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Agreement Reached On Fish Eggs

Oregon and Idaho’s Nez Perce Indian tribe have reached a court-ordered agreement allowing 800,000 eggs from returning hatchery-produced steelhead in the Imnaha River to be reared by tribal fisheries biologists.

The fish will be released in the Imnaha system to supplement the Oregon river’s natural runs.

U.S. District Judge Malcolm Marsh ordered the two sides to come up with a deal by this week. He wanted 700 steelhead returning from the Pacific to remain in the river system to spawn.

The ruling was a major victory for the tribe, which believes that hatchery-reared fish should be used to supplement natural runs.

State biologists wanted the 700 returning steelhead destroyed, contending that hatchery-reared steelhead can do more harm than good if they are allowed to spawn with natural runs because the hatchery fish are genetically inferior.

The Nez Perce argued that the Imnaha hatchery fish had showed no genetic difference from their natural counterparts.