Filed in King County Superior Court, the lawsuit alleges that the Department has been ignoring the requirements of the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) since 2018, when it suspended key components of a science-based hatchery reform policy designed to prevent state hatcheries from continuing to contribute to the decline of wild populations of salmon and steelhead and from impeding their recovery. This significant action to abandon science-based hatchery reform was taken without any public notice and was widely criticized, including in a letter signed by 77 prominent fisheries and orca scientists and advocates, who called on Governor Inslee to reinstate the science-based policy recommendations and another letter delivered to the Washington legislature by five former Fish and Wildlife Commissioners responsible for implementing the hatchery reform policy in the early 2000’s.

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