[env-trinity] Redding.com: Court rules in favor of fish hatcheries

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Thu Feb 12 07:40:15 PST 2015


Court rules in favor of fish hatcheries
Damon Arthur 
5:56 PM, Feb 11, 2015
9:46 PM, Feb 11, 2015
REDDING, California - A state appeals court issued a ruling this week in favor of public and private fish hatcheries and fish stocking programs.
Officials said the ruling was a “huge win” that allows the state to continue to operate its fish hatcheries and continue to plant fish in streams and lakes statewide.
“This victory means we’ll get to continue our hatchery and stocking program and provide recreational opportunities for anglers throughout the state,” said Jordan Traverso, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
An adverse ruling would have meant the department would have had to perform more fish-stocking studies. It also would’ve put the fish-stocking program at risk, Traverso said.
While state officials were happy with the court’s decision, a group representing private fish hatcheries and fish farmers also celebrated the ruling because it required Fish and Wildlife to re-do the process of writing regulations covering the aquaculture industry.
Private fish hatcheries and fish farmers said the cost of complying with Fish and Wildlife regulations would have driven many private fish hatcheries out of business.
The state 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled the Department of Fish and Wildlife did not follow state laws requiring it to provide public notice and hold hearings on the regulations before they were enacted.
“This court ruling is a powerful victory for everyone who values recreational fishing opportunities and for everyone who values openness and accountability in government,” said Joshua Thompson, an attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, which handled the case against Fish and Wildlife for the California Association for Recreational Fishing.
There are more than 20 private fish hatcheries in California, raising such species as trout, catfish and bass, said Craig Elliott, president of CARF. He said the expensive environmental reports and monitoring the state wanted to impose would have been financially crippling.
The North State is home to at least one private fish hatchery, Mt. Lassen Trout Farm near Manton.
Environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, sued the state in 2006, claiming it did not adequately assess the environmental impacts of its fish stocking programs. Then in 2010, when the state finished its environmental assessments, the center, CARF and other groups sued the state again.
The center said the reports were not thorough enough, while CARF said the state illegally required private fish farms and hatcheries to write expensive, in-depth environmental reports. CARF also argued the state did not adequately involve the public in writing up the new regulations.
On Wednesday, a Center for Biological Diversity official said he disagreed with the court’s decision.
“We’re disappointed with the court’s decision. We feel like the court got it wrong,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species coordinator for the Center for Biological Diversity.
He said the center did not plan to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.
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