Federal judge denies Oregon coho listing

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Threatened-species listing overruled.

Friday, September 14, 2001

By JEFF BARNARD, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

GRANTS PASS, Ore. -- A federal judge has thrown out the threatened-species listing for Oregon coastal coho salmon.

U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan said federal biologists were wrong to make a distinction between wild and hatchery fish.

In a lawsuit brought by the Alsea Valley Alliance, Judge Hogan's ruling sent the 1998 listing of Oregon coastal coho as a threatened species back to the National Marine Fisheries Service for further consideration.

"Theoretically, this could affect all listings" of salmon in the western United States, NMFS spokesman Brian Gorman said.

The Eugene judge wrote in his Monday ruling that NMFS acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner when it made a distinction between fish spawning in the wild and fish spawned in hatcheries, when they could breed together as part of the same group.

NMFS originally had decided not to list coho salmon on the Oregon coast, deferring to Gov. John Kitzhaber's groundbreaking Oregon Salmon Plan, which sought to promote voluntary improvements and protections of salmon habitat on private lands, where the bulk of coho habitat is located.

But environmentalists sued, and another federal judge ruled that voluntary protections were not sufficient under the Endangered Species Act.

NMFS has not analyzed the ruling yet, and has not decided whether to appeal. However, state protections remaining in force would continue to protect coho, Gorman said.
 

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