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March 16, 1999
Contact: Public Affairs, (360) 902-2250

Salmon and steelhead listings

Today, the National Marine Fisheries Service formally listed six salmon and steelhead populations in Washington as threatened and one salmon population as endangered. The following is a statement from Dr. Jeff Koenings, director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, concerning the listings:

"As the lead state agency along with the tribes responsible for managing the harvest of our state's fish, the Department of Fish and Wildlife is committed to ensuring harvest and hatchery practices are consistent with recovering troubled wild fish runs. At the same time, the Department will continue to provide the science and practical, professional experience necessary to recover runs, while working to enforce laws against poaching and other activities which threaten fish runs. The Department has also played a major role in the Governor's salmon recovery strategy. If the state is to achieve true recovery, the Department believes implementation should be carried out at the local level through local groups and funding.

"Today's action by the National Marine Fisheries Service underscores the urgency for all of us—not just those of us who work in government or in the natural resources field—to step up our actions. If we are truly serious about rebuilding fragile wild fish runs, then all Washington citizens must realize there is no quick fix and they are part of the solution.

"Despite the sacrifices already made by our state's tribal and non-tribal fishers, many wild fish runs remain in jeopardy. In the months and years ahead, efforts must focus on applying the best science available to rebuild fish habitat. This will be the key to recovery. We must improve water and land use practices to avoid further devastation to our fish populations. We must make our rivers and streams and creeks better homes for fish. Quite simply, healthy habitats mean healthy animals. Only by taking these and other actions together–actions that will affect all of us—will we reach our goal."