Latest Steelhead Ruling
by Sonya D. Jones
On June 13, Judge Coughenour of the Western District of Washington, issued an opinion that effectively discounts the positive impact hatchery fish can have in restoring naturally spawning fish of the same variety. The case is Trout Unlimited v. Lohn.
In the opinion, Judge Coughenour stated the overall purpose of the Endangered Species Act is to protect the so called naturally occurring segments of distinct fish populations.
Further, Judge Coughenour said that the requirement mandated by the fishery service's hatchery policy to consider both natural and hatchery segments of the same populations run contrary to that purpose. However, nothing in the plain language of the ESA supports either proposition.
The stated purpose of the ESA is "to provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species depend may be conserved...."
The plain language of the ESA simply does not allow for judicial distortion to the point that any imaginable fragment of a species be subject to a listing.
This decision is in direct conflict with PLF's victory in Alsea Valley Alliance v. Evans, issued by Judge Hogan in the District of Oregon, which stated that both natural and hatchery members of the same population cannot be distinguished for listing purposes.
That was a sound decision based on the plain language of the Endangered Species Act.
Pacific Legal Foundation will appeal the latest decision and welcomes review by the 9th Circuit.
This challenge is imperative to uphold the plain language of the ESA and to protect citizens from the overreaching and overzealous governmental regulation of private property.
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