OLYMPIA - A judge's decision overturning a federal agency's finding that Oregon coastal coho salmon stocks should be protected under the Endangered Species Act does not extend to Washington state and will not alter rules to protect wild coho in Washington waters.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is reviewing U.S. District Judge Michael R. Hogan's ruling. Judge Hogan's ruling, issued in Oregon, states that the National Marine Fisheries Service erred when the agency listed coastal coho salmon for protection under the ESA in 1998.
Washington state has two coho salmon stocks that are candidates for ESA protection: Puget Sound/Strait of Georgia coho, and the Lower Columbia/southwest Washington coho stock.
Since 1996, all hatchery coho salmon reared in WDFW hatcheries have had the adipose fin removed so that anglers could easily distinguish hatchery fish from wild fish, which have an intact adipose fin.
WDFW will still enforce its rules and regulations regarding wild coho release in all designated areas, including the Columbia River, Washington coast, the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca and the San Juan Islands.