Frequently Asked Questions: 90-Day Finding on a Petition to List Oregon Coast Spring-run Chinook salmon as Threatened or Endangered
On April 13, 2020, we announced a 90-day finding on a petition to list spring-run chinook on the Oregon coast as threatened or endangered under the ESA, and to designate critical habitat concurrently with the listing.
On September 24, 2019, NOAA Fisheries received a petition from the Native Fish Society, Center for Biological Diversity, and Umpqua Watersheds to list Oregon Coast spring-run Chinook salmon as an endangered Evolutionarily Significant Unit (ESU) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Currently, Oregon Coast spring-run Chinook salmon are part of the Oregon Coast Chinook salmon ESU—which includes both spring-run and fall-run Chinook salmon, and is currently not listed under the ESA. The petitioner is requesting that spring-run Oregon Coast Chinook salmon be considered as a separate ESU and listed as threatened or endangered.
NOAA Fisheries has reviewed this petition and determined that it presents substantial scientific information such that listing may be warranted. We are soliciting scientific and commercial information pertaining to the delineation of a new Oregon Coast spring-run Chinook salmon ESU and its status to ensure our review is comprehensive and informed by the most up-to-date information. NOAA Fisheries will conclude this status review by September 24, 2020.
What exactly does it mean that this listing may be warranted?
NOAA Fisheries has determined that the petitioners presented substantial scientific information to warrant additional review of the species’ status. It does not mean that we have already concluded that Oregon Coast spring-run Chinook salmon should or will be delineated as a separate ESU or listed under the ESA. Rather, it means that we will proceed to collect and review scientific and commercial information to inform a decision as to whether listing an ESU of spring-run Oregon Coast Chinook salmon as threatened or endangered is warranted.
What information did NOAA Fisheries consider in deciding whether to conduct a comprehensive review?
In considering the petition to list an Oregon Coast spring-run Chinook salmon ESU, we evaluated the request based upon the information in the petition and any information readily available in our agency's files. NOAA Fisheries did not conduct additional research or solicit information from parties outside of the agency.
What is the timing of the comprehensive review?
The ESA requires that NOAA Fisheries conclude a status review within 12 months of receiving a listing petition (i.e., by September 24, 2020), and determine whether listing of the species is warranted.
What criteria will NOAA Fisheries use to evaluate whether ESA listing is warranted?
Section 4(b)(1)(A) of the ESA requires listing determinations based solely on the best scientific and commercial data available. Following a review of the status of the species and taking into account efforts being made to protect the species, NOAA Fisheries must determine whether a species is threatened or endangered as a result of one or a combination of the following factors:
- the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;
- overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;
- disease or predation;
- the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
- other natural or man-made factors affecting its continued existence.
What are the next steps if NOAA Fisheries determines that ESA listing is warranted?
At the conclusion of our review, if NOAA Fisheries determines that listing is warranted, a proposed rule would be issued and public comments would be solicited on the proposed determination. If in the 12-month finding NOAA Fisheries determines that listing is not warranted, that determination would be published at that time.
What is the difference between a species and an ESU?
The ESA defines “species” to include any “distinct population segment of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when mature.” The ESU Policy for Pacific salmon (56 FR 58612) clarifies that a stock of Pacific salmon will be considered a distinct population, and hence a “species” eligible for listing under the ESA, if it represents an Evolutionarily Significant Unit (ESU) of the biological species. A Pacific salmon population or group of populations is an ESU if it (1) is reproductively isolated from other conspecific population units, and 2) represents an important component in the evolutionary legacy of the species.
Why are spring-run and fall-run Chinook salmon currently considered to be part of the same Oregon Coast ESU?
Although the migration and spawning times are different, analyses conducted during a 1998 status review found that life-history and genetic differences between Chinook salmon runs within coastal areas of Oregon were relatively modest. Specifically, spring-run and fall-run Chinook salmon on the Oregon coast exhibited similar ocean distribution patterns and genetic characteristics, and were less distinct than run-timing subgroups identified in other West Coast salmon stocks.