A Federal judge has put endangered Idaho wild salmon and steelhead on the court menu today, and he’s expressed hopes it will be the last time. Judge James Redden has asked for changes, based on the “best available science,” to the federal plan to keep endangered wild species from going extinct. He’s expressed doubts that plans submitted so far adequately meet requirements under the Endangered Species Act. A group of independent scientists released a report this week agreeing with that assessment.
Leanne Roulson is the president of the western division of the American Fisheries Society, which issued the report.
“Actions do not appear to be aggressive enough for addressing significant declines. Then, it suggests some examples for more aggressive actions.”
Those examples for preserving fish populations include habitat improvement that considers climate change, and better fish counts to track mortality. Federal plans so far have stated that the many dams along the Columbia and Snake Rivers have not harmed native fish – despite millions of fish disappearing, and some going extinct, as the dams were constructed. The Society’s focus, says Roulson, is rising above the political wrangling and concentrating on scientific data.
“We’re all about preserving and conserving the fisheries resource, while the political aspects of it are not really relevant to the stances we take or the opinions we put out there.”
The report also finds fault with the federal government’s reliance on so-called “rapid response” plans, which would be developed if fish numbers decreased. Roulson says populations already are on the decline and asks why wait to take action.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is the agency responsible for updating the latest salmon plan, and it has the full report.