Q&A on salmon listings

dwheeler at teleport.com dwheeler at teleport.com
Fri Mar 19 20:17:48 EST 1999

The following article appeared in The Oregonian, March 17, 1999, p A12


Q. How many populations of salmon are being listed? A: Nine "evolutionarily
significant units." Decisions on four other ESUs will be deferred for six

Q. What is an evolutionarily significant unit, or ESU?
A: Chinook salmon that have adapted over thousands of years to survive in arid
regions of Eastern Oregon and Washington are different from chinook salmon in
coastal areas. Distinctive groups of fish such as these are referred to as
evolutionarily significant units. The health of the species depends on the
health of the different populations, or ESUs, that make up the species.

Q. When will the National Marine Fisheries Service make a decision about the
remaining four chinook salmon ESUs?
A: The Endangered Species Act allows a six-month extension to resolve areas of
substantial scientific disagreement.

Q: Are all salmon up an down the West Coast at risk of disappearing? A: No.
The National Marine Fisheries Service's scientific reviews of salmon
coastwide show that at least 18 groups are doing much better and are not at
risk of extinction.

Q: Do tribal and state fish managers agree with these listings? A: In most
cases they agree that these stocks need additional protection, although some
question whether the Endangered Species Act will provide the tools needed to
achieve recovery. But the fishers service deferred decisions on four chinook
ESUs because of scientific disagreements between NMFS and state and tribal
fish managers.

Q: When will the listings become effective?
A: In 60 days

Q: Why is the fisheries service waiting 60 days?
A: Federal law requires agencies to provide time after publishing a liting
before it takes effect to allow the public, tribes, state agencies, local
governments and industry time to prepare for the listing and modify any
activities that could harm threatened or endangered species.

Q: What new regulations will the Endangered Species Act impose? A: Any
accidental or incidental "take" of an endangered species (upper Columbia
River Spring chinook) will require a permit. Killing an endangered species or
harming the species or its habitat is a "take." This requirmenet applies to
everyone. For species listed as threatened, federal agencies will have to
consult with the fisheries service to protect the species. No new regulations
will apply to anyone else while the fisheries service works with the tribes,
states, counties and cities on local measures needed to save the fish. These
local measures must be adopted under Section 4d of the Endangered Species

Q: What's a 4d rule, and why is the fisheries service waiting to propose
"take" prohibitions? A: A 4d rule establishes what you can and can't do. For
the threatened chinook, chum, sockeye and steelhead ESUs, the agency needs
additional time to develop take prohibitions through a 4d rule. The agency
will work with tribal and state fish managers to develop tailor-made 4d rules
that would allow certain activities, such as logging in certain areas -
exempting them from "take" provisions - as long as they do not challenge the
conservation of salmon and steelhead.

Source: National Marine Fisheries Service

Posted as a courtesy
Daniel B. Wheeler

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