USA Promises Changes at Salmon Hatchery

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Environmentalists dropped a lawsuit against a trout and salmon hatchery run by California and Uncle Sam, for attorney’s fees and a promise that the Fish and Wildlife Service would meet some demands.
     A federal judge approved the stipulation and dismissal on Monday, in the Environmental Protection Information Center’s lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and five top officers of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
     The nonprofit claimed that fish spawned in the Mad River Hatchery in Humboldt County “compete with, prey upon, or interbreed with native wild coho and Chinook salmon and wild steelhead trout that are listed as threatened with extinction under the federal Endangered Species Act.”
     The environmentalist said that releasing hatchery trout has harmful genetic effects on wild trout, altering the genes of their spawn and reducing the fitness and genetic variability of the native species.
     U.S. District Judge Maxine Chesney approved the stipulation for dismissal, under which the governments must pay the environmental center’s $65,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs.
     The governments agreed to make at least half of steelhead trout spawning pairs used in the hatchery “natural-origin” and try to match natural-origin steelhead with their natural counterparts as much as possible.
     California Fish and Wildlife releases around 203,000 juvenile steelhead trout from rearing ponds each year to stock streams and lakes for recreational fishing.
     Both parties agreed to settle, saying that adequate progress was made in approving a Hatchery and Genetic Management Plan was submitted to the National Marine Fisheries Service.
     None of the parties responded to requests for comment Wednesday.

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