Anglers Urged To Contact US Senators In Support Of Salmon-Sea Lion Bill

Northwest anglers are being urged to contact their U.S. senators to support a bill that would give salmon managers more leverage to deal with problematic pinnipeds.

A SEA LION WITH A SALMONID BELOW WILLAMETTE FALLS. PREDATION BY THE MARINE MAMMALS ON ESA-LISTED WINTER STEELHEAD HERE HAS A 90 PERCENT CHANCE OF LEADING TO THE EXTINCTION OF AT LEAST ONE RUN, ODFW ESTIMATED LAST YEAR. (ODFW)

The Endangered Salmon Predation Prevention Act, S 3119, is expected to go before the Senate’s Commerce Committee this Wednesday.

With sea lions chewing up ESA-listed Chinook and steelhead, as well as other stocks, in the Columbia and its tribs, the bill would tweak the Marine Mammal Protection Act to allow state and tribal to remove as many as an additional 100 a year.

The Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association’s Liz Hamilton is urging people to call their two senators to “ask them to support the bill, and let them know that failure is not an option here. And be sure to thank them!”

The exact same bill, HR 2083, passed the U.S. House late last month with yes votes from every single Idaho, Oregon and Washington representative.

The Senate version is cosponsored by Idaho’s James Risch (R) and Washington’s Maria Cantwell (D) and was introduced in mid-June.

“Pacific salmon are central to our culture, our livelihoods, and our economy in the Pacific Northwest,” Cantwell said. “Taxpayers throughout Washington, Idaho, and Oregon have made significant investments in Pacific salmon restoration, and we must continue to support science-based management methods to ensure future generations have access to wild Pacific Northwest salmon.”

Cantwell’s office can be reached at (202) 224-3441.

Washington’s other U.S. Senator, Patty Murray, can be reached at  (202) 224-2621.

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden can be reached at (202) 224-5244 while Senator Jeff Merkley can be reached at (202) 224-3753.

Since 2008, Northwest states have had the authority to move sea lions preying on salmon and steelhead below Bonneville Dam, including to euthanize the worst offenders.

Both bills in Congress would expand that down to the I-205 bridge over the Columbia and in any of its tribs with ESA-listed stocks.

And it would allow for NOAA to not only issue one-year permits to the states but also to a number of tribes including the Nez Perce, Warm Springs, Umatilla, Yakama and Cowlitz, as well as the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission.

Last year, a CRITFC employee died on the way to perform sea lion counts after the boat he was on capsized due to strong winds.

It’s notable that both the House’s and Senate’s sea lion bills have received bipartisan support from the Northwest’s federal lawmakers.

“I want to thank my colleague Senator Risch for working with me on this bipartisan, science-based solution that will help protect salmon for future generations,” said Cantwell, who is a Democrat of the Idaho Republican.

One thought on “Anglers Urged To Contact US Senators In Support Of Salmon-Sea Lion Bill”

  1. (* AMMENDED FOR CLARITY *)

    RE: Endangered Salmon Predation Prevention Act, S 3119

    For over 30 years, the California Sea Lion has decimated runs of Pacific Northwest anadromous salmonids.

    Why the animal was included in the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act remains to me a complete mystery – these animals have never been in short supply, notwithstanding the fact that until the act was passed it was common knowledge that it was open season on any unsuspecting Sea Lion that popped his head above water. Every charter boat in Westport in the 1960s carried a .30-06 on board, and the skippers wasted no time in dispatching any animal that made its presence known. WDFW used to pay a bounty for the noses of Sea Lions.

    Since the days of “Herschel” at the Hiram Chittenden Locks, the California Sea Lion has been raising hell with runs of salmon and steelhead all over the State.
    This particular piece of legislation was apparently brought about by their presence below the Bonneville Dam, but they’ve also been seen in the past just below the power house at La Grande on the Nisqually River (as well as far upstream in many northwest rivers.)

    Former Washington State Senator A.L. “Slim” Rasmussen introduced a bill in the Washington State Legislature in the early 1990s calling for their lethal removal, but the bill never made it out of committee because language in the bill included the word “kill”.

    Thirty years later legislators are still wringing their hands about the “animal rights” whackos who want to “protect” an animal that is killing threatened and endangered species of anadromous salmonids.
    If they’d taken action on this thirty years ago, maybe some of those runs would not now be classified as threatened or endangered.

    The bill is S3119

    Congressional switchboard: 202 224 3121

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