Species Act listing determinations due next week
for 27 West Coast salmon and steelhead stocks
will likely be delayed, according to officials
for the federal agency carrying out the status
variety of reasons," NOAA Fisheries spokesman
Brian Gorman said this week. "There are 27 ESUs
(evolutionarily significant units) we are
considering; some are tougher than others." The
agency is reviewing the status of 25 listed
stocks and two candidate species. The candidate
species include the Lower Columbia River and
Oregon Coast coho ESUs.
set of listing determinations was published in
the June 14, 2004, Federal Register. It
suggested adding the Lower Columbia coho to the
list and restoring the threatened listing for
the Oregon Coast coho, which was in large part
responsible for triggering the massive status
review for all the species.
Ore.-based U.S. District Court Judge Michael R.
Hogan in September 2001 ruled that the agency
wrongly excluded hatchery fish from the 1998
listing after they had been identified, along
with naturally spawning coho, by NOAA as part of
the ESU for the Oregon Coast coho stock. After a
series of legal exchanges the listing was
officially dissolved a year ago when the Ninth
Circuit Court of Appeals refused a request to
overturn Hogan's order.
NOAA announced late in 2001 that it would review
and update the hatchery policy used in making
its listing determinations and announced early
in 2002 that it had begun a review of the 25
listed stocks and two candidate species. The
proposed determinations issued last year
reaffirmed all 25 listings, though it did
suggest dropping two ESUs -- the Upper Columbia
steelhead and Sacramento River winter-run
chinook -- from endangered to threatened. The
proposal also elevated the Central California
Coast coho from threatened to the more
restrictive endangered listing.
proposals were aired during a fall-summer
comment period that was extended at the request
of U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon. The status
review documents have been refined during the
succeeding months and have been forwarded to
NOAA Fisheries' headquarters in Washington, D.C.
them are done," Gorman said of status reviews.
still shooting for final determinations on at
least 16 -- the salmon, the non-steelhead
reviews," said NOAA Fisheries' Scott Rumsey,
though he noted time is short to complete the
required administrative red tape.
in the queue," he said.
of timely determinations would not likely
include, however, the Oregon Coast coho. The
federal agency has only recently begun to weigh
new scientific information produced by the state
of Oregon -- the final Coast coho viability
assessment completed in early May.
communication from Bob Lohn indicates that they
are most likely going to take up to a six-month
extension" to review the viability report before
making a final determination, said Louise
Solliday of Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski's Natural
Resources office. That memo did indicate the
process is not expected to take the full month.
proposed steelhead listings are complicated by
other pending lawsuits that brought new
questions regard the relationship between
resident rainbow trout and anadromous steelhead,
both which carry the biological label of
oncorhynchus mykiss. Those lawsuits assert the
resident rainbow should be counted during
determinations of the status of steelhead
populations. A review of those issues was
launched in 2003.
listing determinations, or requests for
extensions, would have to be signed by NOAA
Director William T. Hogarth by Tuesday (June
Of the 27
status reviews conducted, 16 were prompted by
listing, or delisting, petitions from citizen
groups. NOAA elected to add 11 others thought
could potentially be affected by hatchery policy
decisions. Thirteen of the ESUs, include the
Lower Columbia coho, spawn in the Columbia
said he was unsure when the agency would release
its final hatchery policy.