Falsifying Salmon numbers to remove protection [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Falsifying Salmon numbers to remove protection

05-08-2004, 10:43 PM
here is an updated story. and it looks like this might be another of those 'forums' that industry leaders conducted 'privately', that might erupt in yet another court case about public access to decision makers.


Shift on Salmon Reignites Fight on Species Law-pg 1


Published: May 9, 2004

EATTLE, May 8 — Three years ago, Mark C. Rutzick was the timber industry's top lawyer trying 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 who is a legal adviser to the National Marine Fisheries Service, 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.

The new plan, which officials have said is expected to be formally announced at the end of the month, closely follows the position that Mr. Rutzick advocated when he represented the timber industry.

Mr. Rutzick, a Portland lawyer who was suggested for the fisheries job by Senator Gordon H. Smith, Republican of Oregon, would not comment on his role in shaping government salmon policy. Officials at the fisheries service say Mr. Rutzick was part of a working group that shaped the new plan, but would not give further details.

The policy shift has caused a furor among some members of the scientific community and has touched off a fresh battle over what may be the nation's most powerful environmental law.

To most biologists, salmon that are born and raised in a cement tank are no replacement for wild fish, even if they share a common genetic makeup. The new approach, which was contained in a single-page draft, dated March 25 and leaked to reporters last month, ignores the findings of the Bush administration's own panel of outside scientific experts, as well as long-held views within the fisheries service.

These biologists say that including hatchery salmon in the calculation for when a fish can be listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act is akin to counting animals in a zoo. By this reasoning, river or forest habitats of a rare species will never be protected, so long as the animal can be reproduced by artificial means.

"This is a direct political decision, made by political people to go against the science," said Dr. Ransom A. Myers, a fisheries biologist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, who was on the six-member panel named by the fisheries service to guide salmon policy. The panel's recommendations were rejected for a policy more favorable to industry groups fighting land restrictions, Dr. Myers and other panel members have said.

Bush administration officials say they are boxed in by a court decision that forces them to include hatchery fish in deciding the fate of a particular run of salmon. They say the scientists inside and outside the agency have overstepped their expertise, and are trying to write policy.

"You have an interaction between science and the law here," said Jim Lecky, a government adviser who speaks for the fisheries service, which is a branch of the Commerce Department. "We don't treat hatchery fish the same as wild salmon. But we do have to consider them."

"I think you have a tremendous internal debate" within the fisheries agency, said Russ Brooks, a lawyer for the Pacific Legal Foundation, which successfully sued the government to force a reconsideration of how it uses hatchery fish. The foundation is financed by developers, timber and agricultural interests angered by what they see as regulatory zealotry.

"Initially, the environmental side was winning out," Mr. Brooks said. "And now you have the other side coming to the fore."

Mr. Brooks said he met with Mr. Rutzick in Washington in late March, about the same time the new policy memorandum was drafted.

Asked about Mr. Rutzick's role in shaping the plan, Mr. Brooks said, "Well, he's very familiar with the issues and from what I understand he has a lot of influence."

05-09-2004, 01:39 AM

There are several threads already posted here in various forums on this issue.

The reality of this is Judge Hogan's ruling on including hatchery fish numbers in the decision to list a particular coho run on a particular Oregon river system and Judge Redden's ruling that NOAA must rewrite the Pacific Salmon Recovery Plan by June 2, 2004 to include hatchery fish when there is no significant genetic difference between the hatchery fish and wild fish in a rivery system are legal requirements that have changed the landscape of listing fish as endangered or threatened. NOAA Fisheries is responding to the legal realities of these two court decisions.

We must all keep in mind that science findings and legal court rulings are not the same thing. Just because science says something is when based upon DNA differences does not mean that legally the courts can say that difference is present. Hogan based his ruling on the legal requirements within the Endangered Species Act, and Redden used the legal requirements of the ESA and Hogan's decision (ruling) in his ordering (ruling) NOAA Fisheries to rewrite the Pacific Salmon Recovery Plan. From a legal standpoint is is virtually impossible to say a coho is not still a coho, a chinook is not still a chinook, a pink is not still a pink, a chum is not still a chum, a sockeye is not still a sockeye, or a steelhead is not still a steelhead just because one is a hatchery fish and one is a wild fish in the same river.

05-10-2004, 08:55 AM
Fine. So a species is a species regardless of its birthplace – whether in spawning gravel or test tube. Let’s skip ahead a couple of steps…

Our rivers are now teeming with fish and that seems to indicate that all is well with the habitat… After all, look at the numbers of fish! Our rivers must be clean, habitable and passable by migrating fish. Therefore, let development and habitat degradation continue unabated! What’s the worry?

I’m sorry… I’m not buying it. As I said in another forum, this sounds a bit to me like strangling the canary so you don’t have to think about how noxious the fumes might be in the mine.

Although I’m not in agreement with it, I’d have a good deal less trouble with the notion that a species is a species regardless of its birthplace if I believed it would result in anything other than the complete exploitation of our resources. I am not, however, up for buying a bridge in Brooklyn. They'll have to take their sales pitch elsewhere.

05-10-2004, 01:57 PM

The NOAA draft statement does not say that fish from a test tube are the same as wild fish. If the 5 self-explanatory paragraphs of NOAA'a salmon recovery draft are read, it will be obvious that only in instances where the hatchery fish are the same genetically as the wild fish (i.e. produced from broodstock) or the hatchery fish are genetically very close to the wild fish will they be counted when determining threatened/endandgered status. And this draft of the salmon recovery plan doesn exactly what Judge Redden's order says NOAA must do.

This is very different from what many have posted about the NOAA Fisheries Pacific Salmon Recovery Plan draft.

Also, niether NOAA Fisheries, Judge Hogan, or Judge Redden have said anything about undoing habitat protections. Nor have they said anything about habitat degradation being OK despite the many editorials masquerading as "news articles" and posts on many fishing sites claiming that they have.

05-11-2004, 01:13 AM
The NOAA draft statement does not say that fish from a test tube are the same as wild fish.

Neither did I.

Also, niether NOAA Fisheries, Judge Hogan, or Judge Redden have said anything about undoing habitat protections. Nor have they said anything about habitat degradation being OK

Within the context of these rulings, that is correct. I'm not talking about these rulings. I'm talking about where they may lead.

05-11-2004, 11:57 AM

That is exactly the point I have been making with my posts on this subject. The rulings by Hogan and Redden and the new draft of the salmon recovery plan (which we must remember is being done because Judge Redden ordered NOAA to do so) do not say that NOAA or anyone else can simply pump hatchery fish into a river system and get a wild salmon species present in the river system taken off the threatened or endangered species list.

For anyone to say or claim that these two court rulings and the new draft salmon recovery plan, which Judge Redden ordered NOAA Fisheries to do (meaning NOAA did not do this of their own initiative), are going to cause the distruction of habitat, the elimination of protection for threatened/endangered salmon, or the replacement of wild fish with hatchery fish is purely speculating.

I have no problem with someone speculating about what may happen; however, anyone who does should be honest enough to clearly state it is pure speculation on his part without any real or factual evidence to back the speculation, which is how Todd did so in his post. You and many others did not do this in your posts.

05-11-2004, 02:58 PM
So Flytyer,
Do you think that the bush administration is pleased with the Hogan ruling? Now give an honest answer.;)

05-11-2004, 03:02 PM

First off, I resent your implication that my posting and those of others were less than honest because we didn’t border them with flashing neon bulbs and the words “this is pure speculation.” In the future, I’ll have my attorney and editor review my postings to ensure that they meet your exacting standards.

I’ll wager that at least half of what goes on in bulletin boards, regardless of their topic, is people playing what-if games and/or giving their opinions without feeling the need to label them as “op/ed.” I don’t need to come here to just read the news. I come here to hear what’s on people’s minds. By definition, when dealing with the future, one can only “speculate.” I think it’s obvious that what I presented above is conjecture. Anyone remotely familiar with what is going on here would see it as such. Give people some credit.

Second, my position presents a possible (call it remote, or speculative, if you’d like) outcome to the current proceedings. At the least, it may remind people to watch for a possible outcome. At the worst, it may turn out to be an accurate prediction. Time will tell. I see the result of the rulings as a potentially dangerous “foot-in-the-door,” if nothing else. I, and I suspect at least some others, don’t find the rulings acceptable. Can you understand that?

Your various postings seem to be accepting of the status quo and more focused on what can’t be done. Given that, please tell us, if you were to project the future – say 3 or 5 years down the road – as a result of these rulings and your seeming resignation to them, what do you foresee? You’ve done a great job of reporting the news and the letter of the law. Now, I’d like to know what you think is going to happen as a result. Believe me, I’ll understand that it’s “speculative.”

05-11-2004, 03:45 PM
OC, my friend,

I don't know if the administration is pleased with Hogan's and Redden's rulings or not. The administration may be pleased with it; but none of us really know the answer to your question. I do know that the power producers, timber interests, commercial fisherman, farmers, and land developers are happy with them because the Pacific Legal Foundation was formed to represent them. I do know that NOAA was ordered to change the Pacific Salmon Recovery Plan by Judge Redden to include consideration of hatchery fish that are not significantly divergent from wild fish.


I never said I find the judficial rulings acceptable. I did say that they are a done deal and that we sportsfishers and conservationist need to learn how to work within the changes they have wrought and are bringing about instead of wasting our time and energy "bitching and moaning" over the rulings. The courts have spoken and no amount of angry rhetoric, hyperbole, or complaint about the adminstration is going to change the courts' decisions.

In my opinion, the only changes I see in the next 3 to 5 years are in these areas: 1) hatchery operations will most likely start going to the use of river broodstock so that the genetic difference with the wild fish becomes moot; 2) hatchery operations will change to a more "natural" type of rearing pond - like is happening on the Puyallup River - as recommended by the hatchery study group headed by UW; 3) limited delisting of salmon stocks; but only in those river systems where there is little genetic devergence from wild fish to avoid furthur litigation based on Hogan's and Redden's rulings; 4) increasing wild fish release rules with the attendant cries of foul from some sportsfishers in response to them; 5) an increase in estuary enhancement projects to help threatened/endangered chinook; 6) and a return to more reliance on hatchery production - like was done in the very recent past - on rivers were dams have blocked access to spawning grounds or slowed down smolt migration to the point that smolt don't make it to the salt in time.

05-11-2004, 04:47 PM
The subject of salmon restoration is too important an issue to be muddied up with run-off thinking. I see a lot of that in threads on several boards. Too many people are willing to believe whatever is their wish without consulting facts. Too many people get drawn into this debate because of politics.

This year of presidential election seems to draw argument than most, perhaps because forums and bulletin boards and home computers are much more prevalent, giving us better access and an instantaneous means to vent.
Venting serves a purpose, but when you're trying to change minds or policy, I think it serves to do no more than inflame people.

I believe that NOW is the time to harness the energy and concern and legal opportunity to make sure that salmon runs are restored to decent numbers that will allow me to fish in home waters.

But if sports fishermen continue to bicker among themselves and continue to try to win votes (in Congress, state legislatures, or with civilians) then we've got to clean up the debate.

Facts win arguments with thinking people. Stick to the facts, not what you think are the facts. Read the documents you are commenting on before you open your mouth or log on to the computer. More importantly, think about what you've read before you speak. Be critical of what you read and see in print as well as in other media.

I also think it's important to avoid the conspiracy theories that have been floating around. Trying to make an unpopular judicial decision into some devious game plan from an administration you don't like is akin to hiding from the black helicopters or worrying that the administration you don't like is looking at the books you check out from the library because you don't like the administration.

I also believe it's important to drop the Bush bashing in a thread on salmon restoration. Why? I say that because currently there is so much Bush bashing on forums and in the media that the message you want to get across is going to get lost. If you doubt that, try to recall the last time a commercial on television had an impact on you. Besides-- do you want all people to support your idea or just those who agree with you on who should be president? I've seen backlash on other boards where fishermen reject the message and the messenger because it all starts with what a (fill in the blank) Bush or Kerry is.

My point-- it seems like I've been writing this forever-- if salmon restoration is important, it's necessary to do the homework before attempting to persuade people to believe as you do, and it's important that our arguments are both factual and civil. To do anything less is a disservice to the audience as well as to your message.

My $.02,


05-11-2004, 05:13 PM
This gets funnier and funnier - everybody seems to think they know what's REALLY going on. It's either a misinformed judge or a corrupt greedy admininstration - and on and on and on ~~~. This is not a slam, as I include myself in this group as well.

Our assumptions about the root causes of these decisions ~can't~ be rooted in fact because that would take someone either getting inside the head of Judge Hogan and/or actually sitting in on some private meetings between our current administration and leaders of the Forest Service, EPA, NMFS, and various business representatives.

We can only hope to understand based on a combination of deciphering news releases and researching the history of the player's (Judges, Administrations, etc) to determine if indeed a pattern exists to help explain these incredibly stupid proposals.

Funny tho - everyone takes their own ass-umptions as fact and then berates others that disagree.:rolleyes:

I say Go For It - if Stupidity was Fatal we'd never have an issue with overcrowded rivers or salmon shortages anyway! Learn what you can, say what you feel as politely as possible, and we'll see how it all sorts itself out.

My .02,


05-11-2004, 05:58 PM
The history of the judges that made these two rulings has little if anything to do with the rulings themselves. Judges Hogan and Redden handed down leaglly binding rulings based upon what was presented to them in each case, this is a fact.

It is also a fact that Redden ruled NOAA Fisheries must change the Pacific Salmon Recovery Plan by a certain date. It is a furthur fact that Judge Hogan ruled that hatchery coho must be included in the decision to list a certain river's coho as threatened/endangered because NOAA Fisheries included the hatchery fish in the ESU. We know the 9th Circuit Court agreeing with Hogan is a fact. We know that NOAA Fisheries is legally bound to comply with Judge Redden's ruling is a fact. And we know that the Pacific Legal Foundation has put the states involved with salmon recovery and NOAA Fisheries on notice of more lawsuits being filed in federal and state courts if they don't follow the presedents set forth by Hogan and Redden.

The new draft salmon recovery plan is available for review and Keith has posted it here on FFF as a thread under its title. The 5 paragraphs of it are also a fact.

Anything written on where the rulings came from or what they are based upon other than either Hogan's or Redden's rulings themselves are not facts, they are speculations or assumptions (as pointed out by Doublespey).

I'll say it again, I do not like Hogan's or Redden's decisions; however, I also do not like Bolt's decision either. Unfortunately, despite not liking any of these three rulings, they have impacted the management of salmon and steelhead. That I must accept because no amount of anger or venting will change these court rulings.

Therefore, I must learn how sportsfishers and conservationist can work within the confines of these court rulings to protect salmon and steelhead while providing we fishers with the opportunity to fish for them. I must also learn how to use facts, not opinions or speculative agruments, to influence the managers and protectors of the resource (as Keith pointed out).

05-19-2004, 08:46 PM
about these rulings, the new plan coming from NOAA-Fisheries, and the notice the Pacific Legal Foundation has put out to all areas where listed anadromous fish exist is what effect they will have on the ESA status of any single/all anadromous stocks. And, of course, there's all kinds of rhetoric surrounding that outcome. Worst case scenario, a lot/most/all listed steelhead and salmon stocks, supplimented by hatchery operations, are "de-listed" because the hatchery stocks meet the criteria (a lot likely will...) of like and countable fish, and thus NOAA-Fisheries, either through their own accord, or through the legal system, de-lists the run/species, and they are no longer under the protection of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). With the lack of regulatory oversight that comes with a listed anadromous species, there WILL be changes in the management of federal lands. For better or worse, the listing status of a species affects what and how projects on federal lands, whether they be timber sales, road closures, building a campground, building a road, grazing, etc., and the level of analysis and oversight that occurs. Remove ESA listing status, and a lot of that oversight and consideration goes away with it. this isn't to say things will return to the Rape and Pillage days of the USFS and the BLM, but it will change the way federal lands would be managed, and I don't think necessarily for the better. I'm am less familiar with the effect the ESA has on private lands issues, but its safe to say, given that the Pacific Legal Foundation is a make up of representatives of a lot of private property interests, that it carries some weight in that realm as well.

I don't think it is to much conjecture and speculation at all to look deeper into the motives and reasons for what may come of these rulings, in looking at this Administration, and the various political appointees that are attached to it. I'm certainly suspicious, and suspect less than favorable motives behind what is coming down the pike. At the vary least, this should really be a call to anadromous fisheries advocates to pay attention to what's going on, not only with this plan, but how its applied and how that affects anadromous stocks, not only in the short term (first 5 years), but for decades down the road. As a species, humans have very short attention spans, and there are many that certainly don't share my values of the environment (and i'm sure many of yours) that are banking on that. Personally, I'm worried. Thats a combination of the "facts" as Flytyer has described them, and also the players in this administration and our nationsal community and the motives they have. Doubt the power of an administration and it's primary lobbiests on natural resouces??? Read Forest Dreams/Forest Nightmares by Nancy Langston - describes very eloquently and in an unbiased fashion the politics and resulting policies that forever changed the eastern Oregon forest landscape, and the communities that rely(ied) upon them... Not a pretty picture... And there's a lot of deja vu in this administration...... As Flytyer stated, a rant and rage and whine session isn't helpful, recognizing the forces acting against my/our values and things we cherise (and how to work within the system to make the changes (or prevent the ones we don't want) we need to) is what we NEED to do...

05-20-2004, 11:47 AM
Years ago, under the Reagan administration, there was a guy named James Watt. Remember him? He advocated multiple use of public lands. He didn't last very long.

Now we have this Mark C. Rutzick character who three years ago, was the timber industry's top lawyer trying to overturn fish and wildlife protections that loggers viewed as overly restrictive. Is it conjecture to say that he has been instrumental in bringing about this new plan that closely follows the position that he advocated when he represented the timber industry? Is represented the timber industry past-tense?

He was suggested for the fisheries job by Senator Gordon H. Smith, Republican of Oregon. Is senator Smith up for re-election?

Then we have the Pacific Legal Foundation, which successfully sued the government to force a reconsideration of how it uses hatchery fish. The foundation is financed by developers, timber and agricultural interests angered by what they see as regulatory zealotry.

The Pacific Legal Foundation is not up for election, and they are not going to go away.

Neither is Mr. Rutzick up for (re)election. But his boss is! If we (all) made enough negative noise now about Mr. Rutzick, his boss (Bush) might consider him a threat to his chances of re- election, and get rid of him,,,now.

If we could pull this off, then no matter what the outcome of the election, we have put the government on notice that we will not put up with the likes of Mr. Rutzick and his kind.

If we just sit back and hope for the best should the election go the other way,,,well then, that is all we are doing. Hoping for the best.

Enough,,,off my soap box.

05-20-2004, 12:35 PM
Feiger and JD,

My thread entitled "Pacific Salmon Remain Under ESA Protection" in the Northwest Steelhead forum is on this subject. It discusses whether protection is going to be lifted, listings changed, hatchery fish counted, etc. The article I quote in that thread clearly shows only 1 of the 26 runs under ESA protection right now is going to be delisted by NOAA-F. The other 25 will retain their protected status under ESA.

Also, I read something recently (unfortunately I did not write down the web address for the California newspaper it was in)about a U.S. District Court Judge in Northern California ruling against the Pacific Legal Foundation in a lawsuit they brought on Sacramento River wild steelhead. The Pacific Legal Foundation was claiming that the resident rainbows (mostly of hatchery origin) were of such abundance that the wild steelhead should be delisted from threatened status. The PLF claimed that since it has been found that resident rainbow males have been observed spawning with wild female steelhead (they failed to mention this was observed in Russia and not the U.S.) that the abundance of resident rainbows in the Sacramento River would ensure the steelhead would not become extinct since they were the same fish as the steelhead.

The judge saw through this smokescreen and poor application of scientific observation from a river in Russia and ruled that NOAA-F's ESA threatened status for the Sacramento River wild steelhead remain in place.

For all who think that NOAA-F will simply roll over on any challenge to one of its ESA listings of salmon or steelhead, this case and the keeping of ESA protections on 25 of 26 curently listed stocks show that is not what NOAA-F is doing.

05-20-2004, 05:54 PM
my concerrn isn't necessarily that NOAA-Fish will roll over, tho some of the politics I'm hearing indicates some of that may indeed be possible... It's the subsequent lawsuits, as threated by the PLF on other stocks and streams with both hatchery and wild fish occur, based upon the precedent set with the coastal coho runs that were overturned by Hogan et al.'s ruling. Changes and listing status won't happen overnight, it will be done incrementally. Those who've worked on the coastal cutthroat issue never in their wildest imaginations thought they'd see a ruling like Hogan's. Quite frankly, when politics are considered, EVERYTHING is possible... And with this administration, and the figure heads that seem to show up in key spots in natural resources agencies and cabinets, yeah, I'm concerned, and I think its more likely than not that at least attempts will be made to undue those protections on more than just the one stock currently identified. With Hogan's ruling, a lot of folks working against the ESA smelled blood in the water, and are biting at the bit to take advantage of what they see is a new "loophole" in getting around the protections afforded listed anadromous stocks... only time will tell. And like i said, it's not necessarily NOAA-F i'm worried about, it's everyone else around them (USFS, BLM, dept of Ag and Interior, state lands, private, etc.) that are going to push this envelope...