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From the Native Fish Society:
How can fish that are manufactured in a hatchery be endangered? How can fish that are mass produced by the millions each year deserve protections under the Endangered Species Act — our nation’s most important species protection policy? How can an agency that says hatchery fish harm wild fish, turn around the next day and say hatchery and wild fish are practically the same?
These are the questions we’ve been asking since late October, when the federal agency in charge of recovering threatened salmon and steelhead, the National Marine Fisheries Service, released its proposal to protect 23 hatchery salmon and steelhead programs under the Endangered Species Act. You read that correctly, Endangered Species Act protections for hatchery salmon and steelhead — fish manufactured to support fisheries, not recover wild fish.
Why does this matter? If these hatchery stocks receive Endangered Species Act protections, a terrible precedent would be set: hatchery fish manufactured for harvest and best adapted to life in captivity would receive the same bedrock species protections as wild fish, which are best adapted for survival in nature. Such a precedent would further imperil wild salmon by ignoring their essential connection to their rivers of origin and blur the purpose of Endangered Species Act protections for all species. Let’s not forget, the intent of the Endangered Species Act is to protect and restore America’s imperiled wild species and their habitats, not manufacture them.
Just as concerning, the National Marine Fisheries Service’s proposal to protect these manufactured salmon and steelhead goes against the last 40 years of peer-reviewed scientific literature, which identifies significant differences between hatchery and wild fish. The agency, at minimum, needs to present the scientific justification for its proposal and provide the public with a sufficient opportunity for review and comment before it takes any action.
If you love wild salmon and steelhead and want to see them recovered in their native habitats, the time to speak up is now! Please sign our Action Alert and urge the National Marine Fisheries Service to delay its decision until it prepares an environmental impact statement, which outlines alternative actions and presents the best-available science supporting its decisions.