Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Oct. 20, 2021

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Letter: Protect foraging seabirds

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Climate change is already affecting communities, bringing increased flooding and stronger storms. Warmer waters are also driving the little fish that seabirds rely on farther and deeper into the ocean. A new bill in Congress will help reduce these threats and protect seabirds like tufted puffin and rhinoceros auklet found here in Washington.

Seabirds rely on small, schooling ocean fish (forage fish) to eat and to feed their chicks. Forage fish are not yet included in federal fisheries management, leaving them vulnerable to overfishing.

Reps. Jared Huffman of California and Ed Case of Hawaii introduced the Sustaining America’s Fisheries for the Future Act to reauthorize and strengthen the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, our nation’s primary fisheries law. Since the 1970s, this law has successfully recovered fish populations and reduced overfishing.

Threatened by climate change, overfishing, habitat loss, plastic pollution and getting accidentally hooked on fishing gear, seabird populations around the world have declined by 70 percent since 1950. As a longtime member of Pacific Seabird Group, and having a college roommate who spent a career monitoring and managing Oregon coastal seabird breeding colonies, I’ve been fully aware of changes through time.

I encourage Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler to co-sponsor this important legislation that is pertinent to her constituents along the Columbia River and especially in Pacific County.

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