11:22 AM EDT
Tom Udall, D-NM 3rd

Mr. UDALL of New Mexico. Mr. Chairman, let me first applaud the gentleman from California (Mr. Thompson), the gentleman from Washington (Mr. INSLEE), and the gentleman from Maryland (Chairman GILCHREST) for their efforts on this important bill and for protecting this valuable resource.

I am a strong supporter of H.R. 1157, the Pacific Salmon Recovery Act. This measure would provide significant assistance to the Northwestern States and tribal and local governments involved in salmon management recovery and conservation activities.

The salmon populations are economic and wildlife resources whose preservation is our national responsibility. As such, the recovery of salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest is of great importance to the ecological, recreational, and economic future of the region.

The recovery of our salmon populations are important to the once-thriving commercial salmon fishery business, which is dwindling as a result of a decline in salmon population. This has left the industry crippled. Thus, by protecting healthy salmon runs and those of other species, we can possibly revive what was once a sustainable fishing industry in the region. Once there were 12,000 jobs in this industry. Would it not be great if we could move towards restoring many of those jobs?

These activities, coupled with a revival of the recreation industry, provide for a potential increase in commercial and recreational fishing, which can provide the region with new opportunities for economic growth.

Our efforts are also an important part of our commitment to honoring our treaty obligations with Native American tribes and with Canada. It is important to emphasize that, in passing this bill, we will take a significant step in honoring our treaty obligations. The history of the United States is replete with unfulfilled promises. As a Nation, we must remedy this by setting new precedents and taking steps to honor our commitments.

The potential cost of litigation, should Canada or the tribes contest the treaties in court, could be enormous. Some observers estimate that attorney fees, potential damage awards and/or a settlement based upon a failure to maintain a viable salmon population could exceed $10 billion.

Mr. Chairman, we must act now to preserve this magnificent national resource. By passing this measure, we take a necessary step in moving the salmon further from extinction. It is an action that makes sense for the ecosystem, the economy, the nations and tribes with whom we have treaty obligations; and most importantly, it allows us to pursue a balanced approach to preserving this national resource.