Having done its job for them, Fish Northwest is dismissing WDFW from this portion of the lawsuit filed on April 28th in the Federal Court, Western District of Washington, without prejudice. A major objective of the litigation has been achieved in just a few months, and the state can no longer claim the necessity for agreement prohibits WDFW from representing its constituents. Below is a full explanation:
In the 2021 Biological Opinion issued by NMFS after Fish Northwest filed suit, NMFS has admitted what Fish Northwest asserted in its recent litigation: it is required to conduct a Section 7 consultation for the state fisheries NMFS funds, manages and supports (2021 Biological Opinion, p. 26-27). Consequently, NMFS has confirmed that in the event single-year permits continue to be used, WDFW could obtain its own Section 7 permit. This acknowledgment would not have occurred if not for Fish Northwest issuing its notice of intent to sue and, ultimately, filing suit.
That said, Fish Northwest’s lawsuit will continue. NMFS continues to take the position that the BIA’s alleged actions can trigger Section 7 consultation. Non-selective gillnet harvest continues to hugely overharvest natural origin Puget Sound chinook, resulting in both dwindling returns and dwindling fisheries. These actions are approved by NMFS, and Fish Northwest intends to see the litigation against the federal defendants through to the end.