Bills to Protect Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Advance

On August 1, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation voted to pass S. 3119, the Endangered Salmon Predation Prevention Act.

Sponsored by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Jim Risch (ID) and Sen. Maria Cantwell (WA), this bill would authorize the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to issue permits to state fish and wildlife managers in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho – as well as tribes in Oregon and Washington – that would allow for the lethal removal of sea lions in the Columbia River Basin. The bill allows for the removal of up to 100 sea lions from the river system. S. 3119 now awaits a vote on the Senate floor.

On June 26, the House of Representatives passed a similar bill, H.R. 2803. The bill, sponsored by Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA) and Kurt Schrader (OR), allows for the same removal of up to 100 sea lions in the Columbia and its tributaries by fish and wildlife managers and tribes in the three states.

Sea lion predation on endangered salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River Basin has been shown to have significant population-level impacts on both species, necessitating the need for more active management of sea lions in order to better protect and sustain fish populations widely enjoyed by anglers in all three states.

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