- Greg Block
Wild Salmon Center
- Ciaran Clayton
Office of Senator Maria Cantwell
- Rob Masonis
- Sara LaBorde
Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife
- Glen Spain
Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman's Associations
West Coast Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Protect and Restore "Salmon Strongholds"Press Releases
Legislation will focus on protection and restoration of the healthiest Pacific salmon ecosystems to complement recovery efforts.
Washington D.C., April 2, 2009
Today, Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and the entire West Coast Senate delegation will introduce federal legislation to protect and restore the healthiest remaining wild Pacific salmon ecosystems in North America—"Salmon Strongholds." The bill will be debated in the Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard Subcommittee, chaired by Senator Cantwell.
"While current federal salmon recovery efforts focus on populations listed under the Endangered Species Act, seeking to restore what we’ve lost, the Salmon Stronghold Act aims to protect what we already have," said Cantwell. "This legislation complements ongoing recovery efforts to ensure the viability of healthy wild Pacific salmon runs for generations to come."
The Pacific Salmon Stronghold Conservation Act will complement vital efforts to recover threatened and endangered salmon populations by directing federal resources toward voluntary, incentive-based conservation efforts in salmon stronghold basins across Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, and Alaska.
A new proactive U.S. policy
The Act will establish a new, proactive U.S. policy that recognizes the need for conservation of salmon strongholds as a complement to recovery of federally-listed populations. It will also create a grants program to support cooperative conservation efforts that implement locally-led, high value conservation actions in healthy wild salmon ecosystems.
"Through Senator Cantwell’s leadership, the U.S. will have a more comprehensive and strategic approach to protecting wild salmon populations," said Guido Rahr, President and CEO of the Wild Salmon Center. "This bill recognizes that while we must continue to invest in recovery, in the face of increasing development and climate change, it is also critical to ensure that we maintain watersheds that are currently functioning and productive."
"Ensuring that healthy populations of wild fish in our region have the high quality habitat they need to stay healthy is essential if we're going to have wild salmon and steelhead for future generations to enjoy," said Rob Masonis, VP for Western Conservation at Trout Unlimited. "Conserving wild salmon and steelhead strongholds will provide a solid foundation for region-wide recovery as we progress in our efforts to restore degraded watersheds."
Since the life cycle of salmonids crosses public and private ownerships, political jurisdictions, and diverse ecosystems, a cooperative approach among federal, state, and tribal governments, landowners, and non-governmental organizations is critical to successfully conserving and managing salmon populations in the long term. This legislation will enhance coordination among these entities and leverage private funds to support salmon conservation across jurisdictional boundaries.
This coordination will take place through the North American Salmon Stronghold Partnership, a voluntary, public-private initiative that includes state and federal agencies, tribal governments, non-governmental organizations, and private landowners working collaboratively on salmon conservation and restoration activities in North America. The Partnership will provide technical and financial assistance to local communities to implement complex, high value conservation actions that are difficult to fund and execute through existing programs.
"This initiative will provide local salmon leaders with the tools and incentives they need to maintain our healthy salmon ecosystems," said Sara LaBorde, Special Assistant to the Director of Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife and Chair of the North American Salmon Stronghold Partnership. "It will enhance state, federal and local coordination and help streamline the delivery of vital resources to these communities."
Promoting green jobs and infrastructure
By providing funding for conservation projects in salmon stronghold basins, the Pacific Salmon Stronghold Conservation Act will promote green jobs and infrastructure, sustaining thousands of livelihoods through commercial and recreational fishing, tourism, and watershed restoration.
"To fishermen, salmon mean business," commented Glen Spain of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, the West Coast's largest organization of commercial fishing families. "Just a modest but well-targeted investment in protecting salmon habitat can mean a huge -- and sustainable --economic dividend in terms of more coastal fishing jobs and more salmon on America's tables."The legislation will also provide indirect economic benefits to communities by maintaining healthy wild salmon ecosystems as sources of clean drinking water, carbon sequestration, and flood mitigation. Several salmon strongholds provide relatively intact landscapes that are more likely to be resilient to climate change, with high potential for sequestering carbon and providing long-term water sources.