The lower Columbia River sturgeon population is in peril. The decline is irrefutable. The reason is not overfishing by commercial and sports fisherman. With the continued predation by hundreds of sea lions, protected by the Endangered Species Act, this fishery will soon be gone, to commercial and sport fisherman and to the sea lions as well.
The ESA has created an imbalance of nature. Oregon and Washington fisheries managers and the federal government, as well as the Bonneville Power Administration, have spent millions in an effort to mitigate the impact of the sea lions on the wild salmon population with little or no results, and nothing to protect the sturgeon from these same predators.
What should be done? Let’s form a committee to wring their hands for five years until the resource is gone. Or we could invoke a legislative solution by passing HB 3006 and SB 357. The provisions would provide for the issuance of 1,000 permits to Oregon and Washington hunters with the purchase price of $1,000 each. The permit would allow for the harvesting of one sea lion and be valid for five years. Not only would there be a million dollars collected in fees, but the feds and BPA would save millions more by having their problem solved.