Press Releases

Jaime Herrera Beutler Introduces Bill to Protect Endangered Salmon and Steelhead on the Columbia River

Historic recovery efforts of salmon and steelhead compromised by increasing sea lion predation

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Washington, DC, January 27, 2015 | comments
Today, Jaime Herrera Beutler joined U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) to introduce a bill to improve the survival of endangered salmon, steelhead and other native fish species in the Columbia River system.
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Today, Jaime Herrera Beutler joined U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) to introduce a bill to improve the survival of endangered salmon, steelhead and other native fish species in the Columbia River system.  The Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation Prevention Act provides tribal members and government fish managers with the means to remove California sea lions and harbor seals from specific areas where they are posing the most harm.

Specifically, this bipartisan bill would authorize states and tribal members – under the training of U.S. Fish and Wildlife – to use lethal force to remove sea lions that are predating on endangered salmon or sturgeon. The bill is supported by a broad spectrum of Northwest residents and organizations that includes recreational fishermen represented by the Coastal Conservation Association, tribal members represented by Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Historic recovery efforts of endangered salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia River have been compromised by increasing sea lion predation. The last count of sea lions and seals in the near ocean and Columbian River below the Bonneville Dam intercepting salmon as they continued onto spawning areas was 7,000 in 2010. Since that time, the states have reported the number of sea lions at haul out areas in the lower river at an increasing rate – from 80 sea lions in 2010 to 616 in 2014. State studies shows 16%-20% the spring salmon run may be consumed by sea lions.  

“Salmon are part of the very fabric of the Pacific Northwest, which is why significant resources are spent making sure they survive and can continue to support recreational, cultural and economic interests,” said Jaime. “However, this is money wasted if we fail to responsibly manage the sea lion population that is devastating their numbers.”

“Predation from sea lions is a serious, growing threat to salmon and steelhead recovery efforts in the Pacific Northwest, as well as the future of our fisheries.  Sea lions are also becoming a major public safety issue in many areas.  Federal policies must be reformed and I applaud Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler and Kurt Schrader for taking on this important effort,” said Gary Loomis, founder of G-Loomis, Edge Rods and Coastal Conservation Association in the Pacific Northwest.

“As the people of the Northwest invest millions annually towards salmon recovery on the Columbia River, it is important that tribal and government fish managers have the necessary tools to restore balance between abundant sea lion populations and the endangered salmon and steelhead populations,” said Guy R. Norman, Regional director of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We have been entrusted to protect these endangered fish populations and this legislation introduced by Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler gives us the tools we need.” 

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