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Hatchery Salmon Complicate Protections

(CN) - A federal judge in San Jose, Calif., ruled that the National Marine Fisheries Service did not give adequate consideration to a petition to remove California Coho salmon from the endangered species list.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte found the court need not determine whether the salmon should be removed from the list, only whether the NMFS acted capriciously in denying Homer McCrary's petition.

McCrary claimed non-native, hatchery-introduced Coho salmon found south of San Francisco should not be covered under the Endangered Species Act, since the ESA is intended to protect "naturally spawned" species.

Judge Whyte found that in rejecting the petition almost 2 years after it was filed, the NMFS bypassed the standard 90 day review and used numerous studies outside the scope of the petition in their findings. He granted McCrary's request for summary judgment, and remanded to the NMFS: "The NMFS shall make a 90-day finding based solely on information in the four corners of the petition and applying the proper 90-day standard."

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