news 130612 1 sea lionThe United States House of Representatives Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs of the House Natural Resources Committee is expected to hold a legislative hearing on HR 1308 “The Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation Prevention Act” on June 13, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.

Introduced on March 21, 2013, by Congressman Doc Hastings (R-WA), HR 1308 is a death sentence for sea lions on the Columbia River. If enacted, the proposed legislation would strip existing federal protections for California sea lions, who have long been scapegoated on the Columbia River as predators of endangered salmon:

  • H. R. 1308 would exempt any lethal program for sea lions in the Columbia River Basin from National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis;
  • H.R. 1308 would eliminate the requirement for notice in the Federal Register, and any opportunity for the public to comment on a proposed permit or to review the results of the program. In 1994, when Congress first considered the possibility of killing sea lions to protect endangered fish, it took steps to assure there would be public oversight and proper review.

Under the proposed legislation, the states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and several Tribal organizations would be able to apply to the Secretary of Commerce for annually renewable permits to lethally remove sea lions. The Secretary, at his or her sole discretion, would be able to issue permits to authorize the killings. The proposed legislation ignores the fact that several empirically validated factors have a far greater impact on Columbia River salmon runs than sea lions:

  1. Fisheries (sport, commercial and Tribal) take up to 17 percent of the wild salmon run on the Columbia River. In its most recent annual report, the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers stated that California Sea Lions consumed .6 percent of the same wild salmon run in 2012. The government has asserted that the 17 percent predation rate by humans is “minor if at all measurable.”  If that is the case, why are sea lions to be killed for consuming less than 1 percent of the same salmon run? 
  2. The government also concluded that 7 to 16 percent of adult fish are killed by the dams they must navigate and has said that this level does not jeopardize salmon. Far fewer fish are killed by sea lions than by fishermen or dams.
  3. In 2009, an independent blue-ribbon science panel reported to Congress its concerns about the impacts wild fish faced from competition with hatchery-raised fish. The panel recommended reforming hatchery management, yet the federal government admitted in a 2012 report that no changes have been made.
  4. The Columbia River was intentionally stocked with bass, walleye, and other non-native fish to benefit sport fishermen and the states limit what fishermen can catch in order to keep these non-native fish abundant. These fish eat up to 2 million young salmon each year and compete for habitat, yet no efforts have been made to stop or reduce this impact.
  5. The water in the Columbia River is toxic. A 2012 report released by the environmental group Columbia Riverkeepers found levels of arsenic, mercury and PCB that exceed what the Environmental Protection Agency recommends for safe, unrestricted fish consumption. Step one in any effort to protect salmon and people should be to clean up the river.

Sea Shepherd is calling on its supporters who are constituents of the Members of the House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs to call their Representatives TODAY and ask that they OPPOSE HR 1308. Doc Hastings introduced an identical bill in 2012. While the bill made it through the House, it died in the Senate. With your help, we can kill this bill and save the sea lions! Please call your Members and politely urge them to oppose HR 1308.

Below is contact information for the Members of the United States House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs. For assistance identifying your Member of Congress click here:

John Fleming, Chairman, Lousiana 4th District - phone (202) 225-2777  

Don Young, Alaska, At-Large – phone (202) 225-5765

Rob Wittman, Virginia 1st District - phone (202) 225-4261

Glenn Thompson, Pennsylvania, 5th District – phone (202) 225-5121

Jeff Duncan, South Carolina, 3rd District – phone (202) 225-5301

Steve Southerland, II, Florida, 2nd District – phone (202) 225-5235

Bill Flores, Texas, 17th District – phone (202) 225-6105

Jon Runyan, New Jersey, 3rd District – phone (202) 225-4765

Gregory Kilili Camacho Sablan, Ranking Member, Northern Mariana Islands, At-Large – phone (202) 225-2646

Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, American Samoa, At-Large – phone (202) 225-8577

Frank Pallone, Jr., New Jersey, 6th District – phone (202) 225-4671

Madeleine Z. Bordallo, Guam, At-large – phone (202) 225-1188

Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico, At-large – phone (202) 225-2615

Carol Shea-Porter, New Hampshire, 1st District – phone (202) 225-5456

Alan Lowenthal, California, 47th District – phone (202) 225-7924

Joe Garcia, Florida, 26th District – phone (202) 225-2778

Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts, 7th District, Ex-Officio – phone (202) 225-2836

Doc Hastings, Washington, 4th District, Ex-Officio – phone (202) 225-5816

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