Cantwell, Murkowski Introduce Bill to Sustain Healthy, Wild Salmon Populations

In WA, healthy salmon vital to state economy, culture, ecosystems

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, U.S. senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)  introduced legislation that would sustain thriving wild salmon populations – or “salmon strongholds” – to preserve the economic, ecological, cultural, and health benefits of wild Pacific salmon for future generations.The bill, introduced yesterday, is backed by all eight U.S. senators representing the Pacific Coast states of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California.

Thousands of Washington state jobs depend on healthy, sustainable salmon populations. In addition, a 2010 Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife Study found that commercial fisheries, after processing and distributing their stocks, contributed $1.6 billion to the local economy.

“Salmon continue to be a vital part of our communities, generating over a billion dollars in economic activity and thousands of jobs in Washington state,” said Senator Cantwell. “Salmon serve as an iconic symbol of the Northwest’s natural beauty and for generations have been an integral part of our lives. The many challenges to sustaining wild Pacific salmon stocks require us to make strategic investments now to ensure they remain at the core of our region’s prosperity.”

“This legislation would bring an increased awareness of the best salmon habitat in Alaska and the other Western States. Salmon play a critical role in the region’s economy, culture and natural environment and the legislation will help promote and protect this vital resource,” Murkowski said. “Through the creation of a public/private partnership and grant program, it is my hope that that we can ensure that these salmon strongholds will continue to produce abundant wild salmon runs long into the future.”

“I’m very thankful that Senator Cantwell is introducing this important bill to help ensure our last remaining healthy rivers and their wild salmon stocks are protected for future generations,” said Stone Gossard, Pearl Jam founding member and Wild Salmon Center board member. “These amazing fish are incomparable, linking our mountain rivers to the Pacific Ocean and supporting a wide array of species up the food chain, including us.”

The Pacific Salmon Stronghold Conservation Act of 2011 establishes a public-private partnership Board administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service and comprised of federal, state, tribal, and non-governmental-organizations invested in sustaining strong wild salmon populations. The legislation charges this multi-jurisdictional group to sustain core salmon stronghold population and habitat, to preserve our thriving salmon stocks for future generations.

Cantwell has consistently supported sustaining our healthy wild salmon populations. She introduced similar salmon stronghold legislation during both the 110th and 111th congresses. Cantwell has long supported salmon recovery programs, including prioritizing funding for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund. In the states of California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, roughly 20 percent of salmon habitat supports about half of the region’s salmon abundance.