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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WILD FISH CONSERVANCY SUPPORTS ESA LISTING FOR PUGET SOUND STEELHEAD

A Statement From WFC Executive Director Kurt Beardslee

Wild Fish Conservancy welcomes the announcement by NOAA Fisheries that Puget Sound steelhead will be listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
May 07, 2007

 

 

PRESS STATEMENT

Wild Fish Conservancy

PO Box 402; Duvall, WA 98019 · 425/788-1167 · Fax 425/788-9634 · info@wildfishconservancy.org

Contact: Ramon Vanden Brulle; 425/788-1167 x222; ramon@wildfishconservancy.org

 

WILD FISH CONSERVANCY SUPPORTS ESA LISTING FOR PUGET SOUND STEELHEAD

A statement from WFC Executive Director Kurt Beardslee:
“Wild Fish Conservancy welcomes the announcement by NOAA Fisheries that Puget Sound steelhead will be listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The loss and degradation of steelhead habitat and the adverse ecological and genetic impacts from steelhead hatchery programs have limited the viability of PS steelhead, and current protective measures by state and local agencies are not adequately mitigating those threats. Without federal protection, PS steelhead would be more likely to face extinction within the foreseeable future.

“However, we do not support the decision to include several hatchery-steelhead populations in the listing. We are also concerned about NOAA’s decision not to list resident rainbow trout populations with PS steelhead. Available evidence suggests that at least some populations of resident rainbows contribute to the productivity of some steelhead populations, and could be essential for the recovery of PS steelhead. Failure to adequately protect resident rainbow populations in Puget Sound could jeopardize steelhead recovery.

“While NOAA’s decision is in general appropriate and welcome, it is hardly good news. Taken with the previous listings of Puget Sound chinook salmon, Hood Canal summer chum salmon, native bull trout, and Southern Resident killer whales, it is further acknowledgement that the ecology of Puget Sound and its tributary streams is in serious peril. Like wild salmon and resident killer whales, steelhead are an ecological and cultural icon of the region, but over recent decades they have declined dramatically. Despite that dramatic decline, the responsible state agencies have consistently failed to take needed management actions to protect steelhead habitat and end the harmful hatchery practices that erode the fitness and productivity of wild steelhead.

“NOAA’s Listing Decision for PS steelhead describes in frank detail instances of past and present management characterized by faulty assumptions, misjudgment, and inappropriate action. While steelhead and chinook have different life histories and only similar habitat needs, they share the same Puget Sound rivers and streams; they and their overlapping habitats are managed by the same agencies. Puget Sound chinook were listed as a threatened species in 1999, but nearly a decade later, chinook recovery in Puget Sound is still far from certain. Now Puget Sound steelhead are listed as threatened too. Clearly, a new approach is needed. More foot dragging, empty promises, and half measures will not recover Puget Sound steelhead.

“Wild Fish Conservancy urges NOAA Fisheries to use all the discretion and authority granted it under the ESA to take the strong, decisive actions necessary to recover Puget Sound’s wild-fish ecosystems.”

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