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(9th Circuit) Court rejects challenge to salmon rules from commercial fishermen

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld rules designed to protect Klamath River fall chinook salmon, rejecting a challenge brought by coastal fishermen whose business has been practically shut down this year.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a lower court that the rules were reasonable in managing a fishery "to maintain its long-term viability."

Ocean fishing was sharply curtailed this spring when NOAA Fisheries, for the third straight year, projected the returns of the wild Klamath River salmon to fall below 35,000 fish.

Commercial fishermen, supported by property rights advocates, had argued that hatchery fish ought to be counted along with wild fish in deciding whether to restrict the commercial ocean harvest. Counting hatchery fish could have boosted the numbers above the threshold of 35,000 returning chinook, they said, allowing the commercial season to continue.



The appeals court said it found nothing in the national fisheries law to prevent NOAA Fisheries from managing the wild Klamath chinook as a distinct stock of fish and taking protective measures to preserve it.

Russell Brooks, an attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, a property rights public interest law firm, said it was likely that he and his clients would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.





Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:15 AM  Pacific

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