TWO STEELHEAD ESU'S LISTED, THREE SKIPPED
Fisheries and Conservation News from the Pacific
Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations and the Insititute
for Fisheries Resources
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Pursuant to court order in litigation brought by salmon conservation
advocates, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) today announced
its listing decisions on the remaining five (5) populations of steelhead that
it was supposed to make decisions on February 6th. Today it announced
"threatened" status for a population in the Lower Columbia River ESU
(ESU means an "Evolutionarily Significant Unit," or the population unit
used by NMFS to identify distinct stocks) lying partly in Washington and
partly in Oregon, and "threatened" status (rather than the more serious
"endangered" status originally proposed) for the Central Valley California
ESU spanning the Central Valley from just north of Red Bluff to just south
of Modesto, California.
However, NONE of the three coastal ESU were listed by NMFS at this
time, though they were placed in "candidate status," which means their
status will be reviewed within 4 years. However, "candidate status"
confers no additional protections and does not count as a listing under the
ESA, thus there are none of the "no take" restrictions or private right of
enforcement remedies available to these fish that would have been available
under a formal listing. The three ESUs which NMFS refused to list where
the "Northern California ESU," the "Klamath Mountain Province ESU"
and the "Oregon Coast ESU."
NMFS cited both the Oregon Salmon Recovery Plan (now containing a
new steelhead amendment) and the newly forming California recovery
efforts as the reason they felt no ESA protections were necessary for these
coastal ESUs. However, the Oregon Plan has been challenged in court by
fishermen as inequitable, inconsistent and biologically inadequate, and
California's efforts have been seen mostly as little more than an effort by
the timber industry to delay listings, not as a serious recovery effort.
Commercial fishermen have also been very critical of California's so-called
recovery efforts' to date. "It has all been smoke and mirrors," said Zeke
Grader, Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's
Associations, the west coast's largest organization of commercial
fishermen. "So far all we see from the California Governor's office is a lot
of paper and promises. What we want to see is more water in the rivers
and an end to practices that destroy salmon habitat and kill California's
watersheds. Our industry has lost tens of thousands of jobs. We need real
commitment, not promises."
NMFS has entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the State of
California which, among other things, requires the California Board of
Forestry to revise and update its Forest Practices Rules in light of
recommendations to be made by NMFS. A similar process is ongoing with
the Oregon Board of Forestry. However, timber interests have lobbied
heavily against making needed changes in both states, which would include
wider and more widespread buffer zones around streams and rivers,
including upland non-fish bearing streams that feed sediment downriver.
Recreational and commercial fishing interests and Tribal interests have
strongly supported these changes, noting that these kinds of reforms are
what scientists are saying will be needed to reduce the impacts of logging
on salmon habitat and ultimately to recover these fish.
Details of the NMFS listing proposals, including their press release, fact
sheets and ESU maps are available for downloading on the Internet from
their Northwest Region Home Page at:
Go to their "Recent News" section and follow the links from there.
ALSO available from that web site are the proposed forest practice rule
reforms issued by NMFS to the Oregon Board of Forestry on February
17th, 1998. These proposals are expected to be the model for similar
proposals to the Calfornia Board of Forestry in the near future, and are
being looked at as standards for the Headwater's HCP as well. You can
go directly to the Web page with those proposals by going to:
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