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Challenging the Government’s Hatchery Listing Policy

Working with fertilized eggs in a salmon hatchery.

Working with fertilized eggs in a salmon hatchery.

NOAA Photo

What's at Stake

Earthjustice stalled and eventually reversed an attempt to reduce protection for salmon by forcing scientists to count hatchery fish along with wild ones.


The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service adopted a policy that would require fisheries scientists to count hatchery-bred salmon along with the population of wild salmon when making endangered species assessments. Because hatchery salmon are numerous, the intent was to mask the imperiled status of wild salmon and lift the protections of the Endangered Species Act.

Earthjustice sued on behalf of several conservation groups and groups of fishing enthusiasts, and on June 13, 2007, a federal court agreed that the policy was scientifically flawed and inconsistent with the Endangered Species Act.

The government appealed and the decision was overturned, but by that time the new Obama administration had taken office and the drive to eliminate listing policies to reduce protection for rare salmon and steelhead was abandoned.

Case ID


Case Updates

August 14, 2007 | Legal Document

Salmon ruling 8/14/07

Ruling that wild salmon must be counted separately from hatchery salmon when determining endangered species protections.