01/19/2016 – C.C.A. Washington
In a disturbing turn of events, Wild Fish Conservancy (WFC), Washington State’s most outspoken anti-hatchery organization, has issued a 60-day Notice of Intent to sue the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) – an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce — over the Columbia River’s 62 Mitchell Act salmon hatchery programs. The Mitchell Act was put in place by Congress in 1938 to help fund state hatcheries and fish passage facilities to mitigate for declines in salmon populations as a result of habitat loses in conjunction with hydropower dam construction.
WFC claims these programs threaten ESA-listed wild fish in the Columbia River system including Salmon, Steelhead and Bull Trout, but the latest Notice of Intent to sue is based on process, not on the scientific or other technical merits of these programs. Instead, WFC is again looking to take advantage of a backlog of required federal permits and consultations that put over 150 hatchery programs across Washington State at risk of third-party litigation.
WFC has earned the ire of recreational anglers, tribes, and others through their systematic pursuit of anti-hatchery litigation across the state, including assaults on early winter Steelhead hatchery programs in Puget Sound along with continued litigation threats against the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery complex.
WFC is unabashedly anti-hatchery in their beliefs, with their current Director of Science and Research, Jamie Glasgow, being quoted as responding to Sen. Kirk Pearson when asked which hatchery programs he would support, “there are several that have closed over time – those would be ones that we support.”
“CCA Washington understands the vital role that responsibly run hatcheries provide to the state of Washington. By attacking the Mitchell Act funded hatchery programs, WFC is threatening the direct source of approximately three quarters of all returning salmon and steelhead to the Columbia River system. These hatcheries were put in place to mitigate for the loss of habitat and other impacts from the Columbia River’s hydroelectric system, and losing the hatchery production is a no-win situation for the resource and anglers. Despite the rhetoric, the lawsuit isn’t based in conservation, but rather a cynical attempt to take full advantage of a procedural shortcoming created by federal agencies.” said Nello Picinich, Executive Director of CCA Washington.