A new 10-year harvest agreement between the United States and Canada has been reached at the Pacific Salmon Commission.
Under the new Pacific Salmon Treaty every participating jurisdiction accepted a reduction in harvest, unlike recent treaties in which Alaska bore the bulk of the burden. According to the terms of the new agreement, Alaska sustains a 7.5 percent reduction, compared with 12.5 percent cut back for Canada, and diminutions ranging from 5 to 15 percent for Oregon and Washington. The agreement is now under legal review by the respective ministry in Canada and the US State Department, prior to ratification.
The treaty covers salmon fisheries on transboundary waterways flowing to Southeast Alaska, northern British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. Separate negotiations are currently underway for the Fraser River while talks for the Yukon River take place only when both countries agree that there is a need for them.
“For the first time since the treaty was originally negotiated in 1985, Alaska’s diverse treaty team unanimously approved the final deal,” said Pacific Salmon Commissioner and Alaska Department of Fish and Game Deputy Director Charles Swanton. “It speaks volumes that salmon subsistence users, seafood industry leaders, commercial fishermen, and recreational representatives all ended up endorsing this deal,” said Swanton.
As a result of this agreement, harvests will increase proportionally when abundance increases. New accountability provisions advocated by the 59-member Alaska treaty team enact limits on fish available for harvest relative to how many salmon return that year.
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker said that the agreement would protect the health and sustainability of salmon stocks and guarantee Alaska’s ability to directly manage its fisheries without federal interference. Walker met with fishing groups opposed to this treaty and took their message to a meeting with the Secretary of Commerce to explore the option of a one-year delay, but that did not prove feasible.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said she support the terms of the agreement and would continue to push for robust funding to sustain its implementation and support necessary mitigation to ensure that all parties meet their treaty obligations.