these salmon caged in a Ketchikan hatchery
Copper River King Salmon:
Here in the Pacific Northwest, we take our salmon very seriously indeed. You would immediately understand why the first time you bit into the tender, succulent flesh of the first Copper River king salmon of the season (coming in mid-June!). It is the finest salmon in the world bar none. But the future of this and all Northwest wild salmon will be put in jeopardy if an anonymous Bush Administration bureaucrat has his way.
The New York Times today notes in Shift on Salmon Reignites Fight on Species Law that the Bush Administration is trying to foist another environmental depredation on the American people, declaring that the count used to determine whether salmon is an endangered species (and thereby provided with special environmental protection hindering the timber industry’s ability to harvest maximum timber yields in the West) should, for the first time include farm-raised salmon. To me, that’s akin to the ‘magic’ by which the Reagan Administration declared ketchup a vegetable in order to allow nutrient-deficient school lunches to pass muster under federal nutritional guidelines.
Another way to look at it would be if, say, the feds decided that the wolf count (they are currently an endangered species in several regions) would include all wolves living in captivity (zoos) as well.
It defeats the entire purpose of the endangered species act to include captive-bred animals within a species count. In labeling a species endangered, the word ‘endangered’ refers to its condition within its native habitat. It doesn’t refer to some abstract construct created by some industry hack who’s moved into a position of power within the federal bureaucracy that allows him to open the door of the chicken coop to his fox friends.
The article details the legal noodling of one Mark C. Rutzick, the former top lawyer for the timber industry, who is now firmly ensconced as legal adviser to the National Marine Fisheries Service.
[As a lobbist he tried] to overturn fish and wildlife protections that loggers viewed as overly restrictive. Back then, he outlined to his clients a new strategy for dealing with diminishing salmon runs. By counting hatchery fish along with wild salmon, the government would help the timber industry by getting salmon off the endangered species list, Mr. Rutzick wrote.
Now, as a high-ranking political appointee in the Bush administration, Mr. Rutzick is helping to shape government policy on endangered Pacific salmon. And in an abrupt change, the Bush administration has decided for the first time to consider counting fish raised in hatcheries when determining if some species are going extinct.
are raised at hatchery on Snake River
and released into its waterways
(credit: Jeff T. Green for New York Times)
Take a look at the photo to the left. If Rutzick and his timber indsutry buddies have their way, the tens of millions of salmon raised in fish factories (also known as hatcheries) like the ones pictured here would allow the feds and the timber folks to further denude our gorgeous western forests.
I say its deplorable. A twisting of the endangered species law–a perversion of legislative intent. I hope that our western Congressional representatives, both Democrat and Republican, will nip this idiotic end run around the law in the bud.
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