NSIA and NWGAA Join Allies in Lawsuit To Protect Wild Fish In Northwest

For Immediate Release For More Information Contact: February 14, 2006 Bob Rees: 503 812 9036 Oregon City, OR Liz Hamilton: 866 315 NSIA Noting the importance of protecting and recovering wild fish to our region’s economy, the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, and the Northwest Guides and Anglers Association this week filed a petition in Federal District Court to participate as amicus in support of Trout Unlimited et al in a lawsuit initiated by The Pacific Legal Foundation, a property rights group, challenging the NOAA Fisheries’ listing of 16 Columbia River salmon populations as threatened or endangered under the ESA. Pacific Legal Foundation has been joined in their challenge against the listing of Lower Columbia River Coho by Astoria gillnet fishermen and processors. NSIA is a trade organization of over 300 businesses and sport fishing groups dedicated to the preservation, restoration and enhancement of sport fisheries and the businesses dependent upon them. Northwest Guides and Anglers Association formed to protect, promote and enhance healthy sport fisheries and the ecosystems they depend on. NSIA and NWGAA were compelled to file in defense of the listings in order to ensure that the court had facts pertaining to the economics of protection and recovery of wild stocks, to our long history of work to secure mass marking and our strong support for differential treatment of hatchery and wild fish. “Our guides and charters are at ground zero for salmon protections” said Bob Rees, President of Northwest guides and Anglers Association. “Federal and State regulatory systems insure that fisheries are closed and/or curtailed to protect wild fish years before a stock is listed under the Endangered Species Act. This is as it should be. However, without Federal protections, harvest shoulders most of the conservation burden. With ESA protections, other river users work with the harvest community to bring about recovery.” Rees continued. “NSIA has always known that hatchery fish are not a substitute for healthy functioning streams and salmon recovery” said Liz Hamilton, Executive Director of Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association. “NSIA’s very first priority was to clean up our fisheries, and promote selective fisheries, where wild fish are released unharmed, and hatchery fish are retained. NSIA has always valued the critical differences between hatchery and wild fish, seeking both hatchery and harvest reforms for better protection of wild fish. It is in our Industry’s best interests in the long term to protect wild stocks of salmon and steelhead.” "If plaintiffs prevail, and ESA protection for Columbia River wild salmon is withdrawn, we'll lose the benefit of our substantial investment in the mass marking program both as businesses and as taxpayers," said attorney Maddy Sheehan, author of the venerable guide book "Fishing in Oregon, " representing NSIA and NWGAA in this case. "But what's even more important is that we'll lose the irreplaceable capacity of wild salmon to weather the catastrophic effects of disease outbreaks, human error, budget shortfalls, and climate change."