For Immediate Release: January 26, 2011
Portland, OR – In last night’s State of the Union address, President Obama called for improving government efficiency by streamlining the work of federal agencies.
One of the examples he cited was the overlapping jurisdictions of agencies responsible for salmon management: “Then there’s my favorite example: the Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.”
While salmon advocates and fishermen across the nation quietly noted that the Commerce Department actually has primary responsibility for salmon management, they loudly cheered the inclusion of salmon in the President’s speech – a rare mention of one of America’s most beloved creatures in an address watched by tens of millions. But by focusing on agency jurisdiction, sport and commercial fishermen say that President Obama failed to identify the real source of government inefficiency: politics trumping science in salmon management and recovery.
“Setting aside the question of how agencies divvy up their salmon responsibilities, the President was right that there is something broken in his administration’s salmon protection efforts,” said Jim Martin, retired chief of fisheries, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “But the number of agencies involved is not the issue. The real issue – the real inefficiency – is that President Obama’s agencies have put politics before salmon science, and that’s costing us jobs.”
“Ignoring salmon science is itself inefficient, and will continue to waste taxpayer money, squander fishing jobs, and ultimately destroy a national treasure,” said Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “But thankfully there’s still time for the administration to get this one right: salmon policy guided by the best science can create good jobs, protect an invaluable resource, and invest federal dollars wisely – all at the same time. Now that’s what I call efficient.”
“The President’s joke suggested that the problem on salmon recovery efforts is that there are too many agencies in the kitchen, but the real problem is that the Obama salmon plan is half-baked,” said Nicole Cordan, Policy and Legal Director, Save Our wild Salmon Coalition. “It relies on past policies instead of looking to the future, and it allows politics and not science to rule it decisions.”
Salmon advocates up and down the Pacific Coast and across the country are urging President Obama to keep salmon recovery at the top of his to-do list in the coming year, but to turn his attention where it’s truly needed: science-driven salmon restoration efforts that protect fish, create jobs, safeguard communities, and save money.
Jim Martin, retired chief of fisheries, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife: (503) 704-9651
Zeke Grader, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations: (415) 606-5140
Nicole Cordan, Save Our Wild Salmon: (503) 703-3733