Kitsap County, WA - 12/7/02 - The National Marine
Fisheries Service (NMFS), has announced that it will not appeal
Judge Michael Hogan’s decision in the Alsea Valley Alliance v.
Evans case that overturned the Endangered Species Act (ESA)
listing for Oregon coastal cutthroat trout.
The agency said it will review all its other
west coast salmonid listings in response to that decision as well.
Considering there are pending legal challenges directly impacted
by the Alsea decision to NMFS actions in Washington State, it
could mean a complete delisting of all salmon now designated as
“endangered” in the Puget Sound region.
NMFS has filed a pleading in the Alsea case
notifying the court that it will not appeal. In addition, NMFS has
filed a plan of action with the court to review all listings
affected by Alsea without withdrawing them in the interim.
In a press release that attempted to put the
best face on the decision not to appeal, after losing what amounts
to a landmark case, the agency said it will immediately implement
actions to improve salmon protection and recovery efforts,
including a comprehensive, public review of its salmon hatchery
policies and increasing its support for local recovery efforts,
while maintaining current protections for listed salmon species.
The review will also seek to determine if the
Alsea decision presents any new opportunities for enhancing salmon
restoration efforts beyond the traditional scope of the Endangered
Species Act. In response to the court decision NMFS said it will
focus its energy and resources on rebuilding salmon runs rather
than overturning the court’s decision.
The agency will also review approximately 20
other ESA listings that include hatchery-bred salmon that may be
affected by the final hatchery policy. The process will run
concurrently with the hatchery policy review and should be
completed within 45 days of completion of the policy review.