One of the unique features of Oregon’s’ two United States Senators Wyden and Merkley is their commitment to holding town hall meetings in each of Oregon’s 36 counties to hear directly from any of the state’s residents of their concerns. On Sunday the 14th of January such meeting was held at Camp Whitcombe for Clackamas County.
Thirteen of those participants represented the Northwest Steelheaders Association.
Lead by Bob Rees the executive director 5 members were randomly drawn and expressed their concern over the predation of the salmon and steelhead by stellar and California sea lions on the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.
In a resent document provided by Bay Area News Group from California states “The West Coast’s population of California sea lion has tripled in the past 40 years to more than 250,000.”
This is in addition to the 75, 000 Eastern Steller Sea lions migrating form the north coast where their food source is salmon. These sea lions were delisted in 2013 from the Endangered Species Act.
In a study by federal biologists say, ”Strict environmental laws to protect marine mammals have worked so well that California sea lions have become the first marine mammal that lives along the entire West Coast to recover to its natural carrying capacity”.
Virtually saying any further increase these animals will start decimating other species to support their food source. We are now experiencing that environmental disaster in our returning Salmon runs and Sturgeon habitat in the lower Columbia spawning beds over the last 5 years.
In the Columbia and Willamette Rivers where these animals have learned the migration habits of Chinook and Silver salmon runs and California sea lions changing their food source diet are following returning salmon for over 140 miles up the main stem of the Columbia and its tributaries. They now have learned to position themselves near the dam’s locks and fish ladders.
It is our hope in the near future an amendment a bipartisan Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation Prevention Act (H.R. 2083) to the Marine Mammals Act presented by joint state U.S. House members, Rep. Herrera-Beutler R-Washington and Rep. Schrader D-Oregon, will in fact allow NOAA a management process for containing the expanding growth of pinnipeds. I has recently passed a key Committee in the House and there are plans to bring the legislation to the floor of the House with amendments that are likely to gain more support for the legislation in the U.S. Senate.