Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Say goodbye to wild salmon.

Once again our "Environmental President" has scoffed at science and sided with industry in an attempt to side-step the Endangered Species Act...

New York Times: Three years ago, Mark Rutzick was the timber industry's top lawyer trying to overturn fish-and-wildlife protections that loggers viewed as overly restrictive. He outlined to clients a new strategy for dealing with diminishing salmon runs. By counting artificially created fish along with wild salmon, the government would help the timber industry by pulling salmon off the endangered-species list, Rutzick wrote.

Now, as a high-ranking Bush administration political appointee who is a legal adviser to the National Marine Fisheries Service, Rutzick is helping to shape government policy on endangered Pacific salmon. And in an abrupt change, the Bush administration has decided for the first time to consider counting fish raised in hatcheries when determining if some species are going extinct.

To most biologists, salmon born and raised in a concrete tank are no replacements for wild fish, even if they share a common genetic makeup. The new approach, contained in a single-page draft, leaked to reporters last month, ignores the findings of the Bush administration's panel of outside experts, as well as long-held views within the fisheries service.

These biologists say that including hatchery salmon in the calculation for when a fish can be listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act is akin to counting animals in a zoo. By this reasoning, river or forest habitats of a rare species never will be protected, so long as the animal can be reproduced artificially.

But hell, when Iraqi prisoners are being raped with broomsticks and American civilians are being beheaded, why would anyone care about the salmon...