Salmon and the State of the Union

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Todd True, Earthjustice, (206) 343-7340, ext. 1030
Kristen Boyles, Earthjustice, (206) 343-7340, ext. 1033

Salmon and the State of the Union

Call to streamline government achievable by reversing damage to salmon rivers and streams

OAKLAND, Calif. - In last night's State of
the Union speech President Obama called for streamlining government. He
used federal oversight of salmon as an example of an area where
streamlining might occur. The President said, "Then there's my favorite
example: the Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they're
in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they're in
saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they're
smoked."

Actually the Commerce Department's National Marine Fisheries Service
is in charge of salmon all the time. The Interior Department's U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service helps out with management of some salmon
hatcheries.

Earthjustice attorney Todd True offered this bit of thinking to help
the President sort out the complexities of federal salmon management.

"Salmon spend part of their lives in the ocean and part in the
freshwater rivers and streams that flow through the states. The National
Marine Fisheries Service, an agency of the Department of Commerce, has
management authority over salmon. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
an agency of the Department of Interior, manages some of the salmon
hatcheries that produce salmon in freshwater to mitigate for the damage
we've done to the rivers, streams and creeks where salmon spawn, lay
their eggs and where young salmon start their lives. Earthjustice
agrees with the President's inclination to streamline federal salmon
oversight. The best way to do this would be to make sure the money we
spend to restore salmon is guided by the best science and the best
scientists. Right now, salmon are in trouble up and down the west coast
because political science has trumped biological science. All of the
government agencies are too focused on protecting powerful economic
interests instead of taking the steps we need to take to bring salmon
back and support the communities and people that depend on them."

Earthjustice attorney Kristen Boyles added, "Streamlining is fine,
but stream protection is what we really need. All federal agencies need
to follow the best science that protects and restores salmon habitat
and clean water-that's the way we'll make sure our economy and
environment don't go up in smoke."

Earthjustice and its clients have been deeply involved in salmon
restoration efforts going back to the late 1980's when we worked to get
federal Endangered Species Act protection for the first salmon species,
Sacramento River winter run king salmon. Earthjustice is currently
involved in major legal efforts to restore salmon runs on the Columbia
and Snake rivers, the Sacramento River and tributaries of the Klamath
River. These are the three major salmon rivers on the west coast of the
contiguous United States.

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Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. We bring about far-reaching change by enforcing and strengthening environmental laws on behalf of hundreds of organizations, coalitions and communities.

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