Lawmakers introduce bill for a pilot hatchery project

Posted at 11:02 AM, Jan 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-29 11:02:28-05

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- Republican state legislators have introduced a bill, which includes a pilot hatchery project in Bellingham, that they believe will help increase the salmon population and help the orca whales.

The Bellingham Herald reports the Salmon Repopulation Act, Senate Bill 6509 and House Bill 2741 were recently introduced and referred to committees.

The bills would attempt to bring a public-partnership in state-approved hatcheries, and potentially build a new hatchery on Bellingham's waterfront.

In a news conference held in Olympia on Tuesday, several Republican legislators talked about the need for this public-private model to get more fish in local waters.

"This is about acting now for the orca," said Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, at the press conference. "What the orca need more than anything else is food to eat and we can't wait on this."

The public-private partnership is a system that has worked exceedingly well in Alaska, said Luanne Van Werven, R-Lynden, who co-sponsored the house bill.

"We are in the position Alaska was in the early 1970s. We have the opportunity to try to turn that around," Van Werven said.

The idea for a hatchery in Bellingham gained momentum last year after local business leaders and legislators toured Alaska hatcheries and learned about that system.