Fishermen's News - The Advocate for the Commercial Fisherman

By Chris Philips
Managing Editor 

Every Little Bit Helps


August 1, 2018

Imagine you are a California sea lion – one of about 1,200 swimming around on the Columbia River. You’d need 32 lbs. of salmon a day just to stay healthy enough to keep catching fish. If you’re a Steller sea lion on the Columbia – one of roughly a thousand estimated population – you need 120 lbs. of fish a day or you’d get cranky, and no one wants to see a cranky 12-foot long, 2,500 lb. sea lion.

Now imagine you’re a commercial fisherman.

The State of Washington says there were a total of about 335,000 Chinook, sockeye and steelhead in the river this summer, which translates to about 4.3 million lbs. How many of those will you get?

The population of California and Steller sea lions could easily put away more than 4.7 million lbs. of salmon in a month. California and Steller populations have made a great comeback under the protection of the federal government, and now threaten the health of the entire West Coast salmon population.

Fortunately, in late June the US House of Representatives voted 288-116 to allow tribal and government agencies to kill California and Steller sea lions, if they are endangering salmon-restoration efforts on the Columbia River.

Sponsored by Republican Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, of Washington’s 3rd Congressional district (which includes 300-plus miles of Columbia Riverfront), House Resolution 2083 had support from a wide range of groups representing fishing, salmon conservation and hydropower, along with Northwest tribes, governors and state fish agencies.

The bill would let NOAA issue permits to the states, affected tribes and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission to kill sea lions in the Columbia River and certain tributaries, in order to protect fish from sea lion predation.

The bill permits the taking of up to 100 sea lions per year, and the permits are exempted from environmental review requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 for five years.

The bill was co-sponsored by Kurt Schrader, of Oregon’s 5th district, as well as Dan Newhouse, from Washington’s 4th, Kathy McMorris Rodgers, from Washington’s 5th district and Rep. Don Young, Alaska’s single at-large congressman.

A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate, and stands a good chance of passing on a bi-partisan basis.

We applaud the passage of this resolution, especially given the often-acrimonious nature of Congress these days, and look forward to passage in the Senate and the signature of the President. It won’t solve all your problems, but every little bit helps.

Chris Philips can be reached at: 206-284-8285 or email:


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