January 25, 2011
Our association has submitted draft legislation to the Washington State Legislature, which would enable a stable funding source for our enhancement activities. Please see the bill (SB 5453) here: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?year=2011&bill=5453
SB 5453 would essentially accomplish two important objectives.
- The most important part of this bill is the establishment of a dedicated assessment, which would be specifically used for salmon enhancement in the Puget Sound.
- The second portion of this bill would be to explicitly allow the beneficiary of the bill (a private organization) to engage in enhancement activities.
The dedicated assessment (called the "Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Assessment" in the bill) would be a 2.5% assessment on the landed value of commercially-caught salmon. Only commercial harvesters in the Puget Sound would pay the assessment (there would be no assessment on salmon caught outside of the Puget Sound, and no assessment on recreational harvests or Tribal harvests). In addition, the assessment would also be charged at 2.5% to the fish buyer (i.e. the seafood processors). In total, the 5.0% assessment would be collected by the Department of Revenue, and deposited into a dedicated account with the State Treasurer.
Under this bill, the State Treasurer would make regular and automatic disbursements to the organization selected by the Department of Fish & Wildlife to engage in salmon enhancement activities in the Puget Sound. Those activities would be subject to the existing co-management regulations, implemented by WDFW and the various Treaty Tribes.
The legislation specifically requires that all funds gathered under this bill would be used only for salmon enhancement, and that the decisions on where and when to spend the funds would be made by an organization controlled by those who originally paid the assessment (in other words, the organization would be controlled by the commercial harvesters and seafood processors).
We believe that SB 5453 is part of the natural evolution of the public-private partnerships required for management of salmon enhancement in our region. HB 1951 called for these partnerships, because the Legislature recognized that public financing of state hatcheries had reached its natural limits, and that private support for and management of hatcheries and enhancement would become ever more important.
SB 5453 is now scheduled for a public hearing on Thursday, Feb. 3rd, 2011 from 1:30pm - 3:30pm in the John Cherberg Building, Room #2. We hope that our members will follow the legislative process, and show your support for this bill by contacting your local senators and representatives—ask them to support SB 5453. If you need assistance in contacting your local representatives, please contact us.
Thank you again for your ongoing support. Many members of both the Senate and the House have shown us understanding and support for this bill, and we thank them as well.