[env-trinity] Hatchery Fish Equal Wild Fish? Record Searchlight Editorial

Byron bwl3 at comcast.net
Mon Dec 19 14:28:16 PST 2005

Editorial: Lawsuits aside, wild fish worth preserving

Redding Record-Searchlight - 12/18/05


A lawsuit filed last week by the Pacific Legal Foundation, a group of
property-rights lawyers, seeks to force the federal government to count
hatchery-born salmon on an equal basis along with their wild cousins when
deciding to list runs of West Coast coho, chinook and sockeye as threatened
or endangered. 


Both the law and the biology pose complicated questions in this arena. 


An Oregon judge recently ruled that federal fisheries biologists must
consider hatchery fish in making their judgments (which is only sensible,
the fish being in the river and all), but the government and
environmentalists argue that the ruling wasn't intended to make wild and
hatchery fish equal. 


Hatchery-raised salmon commonly are used to bolster thin runs, which makes
them a valuable tool to restore fisheries, but biologists also say that
hatchery fish can sometimes outfeed and outspawn wild runs, hurting those
valuable populations. 


The only sure thing is that this fight won't end any time soon. 


Property-rights advocates want federal bureaucrats off their backs. Who
doesn't? In the bigger picture, though, the debate over the legal status of
human-raised fish is a red herring. Hatcheries are, at best, crutches to
keep broken salmon runs limping along, and all fish ultimately need the same
clean water to thrive. 


Whatever the dictates of the Endangered Species Act, the healthy creeks and
rivers that are essential to the survival of wild salmon runs are well worth



Byron Leydecker

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

Advisor, California Trout, Inc

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 ph

415 383 9562 fx

bwl3 at comcast.net

bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org





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