Are coho salmon spawned in cool streams in old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest equivalent to fish hatched in concrete tanks? Federal District Court Judge Michael Hogan says they are. In a case brought by the right-wing Pacific Legal Foundation, Hogan ruled that the National Marine Fisheries Service couldn't protect wild Oregon coastal coho without also protecting hatchery coho. Petitions to delist 26 other populations of wild salmon and steelhead quickly followed.
According to the Oregonian, the ruling strengthens the argument "that we don't need to restore habitat and rebuild wild fish runs, that hatcheries can just turn out more fish. . . . By now, we know where this argument leads: Extinction."
"Hatcheries were created as a substitute for habitat lost behind major dams," says Glen Spain, of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations. "But the wild fish swim in the same rivers as the hatchery fish; we have to protect and restore them."
The NMFS will hold public hearings on the issue. Meanwhile, the coho are on their own.