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  • PLF Vows Appeal of Salmon Ruling So That All Fish Get Counted

    Sonya D. Jones, Attorney,  Pacific Legal Foundation

    SACRAMENTO, California; August 15, 2007: A court ruling this week that permits federal regulators to ignore vast numbers of fish when deciding whether salmon are “endangered” or “threatened” will be appealed, attorneys with Pacific Legal Foundation announced. A federal District Court in Eugene, Oregon, dismissed a PLF lawsuit that challenged all 16 Endangered Species Act listings of West Coast salmon because federal officials have been leaving hatchery salmon out of the equation for determining whether salmon need special regulatory protection.

    PLF attorneys represent farmers, property owners, and fishing families who face stringent restrictions because of unnecessary federal listing of salmon. The lawsuit argues that the National Marine Fisheries Service is obliged by the ESA itself to consider the entire population of salmon, when deciding whether regulation is necessary.

    “Federal law says that all the salmon should be counted, and all the salmon should count,” said Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Sonya Jones. “Regulators do not have license to pick and choose which salmon they’ll pay attention to and which ones they’ll ignore. For this reason, the case is not over. We’re appealing, so that the federal officials will be required to do their job under the ESA.”

    “Not only does the law say that regulators can’t do a low-ball estimate of salmon, science and common sense argue against leaving hatchery salmon out of the equation,” Jones continued. “Hatchery salmon are real salmon. They’re biologically the same as stream-spawned fish. Most stream-spawned salmon are descended from hatchery fish.”

    “This case has important real-world consequences for the people and the economy of the Northwest,” said Jones. “When regulators put their hands over their eyes and act as if a large segment of the salmon population doesn’t exist, they’re more likely to impose harsh regulations on property owners and businesses, to ‘protect’ a species because they’ve deliberately underestimated its population.”

    The case is Alsea Valley Alliance v. Lautenbacher.

    Pacific Legal Foundation is the nation’s leading litigator against abusive or negligent regulatory actions under the ESA that impose regulations not required by the biological status of species or authorized by the terms of the law.

    About Pacific Legal Foundation
    Pacific Legal Foundation (www.pacificlegal.org) is the oldest and largest public interest legal organization dedicated to property rights, limited government, and a balanced approach to environmental protection.

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