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Defining the 'Nature' Protected By the Endanagered Species Act: Lessons from Hatchery Salmon

74 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2006 Last revised: 18 Nov 2010

Andrew Long



The issue that frames the case study in this Article is whether hatchery-bred salmon are the full equivalent of naturally-reproducing salmon for purposes of assessing the species' viability under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The issue carries great importance for the Pacific Northwest, as similar issues do for regions throughout the country. Indeed, salmon decisions are but one of numerous contexts in which implementation of the ESA has raised fundamental questions concerning what groupings should qualify as a species under the statute, the broader aim of the statute, and the shape of biodiversity policy more generally. For species as diverse as the Florida panther and the western cutthroat trout, the agencies implementing the ESA have faced questions akin to the challenge of defining the relationship of wild and hatchery salmon. Their responses have been inconsistent, generating extensive litigation and agency review. This Article aims to explain the problem, define the components of the natural world that the law should aim to protect, and offer suggestions for incorporating this understanding into the existing statutory structure.

Keywords: Biodiversity, Ethics, Salmon, Hatchery, Endangered Species Act, Nature, Science, Alsea, NMFS

JEL Classification: K10, K11, K32, K23, K40

Suggested Citation

Long, Andrew, Defining the 'Nature' Protected By the Endanagered Species Act: Lessons from Hatchery Salmon. NYU Environmental Law Journal, Vol. 15, p. 377, 2007; University of Louisville School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 2007-18. Available at SSRN:

Andrew Long (Contact Author)

Independent ( email )

Portland, OR
United States
904-253-9957 (Phone)

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