A Senate bill proposed during the current legislative session could have serious repercussions for advocates of wild salmon and steelhead in Washington state, and for the wild fish they’re working to recover.
Senate Bill 5551 Summary: Deny wild fish organizations state Salmon Recovery Funding Board contributions if they have brought legal action against the state concerning hatchery production within ten calendar years.
Full statement below.
Sen. Kirk Pearson (R-Monroe-39th)
Sen. Brian Hatfield (D-Raymond-19th)
Sen. Maralyn Chase (D-Edmonds-32nd)
Find your legislator here and let them know you oppose SB 5551!
- State Salmon Recovery Board funding was created to support the recovery of wild salmon and steelhead stocks. There is clear scientific evidence that excessive hatcheries can harm and impede wild fish recovery. If passed, SB 5551 would severely undermine the very purpose of the Salmon Recovery Board funding.
- State Salmon Recovery Board funding is intended to be awarded on the merits of the projects and the ability of the applicants to fulfill the proposed actions which are completely unrelated to whether the individuals or entities have or have not exercised the right to seek court relief for state activity they believe is negatively impacting wild salmon and steelhead.
- Individuals and NGO’s have sought redress in the courts for decades to insure compliance with state and federal legislation. This is a well-established component of our American democracy, and an effective tool for the conservation of our shared natural heritage. To jeopardize this effort with the threat of funding ineligibility sets a dangerous precedent for our state.
- It’s clear SB 5551 is “revenge politics” that puts the recovery of our wild salmon and steelhead at risk. These are icons of our region, vitally important for Washingtonians, Native American tribes and our wild ecosystems. Their recovery is too important to be undermined by petty politics.
- Recovering wild salmon and steelhead in the Northwest will take all of us working together to address all the issues that prevent these iconic fish from returning in healthy numbers. SB 5551 seeks to unfairly penalize those who’ve used their legal rights to seek compliance from public entities when it comes to protections for ESA listed fish species.
More on SB 5551:
SB 5551, introduced by Senator Kirk Pearson (R-Monroe), would deny state Salmon Recovery Funding Board contributions for any project or activity if the project sponsor has brought any legal action against the state before a court or administrative tribunal relating to fish hatchery facility operations within ten calendar years.
Sound science has repeatedly demonstrated that excessive hatchery production can have serious negative impacts on the recovery wild salmon and steelhead. Many advocacy organizations in the Northwest are working to recover populations of these iconic wild fish; through habitat restoration, harvest improvements, and hatchery reform.
Individuals and Non-governmental organizations have long sought redress in the courts to insure compliance with state and federal legislation. This is a well-established component of our American democracy, and an effective tool for the conservation of our shared natural heritage. These advocates argue SB 5551 deliberately jeopardizes this legal right with the threat of funding ineligibility, setting a dangerous precedent for our state.
Many of the same organizations who have challenged misguided or excessive hatchery programs in court also apply for and receive state Salmon Recovery Funding Board contributions for habitat restoration or in-stream connectivity work. Funding that would be preemptively denied if the sponsors of SB 5551 are successful.
The Washington state Salmon Recovery Funding Board provides “funding for elements necessary to achieve overall salmon recovery, including habitat projects and other activities that result in sustainable and measurable benefits for salmon and other fish species.”
This funding was created specially to support the recovery of wild salmon and steelhead stocks. There is clear scientific evidence that excessive hatcheries can harm and impede wild fish recovery. Wild fish advocates argue that if passed, SB 5551 would severely undermine the very purpose of the Salmon Recovery Board funding.
Representatives from the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office and other state agencies tasked with salmon recovery have repeatedly said over the years that for “overall salmon recovery” to be successful, it will take a diverse group of citizens, agencies and organizations working together.
Unfortunately, it seems a small group of legislators is not interested in working together to tackle all the problems facing these iconic fish, including hatcheries. They would rather ignore science and play revenge politics against organizations whose views on fish hatcheries they disagree with, seeking to deny state funding for projects that benefit wild salmon and steelhead recovery, and the many people who want to see them make a comeback in our region.