Washington, DC – The Coalition of Coastal Fisheries has awarded Representative Derek Kilmer the 2019 “Salmon Champion Award” for his efforts to protect salmon populations in Washington and throughout the Pacific Northwest.
“It’s an honor to be recognized by this tremendous coalition for my ongoing work to protect and conserve salmon in our region,” said Rep. Kilmer. “Salmon are absolutely critical to our way of life across the Pacific Northwest – they’re woven into the very fabric of our communities, and our economies. We’ve still got work to do to protect this iconic species, but I’m proud of the progress we’re making together. I’ll keep fighting for the future of our salmon.”
“A healthy, abundant salmon resource is the economic foundation for many coastal and rural communities,” said Dale Beasley, President of the Coalition of Coastal Fisheries and of the Columbia River Crab Fishermen’s Association. “Increasing salmon production helps sustainability of the Orca whale and the ability for fish dependent communities to not just survive, but to actually thrive. Derek’s been a champion for salmon and for local jobs, and we’re grateful for his partnership.”
“Salmon are the lifeblood of our region and we have to work together to find new ways to save them,” said Butch Smith, a third-generation salmon and sturgeon fishing charter captain who serves as the Ilwaco Port Commissioner. “Derek’s been a fantastic partner working to secure federal funding to help us protect our salmon and protect jobs. We’re grateful that he fights day-in and day-out for coastal communities.”
According to a release from Kilmer’s office, this year, as a Member of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Kilmer secured $30 million to implement the newly ratified Pacific Salmon Treaty, which provides a framework for the United States and Canada to cooperatively manage Pacific salmon stocks focused on protecting and expanding spawning habitat, increasing hatchery production, and implementing conservation measures to prevent overfishing and maximize production.
The release states that he also secured $25 million to support Mitchell Act hatchery activities in the fiscal year (FY) 2020 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies bill. This funding will enable federal agencies to work with Oregon, Washington, and Idaho to establish and operate a series of hatcheries and fish passage facilities to improve declining salmon runs in the Columbia River System.
They say this will help ensure conversation of these critical natural resources, maintain economically viable tribal, commercial, and sports fisheries, and provide prey for Southern Resident killer whales.
Rep. Kilmer also secured a $5 million increase in the Puget Sound Geographic Program though the FY 2020 Interior Appropriations Bill.
The program provides grants to state, local, and tribal governments to implement projects that protect jobs and local economies by improving water quality, enhancing fish passage, increasing salmon habitat, and protecting shorelines.
The total funding level of $33 million included in the FY 2020 bill is an increase of more than 18% above the current funding level. This is a larger proportional increase than the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (6%) and the Chesapeake Bay (16%) Geographic Programs.
Additionally, Rep. Kilmer helped secured a $100,000 increase over the FY 2019 enacted level for the Puget Sound National Estuary Program, an Environmental Protection Agency place-based program to protect and restore the water quality and ecological integrity of estuaries of national significance, including Puget Sound – the nation’s second largest estuary.