Salmon Policy Coordinator
7/25/2002 -- PORTLAND, ORE. -- – In what could be a harbinger of future policy decisions regarding wild-versus-hatchery salmon and steelhead protection under the Endangered Species Act, the National Marine Fisheries Service today announced it would officially consider petitions to define and list the wild fish only of 15 Pacific salmon and steelhead stocks, forgoing ESA protection for hatchery fish in the same waters.
Today’s announcement follows NMFS’ release Wednesday of a draft policy that would seek Endangered Species Act protections for wild salmon stocks in their natural habitats even if it means hatchery fish in the same waters must be protected as well. However, that policy spells out clearly that hatchery fish when mingled with wild fish – especially severely depleted wild populations – can further harm the wild populations. In those cases, the policy could recommend changes in listing status and/or hatchery operation.
“The line that science delineates so clearly between wild stocks and hatchery fish appears to be getting clearer by statute now as well,” said Kaitlin Lovell of Trout Unlimited, which submitted the petitions along with 16 other groups in April. “We’re hopeful that NMFS’ indictments yesterday of the harm that can come from mixing hatchery and wild fish coupled with their acceptance of these petitions today indicates there’s a policy taking shape that is finally serious about wild fish protection.”