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Five fish conservation organizations file suit against NOAA for failure to complete and implement recovery plan for Puget Sound steelhead

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 filed suit against the National Marine Fisheries Service 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.
Feb 16, 2016

WILD FISH CONSERVANCY
PO Box 402 Duvall, WA 98019 · Tel 425-788-1167 · Fax 425-788-9634 ·
info@wildfishconservancy.org
Contact: Kurt Beardslee, Wild Fish Conservancy, 425-788-1167
Brian Knutsen, Kampmeier & Knutsen, PLLC, 503-841-6515

Five fish conservation organizations file suit against NOAA for failure to complete and implement recovery plan for Puget Sound steelhead


Tuesday, February 16, 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 filed 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).

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 statue in a timely manner. Final recovery plans should generally be completed within 2.5 years of listing.

“It’s been over eight years since Puget Sound steelhead were listed as threatened under the ESA, “said Kurt Beardslee, executive director of Wild Fish Conservancy. “NOAA just announced it will be at least another four years, making it twelve years or more in total until they have completed the final recovery plan. That’s much too long of a delay given the status of the species. Major decisions are already being made in the absence of this plan, including determinations on the levels of harm that are deemed acceptable from hatcheries, what rivers are going to be managed for wild steelhead, and which important steelhead habitats must be protected and restored. The recovery plan is the roadmap for recovery.  It is urgently needed to inform ongoing efforts to protect and recover Puget Sound steelhead, Washington’s official State fish. Without a plan, recovery efforts are flying blind.”

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

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