Center for Biological Diversity

Protecting endangered species and wild places through
science, policy, education, and environmental law.

For Immediate Release: October 5, 2006

Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity, 503-484-7495
Deanna Spooner, Pacific Rivers Council, 541-345-0119
Dr. Vance Vredenburg, Research Scientist, Berkeley, 510-642-7960
Ralph Cutter, California School of Flyfishing, Nevada City, 530-470-9005

California’s Harmful Fish Stocking Practices Challenged
Conservationists Seek Review of Impacts on Imperiled Species

SAN FRANCISCO – The Center for Biological Diversity and Pacific Rivers Council filed a lawsuit today against the California Department of Fish and Game over the agency’s longstanding failure to consider the impacts of fish stocking on imperiled aquatic species such as the Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog, Cascades Frog and Lahontan Cutthroat Trout.

“Numerous studies demonstrate that stocking introduced trout in California’s lakes and rivers has serious impacts on native fish and amphibians and is contributing to a number of species’ slide towards extinction,” stated Noah Greenwald, conservation biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Yet Fish and Game has never analyzed or mitigated the impacts of stocking on California’s aquatic ecosystems or natural heritage.”

The groups submitted comments in August 2005 and again in July 2006 requesting that Fish and Game initiate environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The comments included data showing that fish stocking in 2005 occurred in at least 47 water bodies where 36 imperiled species occur, including a number of federally listed threatened and endangered species.

Many scientists have documented the link between fish stocking and amphibian declines in remote, well-protected wilderness areas of the Sierra Nevada, including Dr. Vance Vredenburg of the University of California at Berkeley.

“This mountain range contains some of the largest tracts of roadless land in the lower 48 states, yet some amphibian species have disappeared in these seemingly pristine areas while other species occupying the same habitat remain abundant,” observed Dr. Vredenburg. “Introduced trout are a big factor in these declines.”

"With proper management we can avoid harming native species and still provide outstanding fishing opportunities," said Ralph Cutter of Nevada City, a renowned angling instructor and author of numerous articles and books on trout fishing. "But without it we will continue to face the nightmare fish stocking scenarios such as happened with the imperilment of our state fish, the golden trout," Cutter added.

The legal challenge was brought under CEQA, which requires Fish and Game to determine whether its fish stocking program has a significant effect on the environment and if so, prepare an environmental impact report. The lawsuit seeks a moratorium on fish stocking where imperiled species occur until Fish and Game completes the required analysis under CEQA. Fish and Game can then use the analysis to determine where stocking may be appropriate and where it needs to be eliminated to avoid wildlife impacts.

“Indiscriminate fish stocking is continuing to harm California’s native species and the web of life they depend on for survival,” stated Deanna Spooner, conservation director for Pacific Rivers Council. “If Fish and Game doesn’t take immediate steps to reform its stocking program, then imperiled species like the Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog may go extinct in my lifetime.”

For more information about the lawsuit go to or


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