Posted on April 28 2014
Positive Action on Puget Sound Wild Steelhead Recovery
Wild Fish Conservancy and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) have settled the lawsuit filed by the Conservancy March 31, 2014 seeking Endangered Species Act (ESA) compliance for WDFW’s “Chambers Creek” hatchery winter steelhead programs. Since the first listing of Puget Sound salmon under the ESA in 1999, almost all of WDFW’s hatchery programs in the region have continued to produce and release hatchery salmonids without the evaluation and legal permission required under the ESA. Under the settlement, WDFW will cease planting Chambers Creek hatchery steelhead in all Puget Sound rivers but one, until NOAA approves each specific hatchery program. The settlement also establishes a twelve-year moratorium of such hatchery plants in the Skagit River system, Puget Sound’s largest tributary and most important wild steelhead river.
If we (those of us who applaud this decision) can come together all at once, there might be hope for these fish. But if we sit idly around and wait for the person next to us to act first, this decision will not be as fruitful as it potentially can be.
This is Washington’s state fish we are fighting for here, a sizable piece of this region’s identity.
photo Dave McCoy