Increased Mitchell Act Hatchery Funding illustrates Congressman’s continued commitment to restoring Northwest salmon runs
Vancouver, WA – The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Fiscal Year 2010 spending bill for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which includes a significant increase in funding for Mitchell Act Hatcheries in the Columbia River basin. Coastal Conservation Association, the largest marine conservation organization in the Pacific Northwest, applauded the increased funding and the tireless efforts of Congressman Norm Dicks (D-WA) to advocate for the recovery and preservation of Northwest salmon runs.
The Mitchell Act hatcheries currently provide for the release of between 50 and 60 million juvenile salmon and steelhead in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Congressman Dicks requested the long-overdue increase in funding for the 17 federally-funded Mitchell Act fish hatcheries to implement the recent recommendations of an independent scientific panel. The purpose of the funding is to better align Mitchell Act hatchery operations with the objectives of recovery, conservation and selective harvest reforms.
Both the House Appropriations Committee and the full House agreed to Congressman Dicks’ request, approving an increase of $10 million (from $16 million to $26 million) for the Mitchell Act hatcheries. The increase will fund activities that will increase production and ensure the hatcheries are operated in a manner consistent with requirements of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to avoid harm of listed salmon populations.
“Congressman Dicks has a long history of advocacy on behalf of salmon and steelhead populations in the Pacific Northwest,” said Bryan Irwin, executive director of CCA in the Pacific Northwest. “In spite of these tough economic times, he was instrumental in securing this significant win for our endangered salmon runs, and for our region. We are grateful that Congressman Dicks continues to play a leading role in salmon recovery efforts.”
Citing the congressionally-chartered Hatchery Scientific Review Group (HSRG) that examined hatchery operations in the Columbia River basin, the Congressman has focused on the group’s recommendation that recovery of wild salmon and steelhead will be impossible without limiting or ending the genetic impacts caused by hatchery fish spawning with wild fish. The additional funds proposed for Columbia River hatcheries in the next year could provide for physical barriers to segregate wild and hatchery populations, and could also fund efforts—such as clipping the adipose fin—to distinguish hatchery fish from wild fish and avoid the harvest of the wild salmon and steelhead needed for recovery.