WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a long session that went into the early morning hours, the U.S. Senate approved a bipartisan amendment authored by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) that calls for an investigation and rapid response plan to prevent the spread of a potentially deadly salmon virus. The virus, which was recently found for the first time in Pacific wild salmon, may pose a threat to the Pacific Northwest salmon fishing industry and the coastal economies that rely on it. The virus does not pose a threat to human health.
The bipartisan amendment was backed by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mark Begich (D-AK), Patty Murray (D-WA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
The amendment, introduced October 19th to the pending appropriations bill (H.R. 2112), calls on the National Aquatic Animal Health Task Force to evaluate the risk the virus could have on wild salmon off West Coast and Alaskan waters, and to develop a plan to address this emerging threat. The minibus appropriations bill – including Cantwell’s accepted amendment – is scheduled for a final vote in the Senate during the week of October 31st.
“We thought it was very important that this amendment pass tonight because scientists are calling it a disease emergency. That is, that the Pacific Northwest wild salmon might be threatened by a virus that hasalready decimated fish farm salmon from around the world,” Cantwell said on the Senate floor. Watch a video of her delivering her remarks here. “We cannot risk having this impact the Pacific Northwest wild salmon.”
“It’s tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars as it relates to our economy. …We need an action plan immediately and we need to make sure that we are formulating a rapid response to what to do if we do detect that this virus is spreading with the potential impact that we’ve seen in other areas.”