Larsen and DelBene Call for Robust Salmon and Steelhead Hatchery Program

May 1, 2014 Issues: Environment

WASHINGTON—Reps. Rick Larsen, WA-02, and Suzan DelBene, WA-01, sent a letter today asking the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to support a strong hatchery program for salmon and steelhead in Washington state. The state announced a legal settlement last week resulting in only some winter steelhead being released, potentially delaying or canceling fishing seasons for hatchery fish.

Full text of the letter follows.


May 1, 2014

Will Stelle

Administrator, Northwest Region

National Marine Fisheries Service

7600 Sand Point Way, NE, Bldg 1

Seattle, WA 98115


Phil Anderson


Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

600 Capitol Way North

Olympia, WA 98501


Dear Regional Administrator Stelle and Director Anderson:

Last week’s announcement that only some winter steelhead hatchery fish will be released concerns us that there will be further reductions in hatchery releases.  We ask that your agencies work together to ensure that no such reductions occur, and we urge you to support a robust hatchery program for salmon and steelhead in Washington state.

Washington’s sport fishing industry has $1.1 billion impact in the state and nearly 15,000 jobs depend on it.  Our steelhead populations make a healthy contribution to Washington’s economy, our dinner tables, and our environment. 

Hatchery populations are critical for tribes in our districts, many of whose members rely on fishing for everyday nutrition.  Hatcheries are an important part of meeting the treaty obligations to these tribes.

Future delays or cancellations of fishing seasons for hatchery fish would have disastrous consequences for these tribes and the many businesses that rely on fishing.  We urge you to work quickly to prevent such a calamity. While we understand that the decision to release only some of the available early winter hatchery steelhead was difficult to make, we remain concerned that a limited steelhead hatchery release may set a precedent for limiting other fisheries. 

We encourage your agencies to work together to expeditiously complete pending Hatchery and Genetic Management Plans for steelhead and salmon. As you know, many of these plans have been waiting for approval for over a decade. While we recognize the difficult budget circumstances your agencies face, these plans must be made a high priority.

Thank you for your continued efforts to find a meaningful path forward so that recreational anglers, tribes, and fishing communities do not face future hardships.  We look forward to continuing to work with you to advance steelhead and salmon recovery in the Puget Sound. 



Rick Larsen                                                     Suzan DelBene

Member of Congress                                       Member of Congress

Washington State, 2nd District                      Washington State, 1st District