House Passes Legislation to Protect Endangered Salmon from Predatory Sea Lions
Jun 19, 2012 -
Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2578 the Conservation and Economic Growth Act, which included a measure authored by Congressman Doc Hastings to protect Northwest salmon from predatory California Sea Lions.
“A handful of aggressive sea lions travel more than 200 miles up the Columbia River year after year to feast on endangered salmon at Bonneville Dam,” said Hastings. “Lawsuits filed by radical environmental groups have continued to undercut the ability of states to address this serious threat to both endangered and non-endangered fish. I am pleased that the House of Representatives acted today to help preserve this important cultural and economic resource that Pacific Northwest ratepayers pay millions of dollars a year to protect.”
In recent years, sea lions have been entering the lower 205 miles of the Columbia River around Bonneville Dam and feasting on endangered fish. Recent state court filings say that during winter and spring months, as many as 1,000 California Sea Lions can be in the lower Columbia River, each of which consumes fifteen to thirty pounds of fish per day. Conservative estimates show that sea lions during April and May eat 12,000 to 20,000 fish throughout the Columbia River and its tributaries, which comprise a significant percentage of the overall salmon runs.
Despite dramatic population increases in recent decades, sea lions enjoy strong federal protection making it virtually impossible to control them. Scientific task forces have been convened in recent years and have concluded that non-lethal removal has not been effective.
Hastings’ language, which was included in H.R. 2578 that passed the House today by a bipartisan vote of 232 to 188, allows Washington state, Oregon, Idaho and the four Columbia River treaty tribes to obtain one-year permits from the Secretary of Commerce for the lethal removal of a limited number of sea lions preying on salmon, steelhead and other fish in the Columbia River and its tributaries. State and federal guidelines require that the lethal removal, when necessary to control aggressive sea lions, be done in the most humane way possible.
H.R. 2578 will move to the Senate for consideration.