House Approves Bill to Reduce Sea Lion Predation on Salmon and Steelhead

Alexandria, VA – The sportfishing industry applauded the U.S House of Representatives passage of Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler’s (R-Wash.) Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation Prevention Act (H.R. 2083) by a vote of 288-115. This bipartisan bill will address the growing threat posed to salmon by the presence and predation of sea lions at migratory bottlenecks in the lower Columbia River system in Oregon and Washington.  

“Salmon fisheries in the Pacific Northwest are extremely important to the region’s recreational fishermen and the economy,” said Scott Gudes, vice president of Government Affairs for the American Sportfishing Association (ASA). “We deeply appreciate the leadership of Reps. Herrera Beutler, Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), the other authors of H.R. 2083 and the House of Representatives for helping to remove unreasonable and overly burdensome restrictions that are preventing Northwest fish and wildlife professionals from addressing this significant problem.”

According to ASA, H.R. 2083 will empower professional state and tribal fisheries managers to better address the negative consequence of unchecked sea lion predation on salmon and sturgeon at environmental pinch points in the Columbia River and its tributaries.

They will take a more proactive approach to remove problem predators before they habituate to these locations, all while preserving the spirit of bedrock environmental laws.

Several amendments, including one developed in consultation with the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, helped to take into consideration concerns previously raised about the scope of the bill.

Similar legislation to H.R. 2083, as passed by the House, was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho).

Prior to the House vote, ASA sent a communication to each member of the U.S. House of Representatives about the importance of this legislation and outlining its support of the bill prior.

“Salmon are a resilient species. They have survived a number of challenges in recent years. The uncontrolled predation by sea lions that have left the ocean to gorge on salmon is a new challenge that they may not survive,” said Gudes. “We have been working closely with our partners in the region, such as the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, to address this issue. ASA is committed to conserving and restoring salmon, which are an iconic fishery and symbol of the Pacific Northwest.”