- Greg Block
Wild Salmon Center
- Laurel Brown
Office of Congressman Mike Thompson
- Chuck Bonham
- Kevin Shaffer
California Dept. of Fish and Game
- Glen Spain
Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman's Associations
Federal Legislation to Establish New U.S. Policy for Wild Pacific Salmon Press Releases
Federal Legislation to Establish New U.S. Policy for Wild Pacific Salmon Bill will focus on protection and restoration of the healthiest Pacific salmon ecosystems to complement recovery efforts.
Washington D.C., April 22, 2009
Today, U.S. House Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA 1st), Mike Simpson (R-ID 2nd), Norm Dicks (D-WA 6th), Jay Inslee (D-WA 1st), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR 3rd), Lois Capps (D-CA 23rd), and Ellen Tauscher (D-CA 10th) introduced federal legislation to protect and restore the healthiest remaining wild Pacific salmon ecosystems in North America --"Salmon Strongholds." A companion bill was introduced earlier this month by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), with co-sponsorship from the entire West Coast Senate delegation.
"Research shows that it's far more cost effective to preserve a species by supporting healthy ecosystems than by trying to intervene after the damage has already been done," said Congressman Thompson. "Salmon have been an important part of our North Coast economy for a long time, and we need to use all available tools to help the fish population grow so that our environment will be restored and our fishing families can prosper."
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 Congressman Thompson’s leadership, the U.S. will have a more comprehensive and strategic approach to protecting wild salmon populations,” said Greg Block, VP for Conservation at 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.”
“Wild salmon and steelhead mean so much, to so many people, in so many parts of the West. Forging these partnerships for bold action is exactly what we need to do to provide a solid foundation for region-wide recovery as we progress in our efforts to restore degraded watersheds," said Chuck Bonham, California Director at Trout Unlimited. “It is good for land and water conservation and restoration; good for people and businesses; and, definitely good for wild salmon and steelhead."
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 partnership will allow all the Pacific States to identify and protect the healthiest watersheds and salmon populations across the West Coast,” said Kevin Shaffer, Native Fishes Program Manager for the Fisheries Branch of California Department of Fish & Game. “California looks forward to contributing to this vital effort conserve our salmon fisheries."
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.