|HASTINGS, BAIRD TAKE
AIM AT SEA LIONS PREYING ON ENDANGERED SALMON
Lawmakers Unveil Bipartisan Endangered Salmon
Predation Prevention Act
October 16, 2006
Bonneville Dam, WA - Congressman Doc
Hastings and Congressman Brian Baird today
announced a bill they have introduced that
aims to reduce the predation of endangered
Columbia River salmon by sea lions. The
lawmakers made the announcement at the
Bonneville Dam - where aggressive sea lion
predation on fish listed as endangered has
been observed in recent years.
"Lethal removal of the most aggressive sea
lions is necessary to deter predation and help
protect endangered salmon as they return to
spawn," the lawmakers said.
"When we're spending hundreds of millions per
year in direct spending on salmon recovery,
our region cannot afford to ignore the impact
of these sea lions," said Hastings.
"This bill is another tool to use in limited
situations after all other options have been
exhausted. It will send a strong message that
the 'all-you-can-eat' salmon buffet at
Bonneville Dam is closed," said Baird.
The Hastings-Baird plan creates a temporary
expedited process for the states of Washington
and Oregon and the four Columbia River treaty
tribes to obtain permits for the lethal
removal of a limited number of California sea
lions preying on salmon and steelhead in the
Columbia River. The streamlined process can
be used in cases where non-lethal methods to
discourage sea lion predation have been shown
to be ineffective.
California sea lions are having a significant
impact on spring salmon returns. In recent
years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has
observed that thousands of returning salmon
are killed by sea lions in the area around
Bonneville Dam alone.
Despite dramatic population increases in
recent decades, California sea lions, like all
marine mammals, enjoy strong federal
protection making it virtually impossible to
remove them. Under current law it can take 3
to 5 years for wildlife managers to get
permission from the federal government to
remove aggressive sea lions. The existing
process has never been successfully used.
Safeguards are included in the bill to ensure
that the overall California sea lion
population is not impacted.
"This measure provides critical support for
salmon recovery on the Columbia River," said
Jeff Koenings, director of the Washington
Department of Fish and Wildlife. "It provides
fishery managers with a needed option in the
effort to restore the balance between sea
lions and listed salmon populations in areas
where those fish are particularly vulnerable."
"We are grateful that Congressmen Hastings,
Baird, Dicks and Walden have introduced this
important bill and we hope the Congress will
act on it expeditiously and certainly before
next year's spring runs," said
Lavina Washines, Chairwoman of the Tribal
Council of the Yakama Nation.
"Salmon are critically important to the
Yakama people. They are essential to our diet,
to our culture and to our economy. The right
of continuing to take salmon was one of the
most important things our forefathers
negotiated for in our Treaty. We hope our
friends in the environmental and animal rights
communities will understand that salmon have
become endangered while sea lions have
proliferated in numbers. We hope our friends
will be concerned about endangered and
threatened salmon being further damaged by a
species that is not now in need of protection
and will be supportive of our efforts and
those of other fishery managers to deal with a
limited number of problem sea lions"
Original cosponsors of the Endangered
Salmon Predation Prevention Act, H.R. 6241,
are Congressman Norm Dicks and Congressman