12/6/1999 -- -- Charles Gauvin, president of Trout Unlimited, said King "continues to rely on voodoo science and unsubstantiated claims about the Endangered Species Act in the hope that it will save him from making the tough decisions to save the salmon."
At the Maine Council of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, executive director Andrew Goode said King was undermining relations between salmon conservationists and government biologists.
"The federal agencies, salmon advocates and private industry, to some degree, are working together right now," Goode said. "The governor is the one doing the polarizing."
At issue is the recent recommendation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Maine Fisheries Service that the wild salmon should be listed as endangered in eight Maine rivers, because of a risk that they may become extinct. The agencies praised a 1997 state conservation plan to protect the fish, but said it was not addressing new threats, such as disease.
In the Internet speech, King said the agencies have not given the state enough time to carry out the plan and should be doing more to solve problems facing salmon at sea, where the state has no jurisdiction.
King also questioned whether salmon in the rivers are really genetically distinct wild fish, because government biologists have stocked fish from different waters in the rivers over the years.
The governor warned that an endangered species listing would bring about "a partial takeover by the federal government of Washington, Penobscot and other counties" where the rivers are located. That's because the agencies would have authority to regulate aquaculture, blueberry growing and logging to protect salmon.
Gauvin, at Trout Unlimited, said there is no credible scientific support for King's questions about the genetic identity of the fish, and that highly respected fisheries scientists have concluded Maine salmon qualify for federal protection.
He also disputed the governor's argument that a listing would cause an economic catastrophe.
"Twenty-six years of applying the Endangered Species Act to trout and salmon has taught us that local economies don't crumble, the lights do not go out, and the sky does not fall," Gauvin said. "This is fear mongering at its worst."
King videotaped a 30-minute talk explaining his position on the endangered species listing and posted it on the Internet Thursday, after Maine public television rejected his request for 30 minutes of air time. The station said the listing issue was not an emergency and that King would have other opportunities on public TV to present his case.
Staff Writer Dieter Bradbury can be contacted at 791-6328 or at: email@example.com.
Governor King's Speech
Portland Press Herald Article: King Speech on Salmon Attacked
Associated Press Article: Trout Unlimited Lashes Out at King's Speech
Washington Post Article: Maine Stews Over Plan to Override Salmon Policy