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Jaime Herrera Beutler’s Bill to Protect Endangered Salmon and Steelhead on the Columbia River Approved by Congressional Committee

Exponentially increasing sea lion predation in recent years threatens salmon populations in the Columbia River

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Washington, DC, September 22, 2016 | comments
Today, the Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation Prevention Act, a bipartisan bill authored by U.S. Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) to improve the survival of endangered salmon, steelhead and other native fish species in the Columbia River system, was approved by the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee.
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Today, the Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation Prevention Act, a bipartisan bill authored by U.S. Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) to improve the survival of endangered salmon, steelhead and other native fish species in the Columbia River system, was approved by the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee. The legislation provides tribal members and government fish managers with the means to remove California sea lions from specific areas where they are posing the most harm.

Salmon are central to our way of life in the Pacific Northwest, but right now sea lion predation is posing a serious threat to our salmon populations,” said Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler. “Significant resources are invested to ensure their survival, but we’re being poor stewards of these resources if we don’t also manage the threat of an exploding sea lion population.  I want to thank Chairman Bishop of the Natural Resources Committee for their strong support of my Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation Prevention Act that provides the tools to manage the sea lion threat on the Columbia River system.  With this solution, we can better protect the salmon so vital to our recreational, cultural and economic interests.”

Specifically, this bipartisan bill would authorize states and tribal members to lethally remove sea lions that are predating on endangered salmon, steelhead and other native fish species. 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 exponentially increasing sea lion predation in recent years. The estimated consumption of salmon and steelhead by sea lions in the Bonneville Dam tailrace was 2,928 fish in 2013, 4,704 fish in 2014, and 10,859 fish in 2015. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, removing sea lions that are the most egregious predators continues to be the most effective way to protect the salmon populations.

Protecting salmon populations helps secure a future for recreational fishing in Washington state – an industry that contributes 5,100 jobs, provides $247 million in income for Washington residents, generates $654 million in sales and contributes $390 million to the state’s gross domestic product (2011 statistics). 

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