Fishing California's Smith River© Ken Morrish

Progress on Stronghold Legislation

Progress on Stronghold Legislation

Pacific Salmon Stronghold Conservation Act will establish proactive policy to protect healthiest salmon habitat.

Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and the entire West Coast Senate delegation introduced federal legislation to conserve the healthiest remaining wild Pacific salmon ecosystems in North America — “salmon strongholds.” A similar version of the bill was reported favorably out of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation last year, and included in a natural resources omnibus package, which failed to pass in the final days of the 111th Congress.

Quinault Washington Salmon
Quinault River, Washington | © Larry Workman

The Pacific Salmon Stronghold Conservation Act (S. 1401) will establish a new, proactive U.S. policy that recognizes the need for conservation of salmon strongholds as a complement to ongoing efforts to recover federally-listed salmon populations. The legislation aims to get ahead of continued salmon declines by supporting the protection and, if necessary, the restoration of ecosystem processes within currently healthy salmon-bearing watersheds.

“Salmon continue to be a vital part of our communities, generating over a billion dollars in economic activity and thousands of jobs in Washington state,” said Senator Cantwell. “Salmon serve as an iconic symbol of the Northwest’s natural beauty and for generations have been an integral part of our lives.”

The many challenges to sustaining wild Pacific salmon stocks require us to make strategic investments now to ensure they remain at the core of our region’s prosperity.”
Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA)

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA)

“Without a more comprehensive approach to salmon conservation, we run the risk of losing our last remaining viable populations and healthiest watersheds to the same threats that have led to declines elsewhere,” said Guido Rahr, President and CEO of Wild Salmon Center. “This represents a fundamental flaw in federal salmon conservation policy, which this Act remedies.”

Brown bear nabs salmon in Alaska
A brown bear nabs a salmon in Bristol Bay, Alaska | © Dave McCoy

Next Steps: The Senate bill is tentatively scheduled for mark up during the next Executive Session of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, estimated to occur in September. A companion bill will likely be introduced in the U.S. House after the Congressional recess.

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