SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – A government agency actually “got it right” when it approved a plan for commercial and recreational fishing of Sacramento River fall-run Chinook Salmon in waters south of Cape Falcon, Ore., this fall, a federal judge ruled.
The San Joaquin River Group Authority had asked the Eastern District of California to agree that the fishing management measures violated the Administrative Procedure Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act because they did not properly account for “known scientific uncertainty and bias in abundance estimates.”
It also argued that the U.S. Pacific Fishery Management Council failed to produce evidence to support its proposal to end the “overfishing concern” of the area.
On May 4, 2011, the National Marine Fisheries Service approved the council’s plan.
U.S. Judge Oliver Wanger agreed with the government that Chinook Salmon are no longer in decline, having rebounded last year after showing lower population numbers between 2007 and 2009. Such is typical of the salmon’s historical fluctuation patterns, according to the council.
Despite the lawsuit’s claims, the government and advisory council carefully analyzed and implemented measures to address upward bias in fish population estimates, recognizing the serious consequences of over-estimating population growth, according to the court’s 60-page decision.
The council had also recommended ending the overfishing concern, but Wanger said this claim is premature since the agency has not acted on this idea and the Chinook Salmon stock is still reported as “overfished.”