Earlier this month, the Endangered Salmon Predation Prevention Act was signed into law by President Trump, after passing both houses of Congress. The bill was championed by Senators from Idaho and Washington and intends to benefit struggling salmon and steelhead populations on the Columbia River. In the past, sea lions had been protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, due to dwindling populations. However, Sea Lions have since made significant rebounds, which has affected salmon and steelhead populations in the region. For years now, sea lions have followed migrating salmon and steelhead up the Columbia River, gorging themselves on the migrating fish.

Photo Curtesy of Don Ryan, AP

This Bill will grant temporary authority to permitted wildlife managers for the removal or relocation of sea lions that pose a threat to migrating salmonids. This is a big development for effective wild salmonid management. The Army Corps of Engineers has collected data on sea lion predation on wild salmonids for the past 16 years and found that almost 4,000 fish are consumed by sea lions annually in the Columbia River. This new law seeks to responsibly bring sea lion populations in check and, hopefully, allow wild salmonid populations to rebound.

Photo Curtesy of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

It will be interesting to see how this new management tool can help struggling salmon and steelhead numbers. But in the meantime, it is good to see bipartisan cooperation working towards helping our wild fisheries. For more on this story, check out this Seattle Times article.