OLYMPIA – Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Director Kelly Susewind and Southwest Region Director Kessina Lee will host an online meeting from 6-7 p.m. on Oct. 27, 2020 to discuss sea lion management in the Columbia River basin and take questions on other local topics.
Susewind and Lee will be joined by Doug Hatch, deputy manager of the Fisheries Science Department for the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC), which coordinates fisheries management for the Yakama, Warm Springs, Umatilla, and Nez Perce tribes and is a key partner in managing sea lions in the Columbia basin.
“Our southwest region features a wide array of outdoor opportunities and conservation efforts,” Susewind said. “This is an area that has experienced significant growth in recent years, and with that growth comes new management challenges. We’re looking forward to discussing the past, present, and future of this diverse region.”
One of those management challenges is the growing presence of sea lions on the Columbia River following the success of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) in re-establishing sea lion populations on the West Coast. Earlier this year, a coalition of state and tribal partners received authorization under an amendment to the MMPA to expand removals of California and Steller sea lions now preying on threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River and its tributaries.
“We expect this work, combined with other efforts, to have a significant, positive impact on the number of salmon and steelhead successfully migrating to upriver spawning grounds, and we never would have reached this point without effective partnerships,” Lee said.
“Human activity in the Columbia Basin is a study of unintended consequences. A number of these activities pushed salmon to the brink of extinction while others inadvertently boosted the populations of predators like California and Steller sea lions,” said CRITFC Executive Director Jaime Pinkham. “Only by working together in partnership can we best navigate this difficult situation.”
Members of the public can tune into the discussion beginning at 6 p.m. and ask questions from the link at https://zoom.us/j/92075185394. WDFW’s Southwest Region serves Clark, Cowlitz, Klickitat, Lewis, Skamania, and Wahkiakum counties.
Susewind and regional directors held a series of in-person and digital open houses for residents across the state over the last two years. These online open houses let the public ask questions and get updates on local department activities.
WDFW is the primary state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing and hunting opportunities.