SALEM, Ore. — The parties to the Pacific Salmon Treaty have agreed on new coast-wide salmon fishing agreements under the Treaty. The Pacific Salmon Commission is comprised of representatives from Canada, the states of Oregon, Washington, and Alaska, and Northwest and Columbia River Treaty Tribes. Commissioners from the United States and Canada will now forward the agreements to their respective governments for approval.
The 10-year agreement covers fishery plans for Chinook, coho and chum salmon stocks from 2019 through 2028. The agreement is an update to the 1985 Treaty, which defines the obligations of Canada and the United States to conduct their respective fisheries in a manner that prevents overfishing and allows each country to receive benefits equivalent to the production of salmon originating in each nation’s waters.
“I praise the efforts of the joint US/Canada Pacific Salmon Commission for approving strong recommendations to the Pacific Salmon Treaty,” said Oregon Governor Kate Brown. “Successful updates to the Pacific Salmon Treaty through 2028 will help ensure long-term sustainable and healthy salmon populations that are vital to the people of the Pacific Northwest, and to the entire ecosystem.”
One of the most significant aspects of the new agreement is management of Chinook salmon, in particular those listed under the United States Endangered Species Act (ESA). This includes ESA-listed stocks from Puget Sound and the Columbia River basin. Many of these stocks migrate north into marine waters in southeast Alaska and British Columbia, where they are caught in marine fisheries in those regions.
Under the agreement, catches of Chinook in southeast Alaska will be reduced by up to 7.5 percent from recent levels when poor Chinook returns are expected. Canada will reduce Chinook catches by up to 12.5 percent under these conditions. The agreement also includes provisions in other west coast fisheries to ensure that harvests remain strongly tied to stock conservation objectives. As a result of these fishery changes, abundances of several Chinook stocks returning to Oregon waters will increase.
“Salmon management is very complex, so it’s no surprise that reaching an agreement was also complex and sometimes difficult,” said Oregon Commissioner Rick Klumph. “However, all of the commissioners understand the critical importance of the treaty process in managing our salmon stocks. I am proud that we were all able to work through the issues and reach an agreement that is good for Oregonians and their salmon resource.”
The United States commissioners will begin finalizing requests for federal funding needed to implement the new agreements within the next month. This funding will be needed to support Puget Sound efforts to improve and protect habitat and implement hatchery conservation programs. The funding will also be critical to commitments to science and stock assessment needed to successfully manage these complex interjurisdictional fisheries. Finally, the funding request will include provisions to support recovery efforts for endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales.