Sunday, March 13, 2011

American Fisheries Society Weighs in on Columbia BiOp

With a landmark court decision looming this spring on the legality of the Columbia River BiOp the two sides have squared off to define the terms of the debate and influence public perception on the ruling. One one side the state of Oregon, the Nez Perce tribe and a coalition of environmental groups say that the BiOp as it is currently constructed fails to address the primary cause of salmon decline in the basin, dams. On the other the Obama administration contends that the changes they have made to include improved monitoring and adaptive management in the BiOp bring the 2008 Bush plan which Judge James Redden ruled against into compliance with ESA mandated recovery. Federal managers contend that recent upticks in salmon abundance on the Columbia are a sign that recovery efforts are working. This despite the fact that increased spill over the dams, thought to be a major factor in improved survival, has been forced upon federal regulators by the courts.

Over the last several weeks the Oregonian has published a series of guest editorials on the Snake River including one from NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco defending the BiOp and calling for an end of litigation. Last week though Demian Ebert a representative of the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society (AFS) responded. AFS a leading association of fisheries and aquatic resource professionals has passed a resolution calling for the removal of the four lower Snake Rivers dams as the only way to meet the legal obligations for the recovery of ESA listed wild salmon. See the editorial in the Oregonian:

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