SYMP 3-6 - Pacific salmon, the ESA and NOAA Fisheries: Perspectives of a scientist in the agency

Monday, August 7, 2017: 4:10 PM
Portland Blrm 253, Oregon Convention Center
John Stein, NOAA
Background/Question/Methods and Results/Conclusions

The petitions and eventual listing of Pacific salmon on the west coast of the US had dramatic effects on society and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA,) as well as other federal and state agencies and tribes. Within a few years, Pacific salmon became the largest single species program in the agency by a wide margin affecting both the regulatory and science enterprises of the agency. For example, the Clinton administration took the unprecedented step of making the NOAA Fisheries Pacific Northwest Regional Administrator a political position. The only other political position in NOAA Fisheries was the head of the agency, thus having a political appointee as the Regional Administrator reflected the grave concern at the time for the contentious effect of the listings across the region. The listings also dramatically increased the number of ESA consultations done by the agency and increased the need to address scientific questions related to recovery and the effects of human activities limiting recovery for a species whose life cycle leads to intersections with nearly all sectors of human society on the Pacific Coast. I will discuss the role and independence of science based on my 25 years of involvement in west coast salmon where I served in multiple science positions in NOAA Fisheries.