Sportfishing industry recommends exploring all options available to address declining wild salmon populations 

Alexandria, Va. – December 3, 2019 – The American Sportfishing Association’s (ASA) Pacific Fisheries Policy Director Danielle Cloutier represented the recreational fishing industry on an expert panel discussion about the current status of wild salmon and steelhead recovery in the Columbia River Basin.

Today, the Idaho Outdoors and Guides Association hosted “The Salmon, Steelhead and the Outfitting Industry Forum” in Lewiston. This event brought together conservation and policy experts, government and tribal officials, outfitters, guides and industry representatives to discuss the current state of wild salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia River Basin. The forum focused on restoring wild salmon and steelhead populations and the impact these species have on the region’s culture and economic success.

“Pacific Northwest wild salmon and steelhead populations continue to face barriers to success. In fact, they face four physical barriers to success which block their historic spawning waters on the lower Snake River,” said Cloutier. “We can no longer maintain the status quo to successfully restore wild salmon and steelhead populations. That means we must address the four lower Snake River dams.”

Cloutier further said, “If we take a serious look at all the factors involved in the decline of wild salmon and steelhead, we can help to restore this region’s culturally important species and help boost the impact outdoor recreation has on local economies.”

While there are multiple factors contributing to the decline of wild salmon and steelhead populations, the construction of the four dams along the lower Snake River intensified their decline. In the 1950s over 100,000 wild salmon and steelhead would return to the Snake River. After construction of the four dams was completed in 1975, returning populations totaled in the tens of thousands or less, below the return rate needed to sustain their populations.

Declining wild salmon and steelhead populations have a significant economic impact on the region which once experienced sustained wild salmon and steelhead returns. Healthy wild salmon and steelhead populations would mean more fishing opportunities which translate into increased economic activity for the outdoor recreation industry that supports jobs, businesses and conservation investment.

Last year in Idaho, over 640,000 anglers spent $757 million on fishing-related expenses which generated a $1.1 billion economic impact and supported over 8,403 jobs. The outdoor recreation economy has an outsized impact in Idaho when compared to the nation. In Idaho, 3.2% of the state’s gross domestic product (GDP) is supported by outdoor recreation, which is proportionally higher than the 2.2 percent impact that it has on the overall U.S. GDP.