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Feds propose re-listing coho
 
-- A federal appeals court found that not all of the coho salmon were counted the first time.
 
-- Comment period ends on Nov. 12.
 
By Liz Bowen, assistant editor, Pioneer Press, Fort Jones, California 10/20/04
 
YREKA, CALIFORNIA - "We need to make comments before Nov. 12," said Leo Bergeron, president of the Greenhorn Grange, on the re-listing proposal of the coho salmon to the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
 
Coho are plentiful all along the Pacific Coast, according to Bergeron, "I can't understand how they could possibly list it again."
 
The Greenhorn Grange, based in Yreka, supported the Alsea Valley Alliance in its lawsuit against the ESA listing of coho. That was an Oregon case and Alsea Valley Alliance won against the federal NOAA Fisheries agency. Green enviro groups then appealed the decision, which sent the case to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Pacific Legal Foundation litigated the case for Alsea Valley Alliance.
 
Grange has also supported the same type of lawsuit in the Klamath area of California regarding the coho salmon ESA listing. Unfortunately, for California, the delisting was only good for the Oregon coho.
 
"It is critical that we write our comments," said Bergeron. "The listing should be voided. The coho are not native here. They were planted here for a hundred years."
 
The de-listing court case
 
Last February or 2004, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the listing of the coho salmon by the NOAA Fisheries to the federal Endangered Species Act was not valid. At issue was the counting of wild coho and the non-counting of hatchery coho.
Since then, there is has been wrangling by polarized groups and the de-listing has not taken place. All the while, sport fishing of coho has continued off the coast of Oregon.
 
Sports fishermen were able to catch 80,000 coho in 2003
 
Coho caught off of the coast of California must be returned to the ocean. Sport fishing of coho is not allowed on the south side of the invisible line between Oregon and California, although the coho do not notice the boundaries of the states and swim where they want to.
 
But coho can be caught and kept off the coast of Oregon.

In the summer of 2003, the limit for harvesting coho along the Oregon coast was increased from 20,000 to 80,000.
 
But by May of 2004, NOAA Fisheries officials stated they were going to include hatchery coho in their studies and put the coho back up for re-listing with the ESA.
 
In early June of 2004, NOAA Fisheries published proposals for its hatchery listing policy and other listing determinations and announced 90-day public comment periods.
 
Then in late August 2004, after a last-ditch appeal by the green enviros, the U.S. Ninth District Circuit Court denied any change in its decision on coho.
 
Oregon Senator asked for an extension on comments
 
Because of the legal controversies, Oregon Senator Gordon Smith asked NOAA Fisheries to extend the comment period to November 12. The agency complied. NOAA Fisheries is also proposing ESA listing determinations for 26 other West Coast salmon and steelhead.
 
The coho issue remains confusing. But those who have kept an eye on coho limbo have learned that politics has reigned supreme.
 
California listed the coho
 
In California, where much of the same data was used by the Department of Fish and Game, the fish was listed by the state Fish and Game Commission to the state Endangered Species Act on Aug. 5.
 
SOSS the Save Our Shasta and Scott Valleys and Towns coalition, in Siskiyou County, California, opposed the listing of coho to the state Endangered Species Act. At its meeting on Oct. 11, the officers of SOSS voted to oppose the re-listing of coho to the federal Endangered Species Act.
 
More organizations oppose the re-listing
 
Jim Wilson, a SOSS leader, said the officers authorized the funds for SOSS Attorney Dan O'Hanlon to write up yet another letter with documented facts and data; and send it to NOAA Fisheries before the Nov. 12 deadline.
 
Dan Keppen, executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association in Klamath Falls, said his group is working with the Pacific Legal Foundation and, once again, opposes the listing. Their comments against the listing have been sent to NOAA  Fisheries.
 
Address for comment letters
 
Write to:  Chief of Protected Resources Division, NMFS, 525 NE Oregon Street, Suite 500, Portland, Ore. 97232- 2737. Comments on this proposed rule may be submitted by e-mail. The mailbox address for providing e-mail comments is salmonnwr@noaa.gov. Include in the subject line of the e-mail comment the following document identifier: 040525161-4161-01.
 

 

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