Bush ruling threatens US salmon’s survival
8th July, 2004
In May the Bush administration struck another blow against the US’s crumbling environmental protections with a ruling that allows hatchery fish to be counted along with wild fish in determining the protection status of salmon in accordance with the US’s Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Bush's own panel of scientific advisers unanimously rejected the change, saying that in-bred hatchery fish – which make up 80 percent of Pacific salmon populations – cannot replenish losses in populations of the 26 species of wild salmon now officially threatened with extinction.
Naturally spawned fish are heartier, stronger, and provide the vigorous genetic variations needed to maintain the salmon's survival in the wild. Filling streams with less-efficient, disease-prone hatchery breeds will give a false picture of species numbers and species survivability, the scientists say. But that seems to be the intention.
Although Bush's bureaucrats say there will be no change in the salmon's status 'for now', the ruling gives them the power – when the media heat is off – to gut environmental restrictions that have protected salmon habitats throughout the West from logging and commercial exploitation by agribusiness and property developers.
These corporate interests have fought long and hard (using lobbying and lawsuits) to eliminate salmon protections, which they say have cost them millions of dollars in potential profits. They have crossed Bush’s palm with...
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