Rep. Huffman Introduces Salmon FISH Act to Restore Salmon Habitats, Protect Thriving Populations

October 17, 2019

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), Chair of the House Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife and Co-Chair of the Congressional Wild Salmon Caucus, introduced new legislation to identify, restore, and protect the most outstanding salmon rivers and watersheds in America, and to ensure funding needed to sustain thriving salmon populations.

The Salmon Focused Investments in Sustainable Habitats (FISH) Act aims to improve resiliency of those rivers that play a significant role in supporting healthy salmon populations. Salmon populations have declined in recent decades due to habitat degradation, pollution, and overharvesting, as well as other impacts such as dam construction and climate change. The Salmon FISH Act will focus on protecting the essential habitats that have not yet been degraded and will help support the jobs and economic activity that depend on healthy salmon runs.

“Salmon have great ecological, cultural, and economic importance, and are a symbol of the American West. This is certainly the case for the fisheries and communities in my district, including many tribes that have relied on salmon since time immemorial,” said Representative Huffman. “The Salmon FISH Act will protect and restore the outstanding salmon habitats that still remain so that they can not only support thriving wild salmon, but also the communities and economies that depend on them.”

“We thank Congressman Huffman for taking this strong and important step forward for salmon today.” said Guido Rahr, President and CEO of Wild Salmon Center. “Salmon stronghold rivers and other important salmon conservation areas contain the most important wild salmon populations left on the planet. By protecting them, we will ensure strong runs of wild salmon into the future. Salmon are foundational for resilient coastal communities: a sign of ecosystem health and clean water, a source of jobs and food, and an inspiration to us all.”

“The Smith is considered one of our nation’s salmon stronghold rivers – and this is great news,” said Grant Werschkull Co-Executive Director of the Smith River Alliance in northwest California. “There is definitely a need for restoration within these core salmon producing watersheds. Investing in salmon habitat restoration brings diverse partners together and truly is investing in the health and future of our communities. We’re grateful to Congressman Huffman for his vision in introducing this legislation.” 

The bill would direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to designate core centers of salmon abundance, productivity, and diversity as Salmon Conservation Areas and to designate the most pristine areas of salmon abundance as Salmon Strongholds, using the best available science and existing analysis used for Essential Fish Habitat and the Watershed Condition Framework program. These areas will be protected to ensure that any future actions of the federal government do not adversely impact these areas. It also allows states, tribes, NGOs, and members of the public to nominate additional areas for consideration.

The Salmon FISH Act authorizes a federal grant program through 2025 that focuses on conservation and restoration projects and authorizes funding to support current watershed health programs.