The administration has been forced to make this change by Oregon Federal Distric Court Judge Hogan's ruling in a lawsuit that was filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation (a group representing timber companies, land developers, home construction companies, agriculture, and road construction companies. Judge Hogan ruled in 2001 that the Endangered Species Act does not allow for the separation of hatchery and wild fish of the same species in the same river system (notice river system, not individual river) because they are genetically the same fish. Therefore, he ruled that NOAA Fisheries had to redo the federal salmon recovery plan to reflect that a salmon is a salmon whether hatchery or wild.
If you go to the thread "HATCHERY SALMON ARE NOW WILD" in the "Worldwide Flyfishing" forum here in the FFF forums, you will find a lot of information on Hogan's ruling, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, and Judge Redden's ruling requiring NOAA fisheries to redo the salmon recovery plan and to remove wild fish from threatened or endangered status when there is a hatchery run in the same river system.
This change had nothing to do with the administration, it has everything to do with the ruling of Judge Hogan and his decision that wild and hatchery fish are the same thing.
We need to work withing the parameters of Judge Hogan's decision and stop the hand-wringing, finger-pointing (which if it is done can only be pointed at Judge Hogan and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals), and angry complaining about it. Just like the decison by Judge Bolt made a change in how Washington had to manage salmon and steelhead stocks and how it gave the treaty tribes in Washington state equal status to the state with regard to catching fish and managing them, this decision of Hogan's is not going to go away. And just like Bolt's decision, Hogan's decision has been upheld by a Federal Appeals Court and it is not going to go away.
The only way Hogan's ruling can be changed is through Congress changing the Endangered Species Act to allow molecular DNA to be the determiner of whether a species is endangered or threatened. That is not going to happen for just like white bengal tigers who have been bred in captivity for many generations are still white bengal tigers, coho salmon who have been bred in hatcheries for many generations are still coho salmon.
The bottom line is that a federal judge has changed how the Endangered Species Act can be applied, and neither the adminstration, the states effected (all the states with salmon hatcheries or power generation facilities on major river tributaries within the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals jusrisdiction) can change this fact. All the protests will not change it either, not will having a different administration in office change it. It is a done deal, the judge and the 9th circuit court have decided. Now we need decide to either pursue futile fighting and wrangling over the decision, or work within the parameters of the decision to continue trying to rebuild wild fish runs through things like habitat protection and wild fish release fishing regulations in each of the states with salmon hatcheries.