August 6, 2018
Last week the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation advanced the Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation Prevention Act (S. 3119). This proposed legislation seeks to provide needed flexibility and contains surgical and pragmatic amendments to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) that will allow states in the Columbia River Basin to balance the ongoing conservation of sea lions with that of other species that also warrant protection.
Researchers have estimated that sea lions are taking up to 43% of the spring Chinook salmon run in the Columbia basin and have concluded that if sea lion predation on these stocks is not addressed in the near future, there is a 89% probability that at least one of the winter steelhead populations will become extinct.
“Public and private stakeholders in the Columbia River basin have worked diligently for years in a collaborative effort to recover imperiled salmon and steelhead stocks in what has become a multi-billion dollar effort” stated Virgil Moore, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Director of Idaho Fish and Game. “Passage of S.3119 will support these partnership efforts by providing a management framework that allows fish and wildlife agencies to meet the goals of both the MMPA as well as the Endangered Species Act in a timely manner while not expanding upon the number of sea lions permitted for take under current law.”
“We thank primary sponsor Senator James Risch (R-ID) as well as cosponsor Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) for their leadership and for taking the initiative to tackle this dynamic conservation challenge in a truly bipartisan, science based, manner,” said Ron Regan, Executive Director for the Association. “We also extend our appreciation to Chairman Thune and members of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation for their support and advancement of S. 3119 to the next step in the legislative process. The swift passage of the Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation Prevention Act is critical to ensuring our members in Washington, Idaho and Oregon can act efficiently to prevent further decline or extinction of salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon stocks in the Columbia Basin.”
(updated August 7, 2018)