2017.
According to Ecology, while the farms continue to operate, the newly-issued permits will tighten environmental protections.
Improved requirements include increased underwater video monitoring, regular inspections and submissions of related reports, improved cleaning and maintenance procedures, site-specific response plans for fish escapes and contacting tribes in the event of an escape.
The Hope Island farm was built in 1987, and the net pens were replaced in 2010, according to permit documents.
The cages were replaced with a new structure in 2010. It’s an about 800-square foot grid of 10 net pens, varying in depth from about 90 to about 115 feet.
Hatchery-raised fish imported from Iceland are raised to adulthood at the farm, to about 10 pounds each.