NMFS gives up Oregon salmon fight
Federal agency will review hatchery policy and temporarily
maintain protections, but case is clearly a defeat for NMFS,
and will have impact here

Kitsap Business Journal

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.


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