The Salmon Focused Investments in Sustainable Habitats (FISH) Act was introduced on Oct. 17, 2019, by Rep. Jared Huffman, D- San Rafael, Calif., chair of the House Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife, and cochair of the Congressional Wild Salmon Caucus.
HR 4723 will focus on protecting essential habitats that have not yet been degraded and will help support jobs and economic activity that depend on healthy salmon runs.
The bill would direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and US Fish and Wildlife Service to designate core centers of salmon abundance productivity and diversity as salmon conservation areas. It would also designate the most pristine areas of salmon abundance as salmon strongholds. The determination would be made by reviewing the best available science and existing analysis used for essential fish habitat and the watershed condition framework program.
The bill would allow states, tribes, nongovernment organizations and the public to nominate additional areas for consideration. In addition, the bill would authorize a federal grant program through 2025 that focuses on conservation and restoration projects and sanctions funding to support current watershed health programs.
The legislation is supported by the Wild Salmon Center and Smith River Alliance in northwest California. “Salmon stronghold rivers and other important salmon conservation areas contain the most important wild salmon populations left on the planet,” said Guido Rahr, president and chief executive officer of the Wild Salmon Center. “By protecting them, we will ensure strong runs of wild salmon into the future.”
“There is definitely a need for restoration within these core salmon producing watersheds,” said Grant Werschkull, co-executive director of the Smith River Alliance. “Investing in salmon habitat restoration brings diverse partners together and truly is investing in the health and future of our communities.