Nonnative Fish Stocking Suit Dismissed

Tossing non-native fish in plastic bags from airplanes into California lakes is apparently okay.  At least, a federal judge last week dismissed a lawsuit by Wilderness Watch and Felice Pace, an angler from Del Norte County, challenging the practice by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife as a violation of the Clean Water Act.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick rejected the environmentalists’ claim in an order Nov. 4, that releasing non-native fish into U.S. waters amounts to discharging biological pollutants and requires a permit.

They argued “release of the fish harms the biological integrity and ‘food webs’ of the lakes by altering nutrient cycling and algal production and impacting other fish, amphibians and organisms in those lakes.”

The question, according to Orrick, was whether the release of the fish is the same as discharge of “biological materials” covered by the Clean Water Act and thus requiring a permit.

“The department’s introduction of live fish for w5tocking lakes cannot be considered the waste product of a transforming human or industrial process,” he said.

The fact that the environmentalists have alleged the department’s stocking alters the physical and biological integrity of the lakes did not change Orrick’s conclusion.

Orrick said the claims of introduction of non-native fish are not actionable under the Clean Water Act.

He ordered the case dismissed.

Case:  Pace v. Bonham, No. 12-cv-5610WHO




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