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Judge Rules for Wild Salmon

How High Can You Count?

The National Marine Fisheries Service, responding to an earlier suit by developers and agricultural interests, announced that it would begin to count hatchery-bred salmon along with wild fish in determining whether a given subspecies warranted protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Not So Fast

Fishing groups and environmental organizations filed suit in federal court in Seattle, pointing out that federal scientists disagreed with this policy. They alleged violations of the Endangered Species Act and pointed out that the highest purpose of hatcheries is to assist in the restoration of wild stocks, not to replace them.

Hatchery Does Not Equal Wild

In mid June, 2007, the judge ruled that counting hatchery salmon (and steelhead, subject of a different but related suit) along with wild populations when deciding Endangered Species Act protections, is illegal. This should strengthen protection for wild salmon habitat, which is key to their recovery.