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Herald and News by Lacey Jarrell 7/22/16
Klamath River Stakeholders may sue federal agencies
HERE for Klamath Riverkeeper Press Release: http://www.klamathriver.org/commercial-fishing-conservation-groups-join-tribes-legal-action-to-protect-klamath-salmon-and-fishing-communities /
Commercial fishing and conservation groups announced Thursday they may file a lawsuit to compel federal agencies to do more to protect juvenile coho salmon in the Klamath River.
Klamath River coho salmon are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
“We can’t allow NMFS to simply sit on its hands and allow river conditions that are killing 80 to 90 percent of already threatened coho salmon,” said Glen Spain of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), a commercial fishing industry trade association. “Protecting the Klamath River’s salmon legacy protects the future for generations of hardworking fishing families.”
The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), Institute for Fisheries Resources and Klamath Riverkeeper, released the 60-day notice to let two federal agencies know they could be sued under the federal Endangered Species Act if they fail to improve water management in the Klamath River.
Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law organization, is representing the organizations.
“We are united in seeking management of flows in the Klamath River that will improve the plight of salmon, not make it worse,”said Patti Goldman, a managing attorney for Earthjustice. “The Bureau and NMFS must take immediate action and initiate comprehensive discussions on possible solutions.”
The notice claims the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation are in violation of the Endangered Species Act for failing to reinitiate consultation on Klamath Project operations. The notice said the agencies are required to reconsult the Project operations plan because in 2014 and 2015, “incidence of disease in juvenile salmon exceeded the limits of incidental take” allowed by the Endangered Species Act.
During 2014 and 2015, 81 and 91 percent of juvenile salmon in the lower Klamath River were infected by an intestinal parasite known as Ceratomyxa shasta (C. shasta), now also known as Ceratonova nova, the release said.
“The Bureau and NMFS have a legal obligation to reinitiate consultation on the biological opinion in light of these exceedances, but have not done so,” the notice said.
If NMFS and the Bureau of Reclamation are unwilling to reinitiate consultation, the organizations plan to sue.
“We plan to seek redress through litigation,” the statement said.
The notice follows similar notices sent by the Yurok, Karuk and Hoopa Valley tribes, which have federally recognized fishing rights in the Klamath River.
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