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Coalition Presses Feds On Coho Salmon Lawsuit Seeks To Force Officials From Further Delaying Endangered Status

Conservationists and fishermen filed a lawsuit Thursday to try to force the government to make decisions due last year on declaring another West Coast salmon species endangered.

Postponement of the listing decisions, in one case for 15 months, is moving the West Coast coho closer to extinction in California, Oregon and Washington, a coalition of 24 groups said in the suit filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

“It is time for the federal government to comply with the law and take action before coho are gone forever,” said Mike Sherwood, an attorney for the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund.

A spokesman for the National Marine Fisheries Service said Thursday a decision is expected this summer on whether to propose protection of the fish under the Endangered Species Act.

Different proposals are anticipated for six areas between the Canadian border and Monterey, Calif., service spokesman Brian Gorman said.

The fisheries service announced in October 1993 that the status of the coho warranted a listing review. It was supposed to complete the review by October 1994.

Gorman said the ruling was delayed because a series of population reviews have been combined into one.