11:18 AM EDT
Mike Thompson, D-CA 1st

Mr. THOMPSON of California. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me time. I would like to also thank the gentleman from Idaho (Mr. SIMPSON) for his help on this bill; the chairman of the committee, the gentleman from Utah (Mr. HANSEN); the ranking member, the gentleman from West Virginia (Mr. RAHALL); and the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST) and the gentleman from Guam (Mr. UNDERWOOD) from the subcommittee that helped make this bill possible

to be heard on the floor today. I would also like to thank all the staff that worked diligently to make sure this good bill was here.

Mr. Chairman, in California virtually every salmon spawning habitat has been altered by human activities, such as water diversions, dam building, overfishing and urban development. In many streams and rivers, the alterations have been so severe that fish can no longer return to their historical spawning areas. As a result, almost 80 percent of the salmon caught commercially in the Pacific Northwest and in northern California today come from hatcheries.

My bill will authorize $40 million per year for 5 years for California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Idaho. The money will be distributed to the State agencies after an MOU has been approved by the Secretary of Commerce. It is designed to prioritize salmon recovery, provide a criteria for measuring success, and promote projects that are scientifically based and cost effective.

The States and the local governments will receive funds on a 50-50 cost-share basis for these restoration projects. This will double the amount of money spent and the amount of work that can be done to enhance this important purpose.

Salmon species are very much a part of the culture of the Pacific Northwest. Many of the port towns in my district on the north coast, such as Point Arena, Fort Bragg, Eureka, and Crescent City, were founded around the commercial fishing industry. Many of these towns have been devastated by the collapse of salmon populations.

Over the last 30 years, the salmon fishery closures in these areas have contributed to the loss of nearly 75,000 jobs. Private landowners, conservation groups, and industry have already committed a significant amount of resources to aid in the reversal of this decline. But the efforts are not sufficient. In fact, species are still declining. Recovery efforts must be stepped up, and they must be stepped up now.

By restoring our salmon populations, we can lessen the burden on industry and private landowners. By bringing back the salmon, the fishing industry economy will rise; and eventually the ESA regulations can be lifted. More importantly, if we restore salmon populations, future generations, like their ancestors, can enjoy and prosper from a great national treasure.

The Pacific Coast Salmon Recovery Act of 2001 not only enjoys bipartisan support in Congress, but also the support of a diverse organizational structure, such as the American Homebuilders, the California Farm Bureau, American Rivers, Trout Unlimited, and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen.

I urge my colleagues to support this important measure and pass the Pacific Coast Salmon Recovery Act today.