”I am proud to pass along the chairmanship of the Congressional Wild Salmon Caucus to my colleague Rep. Jared Huffman. I am confident that Jared, as the new representative of California’s North Coast, will work to protect and maintain our salmon and steelhead populations. His environmental advocacy and passion for California fisheries will help aid the collaborative congressional effort to continue conservation of salmon populations throughout the United States,” said Thompson.
Congressman Huffman comes to Congress with a keen understanding of salmon issues in the rivers of Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. As a former environmental lawyer and state assemblyman, he fought legal battles and authored legislation based on sound science to speed recovery of critical species. One such bill, the Coho Salmon Habitat Enhancement Leading to Preservation Act (AB 1961), which streamlines the permit process of voluntary habitat improvements for California’s struggling coho salmon, helps landowners quickly improve conditions for these iconic fish. AB 1961 was signed into law by governor Brown on Sept 25, 2012.
”I am honored to join my colleagues in leading the Wild Salmon Caucus in this new session of Congress, and I am excited to take on this challenge,” said Huffman, who represents a Northern California coastal district that is home to salmon rich rivers and fishing communities. “These issues are critical to my congressional district, to our fishing industry, and to our nation’s coastal communities.”
Reps. Mike Thompson and Don Young (AK- at large) founded the Congressional Wild Salmon Caucus in 2010, at the start of the 112th Congress. During the 113th Congress, the goal of the caucus is to serve as an informal, bipartisan group of members dedicated to conserving and restoring wild salmon populations, supporting salmon fishermen and the salmon fishing industry, and educating other members on wild salmon issues.
One of the first orders of business for the Wild Salmon Caucus will be to address the issue of genetically engineered (GE) salmon, sometimes referred to as “Frankenfish.” The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is moving closer to approving fish that are developed by artificially combining growth hormone genes from an unrelated Pacific salmon, with DNA from the anti-freeze genes of an eelpout. If approved, this would be the first food from a transgenic animal, one whose genome has been altered, available for public consumption. The caucus will work to address the issue over the coming weeks.
The economic impact of the salmon industry in California is vast, ranging from fishermen, to boat operators, to ice providers, and more. Studies show that a restored salmon industry could contribute up to $5 billion and 94,000 jobs to the California economy. Reps. Huffman and Thompson are committed to continue pushing for salmon protection in Congress.
The 113th Wild Salmon Caucus will be co-chaired by Reps. Jared Huffman and Don Young, with Rep. Mike Thompson serving as vice chair.