NGOs to sue NMFS for failing to protect Oregon coho salmon

Published on
May 6, 2015

Failure to create and enact a recovery plan to insulate Oregon's coastal coho salmon stock has landed the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in hot water with two NGOs, the Center for Biological Diversity and Oregon Wild.

The latter two entities made clear their intent to sue NMFS in 60 days for what they claim is a violation of the Endangered Species Act – according to the formal notice filed by the plaintiffs to-be, NMFS hasn’t made any considerable moves to guide improvements in logging and other land-management practices that have contributed to the decline in wild coho.

“The state of Oregon has done nothing to reform forest practices on either state or private lands that are crucial to the survival of these magnificent fish," said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “And the National Marine Fisheries Service should have put out a recovery plan years ago that lays out the state actions needed to save and recover coho.”

Regulations already in place like the Oregon Forest Practices Act do not sufficiently protect areas frequented by the floundering coho species, which currently amasses to just 10 percent of its historic population. And with the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management being pressured to dilute the safeguards already in place for coho in rivers like the Umpqua, Alsea and Wilson as a means to promote more logging initiatives, the lack of an NMFS recovery plan may soon cause even more harm – perhaps catastrophic – to the conservation of the species along the coast of the Beaver State.

“Oregon coast coho salmon are part of the very fabric that makes Oregon so special,” concluded Chris Winter, co-executive director of Crag Law Center, the firm that will presumably represent the Center for Biological Diversity and Oregon Wild if the civil suit makes it to court. “Bureaucratic delay should not stand in the way of meaningful habitat protections that salmon need so desperately to again thrive on the Oregon coast.”

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