Bush policy equates hatchery, wild salmon

May 28, 2004

From KING5.com Staff and Wire Reports

GRANTS PASS, Ore. - Salmon born in a hatchery will play a larger role in deciding whether Pacific salmon are in danger of extinction, the Bush Administration was expected to announce Friday.

But even counting them along with wild fish will not remove any runs from the endangered species list in the short term, according to the administration.

A review of the 26 Pacific salmon runs protected by the Endangered Species Act found that all should stay on the list.

The check was prompted by a ruling that gave hatchery fish the same protection as wild fish.

A federal agency in charge of restoring salmon says one other run - lower Columbia River coho - should be added to the list for a total of 27.

The listing proposals will be reviewed over the next year before a final decision is made.

The details of a new federal policy on salmon hatcheries were announced Friday.

U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) said the policy was a step backward.

"This is unfortunately the most recent in a long line of Bush Administration policies that are damaging to our environment. It is clear that many hatchery fish are poor natural competitors compared to wild salmon, and lack the certain characteristics of native salmon that are important parts of our ecosystem, such as an instinct to return to their home streams," Inslee said in a press release issued Friday.

"In our efforts to recover bald eagles, we would not have required all bald eagles to fly into Woodland Park Zoo and breed," Inslee said.

But U.S. officials said the focus of the new policy would remain the conservation of "naturally spawning salmon and the ecosystems on which they depend," according to a statement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.



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