The Northwest Steelheaders Association is taking the lead in helping our local agencies find a way to increase the Spring Chinook salmon and steelhead returns to 100K fish on the Willamette River and its tributaries. Our first meeting was held at Camp Whitycombe in Clackamas, Oregon on January 9th.

The meeting was hosted by Bob Rees, the Executive Director of the Northwest Steelheaders Association

hosting a panel made up of members of PGE, ODFW, Northwest Guides and Anglers Association about their thoughts on enhancing the fishery and controlling the sea lion bottleneck at Willamette Falls.

Their fishery plan is creating a healthier fish that includes using native brood stock to strengthen the blood line of the hatchery fish. Testing results currently shows a potential 1-2% increases in return rate from fish that have a native influence vs. a total breed hatchery fish.

But all this is mute if we continue to allow the sea lions to feast on the salmon/steelhead runs during their migration back to their home waters to spawn.

In 2017, just 512 native steelhead made it past Willamette Falls on their journey to spawning grounds on the North and South Santiam, Molalla and Calapooia Rivers. That’s the lowest winter steelhead run ever recorded.

In the early 2000s, the winter steelhead run was close to 15,000.

The difference Sea Lions.

Without sea lions, the risk of extinctions was negligible at just 6 percent. But if the marine mammals continued eating 25 percent of the run, statics show the risk of extinction would rise to 89 percent in the near future.

.By amending the Marine Mammals Act legislation sponsored by Reps. Jaime Herrrera-Beutler R-Washington and Kurt Schrader, D-Oregon would allow for removal of up to 920 sea lions at Willamette Falls or Bonneville Dam.