3 states and Canada push 10-year salmon plan forward

September 17, 2018
3 states and Canada push 10-year salmon plan forward

PORTLAND — Canada and the U.S. states of Alaska, Oregon and Washington would all reduce their catch of fragile salmon species under the terms of an updated international agreement that, if approved, will spell out the next decade of cooperation between the U.S. and Canada to keep the migratory fish afloat in Pacific waters.

Members of the Pacific Salmon Commission on Monday recommended a conservation plan that stretches to 2028 after two years of intense negotiations involving fishermen, tribes on both sides of the border and state and federal officials. It must be approved by both the U.S. and Canadian governments.

The international commission first met in 1985 to create more cooperation between Canada and the U.S. on protecting salmon, which migrate thousands of miles from inland streams to the Pacific Ocean and then back to their spawning place. The agreement covers pink, Coho, sockeye, chum and chinook salmon and spans a territory from Oregon’s Cape Falcon in the south all the way to southeast Alaska in the north. The current agreement expires Dec. 31.

One of the most significant parts of the new treaty is reductions in the allowed harvest of chinook salmon, and particularly of chinook populations that are listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said.

That includes chinook stocks from the Puget Sound in Washington and the Columbia River basin that straddles Oregon and Washington. These salmon migrate north hundreds of miles to British Columbia and southeast Alaska, making it important to protect their numbers all along the journey, commission members agreed.

Orcas in the Puget Sound, which rely on chinook as a primary food source, have struggled recently because so few salmon are making it to the Pacific Ocean.

Alaska will reduce its catch by 7.5 percent in the southeast when poor chinook returns are expected. Canada will do so by 12.5 percent and Oregon and Washington will reduce their catch anywhere from 5 to 15 percent, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

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