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Commentaries and editorials

Inslee Beats Drum for
Herrera Beutler Bill

by Katy Sword
The Columbian, January 26, 2018

Governor urges U.S. representatives to back plan to protect fish runs

Sea Lion eats a fish.  If you don't eat you die. Gov. Jay Inslee is urging U.S. House representatives from Washington, Oregon and Idaho to support a bill penned by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, that seeks to reduce sea lion predation on at-risk fish populations, including salmon and steelhead.

Inslee sent a letter to the Northwest delegation asking for support Friday with the support of Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter.

"Although several hundred million dollars are invested annually to rebuild these native fish runs, their health and sustainability is threatened unless Congress acts to enhance protection from increasing sea lion predation," the letter reads. "It's hard to imagine successful recovery of threatened and endangered fish populations with these high levels of interception by sea lions."

Researchers estimate sea lions consume nearly 20 percent of the spring Chinook run, and a study by NOAA Fisheries found up to 45 percent of adult Chinook salmon disappear between Bonneville Dam and the estuary. Those loses are largely attributed to sea lion predation.

The bill, HR 2083, allows state, federal and tribal authorities to respond faster and more efficiently. Lethal removal is still limited in the bill.

"I am pleased to see bipartisan support for my bill continue to grow.," Herrera Beutler said in a statement. "As the governors stated in their letter, we must act to protect our native Columbia River salmon and steelhead. I am hopeful that the senators from Oregon and Washington will also join in supporting this bill to successfully move it through Congress."

Inslee, Brown and Otter wrote that they hope the two chambers can come to an agreement on the bill and implement it with bipartisan support.

"No one wants to harm these great marine mammals, but effectively dealing with a small fraction of the healthy sea lion population is preferable to losing unique and irreplaceable species of salmon," the letter concludes.

Related Sites:
Study: Seal and sea lions' strong revival eats into salmon harvest, orca recovery by Andrew Theen, The Oregonian 11/20/17
To Save Steelhead, We Must Cut Sea Lion Numbers By Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, The Columbian 8/27/17
Oregon, Washington and tribes again take aim at sea lions in dispute over salmon by Andrew Theen, The Oregonian 7/14/17
Tougher sea lion control law introduced in Congress by Staff, Chinook Observer 4/11/17
Bill seeks to allow tribes to kill salmon-eating sea lions by Nicholas K. Geranios, Spokesman-Review 4/11/17
Herrera Beutler-backed bill to kill sea lions gains traction By Lauren Dake, The Columbian 9/22/16

Katy Sword
Inslee Beats Drum for Herrera Beutler Bill
The Columbian, January 26, 2018

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