NOAA NW Fisheries Science Center Gets $16.2 Million Boost to Aid Salmon Recovery

Funding comes from Cantwell-authored program included in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, announced that the Seattle-based Northwest Fisheries Science Center will receive $16.2 million from a Cantwell-authored program included in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

“NOAA scientists at Seattle's Northwest Fisheries Science Center need funding for groundbreaking research into how salmon are adapting to the changing climate and dealing with threats like stormwater pollution here in Washington,” said Sen. Cantwell. “Salmon are central to the culture, economy, and marine ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest, and this investment in science will help us make the right choices and help protect salmon for years to come." 

This funding will help advance cutting-edge research including salmon life-cycle models, understanding how salmon are adapting to climate change, and studies to better understand the impact of tire-related chemical runoff, stormwater, and other environmental pollutants on salmon survival. 

This center and its nearly 300 scientists are a key part of restoring Puget Sound, recovering orcas, building our sustainable fishing economy, and supporting our shellfish farms here in Washington state.

Sen. Cantwell has been a champion for protecting and strengthening critical salmon populations. She led a successful 11-year fight to block a proposed mine at Alaska’s Bristol Bay, one of the world’s largest remaining salmon runs.

As chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Sen. Cantwell fought to secure a historic $2.855 billion investment in salmon and ecosystem restoration programs in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, including $400 million to remove fish passage barriers that block salmon from reaching crucial habitat.

Sen. Cantwell also created the National Culvert Removal, Replacement, and Restoration Grant Program, which passed through her Commerce Committee with overwhelming bipartisan support. The program is helping communities remove and repair culverts found under roads. Historically, culverts were not constructed in a manner to ensure fish passage. These historic structures are especially problematic for coastal and Tribal communities who depend on thriving fish populations for their Treaty Rights, as well as for the regional economy and way of life in the Pacific Northwest. 

In August 2023, Sen. Cantwell announced Washington state received $58 million, the most in the country, for 23 culvert projects from her grant program.  All 23 projects awarded in Washington state were fully funded. Of the 23 total awards, 16 went to local projects, six to Tribal projects, and one was awarded to the Washington state Department of Transportation. In total, the projects will improve a total of 46 fish passage barriers across the state.

Sen. Cantwell continued to deliver on investments for coastal communities and climate resilience by securing an additional $3.31 billion for NOAA science and programs in the Inflation Reduction Act in August 2022.