H.R. 4582, Save Our Salmon Act

H.R. 4582

Save Our Salmon Act

Date
January 1, 1970 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, July 5, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 4582, the Save Our Salmon Act, as amended, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 4582 was introduced on February 23, 2016 by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), and was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which ordered the bill to reported, as amended, on June 15, 2016, by unanimous consent.

Bill Summary

H.R. 4582 removes the striped bass from the list of populations that the Bureau of Reclamation is tasked with doubling in the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers in California. Specifically, this legislation amends the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA or P.L. 102-575) to exclude non-native striped bass from the federal goal of doubling the natural production of anadromous fish in California in order to reduce salmon predation in California.

 

Background

The U.S. West Coast is home to a number of native and endangered or threatened fish species. The latter includes 28 subpopulations of steelhead and salmon in California and the Pacific Northwest that have been listed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Although some salmon runs have experienced record and near record returns in certain areas, many continue to face a number of “stressors” that complicate their survivability, recovery, and eventual delisting. According to NMFS, non-native species are the cause of endangerment for 48 percent of the species listed under the federal ESA. [1]

Striped bass, which are indigenous to the East Coast of the United States, were first introduced into California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta (Bay-Delta) in 1879 for sport and recreational fishing purposes. Some believe this species poses a direct predatory threat to ESA-listed fish species in the Bay-Delta. Specifically, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) estimated that striped bass may consume upwards of 25-50 percent of winter and spring run Chinook salmon.[2]

In its 2009 Recovery Plan for winter and spring run Chinook salmon, NMFS identified predation of juvenile salmon as one of the primary specific stressors to these species and advocated for reducing the population of striped bass to “prevent extinction or to prevent the species from declining irreversibly.” In addition, as part of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s relicensing of Don Pedro Dam, a February 2013 report found that 93 percent of juvenile salmon smolts perished on the Tuolumne River from striped bass predation. The population of some of these salmon species has an impact on the allocation of water for different purposes in California.[3]

In a February 10, 2016, Water, Power and Oceans Subcommittee (Subcommittee) oversight hearing on predation, a NMFS witness testified that some salmonid populations in California are “extremely low due to an abundance of striped bass.”[4] One focus of that hearing was the CVPIA’s statutory goal to at least double the natural production of anadromous fish, which includes both salmon and one of their non-native predators, striped bass. As a result, there is an ongoing federal conflict between protecting striped bass and endangered salmon in California. At the Subcommittee’s April 20, 2016 legislative hearing on H.R. 4582, the Administration testified that: “In consideration of the striped bass’s function as a fish that contributes to mortality for listed species and is not native to the Bay-Delta or even California, the Department has no concern with the removal of striped bass from the CVPIA’s fish doubling goals,” and proposed modifications aimed at clarifying the intent of the bill.[5]

According to the bill’s sponsor, “The drought has taken a significant toll on the Central Valley and I’m proud to put forward a smart and bipartisan solution to a counterproductive policy from 24 years ago. By eliminating the doubling requirement of non-native predator fish, federal agencies can focus solely on native fish recovery and stop wasting taxpayer dollars on a shortsighted policy.”[6]

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[1] See Committee on Natural Resources Markup Memorandum “H.R. 4582 Save Our Salmon Act” June 13, 2016.
[2] Id.
[3] Id.
[4] Testimony of Mr. Will Stelle, West Coast Regional Administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service, before the House Water, Power and Oceans Subcommittee, February 10, 2016, p.7.
[5] See Committee on Natural Resources Markup Memorandum “H.R. 4582 Save Our Salmon Act” June 13, 2016.
[6] See Rep. Denham’s Press Release, “Denham Predation Bill Sent to House Floor with Bipartisan Support” June 15, 2016.

Cost

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that enacting H.R. 4582 would not affect the federal budget. Because enacting the legislation would not affect direct spending or revenues, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply. CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 4582 would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-years periods beginning in 2027.

 

Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 5-0190.