Feds list Puget Sound steelhead as threatened species

May 7th, 2007 - 8:01am


(Seattle) -- The National Marine Fisheries Service has listed Puget Sound steelhead as a "threatened" species under the Endangered Species Act.

The agency proposed the listing a year to cover naturally spawned steelhead from river basins in Puget Sound, Hood Canal and the eastern half of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Agency biologists say the decline in the steelhead population has been widespread, likely because of degraded habitat, man-made barriers, unfavorable ocean conditions and harmful hatchery practices.

The steelhead in today's listing include more than 50 stocks of summer- and winter-run fish. The Skagit and Snohomish rivers support the largest populations.

An "endangered" species is in danger of extinction. A "threatened" species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokesman Brian Gorman says this is the second listing for a Puget Sound fish after Chinook salmon in 1999. The listing also is unusual because it's in an urban area.

Gorman says the steelhead listing is likely to redouble efforts to improve the water quality of Puget Sound.



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