The Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation Prevention Act “is critical because sea lion predation is posing a serious threat to our salmon populations, impacting our efforts to ensure their survival,” said Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-WA, who introduced the bill with Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-OR.
In the last few years there have been a record number of California and Steller sea lions in the Columbia River from Astoria to Bonneville Dam, numbers totally inconsistent with their historic range, Schrader said.
According to a statement released by Schrader, historic recovery efforts of endangered salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia River have been compromised by exponentially increasing sea lion predation in recent years.
The issue is a complex one, according to reports issued by NOAA Fisheries, saying that birds, fish and marine mammal predation are a major cause of mortality for Endangered Species Act listed juvenile and adult fish in the Columbia River Basin. California sea lions and Steller sea lions consume substantial numbers of adult spring Chinook salmon, sturgeon and winter steelhead below Bonneville Dam, the agency reported earlier.
Similar legislation was introduced in the last session of Congress.