Trout Unlimited Calls for Immediate Emergency Listing
10/20/1999 -- -- Trout Unlimited (TU) took little comfort from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service announcement this morning that they would suggest listing of Maine's Atlantic salmon under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. TU, the nation's largest coldwater conservation organization, called it too little - too late and suggested anything less than immediate emergency listing of the dwindling species would amount to a wasted four years. While TU noted its pleasure in the fact that the agencies had finally awaken to the emergency facing Maine's Atlantic salmon, the organization express disappointment that there is no emergency listing.
"The 'suggestion of a listing' is deja vu all over again," noted TU president Charles Gauvin. "In 1995, the very same agencies proposed a listing and then retreated! Now, four years later, they are still proposing to delay listing Maine's wild Atlantic salmon, despite the abysmal findings in the state's review."
"Trout Unlimited will not agree to more delay - the price of further delay is extinction," continued Guavin. "If there ever were a case for an emergency listing, it's this one."
Trout Unlimited noted that were the listing process to follow the schedule the agencies proposed - the listing might not actually occur until January of 2001, exceeding the remaining term of the Clinton Administration and opening the door to further delay with the transition of a new White House/President.
Last week, a federal status review, conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (http://news.fws.gov/salmon/asalmon.html) took a strong position on commercial aquaculture's contribution to the 'endangered' status of the Maine Atlantic salmon - laying the groundwork for today's announcement and confirming the need for immediate listing of the species under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. The two federal agencies produced a status review under a joint Biological Review Team (BRT) which concluded Maine's "Atlantic Salmon is in danger of extinction."
In August, after years of salmon restoration work with the state of Maine and federal agencies, TU and the Atlantic Salmon Federation were forced to file a lawsuit for federal protection of the Atlantic salmon under the Endangered Species Act, as a last resort attempt to save the United States' remaining wild Atlantic salmon runs from extinction. Both conservation organizations have been calling for regulation of the massive aquaculture industry which is virtually unregulated today.
Responding to sharp declines in Maine's remaining wild salmon populations, in 1995 the United States Fish and Wildlife Service proposed listing Atlantic salmon under the Endangered Species Act. In 1997, in lieu of protection under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service accepted the State of Maine's Conservation Plan. For the past several years, both ASF and TU, along with their respective Maine Councils, have worked to implement and improve the Plan. ASF and TU members have fought for protective water withdrawal regulations helped to build citizen watershed councils, and introduced legislation to strengthen the Maine Atlantic Salmon Authority.
Trout Unlimited, the nation's leading coldwater conservation organization, celebrated its 40th Anniversary this year. TU's 500 chapters and more than 100,000 members nationwide are committed to conserving, protecting and restoring North America's trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.