FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Court Orders NOAA to Complete Recovery Plan for Puget Sound SteelheadAug 19, 2016
WILD FISH CONSERVANCY
PO Box 402 Duvall, WA 98019 • Tel 425-788-1167 • Fax 425-788-9634 •
Contact: Kurt Beardslee, Wild Fish Conservancy, 425-788-1167
Brian Knutsen, Kampmeier & Knutsen, PLLC, 503-841-6515
Court Orders NOAA to Complete Recovery Plan for
Puget Sound Steelhead
Friday, August 19, 2016- Today, led by Wild Fish Conservancy, a group of five conservation organizations, including The Conservation Angler, International Federation of Fly Fishers, Washington Fly Fishing Club, and Wild Steelhead Coalition settled their suit against the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for failing to complete and implement a recovery plan for Threatened Puget Sound steelhead as required by section 4(f) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The settlement agreement requires NMFS to develop a final recovery plan for the Puget Sound Steelhead Distinct Population Segment (DPS) by December 31, 2019. A draft recovery plan is also required and needs to be available for public comment by December 31, 2018.
NMFS has not completed a recovery plan for Puget Sound steelhead despite listing the species as threatened under the ESA in 2007 and assigning them a recovery priority number of 1—the highest priority. The ESA requires NMFS to prepare and implement recovery plans for species listed under the statute in a timely manner. Final recovery plans should generally be completed within 2.5 years of listing.
“This is a huge win for Puget Sound wild steelhead,” said Kurt Beardslee, executive director of Wild Fish Conservancy. “This recovery plan is long overdue. It’s very frustrating that it takes a Court-enforceable order to finally motivate the agency to complete a recovery plan for a threatened species that was listed nine years ago. Regardless of what NMFS will say, I can assure you that they would have delayed completion of the plan much longer if they were not under the order resulting from this lawsuit and settlement.”
A recovery plan is essential to determine what is necessary to prevent the extinction of Puget Sound steelhead and to ensure that ongoing and future projects and management actions are consistent with recovery of the species. As a result of NMFS’ delay, funds are not being allocated to projects aimed at protecting and restoring important steelhead habitat, and ongoing projects like the domesticated Chambers Creek hatchery programs that are harming the species continue to move forward.
Puget Sound wild steelhead numbers are at approximately 3% of their historical abundance and, according to NMFS, most of its component populations face a high risk of extinction. Estimates of mean population growth rates for the majority of populations are declining—several at rates as high as 3 to 10% annually.
The groups are represented by Kampmeier & Knutsen, PLLC of Portland, OR and Seattle, WA.
Link - Wild Fish Conservancy, The Conservation Angler, International Federation of Fly Fishers Steelhead Committee, Washington Fly Fishing Club, and Wild Steelhead Coalition vs. National Marine Fisheries Service