Salmon Hatchery Cases Argued
Yesterday the Ninth Circuit heard oral argument in two cases dealing with challenges to the National Marine Fisheries Service's (NMFS) hatchery listing policy (HLP). The two cases, Alsea Valley Alliance and Trout Unlimited, were consolidated for purposes of oral argument. Alsea is a PLF-led challenge to the HLP. The nub of PLF's argument is that the HLP impermissibly hinges the endangered/threatened analysis based upon the viability vel non of a component of the listable entity—namely, the naturally spawning population—and systematically discounts the role of hatchery salmon, part of the same listable entity, in sustaining the listable entity as a whole, namely, the evolutionarily significant unit (ESU). Trout Unlimited concerns an environmentalist challenge to the HLP on the grounds that the HLP places too much reliance on hatchery salmon, and is contrary to the ESA's purpose to conserve naturally reproducing populations. The AP reports on the oral argument here.