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Smelt Endangered

Northwest briefly: Smelt to be listed as threatened species

GRANTS PASS, Ore. ó The Pacific smelt, a small silvery fish that was a staple of Northwest American Indian tribes when the Lewis and Clark expedition arrived, is getting federal protection because itís been declining toward extinction due to global warming and other factors.

The fish, also known as eulachon or candlefish, will be listed as a threatened species in the Federal Register today, NOAA Fisheries Service said.

It is too early to tell whether the threatened species listing will shut down the very small commercial and recreational smelt fisheries regulated in state waters, said NOAA Fisheries biologist Garth Griffin. Those have already been reduced to a tiny impact on the population.

The Cowlitz Tribe in Washington state, which once depended on abundant catches of eulachon in the Columbia River for food and an item of trade, asked for the listing in 2007.

Just what will be done to protect the fish has not been determined.

Published 3/17/2010 Heraldnet