A District Court judge in Seattle has ruled that the Bush administration cannot lump together wild and hatchery-reared steelhead
(an anadromous rainbow trout much like a salmon) when determining the health of a particular run. Seems like common sense. As the judge said in his ruling: "A healthy hatchery population is not necessarily an indication of a healthy natural population." Quite so. But there's more to it than that. Salmon and steelhead hatcheries are also prone to crashing after initially strong returns and have to be periodically buttressed by wild stock. Ultimately, hatchery populations are dependent upon wild fish to maintain their viability.
Sadly, the ruling runs counter to an earlier, inexplicable one by a different judge. The Sierra Club was one of the groups that filed suit to reverse the decision. So, the whole thing seems likely to wind up in the Court of Appeals. The judge in the latest ruling said that would welcome that as a "happy result
." Sounds like a man who knows he's right.