THE CANADA-UNITED STATES DISPUTE
Political and Social Affairs Division
Revised September 1997
1985 CANADA-U.S. PACIFIC SALMON TREATY
THE CANADA-UNITED STATES DISPUTE
five species of Pacific salmon (along with steelhead trout)(1)
differ in terms of their life cycle, size, productivity, dependence on
freshwater habitat, behaviour and susceptibility to fishing gear.(2)
Flesh colour, oil content and flesh texture are other distinguishing characteristics.
Some species are preferred by consumers, while others are not as valued.
Salmon, like other fish species on the West Coast, are known by a variety
of local names.(3)
salmon from Canada and the United States intermingle extensively during
their migrations along the coasts of both countries and with stocks from
Asia on the high seas.(4)
Different species, however, exhibit widely different migratory patterns.
Sockeye (the first type of salmon to be canned) and chum salmon migrate
great distances within the Gulf of Alaska. Pink salmon stay closer to
their rivers of origin. Coho (a favourite among saltwater anglers) are
the least migratory, remaining close to their home streams throughout
their lives. Chinook (the largest salmon) stay close to the shore but
migrate long distances along the coast of Oregon, Washington, British
Columbia and Alaska (rather than entering the North Pacific Ocean.)(5)
salmon begin to migrate toward their ancestral streams in order to spawn
in the late spring and summer of their last sea year.(6)
As the fish travel upstream in freshwater, they cease to feed and live
off their stores of body fat and protein. Their bodies alter because of
hormonal changes and assume various spawning colours. Travelling through
opposing currents and waterfalls, encountering predators along the way,
the fish arrive battered on the gravel beds where they themselves were
spawned and where they pair off to spawn and soon afterward die.
eggs are covered by gravel and incubate over the winter before hatching
into alevin and emerging as fry in the spring. Pink and chum salmon fry
head for the ocean right away, while the other species feed and grow in
freshwater for up to two years before finding their way to saltwater.
At this stage of development, the fish are called smolt and can measure
up to 12 cm in length. Depending on the species, salmon spend between
one and seven years in the ocean.
salmon fishery the most valuable commercial fishing activity on
the West Coast sustains an important industry in both Canada and
the United States.(7) The
fish also have great cultural and economic significance for Native people.
Sport or recreational salmon fishing in the region also makes a significant
and valuable contribution to the local economies of many coastal communities.
migratory patterns of salmon allow American fishermen to "intercept"
(i.e. catch) Canadian stocks and Canadian fishermen to intercept
those of U.S. origin. Because American and Canadian stocks mix with each
other in the ocean, these interceptions are unavoidable. Major intercepting
fisheries have been identified through research conducted by the two countries:
Alaskan fishermen catch salmon bound for British Columbia, Washington
and Oregon; Canadian fishermen off the west coast of Vancouver Island
capture salmon bound for rivers of Washington and Oregon; and fisheries
in northern British Columbia intercept salmon returning to Alaska, Washington
and Oregon; United States fishermen catch Fraser River salmon as they
travel through the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the San Juan Islands towards
the Fraser River.(8)
well, there are the Pacific regions "transboundary" rivers,
whose systems originate in Canada but flow into United States coastal
waters. Major transboundary rivers in northern British Columbia include
the Taku, the Stikine and the Alsek, which have approximately 95% of their
drainage systems within Canadian territory.(9)
The 1,980-mile long Yukon River originates in the Yukon Territory, crosses
the Canada-U.S. border and flows through Alaska to the Bering Sea.(10)
problem of salmon interceptions has been discussed by the two countries
since the early part of this century. The earliest disputes in the late
1800s concerned U.S. catches of Canadian-origin sockeye returning to the
Fraser River to spawn. From then on, the scope and magnitude of interceptions
broadened considerably, to include all interceptions in the areas mentioned
1985 CANADA-U.S. PACIFIC SALMON TREATY
Canada-United States Pacific Salmon Treaty (PST) entered into force upon
the exchange of instruments of ratification in 1985. The result of almost
15 years of negotiation, the Treaty established a Pacific Salmon Commission
(PSC) to advise each country on matters pertaining to it and to serve
as a forum for annual management plans for major intercepting fisheries
(Article II).(12) Three
Panels, assigned to particular regional fisheries along the coast, were
also created to provide management advice to the Commission for development
of annual fisheries plans. These are: a Southern Panel (for salmon originating
in rivers south of Cape Caution in B.C., except for Fraser River sockeye
and pink salmon); a Northern Panel (for salmon originating in rivers between
Cape Caution and Cape Suckling in Alaska, including the transboundary
rivers); and a Fraser River Panel for Fraser River sockeye and pink salmon
in southern B.C. and northern Puget Sound. The fisheries plans, once adopted
by the PSC and the governments, are implemented by the management agencies
in each country.(13)
Treaty includes, in the form of an annex, a group of short-term management
plans directed at six specific sets of fisheries.(14)
The primary function of the Commission and its panels is to negotiate
new management plans as the old ones expire. It is noteworthy that the
Commission is not empowered to negotiate the Treaty articles; these were
agreed to by both countries and can be changed only by governments. Annual
negotiations revolve around revisions to the Annexes and addition of Memorandums
of Understanding that clarify specific activities.
Preamble of the Treaty recognizes "the interests of both Parties
in the conservation and rational management of Pacific salmon stocks and
in the promotion of optimum production of such stocks." The second
paragraph of the Preamble reflects the provisions of Article 66 of the
Law of the Sea Convention concerning anadromous stocks, recognizing "that
States in whose waters salmon stocks originate have primary interest in
and responsibility for such stocks."
III requires each country to conduct its fisheries and enhancement programs
to prevent over-fishing and provide optimum production(15)
of Pacific salmon (the conservation principle) and to ensure that each
country receives benefits "equivalent to the production of salmon
originating in its waters" (the equity principle). On this latter
principle, there is an obligation on the party that has disadvantaged
the other party to propose ways to remedy the imbalance. The Treaty acknowledges
"the desirability in most cases of reducing interceptions."
regard to transboundary rivers in Southeast Alaska, where most spawning
areas for salmon are located in Canadian territory, the Treaty provides
for co-operative management of the stocks (Article VII).(16)
There is also a separate provision establishing a schedule for negotiation
related to Yukon River fisheries (Article VIII). Although steelhead are
of little interest to commercial fishermen, the Treaty requires the PSC
and Treaty Panels to take into account the conservation of these fish
in fulfilling their functions (Article IX).
there is a dispute settlement procedure in the Treaty (Article XII, Annex
III), this is confined to technical matters: either party may submit to
the Chairman of the PSC any dispute concerning estimates of interception
or data related to questions of over-fishing. The Chairman then submits
a dispute to a Technical Dispute Settlement Board, whose findings are
to be binding.
the PST, arrangements dealing with specific management measures are to
be re-negotiated periodically. In 1992 and 1993, the two countries relied
on one-year bilateral agreements without having resolved any of their
outstanding differences on issues; negotiations in 1994 or 1995, both
within the PSC and on a government-to-government basis, were unsuccessful
in producing agreement on fishery regimes or the equity issue.(17)
A one-year agreement on the management of Fraser River sockeye salmon
was reached in July 1996. In conjunction with multi-year fishing arrangements,
Canada has sought an agreement to ensure the implementation of the equity
interceptions of Canadian-origin stocks, in particular, have been consistently
larger and more valuable than Canadian interceptions of Alaskan stocks,
especially since 1985. In the south, Canadian interceptions of U.S.-origin
salmon from Washington and Oregon have declined steadily since the 1980s.
Both countries agree that the United States intercepted 2.4 million more
salmon than Canada in 1985 (the year when the PST was ratified).(18)
The accumulated imbalance in interceptions was estimated in 1996 to be
approximately 35 million fish (worth about C$500 million) in the U.S.s
it stands, there is no formula for calculating "equity" when
investments are made in salmon enhancement(19)
or in terms of forgone fishing opportunity.(20)
Alaskas claim to B.C. salmon is based on the "pasturage"
argument. The state claims a legal right to catch B.C. salmon because
the fish spend part of their lives in U.S. waters. Moreover, there is
no formula to calculate equity for interceptions of different species
of fish. Canada has proposed a system based on a "sockeye equivalents"
formula, a method used in Canada to help resolve conflicts among the countrys
different gear types.
this system, salmon of all species are given a value relative to sockeye.
If a certain great type or management area exceeds its catch, the amount
of fish it would have to forgo in subsequent years could be determined
by calculating the catch relative to the value of sockeye. In Southeast
Alaska, for example, this might mean allowing more pinks to flood into
northern B.C. in a year following high interception of Fraser River
with the United States on the Treaty principles of conservation and the
fair balance of interceptions have been frustrated by divergent and conflicting
positions within the U.S. delegation. While the federal Department of
Fisheries and Oceans manages salmon in British Columbia, separate state
departments of fish and game oversee salmon fishing in Alaska, Washington
and Oregon. Washington and Oregon both want a reduction of the Canadian
catch of their depleted chinook and coho, but Canadian interceptions for
the region have declined steadily over the last decade. Put simply, issues
relevant to one of these U.S. states are not typically of concern to the
other and each negotiates independently of the U.S. federal government.(22)
Canada has voiced its displeasure at having to negotiate on a nation-to-state
basis, rather than as one sovereign country to another.
year (1997), the central issue in the dispute involved how much U.S.-bound
coho salmon Canada should intercept, and how many Fraser River-sockeye
the United States should take. Canadas proposed interception of
coho was rejected by the Americans, and there was no agreement on the
size of the sockeye catch the U.S. would take in compensation for Canadas
coho reductions. The State of Alaska claimed a share of sockeye originating
in British Columbia as a matter of right based on the "pasturage"
argument, that such salmon spend part of their life cycle within United
States waters. The claim, however, is diametrically opposed to Article
66(1) of the UN Law of the Sea Convention which provides in part that
"States in whose rivers anadromous species originate shall have the
primary interest in and responsibility for such stocks." The United
States opposes third-party binding arbitration, as proposed by Canada.
River sockeye salon are the economic backbone of Pacific commercial fisheries
in both Canada and the United States. The Fraser is the largest producer
of sockeye in the world, supporting some 100 distinct stocks. The fish
usually represent 50% of the total salmon catch from the Fraser River(23)
and are known to have a four-year life-cycle, resulting in four distinct
year classes which vary in abundance. In 1996, more sockeye than forecast
returned to spawn.(24)
northern British Columbia, Nass and Skeena River sockeye, which mature
in the high seas, usually account for about 50% of the value of the catch.
The return migration of the fish takes them through Southeast Alaskan
fisheries where more than 60% of the sockeye harvested are believed to
be of Canadian origin. Over 25% of the Skeena River catch and 50% of the
Nass River catch are believed to be harvested in Southeast Alaska.(25)
salmon tend to migrate along the coast of Oregon, Washington, British
Columbia and Alaska, rather than through the North Pacific Ocean. This
migration route, which passes through a sequence of fisheries, has led
to over-harvesting of many stocks. Under the 1985 Pacific Salmon Treaty,
Canada and the United States agreed on a chinook conservation program
to rebuild stocks from both countries by 1998. Since then, the impact
of all Canadian fisheries on U.S. stocks has been substantially reduced
in accordance with the rebuilding program; the same, however, cannot be
said for Alaskan fisheries.
Canadian-origin chinook stocks are severely depleted, in particular those
on the west coast of Vancouver Island. In Southeast Alaska, an area where
90% of the fish originate in Canada and the states of Washington and Oregon,
the impact of fishing Canadian stocks is said to have been almost equal
to that of Canadian fisheries.(26)
It is noteworthy that in 1995 Alaskan authorities were unwilling to co-operate
on measures to conserve chinook salmon and unilaterally set a catch limit
outside the bilateral procedures provided in the PST. A U.S. District
Court, however, closed the commercial chinook fishery earlier than planned
as a result of legal proceedings initiated by U.S. Pacific Northwest tribal
groups, along with the States of Washington and Oregon.(27)
The groups maintained that Alaskas fishery was inconsistent with
a 1985 court order requiring Alaska to comply with the chinook rebuilding
program under the PST.
Canada closed all targeted chinook fisheries and all sport and aboriginal
fisheries on the west coast of Vancouver Island for the 1996 season, the
U.S. unilaterally announced chinook catch limits that were two and a half
times larger than levels recommended by Canadian scientists.(28)
the PST, Canadas coho fishery off the west coast of Vancouver Island
has been subject to a specified catch limit. Canadian troll catches have
been well below the ceiling and, since 1985, Canadian interceptions have
been reduced by more than half. As well, at the southern end of Vancouver
Island, where there are high concentrations of U.S.-origin coho, the Canadian
net fishery has been closed. Thus, coho stocks originating in the southern
U.S. have benefited from Canadas measures to conserve the stock.
Despite these restrictions on fishing, however, conservation has been
difficult: poor ocean conditions and deteriorating freshwater habitat
are believed to have been major impediments.
poor ocean survival may also have adversely affected coho salmon originating
in northern B.C. rivers, a long-standing and serious conservation concern
for Canada has been the escalation of U.S. interceptions in Southeast
Alaska, an area where there have been no agreed limits to protect Canadian-origin
coho salmon(29) and where
interceptions reportedly increased four-fold for the period between 1987-1994.(30)
the Skeena River, the number of spawning coho has declined steadily since
the early 1970s to reach record lows in 1992 and 1993. Fisheries in Southeast
Alaska reportedly take over 65% of the ocean catch and account for 50-70%
of total mortality. In 1984, Canada began unilaterally to introduce measures
such as fisheries closures, to conserve the fish, expanding these measures
in recent years to apply to all sectors of its industry.(31)
Since 1990, however, the impact of Alaskan troll fisheries on Canadian
coho is said to have almost doubled.
sum, 12 years after the signing of the Canada-U.S. Pacific Salmon Treaty,
the equity principle has still not been fully implemented. The failure
over successive years to agree on the implementation of the Treaty principles
is a persistent bilateral irritant, the cause of much unpredictability
in the industry, and a serious threat to the conservation of certain stocks.
For the many groups who rely on Pacific salmon for sustenance, pleasure
or profit, the challenge is to ensure that the cornerstone principles
of the Treaty are implemented to their full potential.
- The Hudsons Bay Company began to export salted Fraser River salmon
- The first formal bilateral discussions between Canadian and American
officials on matters pertaining to Fraser River sockeye were held.
- The Bryce-Root Treaty was signed by Canada (represented by Great Britain)
and the United States, establishing a Fisheries Commission to address
the problem of interceptions of Fraser River sockeye. The Commission soon
ceased to function, however.
1926 - The Convention for Protection, Preservation and Extension of the
Sockeye Salmon Fishery in the Fraser River System was signed by Canada
and the United States.
- The International Pacific Salmon Fisheries Commission (IPSFC) began
to regulate the Fraser River fishery. Initially, a 50/50 sharing of sockeye
was set in the Convention area. By means of a protocol, the scope of the
Fraser River Sockeye Treaty was later broadened (in 1956) to include pink
- Canada and the United States reached an informal agreement whereby each
country voluntarily established administrative lines ("surflines"),
seaward of which fishing by nets was prohibited.
- Canada and the United States negotiated a Reciprocal Fishing Agreement
under which access by troll fishermen of both countries was curtailed
within the 3-to-12 mile zone of the other country. This was renegotiated
in 1973. The 1970 agreement provided that the two countries would begin
negotiations on all matters of mutual concern related to the Pacific salmon
1971 - The two countries tentatively agreed upon a set of general fisheries
principles in support of avoiding interceptions and equitably balancing
December 1984 - Canadian and U.S. representatives reached an agreement
on a new Pacific Salmon Treaty.
March 1985 - The Canada-United States Pacific Salmon Treaty entered into
force when Prime Minister Mulroney and President Reagan exchanged instruments
of ratification at the "Shamrock Summit" in Quebec City.
1989 - A Memorandum of Understanding established an ad hoc Joint Interceptions
Committee to investigate and attempt to resolve the differences in the
interception estimates put forward by each country.
1993 - Canada and the United States agreed to government-to-government
negotiations aimed at achieving an agreement on implementing the equity
principle. A series of negotiating sessions followed, starting in August
May 1994 - Canadas Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and B.C.s
Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food met with U.S. Senators, Members
of Congress, and U.S. federal officials in Washington D.C.
June 1994 - Canadas Minister of Fisheries and Oceans announced the
creation of a special 20-member Ministers Advisory Panel on Pacific
Salmon. It includes representatives of Canadian sport, commercial and
aboriginal fisheries to ensure thorough consultation and to facilitate
support for the approaches taken by Canada. The Advisory Panel held its
first meeting on 15 June.
June 1994 - A new licence requirement was announced by Canadas Minister
of Fisheries and Oceans and B.C.s Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries
and Food: all U.S. commercial fishing vessels traversing key water passages
along the coast of British Columbia (between Vancouver Island and the
mainland, Fitzhugh Sound, Finlayson, Princess Royal Channel, Principe
Channel, Grenville Channel and Laredo Sound) would be required to purchase
a licence at a fee of $1,500 for each trip, effective 15 June.
June1994 - Canadas Ambassador to the United States met with the
U.S. Vice-President Al Gore. The Marine Commission of the State of Washington
decided not to impose a fee on Canadian ships sailing through the Strait
of Juan de Fuca.
June 1994 - The House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee of the United
States House of Representatives approved legislation to reimburse U.S.
fishermen for the transit fee charged by Canada.
July 1994 - Canada and the United States announced that they were resuming
negotiations on the conservation and management of the Pacific salmon
resource. Canadian officials announced the lifting of the licence requirement
for U.S. fishing vessels (in effect since 15 June) in response to a commitment
from U.S. Vice-President Al Gore that the United States would resume negotiations
in good faith.
July 1994 - The U.S. Ambassador for Oceans (David Coulson) met with Canadas
Deputy Minister of Fisheries (Bill Rowat) to set up a framework for future
meetings to discuss the management of Pacific salmon stocks.
July 1994 - Canadas Deputy Fisheries Minister and the U.S. Deputy
Secretary of Commerce (Douglas Hall) met but failed to reach an agreement.
July 1994 - The Pacific Salmon issue was raised by the Prime Minister
and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans during a visit by the U.S. Vice-President
July 1994 - Canadas Minister of Fisheries and Oceans announced that
there was sufficient progress to continue negotiations with the United
July 1994 - Canadas Minister of Fisheries announced a "stand-alone"
fishing plan for 1994; although two high-level government-to-government
meetings were held in July 1994, Canada had been unable to negotiate a
bilateral arrangement with the United States. The Minister stated that
Canadas strategy would be to maintain conservation as the top priority,
to ensure that constitutional obligations to the First Nations were met,
and to recognise the importance of achieving allocation objectives for
February 1995 - Canada responded to a U.S. proposal which acknowledged
for the first time the imbalance in Pacific salmon catches in favour of
the United States and which offered cash compensation for certain past
imbalances. The compensation offer was linked to the adoption of an "abundance-based"
management system, with each country entitled to catch, in intercepting
fisheries, agreed percentages of the harvest (total run less spawner escapement).
The proposal would have set percentage limits; the Pacific Salmon Treaty
recommends numerical limits. Canadas counter-proposal was intended
to achieve the following objectives: meet the conservation needs of both
countries; provide for long-term stability in the Pacific salmon fisheries;
reduce the imbalance in interceptions which now favours the United States;
and provide fair returns to the fishers of both countries.
February 1995 - Canadas Minister of Fisheries and the Minister of
Foreign Affairs announced that Canada and the Untied States had signed
an interim three-year agreement on Yukon River salmon (in effect until
31 December 1997). This established a program to stabilize and rebuild
Canadian-origin chinook and chum salmon; set Canadian catch levels and
U.S. border escapement requirements (i.e., the number of salmon that must
be allowed to cross into Canada) during the stabilization and rebuilding
program; and created a fund, financed by the United States, to rebuild
Canadian-origin stocks in order to offset American catches of Canadian-origin
Yukon salmon (pending conclusion of a long term catch-sharing agreement).
The agreement, which took ten years to negotiate and which is consistent
with the interim agreement signed by the two countries under the PST,
established a Yukon River Panel comprising six members from each country
to make recommendations on the management and conservation of Canadian-origin
Yukon salmon. Negotiations on a long-term agreement (e.g., dealing with
catch allowances once stocks are rebuilt) were expected to resume in the
fall of 1995.
July 1995 - A harvesting agreement on Fraser River Sockeye fisheries was
reached between Canada and the U.S.; a pre-season fishing plan was developed
on 28 July. The Fraser River Panel assumed regulatory control on 2 August.
Between late June and 2 August, when the Panel was not functioning, each
country unilaterally managed its respective fisheries.
August 1995 - A U.S. District Court judge granted a temporary injunction
halting Alaskan commercial chinook fishing earlier than planned. The legal
proceedings were initiated by U.S. Pacific Northwest tribal groups, along
with the States of Washington and Oregon who maintained that Alaskas
fishery was inconsistent with a 1985 court order requiring the State of
Alaska to comply with the chinook rebuilding program under the PST. The
injunction was subsequently sustained on 7 September.
August 1995 - Canada and the United States announced the appointment of
an independent mediator, Ambassador Chris Beeby of New Zealand, a renowned
international diplomat who assumed his duties in October 1995. Resolution
of the equity issue was not achieved through this process, and the Ambassador
resigned in March 1996.
April 1996 - The Yukon River Panel held its inaugural meeting in Whitehorse
and agreed to the first six years of rebuilding plan for Canadian chinook.
A Joint Technical Committee was charged with developing options for consideration
at a meeting of the Panel scheduled to meet in November 1996.
June 1996 - U.S. officials announced that Alaskas catch of chinook
salmon would be set at 150,000 pieces, more than double the limit recommended
July 1996 - Canada announced that it was referring the dispute with the
U.S. over chinook salmon catches in Southeast Alaska to a technical dispute
settlement board to be established under the Pacific Salmon Treaty. Also
announced were regulations requiring U.S. fishing vessels wishing to travel
through Canadian waters (i.e., on their way to or from Alaska) to notify
the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in order to obtain clearance for
their passage. Such vessels would also be required to show their fishing
gear when in Canadian waters.
July 1996 - The terms of a one-year agreement between Canada and the United
States on the management of Fraser River sockeye salmon was announced
by Canadas Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. Under the agreement,
both countries agreed not to conduct a commercial fishery for Fraser River
sockeye in 1996 and to transfer management responsibility for managing
Fraser River sockeye to the Fraser Panel of the PSC. However, a commercial
fishery would be allowed in the event of larger than expected returns,
with the U.S. share of any harvest set, by agreement, at 16.1%. The allowable
catch was defined as the portion of the Fraser River sockeye run remaining
after spawning escapements and the Canadian aboriginal fishery exemption
of 400,000 sockeye. The agreement also allowed for a limited fishery for
50,000 summer run sockeye for Aboriginal people in the United States.
In exchange for limits on the U.S. catch of Fraser River sockeye, Canada
agreed to reduce the catch ceiling for coho salmon stocks off the west
coast Vancouver Island to 1.0 million fish, down from the 1.1-1.4 million
level outlined in the 1996 management plan for those stocks.
September 1996 - The PSC provided its final in-season report on the Fraser
River sockeye run at a meeting of the Fraser Panel: the run turned out
to be much better than expected. Spawning escapements were reportedly
increased and limited Canadian and U.S. fisheries were conducted.
October 1996 - International delegates to the World Conservation Congress
adopted a resolution, introduced by the Government of Canada, reiterating
Canadas position that the United States must work co-operatively
to resolve the dispute over the application of the equity and conservation
September 1996 - The Pacific Salmon Commission provided its final in-season
report at a meeting of the Fraser River panel. The estimate of the total
Fraser River sockeye run of 1996 stood at 4.331 million fish. Canadian
catches in commercial and recreational fisheries amounted to 1.034 million
pieces (compared to a pre-season projection of zero). Approximately 783,000
salmon were harvested in First Nations fisheries. American fishers in
Washington State caught 257,000 fish, and about 93,000 salmon were taken
in test and experimental fisheries. According to the DFO, the 1996 Fraser
River sockeye fishery exceeded expectations largely because of a negotiated
agreement with the United States. The U.S. catch share was the lowest
since the signing of the Pacific Salmon Treaty. Fisheries in Washington
State took 16.1% of the allowable catch (a catch share based on an agreed
formula). In exchange for this ceiling, Canada agreed to limit its harvest
of coho salmon off the west coast of Vancouver Island to one million fish,
thereby reducing Canadian interception of U.S.-origin coho and contributing
to the conservation of these stocks.
February 1997 - The governments of Canada and the United States announced
that they were renewing their commitment to resolve the dispute and agreed
on a process of government-to-government negotiations that included direct
participation by stakeholders (i.e., salmon industry representatives).
Two bilateral groups were created: one to address Canadian and U.S. salmon
fisheries in the northern boundary area or Dixon Entrance; the other to
address fisheries in southern British Columbia and the U.S. Pacific Northwest.(32)
Each panel consisted of 16 members, with eight from each country. The
announcement followed high-level discussions between John Fraser, Canadas
Ambassador for the Environment, and Eileen Claussen, U.S. Assistant Secretary
of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.
April 1997 - During a meeting with President Clinton in Washington, D.C.,
Prime Minister Chrétien emphasized the urgency of resolving the dispute.
April 1997 - Prime Minister Chrétien and B.C. Premier Glen Clark signed
an agreement on Pacific salmon intended to create a new partnership between
both levels of government for conserving and managing the salmon resource.
May 1997 - Bilateral talks involving industry stakeholders ended inconclusively.
The chairs of the stakeholder groups, senior Canadian and U.S. government
officials, and representatives of B.C. and the states of Washington, Oregon
and Alaska joined the chief negotiators in their talks.
May 1997 - Discussion between the chief negotiators, Yves Fortier for
Canada and Mary Beth West for the United States, broke off in Seattle
after the U.S. negotiator indicated that she did not have the authority
to make compromises on Fraser River sockeye salmon.
May 1997 - The Government of Canada announced that it had suspended discussions
with the United States and that measures would be taken against foreign
vessels travelling through Canadian waters. DFO enforcement staff were
instructed to enforce federal regulations requiring foreign vessels passing
through Canadian waters to contact Canadian authorities. Depending on
the circumstances, vessels that violate the regulations can be inspected,
required to go to a Canadian port or face arrest. Inspections may be conducted
randomly. U.S. vessels going to and from the Alaskan fishery are subject
to these regulations.
May 1997 - The Province of British Columbia served 90-day notice on the
federal government of its decision to end the seabed licence of occupation
agreement associated with the Canadian Forces Maritime Experimental test
range at Nanoose (off Vancouver Island), in order to end the use of the
area as a torpedo test range by the United States.
May 1997 - The DFO confirmed that three U.S. commercial fishing vessels
had been arrested for failing to comply with Canadian regulations under
the Coastal Fisheries Protection Regulations while in Canadian waters
(regulation regarding "hailing in" when entering the Canadian
zone and the stowage of fishing gear on board a vessel).
May 1997 - A fourth American fishing vessel was seized for failing to
comply with Canadas Coastal Fisheries Protection Regulations. The
U.S. State Department postponed negotiations that had been scheduled to
resume on 30 May.
June 1997 - Canada and the United States agreed to resume negotiations
on 18 June.
June 1997 - At the meeting of the G7 in Denver, Prime Minister Chrétien
raised the dispute during a dinner with President Clinton. Canadas
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lloyd Axworthy, raised the issue with his
United States counterpart, Secretary Madeleine Albright.
June 1997 - Canada made a final ("bottom-line") offer to American
June 1997 - The federal government and the Province of British Columbia
agreed on a fishing plan that would, subject to constraints for conservation
purposes, allow Canadian fishermen to pursue salmon vigorously before
their American counterparts could catch them.
June 1997 - The federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans announced Canadas
allocation plan for the 1997 commercial salmon fishery. According to the
DFO, the plan was intended to provide the flexibility required to manage
the fishery in the absence of an agreement with the United States, and
attempted to keep the American catch of Fraser River sockeye below the
17% level the United States had turned down when negotiations collapsed.
The total Canadian commercial catch of salmon for 1997 was expected to
be about 23.8 million fish.
July 1997 - United States Treaty Indians began harvesting the valued Early
Stuart sockeye run from waters near the San Juan Islands in Georgia Strait
east of Victoria.
July 1997 - B.C. fishermen dropped their nets for the 1997 salmon season.
July 1997 - Advertisements paid for by the Government of British Columbia
appeared in Washington State newspapers and radio. United States fishermen
cancelled plans to further harvest the Early Stuart run; it was reported
that they had caught more fish than the original target of 85,000.
July 1997 - The Pacific Salmon Commission indicated that the Early Stuart
run was slightly larger than estimated. The executive secretary of the
Pacific Salmon Commission stated that 366,000 fish had so far been taken;
132,000 sockeye by the Canadian commercial fleet; 97,900 in the river
and 11,800 outside the river by Aboriginal fishermen; 83,400 by U.S. treaty
Indians; 24,900 by American commercial fisheries; and about 15,900 in
DFO and PSC test fisheries.
July 1997 - Canadian officials announced that the Alaskan fishing fleet
had intercepted nearly five times more Canadian-origin sockeye than usual.
July 1997 - The Canadian Government protested to the U.S. State Department
that the Alaska fishery had violated the Pacific Salmon Treaty.
July 1997 - An estimated 130 Canadian fishing boats surround the state-owned
ferry M/V Malespina in port in Prince Rupert, B.C. Some 328 passengers
and 71 vehicles on board ship were prevented from leaving.
July 1997 - At the request of Alaska officials, a Canadian federal judge
issued a court order to end the blockade.
July 1997 - Two U.S. fishermen pleaded guilty to illegally fishing in
Canadian waters (in the Strait of Juan de Fuca) and were each fined $4,000.
July 1997 - Canadian fishers ended their blockade of the Malespina, but
warned that if Fisheries Minister Anderson did not make significant progress
within a week they would launch more blockades. The State of Alaska suspended
indefinitely the use of Prince Rupert as a port of call.
July 1997 - Canada appointed Dr. David Strangway (former President of
the University of British Columbia), and the United States appointed William
Ruckelhaus (former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency),
as Special Representatives for Pacific Salmon. Their goal was to re-start
the stakeholder process with a view to making progress in time for the
August 1997 - The Alaska Attorney Generals office confirmed that
letters were being sent to boat owners involved in the July ferry blockade
notifying them that their vessels would be seized unless a security bond
was posted by 15 September. In July, the State of Alaska had filed a civil
suit in the Federal Court of Canada for US$2.8 million in damages resulting
from the ferry blockade.
July 1997 - The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans responded to a report
from a stakeholder group that included representatives of broad-based
commercial fishing organizations, recreational groups, and First Nations,
as well as the federal and provincial governments. The working group recommended
certain principles be adopted to guide management planning for the remainder
of the 1997 season.
August 1997 - The Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced fisheries
openings and the beginning of the so-called "Canada first fishing
August 1997 - The federal government filed a lawsuit asking the Supreme
Court of British Columbia to declare invalid the provinces notification
to cancel the licence permitting the use of the seabed at Nanoose for
August 1997 - Estimated catch figures released by the Pacific Salmon Commission
showed that U.S. fishers had harvested about 12% of the Fraser River sockeye
catch. Canada offered 17% during negotiations in June; the United States
wanted 21%. Almost 90% of the fish returned to the Fraser River through
the "inside passage" (in Canadian waters), making it relatively
easy for the Canadian fleet to catch the fish before U.S. fishers had
a chance at them. The PSC expected the summer sockeye run would be less
than the pre-season forecast of 15.7 million fish.
September 1997 - Dr. J. Alan Beesley, and independent expert in international
law and a former diplomat, in a legal opinion provided to the B.C. government,
stated that the province could legitimately claim that the U.S. was violating
the principles of the PST.
September 1997 - The results of a public opinion survey commissioned by
the provincial government and carried out by Environics research group
Ltd. (from 14-23 August) showed, among other things, that the majority
(58%) of British Columbians approved of the actions taken by Premier Clark
and the provincial government, and that a majority were opposed to the
federal government court action to prevent the province from shutting
the Nanoose torpedo test range (65% opposed, with 45% strongly opposed,
and 35% in favour).
September 1997 - The Government of B.C., the United Fishermen and Allied
Workers Union-Canadian Auto Workers, and individual fishermen representing
commercial, recreational and aboriginal fisheries launched a joint legal
suit against the U.S. federal government and the states of Washington
and Alaska. The lawsuit charged that the U.S. had violated the PSTs
basic principles and obligations of conservation and equity, and asked
for $325 million in compensation.
September 1997 - The Government of B.C. asked the provinces Supreme
Court to dismiss the federal suit to declare invalid the provinces
notification to cancel the licence permitting use of the seabed at Nanoose
(which is provincial Crown land). The province also laid a counter claim
that the federal government should pay "general and punitive damages"
as well as all court costs incurred because it was trespassing on provincial
September 1997 - A letter written to Alaskan senators by U.S. President
Bill Clinton (dated 8 September) was released. The letter states
that "any recurrence of illegal and inexcusable actions on the West
Coast" would "necessitate taking appropriate countermeasures."
September 1997 - U.S. legislators addressing a Congressional hearing rejected
Canadas call for binding arbitration.
September 1997 - The Pacific Salmon Commission announced that the total
Fraser River sockeye run was expected to reach 17.2 million fish, compared
to the DFO pre-season forecast of 18.2 million. Total commercial and other
catches of Fraser River sockeye, excluding Fraser River First Nations
catches, amounted to 10.5 million fish. The total number of sockeye entering
the River for spawning and Indian fishery catches (gross escapement) was
estimated to be 6.1 million fish. In terms of cumulative commercial
fishery catches for the season, it was reported that Canada had harvested
8,638,000 sockeye, and the U.S. 1,558,000. Catches of Fraser River pink
salmon totalled 5,211,000 fish in all areas. Canadas commercial
catch of pinks was 3,629,000 fish, while the U.S. had harvested 1,522,000.
October 1997 - The Governor of the State of Alaska announced that ferry
service to Prince Rupert would resume in December (after having been suspended
in July). This followed assurances by Canadian officials that the Canadian
Coast Guard and the RCMP would move quickly if there was another blockade
of the Malespina.
October 1997 - During a one-hour meeting in New York, Canadas Minister
of Foreign Affairs and International Trade assured U.S. Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright that the torpedo testing range at Nanoose would remain
accessible to the United States military.
U.S. Fish Boats Pay Travel Licence Fee." The Daily News (Prince
Rupert), 21 June 1994.
Treaty Between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United
States of America Concerning Pacific Salmon.
Agreement Signed 28 January 1985.
Charlie. "Report a Boost for Our Side." The Vancouver Province,
18 May 1997.
Glenda. "Fraser Coho Target of New Study." The Fisherman,
22 July 1996.
Salmon Run is Million Fish More Than Forecast." The Gazette
(Montreal), 7 August 1996, p. A8.
Jim. "Americans Admit to Illegal Fishing." The Calgary Herald,
22 July 1997.
Stewart. "B.C. Fishers Vow to Fight Boat Seizures by Alaska."
The Vancouver Sun, 28 September 1997.
Julian and Joan Bryden. "Canada Blasts U.S. Over Fish Catch."
The Gazette (Montreal), 27 June 1996, p. A10.
Brenda. "Salmon Deal With U.S. Angers Fishers in B.C." The
Vancouver Sun, 22 July 1996, p. 1.
Murray. "Gore Leaves Ottawa Deep in Compliments." The Globe
and Mail (Toronto), 20 July 1994.
Offers Last Hope." The Victoria Times Colonist, 17 May 1996,
U.S. Troller Pays for Fish Licence." The Victoria Times Colonist,
19 June 1994.
Miro. "Understanding Alaskan Mentality to Salmon Dispute." The
Globe and Mail (Toronto), 5 September 1996, p. A3.
Wendy. "Fishermen Drop Nets As Salmon War Simmers." The Telegram,
8 July 1997.
of Fisheries and Oceans. Pacific Salmon: Underwater World. Supply
and Services Canada, 1990.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "Tobin and Zirnhelt to Press for End to
Salmon Treaty Impasse." News Release, 26 May 1994.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "Licence Fee Announced for U.S. Vessels."
News Release, 9 June 1994.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "Tobin Announces Advisory Panel on Pacific
Salmon." News Release, 9 June 1994.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "Pacific Salmon Negotiations Continuing
with United States." News Release, 22 July 1994.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "Tobin Announces 1994 Management Plan for
Pacific Salmon." News Release, 28 July 1994.
of Fisheries and Oceans. 1995-96 Estimates, Part III, Expenditure Plan.
Supply and Services Canada, 1995.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "Canada and the U.S. Sign Interim Agreement
on Yukon River Salmon Management." News Release, 3 February
of Fisheries and Oceans. "U.S. Agrees to Mediation on Pacific Salmon."
News Release, 9 May 1995.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "U.S. Fails to Act Responsibly in Negotiations."
News Release, 30 June 1995.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "Tobin Announces 1995 Pacific Salmon Fishing
Plans Following Failed Negotiations with the U.S." News Release,
4 July 1995.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "Tobin Responds to Alaska Governor on Pacific
Salmon Issues." News Release, 14 July 1995.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "Letter from Ambassador Chrétien to the
Governor of Alaska Regarding Pacific Salmon." News Release,
19 July 1995.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "Mediation Proposal Advanced For Pacific
Salmon." News Release, 24 July 1995.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "Canada Surprised and Disappointed by Alaskan
Chinook Harvest." News Release, 28 July 1995.
of Fisheries and Oceans, "Canada Plans to Support Legal Proceedings
against Alaska." News Release, 7 August 1995.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "U.S. Court Decision Prevents Alaskan Chinook
Fishery." News Release, 11 August 1995.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "Tobin Welcomes U.S. Federal Court Decision."
News Release, 8 September 1995.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "Tobin Comments on U.S. District Court Decision
on Alaskan Chinook Fishery." News Release, 12 September 1995.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "Yukon Salmon Panel Off to a Good Start."
News Release, 24 April 1996.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "The Pacific Salmon Treaty: An Overview."
Backgrounder. May 1996.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "Canada Criticizes U.S. Chinook Management
Plans for 1996." News Release, 27 June 1996.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "Canada Announces Measures on Pacific Salmon."
News Release, 15 July 1996.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "Canada and B.C. Agree to Conduct Joint
Review of Salmon Fisheries Issues." News Release, 15 July
of Fisheries and Oceans. "Agreement Reached on 1996 Fishing Regime
for Fraser River Sockeye Salmon." News Release, 22 July 1996.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "Fisheries Opened on Fraser River Sockeye."
News Release, 7 August 1996.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "1996 Fraser River Salmon Season Exceeds
Expectations." News Release, 27 September 1996.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "Ministers Welcome Conservation Resolution
on Canada/U.S. Pacific Salmon Treaty." News Release, 23 October
of Fisheries and Oceans. "Details of the 1996 Salmon Season in British
Columbia." Backgrounder, 2 December 1996.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "Highlights of the 1996 Salmon Season in
British Columbia." Backgrounder, 2 December 1996.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "Prime Minister Chrétien and Premier Clark
Announce Agreement on Salmon Conservation, Management." News Release,
16 April 1997.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "Fisheries Officials Arrest Three U.S. Fishing
Vessels." News Release, 26 May 1997.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "Conservation Measures Highlight 1997 Pacific
Salmon Plans." News Release, 27 June 1997.
of Fisheries and Oceans, "Minister Announces 1997 Allocation Arrangements
for Commercial Salmon Fleet." News Release, 27 June 1997.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "1997 Coho Conservation Measures."
Backgrounder, 3 July 1997.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "Details of the 1997 Pacific Commercial
Salmon Plans." Backgrounder, 3 July 1997.
of Fisheries and Oceans. "Anderson to Address Excessive U.S. Harvest
of Canadian Salmon." News Release, 28 July 1997.
of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. "New Effort to Settle
Salmon Dispute Announced." News Release, 5 February 1997.
of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. "Canada Takes Action
Following Deadlock in Salmon Talks." News Release, 21 May
of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. "Canada and the U.S.
to Resume Salmon Negotiations." News Release, 13 June 1997.
T.J. "An End to Coastwide Salmon Skirmishes?" Pacific Fishing,
T.J. "Salmon Negotiations Stall As Season Approaches." Pacific
Fishing, May 1996.
T.J. "B.C. Enters Salmon Treaty Fray." Pacific Fishing,
Charlie and Brad Warren. "Fishermen Tackle U.S.-Canada Accord: State
Department Wants Sockeye for Coho Trade." Pacific Fishing,
Robert. "PM Strikes Out on Salmon Deal." The Ottawa Sunday
Sun, 22 June 1997.
Petti. "U.S. Governors Discuss Salmon Conservation." The
Vancouver Sun, 21 May 1996, p. B5.
Fraser River Sockeye Public Review Board. Fraser River Sockeye 1994:
Problems and Discrepancies. Public Works and Government Services Canada,
David. "Alaska, B.C. Ferry Service to Resume." The Seattle
Times, 2 October 1997.
of Canada. "The United States and Canada Break Deadlock on Salmon
Talks." News Release, 2 July 1994.
of Canada. "Canada Delivers Counter-Proposal on Pacific Salmon."
News Release, 2 February 1995.
Ian. "Fisheries Minister Gets Seven-Day Ultimatum." The Halifax
Daily News, 23 July 1998.
David. "Anderson Aims to Cut U.S. Share of Salmon." The Vancouver
Sun, 28 June 1997.
David. "U.S.-Canada Fish War Escalates as Indians Set for Run on
Sockeye." The Gazette (Montreal), 4 July 1997.
David. "Gillnetters Take Twice Expected Sockeye." The Vancouver
Sun, 11 July 1997.
David. "U.S. Has Lost Salmon War, B.C. Claims." The Vancouver
Province, 16 August 1997.
David and Julian Beltrame. "Salmon Talks with U.S., Fail Again."
The Vancouver Sun, 21 June 1997.
David, Jim Beatty and Petti Fong. "Canada Ready to Fish without a
Deal." The Vancouver Sun, 26 June 1997.
David and Peter ONeil. "Canadas Fraser Sockeye Catch
Beats U.S. as B.C., Ottawa Bicker." The Vancouver Sun, 9 August
Ross. "U.S. Chinook Target Ignores Canadian Fears." The Globe
and Mail (Toronto), 27 June 1996, p. A4.
Ross. "Canada Setting Salmon Quotas." The Globe and Mail
(Toronto), 27 June 1997.
Ross. "Salmon Catch Expected to Hit Near-Record High." The
Globe and Mail (Toronto), 28 June 1997.
Ross. "B.C. Turns to Advertising in Salmon War." The Globe
and Mail (Toronto), 9 July 1997.
Ross and Craig McInnes. "B.C. Declares Salmon War." The Globe
and Mail (Toronto), 18 July 1997.
Mark. "Fisheries Experts Reject Alaskas Plan." The
Vancouver Sun, 4 July 1996, p. B2.
Mark. "Alaskan Boats Set Sail to Decimate Salmon Stocks." The
Ottawa Citizen, 5 July 1996, p. A4.
Mark. "Sockeye Return Exceeds Forecast by Three Million." The
Vancouver Sun, 1 October 1996.
Gail. "Canadians Fume over U.S. Salmon Decision." The Vancouver
Province, 26 July 1996, p. A12.
Kathleen. "Salmon Row Sinks into War of Words." The Toronto
Star, 26 June 1997.
Kathleen. "B.C. Premiers Salmon Threat Creates Diplomatic Tidal
Wave." The Toronto Star, 28 June 1997.
Kathleen. "Canada Baited in Salmon Row." The Toronto Star,
19 September 1997.
Judith. "American Salmon Catch Exceeding Expectations." The
Victoria Times Colonist, 9 July 1997.
Barbara. "Well Get Them First." The Province, 27
Jim. "U.S. Plans Limits on Chinook." The Victoria Times Colonist,
26 June 1996, p. A1.
Gordon R. and Robert L. Stokes. "The Canada-United States Pacific
Salmon Treaty." In Canadian Oceans Policy: National Strategies
and the New Law of the Sea. Donald Mcrae and Gordon Munro, Editors.
University of British Columbia Press, Vancouver, 1989.
to End Salmon Dispute Leaves Fishermen Sceptical." The Ottawa
Citizen, 23 December 1994.
of the Premier (British Columbia). "B.C. Ends Seabed Lease for Nanoose
Torpedo Range in Response to U.S. Intransigence on Salmon Talks."
News Release, 23 May 1997.
of the Premier (British Columbia). "Nanoose Bay Test Range."
Backgrounder, 23 May 1997.
of the Premier (British Columbia). "Independent Legal Expert Confirms
U.S. Violating International Law." News Release, 3 September
of the Premier (British Columbia). "Public Opinion Supports B.C.
Actions on Salmon, Survey Shows." News Release, 4 September
of the Premier (British Columbia). "B.C. and Fishermen Sue U.S.A.
and States to Force Compliance." News Release, 8 September
of the Premier (British Columbia). B.C. Counters Canadian Claims in Nanoose
Court Case." News Release, 10 September 1997.
Peter. "Federal Minister Tries to Spur U.S. Senators to Solve Fish
Row." The Vancouver Sun, 7 June 1996, p. A4.
Aims to Retain Transit Fees." The Victoria Times Colonist,
14 May 1996, p. A8.
Salmon Commission. Annual Reports (for various years). Vancouver,
Salmon Commission. Report of the Fraser River Panel to the Pacific
Salmon Commission on the 1993 Fraser River Sockeye and Pink Salmon Fishing
Season. August 1996.
Salmon Commission. News Release, 15 August 1997.
Salmon Commission, News Release, 19 September 1997.
Salmon Treaty the Way to Conserve." The Seattle Times, 10
L.S. Management of Marine Fisheries in Canada. Canadian Bulletin
of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 225. National Research Council and Department
of Fisheries and Oceans, Ottawa, 1993.
Peter H. Turning the Tide: A New Policy for Canadas Pacific Fisheries.
Final Report, the Commission on Pacific Fisheries Policy, Vancouver, September
Larry. "Keep Alaskan Hands Off Chinook from Canada, Official Says."
The Vancouver Sun, 16 April 1996, p. B1.
on Salmon War Backs Canada." The Victoria Times Colonist,
17 May 1997.
Robert. "U.S. Gets Assurance on Nanoose." The Victoria Times
Colonist, 3 October 1997.
Settlement Sought." The Financial Post, 24 June 1994.
Talks Off Again." The Evening Telegram (St. Johns),
16 July 1994.
Senate Committee on Fisheries. The Marketing of Fish in Canada: Interim
Report II on the West Coast Fisheries. December 1987.
May Torpedo B.C. Ploy." The Globe and Mail (Toronto), 15 August
Committee Votes to Refund Fishermen." The Victoria Times Colonist,
30 June 1994.
Canada to Curb Some Salmon Fishing." The Wall Street Journal,
24 July 1996, p. B6.
Issue Joint Statement on Pacific Salmon." The Fishermens
News Online. http://www.fishermensnews.com/breaknews.html.
Coast Salmon Concerns Head East." The Gazette (Montreal),
6 October 1997.
Scientists have recently reclassified steelhead as belonging to the genus
Oncorhynchus (Pacific salmon), instead of the genus Salmo
(Atlantic salmon). The fish, which spawn more than once, are highly prized
by anglers. Although a minor species in terms of catch statistics, steelhead
have a disproportional recreational value because of their "fighting"
Peter H. Pearse, Turning the Tide: A New Policy for Canadas Pacific
Fisheries, Final Report, The Commission on Pacific Fisheries Policy,
Vancouver, September 1982, p. 10.
For example, chinook salmon is also called the king, spring or blackmouth.
Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries, The Marketing of Fish in Canada:
Interim Report II on the West Coast Fisheries, December 1987.
A "stock" of salmon is the salmon of one species that inhabit
a particular stream. There are about 300 stocks of sockeye, 700 stocks
of pink, 970 stocks of chinook and 880 stocks of chum salmon in British
Columbia. Each stock is a genetically distinct population and, ideally,
should be managed separately to ensure conservation. This can be a problem
because stocks often mingle and migrate together on the fishing grounds.
See L.S. Parsons, Management of Marine Fisheries in Canada, National
Research Council and Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Ottawa 1993,
p. 100, 336-337.
Salmon are "anadromous" by nature; this means they hatch in
freshwater, swim to the ocean to grow and mature, and only return to freshwater
to reproduce. See Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Pacific Salmon:
Underwater World, Supply and Services Canada, 1990.
Three basic gear types are used in the commercial fishery: gill nets,
purse seines and trolling gear. Gill nets (which capture passing salmon
by entangling their gills) have traditionally been used mainly in or near
the mouths of rivers or at the head of inlets (wherever salmon concentrate
on their migrations towards the spawning grounds). Purse seiners (using
nets that surround salmon) usually fish in straits or passages along migration
routes where salmon are concentrated. Commercial vessels using multiple
lines and baited hooks (the troll fishery) generally fish in open waters
in nearshore areas.
Pacific Salmon commission, 1995/96 Eleventh Annual Report, Vancouver,
B.C., p. xi.
Smaller rivers include the Unuk, Whiting and Chilkat.
The Yukon River supports a substantial U.S. commercial fishery, mainly
conducted by local Native people, in the lower reaches of the river. Subsistence
fisheries by natives are important on both sides of the border. There
is also a relatively smaller Canadian commercial fishery. The PST proposed
separate negotiations commencing in 1985 to develop an organizational
structure to deal with Yukon River issues. Parsons (1993), p. 342.
Parsons (1993), p. 337.
The PSC is divided into two national sections, with commissioners appointed
by each nation. Enabling legislation in the United States prescribes that
the U.S. section has one member from Alaska, one from Oregon or Washington,
one representing treaty tribes, and one non-voting federal official. The
Canadian section is led by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans
and includes representatives from First Nations, recreational and commercial
fisheries, and the Province of British Columbia. The Treaty also established
several scientific and technical committees which provide the Commission
with data on stocks and fisheries. See the Fraser River Sockeye Public
Review Board, Fraser River Sockeye 1994: Problems and Discrepancies,
Public Works and Government Services Canada, 1995, p. 5.
The Fraser River Panel, in addition, is accorded special responsibility
for in-season regulation of Fraser River sockeye and pink fisheries of
Canada and the U.S. in an area designated as Fraser River Panel Area Waters.
The short-term management plans are contained in Annex 4. The fisheries
covered by the plans are: Fraser River sockeye and pink salmon fisheries;
fisheries based on salmon which spawn in the transboundary rivers, defined
as those that rise in Canada and flow to the sea through the United States;
fisheries based on salmon from the boundary area between British Columbia
and Alaska; chinook fisheries; coho fisheries; and chum fisheries of southern
B.C. and Washington. The Treaty also contains a Memorandum of Understanding
on the parties interpretations of certain terms. In mid-1985, the
two parties carried out an Exchange of Notes covering their understandings
with respect to the phasing out of the International Pacific Salmon Fisheries
The PST, however, does not define "optimum production."
Lower river spawning grounds and estuary rearing areas are in U.S. sections
of the rivers. The Columbia River is exempt because the salmon stocks
originating in Canadian portions of the river are a very small proportion
of the total population.
Pacific Salmon Commission, 1995/96 Eleventh Annual Report, Vancouver,
B.C., p. iii. The Fraser River Chapter in Annex IV expired in 1992, and
agreed provisions coastwide for chinook and coho, for southern and northern
boundary chum salmon also expired following the 1992 fishing season.
Department of Fisheries and Oceans, "The Pacific Salmon Treaty: An
Overview," Backgrounders, May 1996.
Without equity, it makes little economic sense for either country to enhance
the resource, forgo catches or rehabilitate fish habitat. Canadas
Pacific Salmonid Enhancement Program (SEP) was introduced in 1977 to rebuild
salmon populations, conserve threatened stocks, raise public awareness
of the resource, generate employment and economic benefits to coastal
and aboriginal communities, and improve scientific understanding of salmonid
populations. The program operates hatcheries, spawning channels and fishways,
and provides technical expertise and financial support for volunteer projects,
participates in habitat improvement projects, funds lake enrichment programs,
and distributes educational packages to school children.
For example, since 1987, Canada has assisted the United States in addressing
the conservation problem for southern U.S. coho stocks by closing its
net fisheries at the southern end of Vancouver Island because of high
concentrations of U.S.-origin coho salmon in the area.
T.J. Doherty, "An End to Coastwide Salmon Skirmishes?" Pacific
Fishing, April 1994, p. 33.
In contrast to the Canadian system where management of marine fisheries
rests exclusively with the federal government, the American system grants
considerable management powers to individual states; hence, in negotiations,
one could think of the states of Washington, Oregon and Alaska, and the
U.S. federal government as separate players. Northwest Native-American
tribes are also signatories to the Treaty.
The fishery in Johnston Strait accounts for most of the Canadian catch,
followed by the fishery in Juan de Fuca Strait, the Strait of Georgia
(including the in-river fishery) and off the west coast of Vancouver Island.
Smaller amounts of sockeye are taken on B.C.s north coast. American
fishermen harvest Fraser River sockeye mainly in the Juan de Fuca Strait
and, to a lesser extent, in Southeast Alaska; on average, U.S. catches
account for about 18% of the total.
Department of Fisheries and Oceans, "1996 Fraser River Salmon Season
Exceeds Expectations," News Release, 27 September 1996; Mark Hume,
"Sockeye Return Exceeds Forecast by Three Million," The Vancouver
Sun, 1 October 1996, p. 4. Prior to the star of the fishing season,
scientists believed that the year-class had experienced high rates of
ocean mortality because of warmer water temperature and a higher level
of predation by mackerel.
Department of Fisheries and Oceans, "The Pacific Salmon Treaty: An
Overview," Backgrounders, May 1996.
Canada joined the legal action as an "amicus curiae" (friend
of the court).
For the 1995 season, Canada imposed severe restrictions on the harvest
of chinook salmon in domestic fisheries, including a 50% reduction in
harvest rate for chinook originating on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
The states of Washington and Oregon took similar actions. See Department
of Fisheries and Oceans, "Canada Criticizes U.S. Chinook Management
Plans for 1996," News Release, 27 June 1996.
No catch ceilings are used, rather fisheries are managed on an in-season
assessment of salmon run strength.
Department of Fisheries and Oceans, "The Pacific Salmon Treaty: An
Overview," Backgrounders, May 1996.
Each panel consisted of 16 members, with eight from each country.