Salmon at risk?
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1995:
WASHINGTON D.C.––The U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service
jointly proposed on September 28 that Atlantic salmon
should be listed as threatened in Maine, but not in the rest
of its historic range, as requested by Protect the North
Woods, because south of Maine the salmon are already lost
as a distinct species through overfishing, habitat loss, and
hybridization with introduced strains.
Maine governor Angus King charged that the proposed
listing would cause undue economic hardship.
Earlier, NMFS proposed listing the Coho salmon
as endangered from Monterey Bay, California, to the
Columbia River in Washington, sparking furor in the west.
Both proposals may be academic: Congress has
placed a moratorium on listing new endangered and threatened
species, pending revision of the Endangered Species
Act. But taking no chances, NMFS, the Bonneville Power
Administration, and the Northwest Power Planning Council
are reportedly negotiating a spending cap of circa $435 million
annually to restore salmon runs on the Columbia and
Snake Rivers, most affected by the proposed Coho listing––and
are apparently also negotiating a 10-year suspension
of application of the Endangered Species and Clean
Water Acts in connection with salmon restoration. This
would be to preclude lawsuits from parties dissatisfied with
the deal––such as the Sierra Club on the conservation side
and the Columbia River Alliance on the wise-use side.
The Coho listing proposal was unveiled the same
day that the California Department of Fish and Game
announced a probable catch of more than a million Chinook
salmon this year, up from 445,000 last year. The commercial
catch was estimated at about 80% of the expected total.
Despite the boom, the California commercial salmon season
was temporarily closed in June to protect the threatened
Klamath run. Wise-users argued that the apparent abundance
of Chinook indicates salmon are overall still numerous,
but Pacific Coast Fishermen’s Association executive
director Zeke Grader pointed out that this year’s Chinook
salmon runs were spawned in 1992 and 1993, when the
Endangered Species Act was extended to protect winter-run
Chinook and the Central Valley Improvement Act of 1992
took effect, amending water pumping priorities to benefit
salmon rivers. Both laws are now jeopardized by Congress.
While Californians disputed over the plenitude of
Chinook, Native Americans, Canada, the states of Oregon,
Washington, and Alaska feuded through the summer over a
regional Chinook shortage. Canada cut its Chinook catch
limit in half, but Alaska cut its limit by just 4%.