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Fishing groups sue about reduction of salmon season
Feds say weak runs of chinook caused commercial cuts
June 4, 2005
EUGENE -- Two commercial fishing groups have filed a lawsuit charging that the government's decision to eliminate more than half of the commercial trolling salmon season along parts of the West Coast violates federal law.
Holding signs reading, "Let us fish" and "Stop killing our communities," about 50 fisherman gathered Friday at U.S. District Court in Eugene to announce the lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service.
"While the ocean is teeming with salmon, the government is telling these people they can't fish," said Russ Brooks, an attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, which joined commercial fishermen, the Oregon Trollers Association and the Siuslaw Fishermen's Association in the lawsuit.
Federal officials have said that meager runs of Klamath River chinook salmon prompted the sharp reductions.
The dispute centers on how to determine the strength of salmon runs, which in turn determine the amount of fishing that can be done.
The fisherman say the strong hatchery fish runs should translate to heavier fishing, but federal biologists say they must protect the wild salmon -- whose numbers are low -- under the Endangered Species Act, regardless of how many hatchery fish are in the ocean.
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