STATEMENT: Federal agencies directed to help restore ‘healthy and abundant’ salmon populations

Media Contacts
Pam Clough

Advocate, Environment Washington Research & Policy Center


SEATTLE – The Biden administration on Wednesday issued a conservation-minded memorandum outlining actions for federal agencies to take to restore native fish populations in the Columbia River Basin. Native fish such as salmon and steelhead are vitally important species culturally and ecologically in the Pacific Northwest. 

Salmon are a dietary staple for Puget Sound’s resident orcas, but in recent decades salmon  numbers have dwindled. Dams along rivers in Washington and Oregon, particularly within the Columbia River Basin, prevent the millions of fish that once swam upriver to spawn from doing so. Evidence suggests that breaching these dams would help salmon breeding and thereby also benefit orcas in the region. However, Wednesday’s actions from the White House do not require this. 

Pam Clough, advocate with Environment Washington Research and Policy Center, released the following statement: 

Orcas are iconic figures in the Pacific Northwest but the disappearance of salmon and other native fish in our waters has severely impacted them. The Biden administration’s action is a step in the right direction but not far enough. We hope that in the future, the government will call on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies to breach many of the salmon-blocking dams within the Columbia River Basin.”

Ian Giancarlo, oceans advocate with Environment America Research and Policy Center, released the following statement:

“Healthy salmon and steelhead populations are critical for iconic ocean animals, including orcas, in the Pacific Northwest, but the fishes’ numbers have dwindled. President Biden’s call for action can help ensure the restoration of these crucial links in the food chain goes swimmingly.”