Groups to Washington State: Give Endangered Salmon a Fighting Chance by Changing Water Releases
Petition Urges State Department of Ecology to Follow Oregon and Allow Scientifically Supported Water Releases to Get Baby Salmon Past Big Dams
March 8, 2010
Olympia, WA - Commercial and sport fishing associations, partnering with conservation groups, petitioned the Washington Department of Ecology today to help the downstream migration of endangered salmon by allowing water to be spilled over Columbia and Snake River dams at levels that will improve salmon survival.
Spilling water over the dams-- rather than forcing it through turbines and complex bypass systems-- is critical to aid endangered migrating salmon and steelhead because it is the safest and best way for baby salmon to get to sea. Extensive scientific studies show that fish do much better riding over the tops of the dams-- as they once did over the free-flowing Columbia's waterfalls-- than they do going through the deadly turbines.
"We are filing this petition to the Washington Department of Ecology to give salmon more of what they need to survive," said Glen Spain, Northwest Regional Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA), a trade organization for West Coast commercial fishing families. "Allowing more water (and fish) to flow over the dams and not go through the turbines will simply help these fish survive, as well as the coastal and inland communities who depend on them for their livelihoods."
Even in low water conditions, spilling water over the dams has helped produce some of the best returns of salmon and steelhead seen in many years. The returning salmon have given a shot-in- the-arm to sport and commercial fisheries in the Columbia River at a time when the rest of the West Coast salmon fishing picture has been a disaster.
"This petition needs to be granted -- and fast-- to help our Northwest salmon economy recover and become strong again," said Liz Hamilton, Executive Director of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association. "Spill is a proven, effective action that will help to ensure that there will always be sustainable salmon runs for the people and communities that depend on them."
Read more on the petition to the Washington Department of Ecology