Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

Alsea Valley Alliance v. Lautenbacher

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20218
Nos. No. 06-6093, (D. Or., 08/14/2007)

A district court dismissed farm and development groups' lawsuit against the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-Fisheries (NOAA-Fisheries) for distinguishing between hatchery-bred and wild salmon populations in its listing determinations for 16 population segments of Pacific salmon. Specifically, the groups challenged the agency's decision to list 16 evolutionarily significant units of Pacific salmon as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as well as its protective regulation for salmon populations listed as threatened. But the ESA does not prohibit the approach taken by NOAA-Fisheries. The agency first considered the viability of natural salmon populations within the geographic boundaries of historical listed population segments. It then considered the extinction risk of population segments, comprised of natural salmon populations and hatchery stocks, before making its final listing determinations. The ESA does not require that protective regulations treat natural populations and hatchery stocks equally. In addition, the agency's interpretation of what constitutes a distinct population segment of vertebrate fish that "interbreeds when mature" is within the permissible limits of the ESA. The groups' position that actual interbreeding is required would prohibit the agencies from listing the U.S. population of an animal that is abundant elsewhere in the world. The court, therefore, denied the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and dismissed the case.