Suit will Allege State Hatcheries Hurt Wild Fishby Staff
Seattle Post-Intelligencer - June 28, 2002
DUVALL -- Environmentalists yesterday moved to sue the state, charging that Washington's operation of 18 salmon hatcheries around Puget Sound violates Endangered Species Act protections of wild chinook salmon.
Duvall-based Washington Trout notified the Department of Fish and Wildlife of its intention to sue in 60 days, a step legally required before the lawsuit formally can be filed.
The 11-page notification of intent to sue cites scientific evidence that hatchery-bred salmon represent a threat to the wild salmon. The hatchery-bred salmon compete with wild salmon for food, eat wild salmon and harm the gene pool of the wild fish, scientists say.
Washington Trout's action represents one of the few times anyone has sought to prove legally that operation of salmon hatcheries violates the Endangered Species Act.
The action comes as the National Marine Fisheries Service, which administers Endangered Species Act protections for salmon, wrestles with how hatchery-bred salmon should be treated under the law.
The agency had intended to wrap up its yearlong review of the question next fall, but recently announced that its decision would be delayed due to the complexity of the issue.
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