February 01, 2005

Crapo Urges Broader Salmon Fishing Season

Asks NOAA Fisheries for expanded Eastern Idaho, Riggins area seasons

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo wants an expanded fishing season for salmon in Idaho this year. In a letter to the regional director for NOAA Fisheries (formerly the National Marine Fisheries Service, NMFS) in Seattle, Crapo said he is â??endorsing heartilyâ?? a proposal by Idaho Fish and Game to expand fishing around Salmon and Riggins because of increased returns of fish and the economic benefit such fishing will bring to local communities and reservations.â??Because the large returns of salmon and steelhead over the last several years are likely to continue this year, it is sensible and safe to offer sportsmen and local communities-including our tribal neighbors-the opportunity to catch a regulated number of fish. The benefits of an expanded fishing season also redound to the local communities of central Idaho,â?? Crapo said in the letter to Robert Lohn, Regional Administrator for NOAA Fisheries.Crapo urged Lohn to request NOAA biologists to expedite their decision. â??I ask that you ensure they also proceed with the utmost speed. The paperwork procedures, while important, should not be a reason that we miss the opportunity presented by record returns,â?? Crapo said. Crapoâ??s support comes as Idaho Fish and Game proposes expanded salmon fishing potential that could make the Main Salmon River upstream from Riggins to Vinegar Creek and also much of the Salmon River across Eastern and Central Idaho in the Salmon area and as far upstream as Stanley available to anglers. This week Crapo is meeting in Washington, DC with local leaders from Salmon, Riggins, and elsewhere to discuss his support for expanded salmon fishing. He will also discuss with students from Salmon River High School students in Riggins a report on the improved economics offered by increased salmon fishing opportunities. Some reports indicate upwards of $90 million dollars in benefits are available to rural Idaho communities who benefit from visits from salmon and steelhead fishermen.â??Nearly 20 years of effort at the Sawtooth Hatchery is paying off, as are the efforts just downstream at the Idaho Power Company program at the Pahsimeroi Fish Hatchery,â?? Crapo noted. â??Now is the time when both fishermen and local businessmen and women can share in the wealth of salmon stocks Idaho has produced holding half of the regions valuable spawning areas.â?? A copy of Crapoâ??s letter to NOAA Fisheries is attached. FOR INTERESTED MEDIA: A radio actuality is available by calling 1-800-545-1267, Ext. 327. You can also access the actuality through the Internet at www.senate.gov/src/radio/crapo .# # #March 22, 2004Mr. Robert LohnRegional AdministratorNOAA Fisheries7600 Sand Point Way NE -- Bldg #1Seattle, WA 98115-0070Dear Bob:The Idaho Game and Fish Department has submitted a proposal for expanded fishing opportunity, which I endorse heartily. Because the large returns of salmon and steelhead over the last several years are likely to continue this year, it is sensible and safe to offer sportsmen and local communities - including our tribal neighbors - the opportunity to catch a regulated number of fish. The benefits of an expanded fishing season also redound to the local economies of central Idaho. I understand that your duty to analyze this proposal is closely scripted by law and I have full confidence that your staff will proceed with customary care and professionalism. I ask that you ensure they also proceed with the utmost speed. The paperwork procedures, while important, should not be a reason that we miss the opportunity presented by record returns. IDFG Director Steve Huffaker assures me that he and his staff stand ready to answer any questions that may arise during your analysis, so please communicate freely with the Department to keep the process moving forward.Although this opportunity is exciting, we must all remain mindful of our obligations to sustain and improve these fisheries while enjoying a recreational harvest. These are the fundamentals of the conservation ethic that we share. My excitement in this development is based on important signs of strength in Idahoâ??s fish conservation program. First, the possibility of a fishing season in the Snake River Basin speaks to the effectiveness of agreements negotiated through the Lower Snake River Compensation Program. Second, this is the first year IDFG has been able to propose a fishing season in the upper Salmon River area. Nearly 20 years of effort at the Sawtooth Hatchery is paying off, as are the efforts just downstream at the Idaho Power Company program at the Pahsimeroi Fish Hatchery.Again, despite the opportunity before us, I know there is careful work to be done. Please keep me up to date on progress, either by contacting me directly or through my Subcommittee Staff Director Greg Schildwachter (202-224-4176).