Lawsuit Seeks to Address Predation in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

On February 27, 2010, the Sacramento Bee published a story by Matt Weiser entitled "Lawsuit: Striped bass to blame for California's salmon decline." The story discusses an ongoing lawsuit (PDF) challenging the California Department of Fish and Game's enforcement of striped bass sport-fishing regulations in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The lawsuit alleges that the enforcement of the striped bass sport-fishing regulations maintain an elevated striped bass population, which increases striped bass predation on a number of species listed under the Endangered Species Act ("ESA"), including the Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon and delta smelt. Because these species are listed, any action that increases striped bass predation is a violation of Section 9 of the ESA, which prohibits any government agency, entity, or individual from "taking" a federally protected species without prior authorization.

Plaintiffs and the Department of Fish and Game have filed cross-motions for summary judgment, which the federal District Court is scheduled to hear in late April. Plaintiffs' motion (PDF), which relies primarily on documents and statements from Department of Fish and Game employees, seeks summary adjudication on the issue of liability and standing. The Department of Fish and Game, however, has only moved (PDF) on the issue of plaintiffs' standing.

  • Benjamin Z. Rubin
    Partner

    Ben Rubin assists developers, public agencies, landowners, and corporate clients on a variety of complex land use and environmental matters.  He counsels clients on matters dealing with the Federal and State Endangered Species ...

  • Paul S. Weiland
    Partner

    Paul Weiland is chair of Nossaman’s Environment & Land Use Group. He focuses his practice on litigation, permitting, and compliance counseling. Paul’s clients include public agencies, publicly regulated utilities, private ...

Nossaman’s Endangered Species Law & Policy blog focuses on news, events, and policies affecting endangered species issues in California and throughout the United States. Topics include listing and critical habitat decisions, conservation and recovery planning, inter-agency consultation, and related developments in law, policy, and science. We also inform readers about regulatory and legislative developments, as well as key court decisions.

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