Salmon Delisted, End of the Farce
read the Judge's full
decision ( PDF), Pacific
Legal Foundation web page see link to Coho
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 13, 2001
Contact: Russell C. Brooks
PLF Applauds Federal Court’s Commonsense Judgment Requiring End to Salmon Farce;
Court Strikes down Federal Agency’s Use of "Politicized" Science
Bellevue, Washington; September 13, 2001 — Pacific Legal Foundation today hailed a ruling from a
federal judge affirming that hatchery-spawned salmon are biologically indistinguishable from
naturally spawned, so-called "wild" salmon, and reversing the action by the National Marine
Fisheries Service (NMFS) listing the Oregon Coast coho salmon as threatened under the
Endangered Species Act.
In its ruling today, the court called the NMFS listing of only the genetically indistinguishable "wild"
salmon "arbitrary." The 21-page decision issued by Judge Michael Hogan, sitting in Eugene, states
that, "the NMFS listing decision creates the unusual circumstance of two genetically identical coho
salmon swimming side-by-side in the same stream, but only one receives ESA protection while the
other does not."
"This ruling will go a long way in forcing NMFS to restore some level of common sense to listing
species under the Endangered Species Act," said Russell C. Brooks attorney for Pacific Legal
Foundation, representing the Alsea Valley Alliance.
"The judge’s decision paves the way for a thorough reexamination of the Oregon coho listing. If the
thousands of hatchery-spawned coho had been counted originally, their significant numbers would
have called into question the need for listing Oregon coho as a ‘threatened species’ in the first
place," said Brooks.
PLF argued that NMFS relied on "politicized" or "junk science" to list coho salmon and that, after
nearly 50 years of cohabitation, no genetic difference exists between hatchery coho and wild coho.
In documented accounts, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, under NMFS’ direction,
systematically slaughtered thousands of hatchery-spawned salmon and millions of their eggs in the
Alsea River basin between 1997 and 1999, claiming they were a threat to the genetic purity of
so-called "wild" salmon.
"It’s ironic," PLF’s Brooks declared. "Now that the court has decided that NMFS must count
hatchery coho in determining whether coho are indeed threatened, there are no more hatchery coho
in the Alsea River basin left to count. If these fish are listed now, it will be only because government
workers slaughtered them by the thousands."
"The sad truth is that only about 108 supposedly wild salmon returned to spawn in the Alsea River
basin in 1998, and only about 80 returned in 1999. Fortunately, however, now that the court has
recognized there is no genetic distinction between hatchery and wild coho, Oregon has the means
to recover the local coho population by restoring its hatchery program in the Alsea River basin,"
Pacific Legal Foundation is a nonprofit, public interest law organization dedicated to litigating
nationwide in defense of environmental balance, private property rights, and individual and
economic liberty. PLF’s Northwest Center is located in Bellevue, Washington.
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