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Wild Fish Conservancy Advocacy Initiatives

 

 

Read “An Overwhelming Body of Evidence: How Hatcheries are Jeopardizing Salmon Recovery”, an article from the Spring 2004 Washington Trout Report.

 

 

Washington Trout Joins Coalition to Challenge Puget Sound Salmon Harvest

 

The current fishing-management plan for Puget Sound is jeopardizing the recovery of chinook salmon, listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Some fishery standards appear to undermine the objectives of the Puget Sound Chinook Recovery Plan, nearly complete after years of effort. January 25, 2006 Washington Trout joined other regional salmon-recovery advocates in notifying the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that we intend to sue the agencies under the ESA over illegal harvest practices in Puget Sound.

The Salmon Spawning & Recovery Alliance, Washington Trout, the Native Fish Society, and the Clark-Skamania Flyfishers are asking NOAA Fisheries and USFWS to reinitiate ESA-consultation on the Puget Sound Comprehensive Chinook Management Plan: Harvest Management Component, a Resource Management Plan, or RMP, co-developed by the state and tribes for fisheries affecting Puget Sound chinook, and for NOAA Fisheries to reconsider its authorization of the RMP under the Puget Sound 4(d) Rule. We believe the Agencies’ Biological Opinion authorizing the RMP violated the ESA.

Read the complete Press Release

 

Administration Pitches New Salmon Policy.  Bush Administration Seeks Cuts to Salmon Harvest and Hatchery Reforms to Protect Fish, by Jeff Barnard. Associated Press Writer.  January 25th, 2006.

Bush Proposal would cut salmon catch, close harmful hatcheries, by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Staff and News Services.  The Seattle PI.  January 26th, 2006.

 

Administration Proposes Drastic Rollback in Salmon Habitat Protection

 

The Bush Administration has proposed a policy that would reduce and in places eliminate protection for habitat critical to the survival and recovery of ESA-listed wild salmon and steelhead.  The Administration’s proposed “Critical Habitat Designation” would roll back an important tool for protecting salmon and steelhead habitats. Historically, Salmon and steelhead occupied nearly 100,000 miles of rivers and streams in the Northwest. If this proposal is implemented, as little as 2700 miles of streams would be fully protected from degradation.  Please help by urging the Bush Administration to stop the roll back of critical habitat protection.

The loss and degradation of aquatic and riparian habitats from dams, logging, water diversions, development, and agriculture are among the primary reasons for the decline of the region’s wild salmon and steelhead resources.  Until this year, NOAA Fisheries protected all remaining habitat as critical to the survival and recovery of listed salmon and steelhead. In a sweeping reversal, the Administration is now proposing to eliminate nearly all of that protection in order to accommodate particular economic and social stakeholders. The proposal even attempts to argue that salmon and steelhead simply don’t need any more habitat to recover – a suggestion that flies in the face of current scientific opinion and the continuing decline of salmon and steelhead throughout the region. 

Now is our only chance to stop this harmful habitat policy before it is adopted.  Write the Bush Administration and tell them that wild salmon and steelhead need more habitat protection, not less. 

More information and the full text of the proposal is available at: http://www.nwr.noaa.gov/1salmon/salmesa/crithab/CHsite.htm

 

WT Comments on WDFW Columbia River Hatchery Plans

 

On October 28, 2004, a public-comment period ended regarding proposed management plans for 45 WDFW Columbia River salmon and steelhead hatchery programs. The Hatchery Genetic Management Plans (HGMPs) describe the goals, operational details, and environmental impacts of 10 chinook, two chum, 14 coho, and 19 steelhead hatchery programs in various lower Columbia River tributaries. WDFW will submit the HGMPs to NOAA Fisheries for authorization under the Endangered Species Act. WT submitted comments to WDFW finding the HGMPs inadequate for ESA approval, and urged WDFW to significantly revise its operational plans for Columbia Basin hatchery programs. Click here for the full text of WT’s review. Copies of the HGMPs, and WDFW’s response to public comments, are available at the WDFW website.

 

Washington Trout Opposes Proposed NOAA Hatchery Policy

 

In May 2004, The Bush Administration proposed a new policy regarding the treatment of hatchery and wild salmon and steelhead in federal ESA-listing decisions. The administration intends to count hatchery fish in determining health of individual stocks, something most scientists say likely will impede long-term recovery. The policy could result in the early and inappropriate removal of ESA protections from declining wild salmon populations and their habitats. The policy faces broad opposition throughout the region from scientists, wild-fish advocates, environmentalists, community leaders, regional policy makers, and members of Congress. On November 12, 2004, a public-comment period on the policy-proposal ended. Washington Trout joined other environmental groups in submitting comments opposing the proposal. Click here for the full text of Washington Trout’s comments. A final decision on the proposal is expected in spring 2005.  Detailed information about the proposal is available at: http://www.nwr.noaa.gov/AlseaResponse/20040528/index.html .

 

Click here for background information

 

WT Comments on Proposed Hatchery Steelhead Facility on the SkagitRiver

On July 22, a public comment period ended on a Draft Environmental Impact Statement issued by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for a new juvenile steelhead acclimation and rearing facility on the Skagit River. The DEIS evaluated two possible sites: (1) the confluence of Grandy Creek and the Skagit River, and (2) the existing Puget Sound Energy compound on the Baker River. WDFW is proposing to rear and release 334,000 hatchery steelhead at one of the sites, and another 200,000 at existing facilities at Barnaby Slough and the Marblemount Hatchery in the upper river. WT Board President Bill McMillan volunteered his time to lead the Washington Trout review of the DEIS and submit substantive comments, assisted by Wild Salmon Recovery Initiative staff. The review found the DEIS does not meet the state’s own standards of environmental review. The DEIS misrepresents the nature of the project to avoid evaluating its full impacts on wild fish, arbitrarily dismisses and does not adequately consider reasonable alternatives, and fails to even demonstrate whether the proposed project will improve hatchery-steelhead harvest or increase protection for wild steelhead. Click here for more information and to read WT’s full comments.

 

Promoting Better ESA Management in Puget Sound: WT Provides Input on Hatchery and Harvest Proposals

 

Washington Trout staff have been monitoring and reviewing state and federal proposals for improving fishing and hatchery management in Puget Sound. The Puget Sound Treaty Tribes and WDFW have prepared three “Resource Management Plans” for protecting Puget Sound chinook salmon, listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act since 1999. The three RMPs, one governing harvest activities and two for hatchery operations, have been submitted for approval to NOAA Fisheries, the federal agency in charge of managing listed salmon under the ESA. Both fishing and hatchery activities have been identified as factors in the decline of PS chinook. Under the 4d Rule for PS chinook, NOAA Fisheries must determine whether state/tribal plans to manage hatcheries and fisheries will adequately protect PS chinook populations and contribute to their recovery. In summer 2003, Washington Trout submitted substantial comments to WDFW regarding the individual hatchery plans associated with the two RMPs. Click here for the full article.

 

WT Submits Comments on New Puget Sound Salmon Harvest Plan

 

The public comment period ended on May 17, 2004 for the Proposed Evaluation and Pending Determination on a Resource Management Plan (RMP), Pursuant to the Salmon and Steelhead 4(d) Rule (PEPD) prepared by NOAA Fisheries. The PEPD analyses the Puget Sound Comprehensive Chinook Management Plan: Harvest Management Component (RMP), submitted to NOAA by the Puget Sound Treaty Tribes and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. If approved, the RMP would govern all fishing in Puget Sound until 2010, in order to protect Puget Sound chinook, listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act since 1999. Fishing carried out under the terms of the RMP would be exempt from ESA enforcement. Washington Trout reviewed the PEPD, the RMP, and relevant fisheries-management records and scientific literature and submitted our review to NOAA Fisheries. Read more, including the full text of WT’s comments.

 

Washington Trout, Native Fish Society, Environmental Community, Oppose New NOAA Hatchery Policy; Federal Policy Still Ignores Science, Opens Door for Inappropriate De-Listings

 

The Bush Administration is scheduled to formally announce on Friday a new policy regarding the treatment of hatchery and wild salmon and steelhead in federal ESA-listing decisions.  A one page draft of the policy, developed by NOAA Fisheries, the federal agency in charge of managing ESA-listed salmon and steelhead, was leaked several weeks ago, and appeared to indicate the administration intended to count hatchery fish with wild salmon in an attempt to remove ESA protections from declining wild populations, provoking broad opposition throughout the region from scientists, environmentalists, community leaders, regional policy makers, and members of Congress.

Since then, the administration has appeared to back away from some of the most potentially damaging immediate impacts of the policy, sending a letter to Congress stating that at least 25 of the 26 currently listed populations of salmon and steelhead would likely remain protected under the new policy. However, the administration has made no indication that it intended to revise any language presented in the leaked draft, and while temporarily retaining federal protections for wild fish stocks, the policy will still include hatchery fish along with wild fish in determining health of individual stocks, something most scientists say likely will impede long-term recovery. Read the full article

 

Washington Trout Comments on WDFW Puget Sound HGMPs

 

On August 1, a six-week public comment period ended for 79 salmon and steelhead Hatchery and Genetic Management Plans (HGMPs) developed by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for submission to the National Marine Fisheries Service. Washington Trout prepared and submitted comments regarding HGMPs for WDFW’s chinook, coho, and steelhead hatchery programs in Puget Sound. We found the HGMPS inadequate to warrant ESA authorization, and recommended that WDFW withdraw them for significant revision, and/or consider scaling back or discontinuing its Puget Sound hatchery program.

After reviewing the chinook, coho and steelhead HGMPs, WT identified several general concerns that run throughout many, and in some cases all, of the documents.  Our concerns include: