COURT ORDERS REVIEW OF HARMFUL FISH STOCKING
Submitted by Ted Williams on Thu, 05/10/2007 - 16:56.
Impacts to Native Fish and Amphibians Will be Assessed Sacramento, CA. Judge Patrick Marlette of the Sacramento Superior Court has ruled that California’s fish stocking program must comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) and that the Department of Fish and Game shall conduct a public review of the program’s impacts. The ruling is in response to a lawsuit filed in October of 2006 by the Pacific Rivers Council and the Center for Biological Diversity over the Department’s longstanding failure to consider the impacts of fish stocking on sensitive aquatic species throughout the state, such as the mountain yellow-legged frog, Cascades frog, California golden trout, McCloud River redband Trout, Santa Ana sucker, and others. “This ruling is a tremendous victory for California’s native fish and frogs,” said Deanna Spooner, conservation director of the Pacific Rivers Council. “Now we can work to prevent future harm to these sensitive species from over-stocking of the state’s streams, rivers, and lakes.” “The disastrous consequences of stocking non-native trout have been known for decades,” commented Noah Greenwald, conservation biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s about time the Department of Fish and Game reviewed the environmental impacts of its stocking program.” Judge Marlette agreed there is “substantial evidence” supporting the argument that the Department’s fish stocking program “has significant environmental impacts on the aquatic ecosystems into which hatchery fish are introduced, and, in particular, on native species of fish, amphibians and insects, some of which are threatened or endangered.” To comply with the judge’s ruling the Department must conduct a public review of its trout stocking program. The results of the review will be documented in an Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) that will govern future fish stocking management decisions. This will be the first opportunity in the state’s history for the public to actively participate in how the Department can improve management of the state-wide fish stocking program to better meet the needs of California’s native species and recreational anglers. “The mountain yellow-legged frog has disappeared from more than 90% of its former range in the Sierra Nevada, and introduced trout are an important cause of this decline,” stated research biologist Dr. Roland Knapp. “On a hopeful note, a cessation of stocking and the removal of nonnative trout from key waterbodies can allow the recovery of mountain-yellow legged frog populations, as well as other native species and ecosystem processes.” "An EIR means that biologists, not politicians will guide California's fishery management," said Ralph Cutter of Nevada City, renowned angling instructor and author of numerous articles and books on trout fishing. "Finally, we can protect native species such as the golden trout while maintaining or even improving the quality of fishing that we have today."