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Commentaries and editorials

Salmon Relisted under ESA

by Timothy M. Harris
Seattle Post-Intelligencer - November 23, 2004

Richard Simms' Nov. 18 column "Bush proposal not good for wild fish" is based on pure fantasy. He bemoans the Bush administration's salmon-hatchery policy, stating that it would "erode protections for wild salmon and steelhead under the Endangered Species Act." If Simms had actually read National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration proposal, he would have known that the administration proposes to relist each and every salmon population listed under the ESA by the Clinton administration.

In the meantime, salmon are returning in record numbers. Hatchery and wild fish have been interbreeding for 100 years and are genetically indistinguishable from one another. Hatchery eggs are harvested from naturally spawning fish. After leaving the hatchery, fish spend the vast majority of their lives fighting for food in the ocean and frequently spawn in the wild. There is no serious argument that they represent different "species" as defined under the ESA. They should be listed together, but are not -- neither under the Clinton plan nor under Bush's plan -- contrary to Simms' politically slanted opinion.

Simms correctly states the hatchery policy is harmful -- in fact, the relisting of salmon population units unnecessarily keeps Washington citizens subject to the ESA's grappling strictures. Jobs are lost. Property values are driven up. Energy costs skyrocket. Our economy is suffering because of government overregulation such as salmon listings under the ESA. The administration should toss the hatchery policy and the unlawful salmon listings.

Related Pages:
Bush No Friend of the Environment by Jay Inslee, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 10/5/4

Timothy M. Harris General counsel, Building Industry Association of Washington
Salmon Relisted under ESA
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, November 23, 2004

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