The Pacific Salmon Treaty: The 1999 Agreement and Renegotiation of Annex IV
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress
The Pacific Salmon Treaty (PST) of 1985 requires the United States and Canada to develop
periodic bilateral agreements to implement the PST’s conservation and harvest-sharing principles.
Beginning in 1993, long-standing disputes prevented such an agreement from being concluded.
On June 30, 1999, after many years of heated diplomatic struggles, U.S. and Canadian officials
reached a new comprehensive agreement. The 1999 Agreement (1) established abundance-based
fishing regimes for the Pacific salmon fisheries under the jurisdiction of the PST; (2) created two
bilaterally managed regional restoration and enhancement endowment funds to promote
cooperation, improve fishery management, and aid stock and habitat enhancement efforts; and (3)
included provisions to enhance bilateral cooperation, improve the scientific basis for salmon
management, and apply institutional changes to the Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC). Annex IV
to the 1999 Agreement outlines, in detail, the fishery regimes to be followed by Canada and the
United States in cooperatively managing the six species of anadromous Pacific salmon and trout.
Before it expires at the end of 2008, the terms of Annex IV are to be renegotiated.
The 1999 conservation and harvest-sharing agreement was of interest to Congress for several
reasons. Most notably, a congressional appropriation of $140 million was required to establish the
agreement’s two regional restoration and enhancement endowment funds. Provisions of the 1999
Agreement were implemented thorough additional authorizing language and amendment of the
Pacific Salmon Treaty Act (16 U.S.C. §§3631, et seq.). The 1999 Agreement under the PST
regime has been implemented in accordance with existing U.S. laws pertaining to salmon
conservation (e.g., Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act; Endangered
Species Act). In addition, the agreement’s implementation determines the quantity of fish
available for commercial, recreational, and subsistence fisheries as well as Indian treaty
Many complex issues continue to challenge the PSC and the parties; several of these will likely
be addressed in the renegotiation of the expiring Annex IV fisheries regimes. Many participants
believe that the most difficult issue associated with the renegotiation concerns the fishery regime
for chinook salmon found in Chapter 3 of Annex IV. The problems arising from the status (e.g.,
U.S. endangered and threatened species listing) of certain runs of chinook salmon in Washington,
Oregon, Idaho, and perhaps British Columbia may pose particular challenges for the negotiators.
Additional concerns have arisen from Canada over increasing bycatch of chinook salmon by the
U.S. pollock fishery in the Bering Sea, as many of these fish are bound for the Yukon River,
including Canadian tributaries.
This report provides historical background about the PST, discusses issues that created difficulties
in the regime, summarizes the 1999 accord, and analyzes issues that are likely to be considered th
during the impending renegotiation of Annex IV. The 110 Congress will likely conduct oversight
of the renegotiation process and its results. This report will be updated as circumstances warrant.
Introduc tion ..................................................................................................................................... 1
Fraser River Convention...........................................................................................................5
The Pacific Salmon Treaty..............................................................................................................7
The Pacific Salmon Treaty Act of 1985 and U.S. Decision-Making.............................................10
The 1999 Agreement......................................................................................................................11
Northern British Columbia and Southeast Alaska............................................................13
Fraser River Sockeye and Pink Salmon............................................................................15
Southern British Columbia and Washington State Chum Salmon....................................16
Regional Endowment Funds...................................................................................................17
Cooperation on Scientific and Institutional Matters...............................................................17
Habita t ........................................................................................................................ ............. 18
Concerns with the 1999 Agreement..............................................................................................18
Renegotiating Annex IV: Framework and Concerns.....................................................................21
Implementing the 1999 Agreement.........................................................................................22
Issues of Potential Conflict between Alaska and Oregon/Washington/California............23
Implementing the Regional Endowment Funds................................................................24
Effect of Chinook Management on Other Fisheries.........................................................25
Measures beyond Harvest Control....................................................................................26
Non-Fishing Factors Affecting Productivity and Capacity...............................................27
Interaction with U.S. Harvest Policy................................................................................28
Mass Marking and Mark-Selective Fishing......................................................................30
A mbiguity ...................................................................................................................... ... 32
Planning Fora for Exchanging Information and Perspectives...........................................32
Regulation and Accountability in First Nation Fisheries..................................................33
Figure 1. Major Coastal Waters and Drainages Affected by the PST..............................................4
Table 1. Expenditures by Project Category (in U.S. dollars).........................................................24
Table 2. Estimated Catch of Snake River Wild Fall Chinook Salmon per 1000 Total Catch
in Major Ocean and In-River Fisheries......................................................................................29
Author Contact Information..........................................................................................................35
On June 30, 1999, U.S. and Canadian officials signed a new comprehensive agreement to resolve
long-standing disputes and to ensure implementation of the conservation and harvest-sharing
principles of the 1985 Pacific Salmon Treaty (PST). After years of failed negotiations, a
combination of resource management studies, joint-fishery restrictions to protect wild salmon
stocks, and the involvement of high-level government negotiators helped ease tensions between
the United States and Canada over the shared harvest of Pacific salmon. Moreover, the two
nations recognized that failure to reach a long-term conservation and harvest-sharing agreement
was in no one’s best interest. The provisions in this agreement’s Annex IV outline, in detail, the
fishery regimes to be followed by Canada and the United States in cooperatively managing the 1
five species of Pacific salmon. Annex IV generally applies through 2008, and discussions have
begun on its renegotiation. This report provides historical background about the PST, discusses
issues that created difficulties in the regime, summarizes the 1999 salmon accord, and analyzes
issues related to the renegotiation of Annex IV.
The 1999 Agreement (1) established abundance-based fishing regimes for the Pacific salmon
fisheries under the jurisdiction of the PST; (2) created two bilaterally managed regional
restoration and enhancement endowment funds to promote cooperation, improve fishery
management, and aid stock and habitat enhancement efforts; and (3) included provisions to
enhance bilateral cooperation, improve the scientific basis for salmon management, and apply
institutional changes to the Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC).
Pacific salmon have long been a matter of common concern to the United States and Canada. In
the 1800s, with the advent of canning technologies, extensive commercial salmon fisheries
developed in both countries. Since their inception, salmon fisheries have experienced strong
fluctuations in catch and stock abundance. Periods of great plenty were often followed by years of th
low returns. By the 20 century, it had become obvious that the combined effects of fishing and
natural variability in abundance could lead to overharvest. The United States and Canada
recognized that some form of cooperation would be necessary for the sake of the resource.
For many years, piecemeal agreements were forged to protect specific fisheries, such as Fraser 2
River sockeye and pink salmon. However, because of the diversity in salmon fisheries and 3
recurring disagreements over how best to address the interception problem, these agreements 4
proved inadequate. In 1985, the PST created an arrangement for cooperative management,
research, and enhancement of all intercepted Pacific salmon stocks. The goal of the PST is
coordinated management of Pacific salmon throughout their range to ensure sustainable fisheries
and maximize long-term benefits to the parties.
1 Chapter 4 of Annex IV, Fraser River Sockeye and Pink Salmon, applies thorough 2010.
2 The Fraser River Convention, discussed below.
3 Interception means the capture of salmon originating in one country by the fishing fleets of another. Salmon
intermingle as they migrate from the North Pacific Ocean back to their natal rivers, crossing the international
boundaries of the United States and Canada. Some salmon returning to spawn in Canadian rivers are incidentally
captured (“intercepted”) in U.S. fisheries, and some returning to U.S. rivers are intercepted in Canadian fisheries.
4 Treaty Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Canada Concerning Pacific
Salmon, TIAS 11091 (Ottawa, Canada: 1985).
Despite the PST, some salmon stocks continued to decline.5 Interceptions strained diplomatic
relations between the United States and Canada, and the parties fundamentally disagreed on how
to achieve the conservation and harvest-sharing goals established by the PST. After a long-term
harvest agreement expired in 1992, Canada argued strongly that the United States was exceeding 6
its share of the catch under the PST’s “benefits equivalent” provisions. In contrast, the United
States argued that Canadian interceptions of Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon, and Idaho) 7
coho salmon and chinook salmon were further damaging these depleted stocks.
In years following 1992, a unstated assumption of both parties—that they would both abide by
conservation measures—allowed the two countries to manage their fisheries. In 1997, bilateral
stakeholder talks were held in an attempt to resolve the impasse. Ultimately, these negotiations
failed to forge an agreement. In August 1997, the United States and Canada appointed William
Ruckelshaus and David Strangway, respectively, to conduct a joint investigation and to make
recommendations for ending the controversy. In addition, Washington State and Canada agreed to
restrict several of their fisheries to help protect wild salmon stocks. However, failure to reach a
long-term conservation and harvest-sharing agreement harmed several salmon stocks and
hampered the ability of Washington, Alaska, and British Columbia fishermen to plan fishing
seasons and budget expenses because, without a harvest-sharing agreement, year-to-year salmon 8
allocations were unpredictable. Thus, the 1999 Agreement represented a major breakthrough in a
longstanding contentious resource issue.
Pacific salmon are among the world’s most highly migratory anadromous fish.10 They spawn in
fresh water, often hundreds of miles from the ocean, migrate to the sea as juveniles, and then
disperse into the open ocean. From one to several years later, they return to their natal rivers to
spawn and complete their life cycle. Along the Pacific Coast of North America, many juvenile
salmon travel north after they enter the ocean, migrating freely across the national boundaries of
the United States and Canada and into international waters (see Figure 1).
There are six species11 of anadromous Pacific salmon and trout: chinook (king) salmon
(Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), sockeye (red) salmon (O. nerka), coho (silver) salmon (O. kisutch),
5 In the 1990s, many salmon stocks in Washington, Oregon, California, and Idaho were at or near historically low
levels of abundance. Listings under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. §§1361, et seq.) confirmed the
depleted status of some of these stocks. For more information, see CRS Report 98-666, Pacific Salmon and Steelhead
Trout: Managing Under the Endangered Species Act, by Eugene H. Buck.
6 In the late-1990s, Canadians asserted that the United States was taking an annual average of about 9 million more
Canadian-origin fish than Canada was harvesting of U.S.-origin salmon, representing lost value to Canada in the
hundreds of millions of dollars.
7 M. Drouin and B. Warren, “U.S./Canada: Progress or Politics?” Pacific Fishing, vol. XX, no.6 (June 1999): 37.
9 Much of this information was derived from the PSC at http://www.psc.org; and Trout Unlimited USA and Trout
Unlimited Canada, Resolving the Pacific Salmon Treaty Stalemate (Seattle, WA: 1999).
10 Anadromous fish begin their lives in freshwater rivers and lakes, migrate while immature to the open ocean where
they feed and grow, and return to freshwater (often to their natal rivers) to spawn. Anadromous species include Atlantic
and Pacific salmon, shad, eulachon (Columbia River smelt), and striped bass.
11 Cherry salmon (Oncorhynchus masou) is also a Pacific salmon, but primarily occurs on the Asian coast, so it is not a
concern under the PST.
pink (humpy) salmon (O. gorbuscha), chum (dog) salmon (O. keta), and steelhead trout (O. 12
mykiss). Migration patterns widely vary among the species. Because of their value and
importance to U.S. and Canadian fisheries, three species—chinook, sockeye, and coho—are of 13
12 Migration patterns of salmon are determined by using coded-wire tags (CWT). Juvenile salmon can be implanted
with CWT specific to their drainage of origin. When a tagged salmon is caught in the ocean, encoded information on
the CWT reveals the drainage from which the fish originated. Plausible migratory routes between the location of
marine capture and the drainage of origin can be identified and further clarified as additional tag recoveries of fish from
the same drainage are recorded along the population’s entire migratory route.
13 This report focuses on the salmon species covered by the PST. However, other international agreements pertaining to
Pacific salmon fisheries exist, e.g., the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission, which was established under the
Convention for the Conservation of Anadromous Stocks in the North Pacific Ocean, signed on February 11, 1992 and ndnd
entered into force on February 16, 1993 (Senate Treaty Doc. 102-30, 102 Congress, 2 Session). Parties to this
Convention include Canada, Japan, the Russian Federation, and the United States. The goal of this Convention is to
promote the conservation of anadromous stocks in the North Pacific Ocean http://www.npafc.org/.
Figure 1. Major Coastal Waters and Drainages Affected by the PST
Chinook salmon from central and northern Oregon coastal rivers, the Columbia River system, and
drainages entering Puget Sound generally swim north as juveniles, some migrating as far as the
waters off northern British Columbia and Alaska. Coho salmon stocks generally do not migrate as
far north and the southern coho stocks (fish originating in Washington/Oregon and southern
British Columbia) generally do not mingle with the northern stocks (originating in northern
British Columbia and Alaska), which frequently migrate through the waters off southeast Alaska.
Because of this natural segregation, the northern and southern coho stocks are addressed
separately in the PST. Sockeye salmon from British Columbia’s Fraser River move in different
patterns depending on ocean conditions. In years when El Niño climatic events occur, Fraser
River sockeye are more prevalent in southeast Alaskan waters, returning to the Fraser River
through Johnstone Strait off the west coast of the British Columbia mainland. In other (non-El
Niño) years, Fraser River sockeye exhibit a somewhat more southerly distribution and return 14
through the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
As a result of these migration patterns, fishermen in the United States and Canada intercept fish
originating in and returning to rivers of the other country, often in substantial numbers. Canadian 15
commercial troll fisheries off the west coast of Vancouver Island (WCVI) often catch chinook
and coho salmon bound for the rivers of Oregon and Washington, including some threatened and
endangered stocks. WCVI trollers and recreational anglers also harvest Puget Sound chinook.
Fishermen in southeast Alaska catch salmon returning to rivers in Canada and the Pacific
Northwest. In some years, Washington State commercial fisheries, both tribal and non-tribal, may
catch large numbers of Fraser River sockeye as they migrate through the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
For many years, these interceptions caused tension between the United States and Canada. Thus, 16
salmon migration patterns and interceptions complicate negotiations.
A 1937 arrangement between the United States and Canada to conserve and equitably divide the
harvest of Fraser River sockeye salmon was an early success story in the management of shared
salmon stocks. The Fraser River lies wholly within Canada, but sockeye salmon generally pass
through U.S. waters as they return to spawn. Thus, Fraser River sockeye supported large fisheries
in both the United States and Canada, setting the stage for an international drama.
In the late 1800s, Canadian fishermen dominated the Fraser River sockeye fishery. By 1900, with
the expansion of U.S. purse seine fisheries, U.S. harvest quickly surpassed the Canadian harvest.
From 1900 through 1934, U.S. fisheries produced from 61% to 70% of the sockeye salmon 17
canned from the Fraser River run. In 1913, crews blasting a railroad right-of-way through the
canyon walls above the Fraser River triggered a massive rock slide that choked the river 18
canyon. The effects of the slide were most detrimental at a narrow section of the river known as 19
Hell’s Gate, blocking access to spawning areas upstream from the slide. United States and 20
Canadian harvest of sockeye salmon dropped dramatically. By 1918, with substantial U.S.
14 K. A. Thomson, et al., “The influence of ocean currents on the latitude of landfall and migration speed of sockeye
salmon returning to the Fraser River,” Fisheries Oceanography, v. 1, no. 2 (1992): 163-179.
15 Trolling is a vessel fishing technique whereby multiple lines with hooks are pulled behind moving vessels to catch
16 For example, upper Columbia River chinook stocks (along with Oregon and Washington coastal chinook) are
predominantly wild fish that migrate far north. These fish are caught in southeast Alaska and northern British
Columbia. Lower Columbia River chinook stocks are predominantly hatchery fish, which typically do not migrate
north of Vancouver Island. These fish are caught in southern British Columbia and in oceanic Washington fisheries.
Thus, U.S. hatchery salmon are caught by Canadian fisheries off the west coast of Vancouver Island, while Alaskan
and Canadian fisheries compete for upper Columbia River wild stocks. Because depleted wild stocks, unlike hatchery
stocks, cannot withstand substantial fishing pressure, competitive fishing begets problems for the United States
concerning conservation, Indian treaty allocation, and the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Canada recognizes these
concerns and, in the past, has exploited these circumstances to influence the U.S. negotiating position.
17 D. Gilbert, Fish for Tomorrow (Seattle, WA: University of Washington, School of Fisheries, 1988), p. 10.
18 T.C. Jensen, “The United States-Canada Pacific Salmon Interception Treaty: An Historical and Legal Overview,”
Environmental Law, vol. 16, no. 3 (1986): 373.
19 Gilbert, supra footnote 17. p. 27.
20 Jensen, supra footnote 18.
assistance, the Hell’s Gate reach was restored, and sockeye salmon could again move upstream to
The rise of competing U.S. and Canadian fisheries, natural fluctuations in salmon stock
abundance, and the events at Hell’s Gate provided impetus for negotiations between the United
States and Canada over the cooperative management of the sockeye salmon stocks. In 1937, after 2122
seven years of negotiation, the Fraser River Convention was ratified. The Convention
established the International Pacific Salmon Fisheries Commission, with principal responsibility
for protecting, preserving, and extending the sockeye salmon fisheries of the Fraser River (pink 23
salmon were later added to the Convention). The commission operated under two objectives: (1)
restore Fraser River sockeye runs; and (2) equally divide the catch, within practical limits, 24
between U.S. and Canadian fishermen. In 1946, the commission recommended that regulations
be implemented to:
• provide closures designed to permit adequate escapement of all races of salmon
comprising the run;
• protect in the greatest possible degree the most seriously depleted runs;
• divide the total catch as equally as might be possible between the fishermen of the
two countries; and
• permit the largest catch possible consistent with attainment of these objectives.25
However, because of the diversity in salmon fisheries and recurring disagreements over how best 26
to address the interception problem, the 1937 agreement eventually proved inadequate. The
Fraser River Convention was an ambitious experiment, which unquestionably met its twofold
21 U.S. fishermen dependent on Fraser River salmon objected to ratification. Before 1934, U.S. sockeye harvest far
exceeded Canadian harvest. After 1935, strict Washington state fishing regulations (eliminating certain gear types)
greatly reduced U.S. sockeye harvest, and the U.S. perspective on the Convention quickly changed. Jensen, supra
footnote 18. p. 374, note 24. “In 1936, the British Columbia catch was more than triple that of Puget Sound.” J.A.
Crutchfield and G. Pontecorvo, The Pacific Salmon Fisheries: A Study of Irrational Conservation (Baltimore, MD: The
Johns Hopkins Press, 1969), p. 141.
22 United States-Canada Convention for the Protection, Preservation and Extension of the Sockeye Salmon Fishery in
the Fraser River System, signed May 26, 1930, 50 Stat. 1355 (1930) 8 UST 1058, TIAS No. 3867.
23 Gilbert, supra footnote 17. p. 83.
24 Crutchfield and Pontecorvo, supra footnote 21. p. 141.
25 Gilbert, supra footnote 17, p. 82. It should also be noted that, while the commission had no power to enforce limits
on fishing, in practice its recommendations were implemented by the United States and Canada. See also Crutchfield
and Pontecorvo, supra footnote 21, p. 142.
26 Several changes in the United States and Canada created new pressures, which eroded the footings provided by the
1937 agreement. These include (1) the Boldt Decision (United States v. Washington, 384 F. Supp 312 (W.D. Wash th
1974), aff’d, 500 F. 2d 676 (9 Cir. 1975), cert. denied, 423 U.S. 1086 (1976)) which entitled certain U.S. treaty tribes
to 50% of the U.S. harvest of salmon passing through “usual and accustomed waters;” (2) the rise of the recreational
fishing industry, which increased pressure on coho and chinook salmon; (3) the advent of salmon aquaculture as a
powerful economic and political force; (4) the increased Canadian harvest of sockeye outside of Convention Waters
made possible by new technologies that allowed Canadian trollers to efficiently catch sockeye in the ocean; and (5) the
increased catch of Canadian net fisheries in northern British Columbia, also outside of Convention Waters. Because of
these latter two points, while sockeye catch in Convention Waters was shared equally, fish caught outside of these
waters (and not counted under the sharing-agreement) reduced the U.S. share from 50% to about 41%. Many U.S.
fishermen, who had already lost half of their share to treaty Indians, were concerned that their share would continue to
decline further as Canadians increased fishing outside of Convention Waters. Thus, these U.S. fishermen were easily
persuaded that a new treaty could be in their best interests.
mandate to rebuild and equally allocate Fraser River sockeye and pink salmon. However, a much
broader forum was necessary to solve the overall problem of U.S. and Canadian salmon
interceptions. It would be nearly half a century before the two countries agreed to terminate the 27
Fraser River Convention and replace it with an expanded institution.
In 1985, after several decades and a great deal of international and regional deliberation, the
United States and Canada successfully completed negotiations on the Pacific Salmon Treaty 28
(PST). The PST created an arrangement for cooperative management, research, and
enhancement of shared Pacific salmon stocks to ensure sustainable fisheries and maximize long-
term benefits to both parties. In the absence of a fish-sharing arrangement, benefits derived from
unilateral conservation and enhancement efforts are diminished by another nation’s interceptions.
The PST created a regime aimed at ensuring sustainable fisheries through conservation and
enhancement, and optimizing benefits to each party.
The PST established a commission (the PSC) to make recommendations to the parties concerning
management of the salmon fishing regime. The PSC meets annually to review fishing activities in
the previous year, to advise the PST parties on
the status of the fishery, and to suggest any Pacific Salmon Treaty
necessary adjustments to the regime. The PSC Article III—Principles
is divided into two national sections, each 1. With respect to stocks subject to this Treaty, each
with four commissioners and four alternate 29Party shall conduct its fisheries and its salmon
commissioners. Voting structure was defined enhancement programs so as to: a) prevent overfishing
for the United States by the Pacific Salmon and provide for optimum production; and b) provide for each Party to receive benefits equivalent to the
Treaty Act, as discussed below. production of salmon originating in its waters.
The PST’s fundamental principles are to “a) 2. In fulfilling their obligations pursuant to paragraph 1, the Parties shall cooperate in management, research, and
prevent overfishing and provide for optimum enhancement.
production [of salmon]; and b) provide for
each party to receive benefits equivalent to the 3. In fulfilling their obligations pursuant to paragraph 1, the Parties shall take into account: a) the desirability in
production of salmon originating in its 30most cases of reducing interceptions; b) the desirability
waters.” In addition, parties are to take into in most cases of avoiding undue disruption of existing
account the desirability of reducing fisheries; and c) annual variations in abundance of the
interceptions, the desirability of avoiding stocks.
disruption of existing fisheries, and annual
variations in stock abundance. For many years, the parties strongly disagreed over the meaning of
benefits equivalent to the production of salmon originating in its waters, as specified in Article III
of the PST, most notably in terms of what benefits should be considered. Canada stated that
benefits equivalent should be interpreted strictly on a fish-for-fish basis. That is, either Canada
harvests the salmon produced in its rivers or harvests an amount of U.S. fish equal to the number
27 Jensen, supra footnote 18. p 375.
28 Ibid., p. 363.
29 In practice, all eight commissioners from each section have attended commission meetings and been involved in all
30 PST, Article III (1).
of Canadian salmon intercepted in U.S. fisheries.31 The United States has viewed this
interpretation as an oversimplification, believing that all of the PST’s principles must be
considered in unison, and that there is no simple definition of benefits equivalent. For example, 32
who benefits when salmon are caught in Alaska but processed in Canada? And, how are the
issues of protecting fish habitat by forgoing development opportunities (e.g., logging, mining,
petroleum development) to be balanced?
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU),33 which elaborated on elements within the PST,
provided minimal guidance. It stated that because data on salmon interceptions and total
production by rivers of origin are imprecise, each nation’s method for determining benefits
equivalent may differ. Thus, the MOU stated that complete and comprehensive implementation of
Article III (1)(b) would not be possible until some time in the future (without identifying a date or
timeline). The MOU stated that, in the short term, annual fishery regimes shall be conducted in an
equitable manner and that “the Commission’s decisions take into account changes in the benefits
flowing to each of the parties through alteration in fishing patterns, conservation actions, or as the
result of changes in the abundance of the runs.”
For the long term, “if it is determined that one country or the other is deriving substantially
greater benefits than those provided from its rivers, it would be expected that the parties would
develop a phased program to eliminate the inequity within a specified time period, taking into
account the provisions of Article III, paragraph 3, of the PST (i.e., the desirability in most cases of
reducing interceptions), avoiding undue disruption of existing fisheries, and accounting for
annual variations in abundance of stocks. The MOU also stated that correcting imbalances is a
national responsibility and may involve adjusting fishing effort or enhancement projects on a
regional basis, and that the party with the advantage shall propose corrective measures to the 34
Despite the joint commitment embodied in the PST to conserve and protect the shared salmon
stocks, the United States and Canada spent many years in a diplomatic stalemate, and the health 35
of the salmon stocks suffered as a result. After the initial disagreements over the equitable
sharing of intermingled stocks in the early 1990s, a number of mechanisms were employed to
resolve this issue. In 1993 and 1994, Canada and the United States appointed new negotiators to
address the benefits equivalent principle. By 1995, government-to-government negotiations
proved unsuccessful and New Zealand Ambassador Christopher Beebe was appointed to guide a
mediation of the PST’s equity (benefits equivalent) principle. When this failed, the parties
established two stakeholder panels, composed of fishermen from both countries, in an attempt to
31 Daniel D. Huppert, Why the Pacific Salmon Treaty Failed to End the Salmon Wars, SMA 95-1 (Seattle, WA:
University of Washington, 1995), p. 12.
32 Ownership and residency also complicate this issue. Many companies operating in Alaska and British Columbia are
either owned by or are subsidiaries of the same parent company. Many permit holders for southeast Alaska commercial
fisheries are not residents of Alaska, and a large number of U.S. citizens participate in Canadian recreational fisheries.
33 Treaty Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Canada Concerning Pacific
Salmon. Memorandum of Understanding. §A. Implementation of Article III, paragraph 1(b) (Ottawa, Canada: 1985).
34 In developing such proposals, imbalances should be addressed where possible through enhancement programs rather
than adjustments in established fisheries. See Richard Lugar, Congressional Record, vol. 31, part 4 (Mar. 7, 1985):
35 Trout Unlimited USA and Trout Unlimited Canada, Resolving the Pacific Salmon Treaty Stalemate (Seattle, WA:
1999), p. 1.
settle the controversy. While stakeholder negotiations provided considerable progress, this 36
process also eventually broke down.
In August 1997, the United States and Canada appointed William Ruckelshaus and Dr. David
Strangway, respectively, to conduct a joint investigation of the controversy and to make 37
recommendations for ending it. Their report, published in January 1998, contained four specific
1. The governments should cause to be adopted interim fishing-sharing arrangements for
up to two years, stressing that it was incumbent on the governments to ensure that
these arrangements are developed and implemented.
2. During the two-year period, both parties should develop a practical framework for
implementing Article III (i.e., leading to establishment of long-term fishing
4. The parties should also undertake a comprehensive review of the PSC and dedicate
themselves to making it a functional institution for preserving and managing Pacific 38
They concluded that to accomplish their recommendations, “meaningful compromises of
positions strongly held will be necessary.” Moreover, to ensure long-term sustainability of the
shared resource, “rules must be established for the preservation of the [salmon] and time is not on 39
Disparate efforts to protect and conserve salmon habitat, which contributed to the relatively weak
southern stocks and more robust northern stocks, may be equally to blame for the lack of stability
in the PST regime. Southern boundary stocks (e.g., Pacific Northwest chinook salmon) have
suffered extensively from habitat degradation. Most salmon stocks in the Pacific Northwest (and
a few in some areas of southern British Columbia) have been subjected to major habitat damage
from dams, irrigation projects, agriculture, logging, ports, and pollution. Such habitat damage can
degrade salmon production without the damaging activity bearing any of the related costs of
resource conservation. A significant problem with the PST was that the framers did not anticipate
the magnitude of harm caused by non-fishing activities on Pacific Northwest stocks (and some 40
isolated Canadian chinook stocks).
36 Ibid., p. 5.
37 David W. Strangway and William D. Ruckelshaus, Pacific Salmon Report to the Prime Minister of Canada and the
President of the United States (Ottawa, Canada: Department of Fisheries and Oceans, 1998).
38 Ibid., p. 8.
40 The gauntlet presented by dams, river channelization, agriculture, and pollution causes significant harm (some say as
much as 90% of human-caused mortality) to certain chinook salmon stocks. However, these diversified industries, that
benefit from the activities or conditions that cause substantial salmon mortality, are not involved in PST negotiations.
While the PST is unable to address these threats to salmon stocks, many U.S. salmon stocks have received protection
under the authority of the Endangered Species Act.
As noted previously, after the long-term harvest agreement expired in 1992, Canada and the
United States argued over equitable harvest-sharing and conservation of salmon stocks. After
years of failed negotiations, cooperative studies (e.g., Ruckelshaus-Strangway), joint-fishery
restrictions to protect wild stocks, and the involvement of high-level government representatives
(e.g., Lloyd Cutler, Senior White House Representative on Pacific Salmon) helped to ease
tensions between the United States and Canada in the late 1990s. Moreover, the two nations
recognized that failure to reach a long-term conservation and harvest-sharing agreement was in
no one’s best interests. In 1999, these factors permitted U.S. Negotiator James Pipkin and
Canadian Negotiator Don McRae to overcome years of failed negotiations.
On June 3, 1999, Lloyd Cutler, Canadian Fisheries Minister David Anderson, Alaska Governor
Tony Knowles, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, Washington Governor Gary Locke, and Tribal
Negotiator Ted Strong announced that, after intensive negotiations extending over several years,
U.S. and Canadian officials had reached a comprehensive agreement to resolve their long-41
standing dispute relating to Pacific salmon and the PST. On June 30, 1999, the United States
and Canada formally signed the 1999 Agreement on Pacific Salmon. Terms of the agreement are
The 1999 Agreement was reached within the framework of the Pacific Salmon Treaty Act of 1985
(P.L. 99-5, 99 Stat. 7; 16 U.S.C. §§3631-3634). This act implemented PST provisions and
established the institutional framework for U.S. negotiations. The structure of the U.S. Section
was a critical element in framing negotiations between the United States and Canada. Because
this institutional framework is likely to affect future PST negotiations, a brief discussion of the
Pacific Salmon Treaty Act of 1985 is warranted.
The Pacific Salmon Treaty Act of 1985 is the implementing legislation for the PST. Section 3
defines the composition of the U.S. Section to the PSC, the voting requirements for the U.S.
Section, and other matters necessary for U.S. participation in the PST. The U.S. Section is
composed of four members: a non-voting representative of the U.S. government, and three voting 42
members from Alaska, Oregon or Washington, and the “treaty Indian tribes.” Subsection (g)
defines the voting requirements for the U.S. Section, which operates “with the objective of 43
attaining consensus decisions in the development and exercise of its single vote within the PSC. 44
A decision of the U.S. Section shall be taken when there is no dissenting vote.” In the event that
the U.S. Section is unable to arrive at a consensus, §3(g) of the act authorizes the creation of a
41 Attributable in large measure to Canadian domestic politics, British Columbia was excluded from the negotiations
leading to the 1999 Agreement.
42 Treaty Indian tribes are defined in §2 of the act.
43 “All decisions of the commission must be made by a unanimous vote, and clearly this will ensure that the views of
each will be heard and will also mean that the commissioners will have to work closely to arrive at decisions that will
protect the interests of all parties.” Frank H. Murkowski, in: Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Pacific Salmon
Treaty, S. Hrg. 99-19 (Washington, DC: U.S. GPO, Feb. 22, 1985). See also: Ted Stevens, “United States-Canada
Salmon Treaty Negotiations: The Alaskan Perspective,” Environmental Law, v. 16 (1986): 423-424.
44 16 U.S.C. §3632(g)(1). However, this language does not say that no decision may be taken by the U.S. Section when
there is a dissenting vote.
Conciliation Board to assist in resolving disputes.45 The Secretary of State, when concerned that
the United States is in jeopardy of not fulfilling international obligations pursuant to the PST
because of disputes within the U.S. Section, is empowered to refer these matters to the 46
President. If state or tribal actions or omissions place the United States in jeopardy of not
fulfilling its international obligations under the PST, the Secretary of Commerce may take steps 47
to supersede state or tribal fishery regulations.
It is of concern to some that the structure of the U.S. Section could offer the opportunity for U.S. 48
politics to paralyze the PSC. In contrast to the Canadian Section, where the Canadian federal
government decides the position to be taken by its section, the U.S. position is shaped by the state
and tribal representatives in the U.S. Section as defined by the act. There is no U.S. federal
government position, and the U.S. position is based solely on unanimity among its three voting 49
commissioners. However, the interests of Alaska, Washington/Oregon, and the treaty tribes are
often competing and, in the past, have impaired the ability of the U.S. Section to arrive at a 50
unified position. Observers of the process suggest that an overarching difficulty that hindered
past attempts to reach consensus is the lack of a requirement compelling the U.S. and Canadian
parties to reach an agreement. Related to this is the absence of any penalty for non-resolution.
Because both countries could continue to fish in the absence of an agreed harvest regime, there is
no incentive to reach agreement and the parties can abandon negotiations without fear of
In sum, because the U.S. Section is required by law to work by consensus, the PSC cannot make
recommendations to the parties without the approval of all voting members of the U.S. Section. 51
The PST’s salmon fishing regimes are based entirely on the recommendations of the PSC. Many
believe that the PST negotiation process has been hampered by the structure of the U.S. Section,
in which dissent by any single voting member can bring PST negotiations to a halt.
On June 30, 1999, U.S. and Canadian officials signed a comprehensive agreement to resolve
long-standing disputes relating to Pacific salmon and the PST. The agreement established
abundance-based fishing regimes for the Pacific salmon fisheries under the jurisdiction of the
PST. These regimes, which allow fishery harvest to vary from year to year, are designed to
45 Although use of the conciliation provision has been discussed, the Conciliation Board has not been convened to
resolve disputes within the U.S. section.
46 This step has never been taken. The President has both the power and duty to take whatever actions are necessary to
carry out and enforce U.S. obligations under the PST, including preemption of the U.S. section if conflict threatens
47 16 U.S.C. §3635.
48 See Robert J. Schmidt, Jr., “International Negotiations Paralyzed by Domestic Politics: Two-Level Game Theory and
the Problem of the Pacific Salmon Commission,” Environmental Law, vol. 26 (1995): 108.
49 In addition, if an alternate commissioner disagrees on an issue, the U.S. section vote would not be unanimous.
Although informal, this practice is generally followed.
50 Robert J. Schmidt, Jr., “International Negotiations Paralyzed by Domestic Politics: Two-Level Game Theory and the
Problem of the Pacific Salmon Commission,” Environmental Law, vol. 26 (1995), p. 122.
51 The Pacific Salmon Treaty, § IV(5).
52 Compiled from the U.S. Department of State, information available at http://www.state.gov/www/global/oes/oceans/
990630_salmon_index.html; and the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
implement the conservation and harvest-sharing principles of the PST. That is, larger catches will
be allowed when salmon abundance is higher, and catches will be significantly constrained in
years when stock abundance is lower. It was believed that this type of regime would be more 53
responsive to the conservation requirements of salmon than the fixed-catch ceilings that existed 54
under the original PST arrangements.
Additionally under the agreement, two bilaterally managed regional restoration and enhancement
endowment funds were established. These funds are used to promote bilateral cooperation,
improve fishery management, and aid stock and habitat enhancement efforts to improve the status
of weakened salmon stocks.
The agreement also included provisions to enhance bilateral cooperation, improve the scientific
basis for salmon management, and apply institutional changes to the PSC. At the heart of the new
accord was agreement between the parties to focus on conservation and habitat protection, rather
than division of shared salmon stocks. The 1999 Agreement:
• renewed cooperation between the United States and Canada concerning the
management of salmon;
• ensured that the conservation and harvest-sharing principles of the 1985 PST were
• stabilized the management regime; and
• provided a firm and complementary base for other salmon recovery efforts, such as
habitat restoration, underway in both countries to restore depleted stocks of salmon.
The cornerstone of the new fishing accord was abundance-based management. Under this
management approach, harvest rates for each salmon stock are set relative to stock abundance.
The objectives of abundance-based management are to:
• sustain wild stocks;
• prevent overfishing;
• set a predictable framework for sharing the burdens of conservation and benefits of
• provide cost-effective, responsive fishery management; and
• establish a common basis for stock assessment, fishery monitoring, and performance
53 Fixed-catch ceilings were specific upper limits on salmon catch that, over time, came to be regarded as guaranteed
quotas. With such a view, fishermen perceived a right to catch these “quotas” regardless of whether the stocks could
sustain that level of fishing. Such practice, in a period of fluctuating stock abundance and declining ocean productivity,
contributed to the deterioration of many stocks.
54 However, while generally supportive of abundance-based management, for this approach to work, both nations
needed to develop better scientific methods for pre-season estimates of stock abundance (fishery managers in the past
have tended to over-estimate stock abundance). It was a questionable management presumption that reductions in catch
and improvements in habitat would actually occur.
The parties to the PST believed that the new management regimes would be more responsive to
natural stock fluctuations and more environmentally responsible. To be effective, this approach
requires an informed pre-season and a responsive in-season approach to fishery management. The
parties surmise that by matching harvest levels to actual salmon abundance, this management
scheme reduces the tendency to overfish, removes mortality resulting from ineffective live-
release practices, and prevents unnecessary loss of fishing opportunities. They also believed that,
under the 1999 accord, curtailment in fishing would be shared proportionately among fishermen
in all areas covered under the PST.
Most elements of the agreement were contained in several new chapters that replaced earlier
expired versions of Chapters 1-6 of Annex IV of the PST. Additionally, an understanding was
reached regarding management of certain northern fisheries affecting coho salmon, a topic not
specifically covered in previous agreements.
Most of the fishery arrangements are in effect through 2008, except that for Fraser River sockeye,
which will be in effect through 2010. The United States and Canada agreed that the new fishery
regimes were consistent with all the principles of the PST, and that compliance with those
regimes would constitute satisfaction of all obligations under those principles.
This agreement specified arrangements for sockeye, coho, chinook, and pink salmon management
for several rivers that flow from Canada to the Pacific Ocean through southeast Alaska, including
the Stikine, Taku, and Alsek Rivers. The United States and Canada agreed to establish a
Transboundary Rivers Panel within the PSC to address transboundary river issues. Ongoing
programs for joint enhancement of sockeye salmon in the Taku and Stikine Rivers would be
This agreement addressed the management of sockeye and pink salmon fisheries in southeast
Alaska and northern British Columbia. The agreement specified how the fisheries would be
managed to achieve conservation and fair sharing of salmon stocks that intermingle in the border
area between British Columbia and southeast Alaska. The fixed-catch ceilings contained in
previous agreements were replaced with abundance-based provisions that allow harvests to vary
from year to year depending on the abundance of salmon. Several provisions, because they
address long-contentious issues, were particularly noteworthy. These provisions affect Alaska’s
purse seine fisheries near Noyes Island and gillnet fishery at Tree Point; and Canada’s troll
fishery for pink salmon and various marine net fisheries.
Because they pass through fisheries regulated by many jurisdictions in both the United States and
Canada, chinook salmon were the focus of concern and controversy. Although some chinook
populations were relatively healthy, other chinook salmon stocks had been so diminished that
they have been listed as threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Many
factors, in addition to harvest, contributed to the decline of these stocks, including habitat
destruction, water diversion, hydroelectric dams, and oceanic and climatic change. The parties
believed that the conservation-based fishery regimes established by the 1999 Agreement would
help to ensure the effectiveness of public and private investments in habitat restoration and other
aspects of salmon recovery.
The 1999 chinook salmon regime encompassed marine and certain freshwater fisheries in Alaska,
Canada, Washington, and Oregon. All chinook salmon fisheries were to be managed based on
abundance, rather than the fixed-catch quotas that applied previously. Two types of fisheries were
designated: (1) those that would be managed based on the aggregate abundance of chinook
salmon present in the fishery, and (2) those that would be managed based on the status of
individual stocks or stock groups in the fishery.
The three fisheries designated for aggregate abundance-based management (AABM) were ocean
fisheries that occur in large areas and affect a complex aggregation of many stocks. These were:
• southeast Alaska troll, net, and sport fisheries;
• northern British Columbia troll and Queen Charlotte Islands sport fisheries; and
• west coast Vancouver Island troll and sport fisheries.
Each of these AABM fisheries would be managed to achieve a specific harvest rate that varied
based on an index of abundance of salmon present in that particular fishery for that particular
year. Because each fishery is comprised of a different group of stocks that have different survival
rates, the allowable catch would vary between fisheries and between years. Larger catches would
be allowed when abundance was greater and, importantly, catches would be increasingly
constrained when abundance is diminished. Table 1 in Chapter 3 of the 1999 Agreement’s Annex
IV provided maximum catch targets for each of the 3 AABM fisheries through the range of
chinook abundance indices.
All other ocean and freshwater fisheries targeting chinook salmon were designated for individual
stock-based management (ISBM). Fisheries in this category included, but were not limited to:
• central British Columbia troll, net, and sport fisheries;
• southern British Columbia marine troll, net, and sport fisheries (other than the west
coast Vancouver Island troll and sport fisheries); and
• all troll, net, and sport marine and freshwater fisheries in Oregon, Washington, and
the Snake River basin in Idaho.
The ISBM fisheries generally occurred in marine waters closer to the rivers of origin, or directly
in the rivers. These fisheries often are aimed at harvesting hatchery-produced salmon or species
other than chinook. The catch in these fisheries is comprised of a relatively small number of
chinook salmon stocks, some of which were depleted. Accordingly, these fisheries fell under a
“general obligation” that specified certain reductions in exploitation rates relative to a 1979-1982
base period. This general obligation required Canada to maintain at least a 36.5% reduction in
fishing mortality on chinook salmon stock groups identified as depleted relative to the base
period. This general obligation required the United States to maintain at least a 40% reduction
relative to the same base period. In those cases where the general obligation was insufficient to
achieve escapement objectives for natural stocks, additional reductions were to be taken as
necessary to meet agreed escapement objectives or, when taken with the general obligation, were
at least equivalent to the average reduction for the specific chinook stock group during the years
The 1999 Agreement provided a degree of flexibility, allowing U.S. and Canadian management
agencies to decide how best to distribute harvest across their various fisheries to reflect domestic
fishery priorities, provided the over-all reductions were achieved. For some chinook stocks, the
reduction would have to be much greater than the general obligation, due to the need to provide
extra protection for certain very depleted stocks. The general obligation did not apply to hatchery
stocks or healthy natural stocks that were achieving escapement objectives and could support 55
In addition to predetermined harvest schedules, the 1999 Agreement specified conditions (e.g.,
failure of a stock to meet agreed escapement objectives for 2 consecutive years) under which
even greater harvest reductions would apply. These so-called “weak stock” provisions serve as a
safety valve to afford additional protection to stocks that may fail to respond to broader recovery
programs. Finally, the United States and Canada agreed to implement by 2002, subject to
improvements in technical information, a total mortality approach to chinook fisheries, taking
into account indirect or incidental mortality. This would provide more accurate information on
which to make fishery management decisions. These arrangements introduced incentives to
reduce incidental fishing mortality and harvest more selectively.
The U.S. Department of State noted that, although much of the structure of previous agreements
relating to the Fraser River was retained, the 1999 Agreement required a substantial reduction in
the U.S. share of Fraser River sockeye. This reduction was phased in over three years and
completed by the 2002 fishing season. When this reduction was completed, the U.S. share taken
in Washington State fisheries was 16.5% of the total allowable catch. (In contrast, the U.S. share
of Fraser River sockeye, as specified in the original Annex IV to the 1985 PST, was
To mitigate the effect of the reduced share on commercial fishermen in Washington state, the
Washington State Legislature and the U.S. federal government were to be asked to contribute to a 56
fishing vessel license buy-back program. This program resulted in the removal of a significant
portion of the Washington sockeye fishery. Because the buy-out affected only the non-Indian 57
share, the usual 50/50 sharing rule (per the Boldt Decision) in Washington was altered. The
shares resulting from the revised sharing rule were 68% for the treaty tribes and 32% for the non-
tribal fishermen. This revised sharing rule applied only to U.S. harvest of Fraser River sockeye. 58
The U.S. share of Fraser River pink salmon was 25.7% of the total allowable catch.
55 Neither these stocks nor how health was to be determined were specified in the information provided by the U.S.
Department of State or the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
56 NMFS officials believed §312(b) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C.
§1861a(b)) provided sufficient authority to implement this buy-back program.
57 See supra footnote 26.
58 Because pink and sockeye salmon are often caught in the same fishery, the rules affecting one fishery may also affect
another. It is unclear whether catching the allocated amount of one species will halt the entire fishery, which could
result in forgone catch of the other species.
The coho agreement essentially provided a strategy and specifications (i.e., biological criteria) for
a conservation-based regime covering border area fisheries in southern British Columbia and
Washington State. The specifics of the regime were cooperatively and bilaterally developed for
implementation in 2000. The coho regime included rules establishing harvest limits in specified
border area fisheries. These rules were designed to limit exploitation rates on natural coho stocks
to sustainable levels, taking into account all fisheries affecting the stocks, and thereby improving
the long-term prospects of sustainable, healthy fisheries in both countries.
For southern coho stocks, abundance-based management reduced catches to sustainable levels as
the United States and Canada worked to rebuild these depressed stocks. Specifically, the coho
• constrained fishing to enable natural coho stocks to produce long term sustainable
harvests while maintaining genetic and ecological diversity;
• responded to the status of stocks, was cost-effective and flexible enough to take
advantage of technical capabilities and information;
• provided a predictable framework for planning fishery impacts on natural stocks; and
• established an objective basis for monitoring, evaluating and modifying the
For northern coho stocks in times of low abundance, certain fisheries were curtailed to assist
conservation of these stocks. These closures include:
• southeast Alaskan troll fishery for 10 days from July 25 when early season catch
indicators show a low abundance (less than 1.1 million total catch);
• border area59 Alaskan fisheries for three weeks starting in statistical week 31,60 when
the catch-per-unit of fishing effort (CPUE) does not reach 10;
• border area Alaskan fisheries for two weeks starting in statistical week 31 when
CPUE does not reach 14; or
• border area Alaskan fisheries for 10 days starting in statistical week 31 when CPUE
does not reach 22.
Comparable curtailments were applicable to Canadian border fisheries.
This agreement incorporated refinements to provisions that trigger adjustments to chum salmon
fisheries in the Strait of Georgia and Puget Sound. These refinements had only a minor impact on
catch allocation, but improved the effectiveness of the regime. Additionally, at the request of the
United States, Canada agreed to require the live release of chum salmon in certain Canadian net
59 This area includes the southern portions of Alaska Commercial Fishing Districts 101, 102, 103, and 104, and all of
60 Statistical weeks in Alaska’s state fisheries begin on January 1, with statistical week 1 ending on the first Saturday in
January. Statistical week 31 is, approximately, the last week in July.
fisheries in southern boundary areas at those times of the year when “summer chum”
(components of which have been listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act)
might be present in the area. Specifically, from August 1 to September 15, Canadian purse seine
vessels targeting sockeye and pink salmon in the Strait of Juan de Fuca were required to release
chum salmon to protect threatened U.S. salmon stocks.
The two endowment funds established by the 1999 Agreement are managed bilaterally and
address science, restoration, and enhancement needs relating to salmon production. The Northern
Boundary and Transboundary Rivers Restoration and Enhancement Fund (Northern Fund)
addresses needs in northern and central British Columbia, southeast Alaska, and the Alsek, Taku,
and Stikine Rivers. The Southern Boundary Restoration and Enhancement Fund (Southern Fund)
addresses needs in southern British Columbia, the states of Washington and Oregon, and the
Snake River basin in Idaho.
The United States contributed $75 million and $65 million to capitalize the two funds,
respectively, over a four-year period. In tacit recognition that U.S. fishermen have, for years,
taken more than their fair share of salmon and would continue to do so under the 1999
Agreement, Canada was compensated through majority capitalization of these funds by the 61
United States. Either country, as well as third parties, may contribute to the funds in the future,
upon agreement of the parties.
For each of the regional funds, a bilateral committee composed of three representatives appointed
by each of the two countries is responsible for approving expenditures of the funds. Annual
expenditures are not to exceed the annual earnings from the invested principal of each of the
funds; only the interest generated by the funds is spent. Expenditures will be suspended upon the
expiration of the relevant chapters of Annex IV, and may continue only after new fishing
arrangements are agreed to by the parties.
The funds are used to (1) improve resource management information (including data acquisition)
and scientific understanding of factors affecting salmon production; (2) rehabilitate, restore,
and/or improve natural habitat to enhance the productivity and protection of Pacific salmon; and
(3) enhance wild stock production using “low-technology” methods.
The 1999 Agreement included a commitment by the two countries to improve how scientific
information is obtained, shared, and applied to the management of the salmon resource. Among
other things, the agreement encouraged staff exchanges between management agencies, bilateral
workshops, and participation in the public domestic management processes of the other country
(e.g., the U.S. regional fishery management councils).
Additionally, a bilateral Committee on Scientific Cooperation was established under the PSC.
Composed of two persons each nominated by the two national sections of the PSC, the committee
61 T. Kenworthy and S. Pearlstein, “U.S., Canada Reach Landmark Pact on Pacific Salmon Fishing,” Washington Post
(June 4, 1999): p. A17.
assists the PSC in setting its scientific agenda, advises on research and monitoring needs, and
assists in arranging peer review and evaluation of scientific reports. The PSC also was
encouraged to resolve scientific issues through its technical committees and asked to elaborate
rules and procedures, as necessary, for implementing the process set out in Article XII of the PST 62
for addressing technical disputes.
The 1999 Agreement highlighted the importance of habitat protection and restoration to achieving
the long-term objectives of the parties. While the primary focus of the agreement was on setting
provisions that govern fishery management, it was well understood that achieving optimum
production of salmon depended on other initiatives as well. These included, but were not limited
to, maintaining adequate water quality and quantity, achieving improved spawning success and
migration corridors for adult and juvenile salmon, and other measures that maintained and
increased the production of natural stocks. The PSC reports annually to the parties to identify (1)
stocks for which measures beyond harvest controls are required and non-fishing factors that limit
production; (2) options to address these factors; and (3) progress of the parties in implementing
measures to improve production.
This arrangement improved the conservation elements of the PST and extended the PST
framework to include coordination on habitat protection objectives. This provision supports the
principle that stock conservation and rebuilding goals require coordinated and effective programs
in freshwater to maintain productive habitat or restore degraded habitat, particularly, when it
constrains sustaining populations at optimum production.
The two Endowment Funds provide tangible capacity to undertake remedial action to enhance the
productivity of freshwater habitat. The initiative on habitat was a significant complement to the
PSC’s overall mandate to coordinate achievement of optimum production of salmon.
The attention given to several concerns by Congress, other U.S. officials, and fishery managers
was believed crucial in determining the degree to which bilateral salmon management under the
• Acceptance of the 1999 Agreement. The 1999 Agreement consisted of more than
simple amendments to the PST annex, which the PST provides for acceptance by
exchange of notes. Thus, there was ambiguity over whether the PST was a separate treaty
requiring Senate action, or merely a supplement to the existing treaty that improved its
62 Although most disputes under the PSC relate to technical issues, such as run-size predictions and total allowable
catch, the PSC’s Article XII provisions for technical dispute resolution have rarely been used. The modifications in the
1999 accord aimed to promote scientific decision-making more independent of political and policy pressures. Prior to
the 1999 Agreement, scientists related to the PSC and salmon management appeared, with rare exception, unable to
reach objective conclusions, with analyses uniformly supporting their parent agency’s desires. This lack of objectivity
was apparent when scientists working with identical data uniformly reached different conclusions, that could be viewed
implementation. In either case, it called for funding that could only come by way of
congressional authorization and appropriation.
The 1999 Agreement was determined to be an executive agreement, and thus did not require
Senate advice and consent to ratification. See the next item on funding.
• Congressional appropriation of $140 million for the two Endowment Funds.
Obligations under the 1999 Agreement were contingent upon legislative authority and
appropriations from the U.S. Congress for these two funds. The full capitalization of
these two funds relied on repeated action by the U.S. Congress to appropriate monies
over four years. Any hesitancy in providing this funding might have been seen by Canada
as a repudiation of U.S. responsibility for compensating Canada for larger U.S. salmon
harvests in the recent past. In addition, the joint diplomatic statement accompanying the
1999 Agreement stated that the agreement would be “suspended” if funds were not
available at times certain through FY2003, at least suggesting that, as noted above,
acceptance of the agreement was contingent upon appropriation of funds by Congress.
The U.S. Congress appropriated full funding for the two endowment funds within the time
• Allocation of and expenditures from the Endowment Funds. If these two funds were
fully funded and grew at 10% interest, about $14 million would be available for
expenditure annually, to be used for salmon restoration and enhancement projects
benefitting both countries. If, however, the funds were not capitalized at the anticipated
amount, Canada might have regarded the resulting interest insufficient, compared to the
perceived damage U.S. fishing had caused Canadian salmon stocks.
In 2006, about $7 million (U.S. dollars) was derived from interest on these funds and allocated to
various projects (see “Implementing the Regional Endowment Funds,” below).
• Equity. Since the 1999 Agreement did not specifically and directly address the issue 63
of salmon interceptions, many Canadians remained skeptical that the 1999 Agreement
would result in any improvements toward each party receiving benefits equivalent to the
production of salmon originating in its waters. For years, the United States and Canada
debated different interpretations of this objective and how it should be measured. In
addition, Canadians called on the United States to abide by obligations under the PST’s
Memorandum of Understanding for implementing Article III, paragraph 1(b), wherein the
party with the advantage was to propose corrective measures. However, the 1999
Agreement did not provide any mechanism to reimburse one party if the other
Both parties appear comfortable with the equity achieved under harvest regimes of the 1999
Agreement, and no particular concerns related to overharvesting have arisen.
• Decision-making within the U.S. Section to the PSC. Section 3632(g)(1) of the
Pacific Salmon Treaty Act of 1985 requires consensus among the U.S. Section to the PSC
before a decision can be made. Critics of U.S. Section action charge that this requirement
has been used as a ploy to paralyze operation of the PST and frustrate rational salmon
63 For example, particular concerns remain about the southeast Alaska pink salmon fishery in District 4 intercepting
increasing numbers of Canadian sockeye salmon after statistical week 31.
management. If the inability to reach consensus within the U.S. Section results in fishing
activities that threaten the conservation of salmon stocks, the United States could be in
breach of its PST obligations. In such circumstances, the federal government is to assume 64
leadership, with the option for intervention and preemption. Past hesitancy of the U.S.
federal government (i.e., the President, Secretary of State, and/or Secretary of
Commerce) to exercise authority and assume this necessary leadership role had
contributed to the erosion of a cooperative relationship with Canada beneficial to Pacific
No particular problems have arisen within the U.S. Section relative to achieving consensus.
• Failure to include British Columbia. The exclusion by Canadian federal negotiators
of British Columbia from negotiations leading to the 1999 Agreement could have been a
recipe for failure, some contended. They suggested the United States should have
requested that British Columbia remain involved since British Columbia is where the
majority of the Canadian salmon originate. It is also the location of fishing and other
interests affected by the implementation of the 1999 Agreement. For the 1999 Agreement
to work, it had to address regional interests pertaining to salmon as perceived by British
Columbia, in addition to Canadian interests as perceived by the federal government in
Ottawa. The cooperation of British Columbia fishing interests was probably essential to
achieving rational management of Pacific coastal salmon stocks.
This does not appear to be a current issue, as Canada appears sensitive and responsive to regional
• Perception by some Canadians of the 1999 Agreement as a sellout of Canadian
interests. Some Canadians felt the United States had been, and continued to be, the
principal transgressor in failed salmon management, and always achieved the better
outcome in any bilateral dealing. For example, many Canadians perceived that the United
States had the ability to force Canada to curtail fisheries to address U.S. conservation
concerns (e.g., Juan de Fuca summer-run chum salmon), but that Canada lacked any
mechanism to force Alaska to do the same when Canada was concerned about
conservation (e.g., southeast Alaska harvest restrictions are triggered by low U.S. coho 65
abundance, not low Canadian coho abundance). Such attitudes focused considerable
attention on how the United States conducted itself in implementing the 1999 Agreement,
particularly appropriations for and allocations from the two Endowment Funds.
Canadians do not appear to harbor intense emotions in response to how equitably the 1999
Agreement’s implementation and funding of the endowment funds has been perceived.
• Absence of any penalty for the non-resolution of disputes between the two parties.
The 1999 Agreement did not specify salmon harvest limits, but was a very complex
blueprint for the parties to follow in promulgating harvest limits and taking other actions
to conserve salmon fisheries. As such, it opened the door to considerable dispute. Canada
has repeatedly sought the inclusion of binding arbitration as an option under the PST.
64 Theodore G. Kronmiller, Pacific Salmon Treaty, Hearing, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (Feb. 22, 1985), p.
65 Canadians were concerned about what they referred to as liberal trigger mechanisms regarding this coho fishery.
Some claimed that if the formula in the 1999 Agreement were applied to past years, it would have resulted in only one
10-day pause in Alaska fishing in the previous two decades.
However, the 1999 Agreement did not provide any additional incentive to settle
differences (e.g., it did not prohibit both nations from fishing when no accord was
reached). In addition, no enforcement mechanism was provided in the PST to guide
action if one country should be out of compliance with the agreement or the PST.
No serious disputes have arisen, so this aspect has not posed any concerns.
• Technical dispute resolution. The potential for technical disputes could have
increased under the 1999 Agreement, since harvest levels were to be based on the
determination of stock abundance levels. However, only Chapter 5 of the new Annex IV
on coho salmon required resolution of technical disputes under the provisions of Article
XII of the PST. No similar provision was made for other fisheries in the 1999 Agreement,
and even the Article XII provisions appear to have been ineffective in the past. Thus, a
broad-based and readily enforceable means of resolving disputes applicable to all
technical disputes may be lacking.
Again, no serious disputes have arisen, so this aspect has not posed any concerns.
• Reliability of PSC science. Abundance-based management works when the
supporting science is accurate, particularly as regards salmon abundance forecasts. Both
nations may gain from committing themselves to promoting greater objectivity and
cooperation in the conduct of their scientists.
The objectivity and reliability of PSC science has been widely accepted by both parties.
• Use of selective fishing methods. Canada asserted that its future salmon fisheries
would operate differently than in the past, with harvestable fish being selectively targeted 66
to avoid undesired bycatch of wild or weak stocks. Fin marking by U.S. management
agencies also was employed to promote selective fishing. The degree to which selective
fishing practices are used in mixed-stock fisheries by both nations to protect weaker, wild
stocks could minimize conflicts between fishing and the laws and programs seeking to
protect threatened and endangered species.
This appears an emerging arena of potential conflict due to what some consider to be significant
Canadian harvest of salmon from several populations listed under the U.S. Endangered Species
The U.S. Section to the PSC envisions that the renegotiations will take place within the
framework of the PSC process, rather than on a “government-to-government” basis, as occurred
in 1999. Due to the improved atmosphere of cooperation that now exists within the PSC, both
parties are cautiously optimistic that this approach can succeed.
66 Prior to releasing juvenile salmon from a hatchery, the adipose fin of each fish is removed (i.e., clipped) to permit
quick visual identification of the usually more abundant hatchery fish when they return as adults. During a selective
fishery, non-marked (i.e., wild stock) fish that are caught can be released in a manner that minimizes mortality.
Most of the fisheries regimes set forth in Annex IV expire at the end of 2008 (the only exceptions
are the regimes for Fraser River sockeye and pink salmon, which expire at the end of 2010).
Following informal discussions over the past year, the U.S. Section has recently proposed to
Canada a framework for handling the renegotiation of these regimes in accordance with a
timeline designed to allow the parties to bring new fisheries regimes into force no later than the
end of 2008. The two sides discussed the proposed framework at the Executive Session of the 67
PSC in mid-October 2006. Recommendations in 2005 and, again, in 2006 on changes to the
PST Annex IV arrangements (chapters 1, 4 and 6) attest to the positive relations in the bilateral 68
PSC and between the two countries on Pacific salmon overall.
There are a number of different ways to evaluate or measure the effects of the 1999 Agreement as
it has been implemented. For example, one could evaluate the Agreement on the basis of its effect
on conservation and sharing of the resource, its benefits and costs to the fisheries and the agencies
who manage them, and its effect on the many people who rely on salmon for their economic and
From the perspective of the Department of State, a salient way to measure the relative success of
the 1999 Pacific Salmon Agreement is to compare the nature and tenor of relations with Canada
concerning the shared Pacific salmon resource during the period before the conclusion of the
Throughout much of the 1990s, disputes over Pacific salmon repeatedly became significant
irritants in relations between the United States and Canada. The procedures for handling such
disputes established by the 1985 Pacific Salmon Treaty, particularly the mechanisms of the
Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC), had ceased to work effectively. Antagonism over those
disputes provoked incidents that made front-page news. Several different attempts to settle
differences essentially failed.
The conclusion of the 1999 Agreement created a new and much improved paradigm for
addressing Pacific salmon issues, permitting U.S. and Canadian participants in the PSC process to
work together constructively. The two national Sections have reached agreement on many issues
concerning the implementation of the 1999 Agreement. For example, since 1999, they have
agreed to amend some of the fisheries regimes set forth in Annex IV to take account of new
circumstances. They successfully negotiated and implemented a biologically sound management
plan for coho salmon in the southern portion of PSC area. They have used the two endowment
funds created by the 1999 Agreement to advance useful salmon initiatives in both countries. The
two Sections also recently embarked on an effort to give better effect to Attachment E to the 1999 69
Agreement, concerning salmon habitat and restoration.
The Government of Canada highly values the treaty and the work of the PSC, believing that these
legal and institutional features have provided each country with important mutual benefits in the
67 Personal communication with David A. Balton, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Fisheries, U.S.
Department of State, Oct. 11, 2006.
68 Personal communication with Helene Belleau, First Secretary, Canadian Embassy, Oct. 13, 2006.
69 Personal communication with David A. Balton, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Fisheries, U.S.
Department of State, Oct. 11, 2006.
management of shared salmon stocks. The 1999 Agreement ended a seven-year dispute. That
agreement launched an era of cooperation and conservation in the management of the Pacific
salmon fisheries and a more equitable sharing of catches between the United States and Canada.
Importantly, the agreement also led to improved cooperation on science and management through
the establishment of two new joint committees. The bilateral Committee on Scientific
Cooperation provides advice to the PSC on its scientific agenda and how to improve cooperation
on science issues. As well, the Transboundary Rivers Panel provides advice on management of
the Stikine, Taku, and Alsek Rivers. Discussions in the bilateral PSC have been positive and 70
productive since 1999.
The PSC has had to address some difficult issues since implementation of the 1999 Agreement, 71
and has been successful in its negotiations. No formal “disputes” between the United States and 72
Canada have arisen since the advent of the 1999 Agreement.
The way the PSC implements the 1999 Agreement has the potential to cause friction between
Alaska and the states of Oregon/Washington/California. The 1999 Agreement established fishing
regimes that spanned several years. Multi-year fishing agreements have led to a profound
improvement in working relationships between the various interests involved in the PSC
processes. The parties have been able to focus on other issues with a spirit of cooperative
resolution that would not have been possible under the stresses of the negotiation-driven
atmosphere that existed before. Technical committees on chinook and coho, for example, have
been able to devote more time to cooperative analysis because the time required to support
competitive negotiation of fishing regimes has been reduced.
Although these multi-year regimes have established a set of rules to govern the conduct of
fisheries, they can have the effect of shifting the conservation responsibility. The aggregate
abundance-based management (AABM) regimes adopted for Alaskan and some Canadian
fisheries relieve these fisheries of stock-specific obligations to conserve individual stocks of fish.
Consequently, managers of other fisheries are required to bear an increasing share of the
responsibility for conservation and meeting jeopardy standards for ESA-listed populations. For
example, the annual allowed salmon harvest is calculated in two different manners—under an
aggregate abundance off of Canada and Alaska, and a weakest stock calculation off of the
Washington Coast. This has caused a reduction in the allowed harvest off of the Washington coast
because the limiting (i.e., weakest) stock for Washington has been reduced due to the increase in
interception off Canada and Alaska, where the limiting stock for WA is aggregated with other,
more abundant, stocks as the basis of aggregate abundance management.
70 Personal communication with Helene Belleau, First Secretary, Canadian Embassy, Oct. 13, 2006.
72 Personal communication with David A. Balton, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Fisheries, U.S.
Department of State, Oct. 11, 2006.
The U.S. Congress authorized and appropriated $10 million for FY2000 for each Northern and
Southern Funds ($20 million total); the money was transmitted to the PSC in late 1999 and early
million total), which was transmitted to the PSC in February 2001. Congress authorized a
similar amount for FY2002. The balance of the total commitment—$25 million to the Northern 7475
Fund and $15 million to the Southern Fund ($40 million total)—was authorized in FY2003. In
addition to the amounts contributed by the United States, Canada contributed $250,000
(Canadian) to each of the two funds (total of $500,000 Canadian) in November 2000. By 2006,
the two endowment funds were generating a total of US$7 million annually to finance projects in 76
Canada and the United States.
Table 1. Expenditures by Project Category (in U.S. dollars)
Year Enhancement Habitat Improved Information Total
2004 102,385 243,027 1,664,633 2,010,045
2005 96,388 1,513,180 1,568,761 3,178,329
2006 331,004 1,357,905 2,278,249 3,967,158
2004 664,009 106,448 1,134,869 1,905,326
2005 118,362 136,511 2,626,716 2,881,589
2006 580,458 384,904 2,125,596 3,090,958
The combined Northern and Southern expenditures by project activity category for 2004-2006
Enhancement $1,892,606 11%
Habitat Restoration $3,741,975 22%
Improved Information for Management $11,398,824 67%
Several projects have been funded that involve cooperators in both countries. Additionally, the
benefits that flow from many of the projects are shared bilaterally, such as projects directed at
improving the Fraser River sockeye fishery.
An unintended, but nonetheless real, effect of establishing the Endowment Funds as part of the
1999 Agreement is that there has been a growing temptation to seek financial support from these
endowment funds to operate basic agency stock and fishery assessment programs. This tendency
73 In actuality, the appropriated funds were subjected to a Congressionally-mandated across-the-board “hold-back”
(rescission) of 0.22%, which reduced the FY2001 amount to $19,956,000 for each fund ($39,912,000 total).
74 In 2003, a rescission of 0.65% reduced the contribution to the Northern Fund by $162,500 and to the Southern Fund
75 All funds are in U.S. dollars, unless otherwise stated.
76 Personal communication with Don Kowal, Executive Secretary, Pacific Salmon Commission, Oct. 27, 2006.
has been exacerbated by mounting pressures for fiscal austerity reflected by agency budgets in
The effects of different fisheries on chinook salmon vary by stock. The 1999 Agreement relative
to chinook salmon has tended to shift the conservation responsibility to fisheries that are not
managed under AABM regimes to protect individual stocks. The fishing regime established for
fisheries off the west coast of Vancouver Island (WCVI) has had different effects on individual 77
stocks of chinook salmon returning to Puget Sound, the Washington Coast, and Columbia River.
When the 1999 Agreement was negotiated, the effects of the ESA were not yet apparent because
NMFS had not yet established jeopardy standards. With those standards now in place, the
ramifications of the PST’s approach to chinook management can be better understood. For Puget
Sound stocks, Canadian WCVI fishery harvest rates have not been reduced to the extent
anticipated under the 1999 Agreement. Consequently, fisheries that harvest chinook in Puget
Sound, including those directed at other species, such as sockeye, have been further restricted to
compensate for less-than-anticipated reductions in Canadian fishery impacts. For Snake River fall
chinook, the impacts of WCVI fisheries have been reduced more than expected, providing greater
flexibility in allocating impacts among U.S. fisheries affecting this stock complex. The magnitude
of chinook bycatch in groundfish fisheries directed at other species has not been allocated among
individual stocks because data necessary to do so are not available.
Canadian interception of Washington State chinook salmon can be seen as a quid pro quo for
Alaskan interceptions of Canadian chinook salmon. However, this situation has resulted in
Washington State salmon fleets, Tribal and non-tribal alike, feeling that they have been denied an
equitable harvest opportunity. Washington salmon fishermen perceive Canada as managing their
allowed ocean chinook salmon troll harvest to avoid their domestic stocks and target U.S. stocks.
These Washington fishermen see the Canadian use of real time genetic stock analysis, where they
sample the harvest and allow more or less harvest in the area depending on the mix of the stocks
present, as a violation of the existing treaty where one country is not to target the stocks of the
In addition, Washington’s ability to harvest its share of Fraser River sockeye and pink salmon,
both of which are managed under the PST, is constrained by the ESA listing of Puget Sound
chinook. After Canada’s allowable harvest of chinook salmon under the existing chinook regime
in Annex IV, combined with the U.S. ESA mandated harvest restrictions on Puget Sound chinook,
there is insufficient permissible chinook impacts remaining to satisfy both the treaty and non-
treaty commercial sockeye and pink fisheries in Washington State.
Many complex issues continue to challenge the PSC and the parties. The combined
implementation of the 1985 PST and the 1999 Agreement continue to pose challenges. Several of
these will likely be addressed in the renegotiation of the expiring Annex IV fisheries regimes.
77 Pacific Salmon Commission, Report of the Joint Chinook Technical Committee Workgroup on the October 19, 2005,
Assignments Given to the Chinook Technical Committee by the Pacific Salmon Commission Regarding the Conduct of
Canadian AABM Fisheries, TCCHINOOK(06)-1 (July 28, 2006).
Most participants believe that the most difficult issue associated with the renegotiation concerns
the fishery regime for chinook salmon found in Chapter 3 of Annex IV. The problems arising
from the status (e.g., U.S. endangered and threatened species listing) of certain runs of chinook
salmon in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and perhaps British Columbia may pose particular 78
challenges for the negotiators.
This issue concerns the PSC’s activities relating to Attachment E to the 1999 Agreement, known 79
as the Habitat and Restoration agreement. This attachment includes, among other things, a
section requesting the commission to report annually to the parties on the status of natural stocks
not producing at optimum production, the non-fishing factors which may be limiting their
production, options for addressing these factors, and the progress of the parties in achieving the
objective of optimum production for these stocks.
The PSC has discussed this provision of the 1999 Agreement bilaterally on many occasions since
1999. However, bilateral progress has been difficult and limited for a number of reasons, some of
which stem from differences within the two national sections, as well as between them. The
following summary is based on bilateral discussions, and does not attempt to characterize the
details of the within-section differences.
Shortly after the 1999 Agreement was concluded, the PSC established a bilateral ad hoc habitat
committee to develop options for implementing the habitat provisions of the agreement. The
habitat committee focused its efforts on collating information developed by domestic
management agencies that described some of the major habitat factors limiting salmon production
in specific watersheds. Upon review of this work, it was concluded that the ad hoc committee’s
approach was not, at that point, acceptable. The U.S. Section agreed to develop an alternative
proposal for implementation of Attachment E for consideration by the PSC. In October 2005, the
U.S. Section presented a position to the PSC.
At its February 2006 Annual Meeting, the PSC agreed to establish a bilateral habitat and
restoration technical committee that would advise it on matters relating to habitat and restoration,
thus potentially enabling it to make additional progress toward implementing the Habitat and
Restoration agreement. Both parties recognize that the amount and pace of work that this
committee will be able to undertake will be limited by the available funding.
The main purposes of the committee would be, for a list of stocks identified by the PSC, to:
• inform the PSC regarding the status of habitats for naturally spawning stocks subject
to the treaty for which non-fishing factors are limiting production;
• identify non-fishing factors that limit production of specific stocks;
• identify options for addressing the appropriate factors to achieve optimum production
for those stocks; and
78 Personal communication with David A. Balton, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Fisheries, U.S.
Department of State, Oct. 11, 2006.
79 Attachment E to the 1999 Agreement, concerning habitat and restoration, does not expire and is not directly a part of
the upcoming renegotiation process.
• facilitate the exchange between the parties of information and best practices
associated with habitat protection and restoration.
The bilaterally approved Habitat and Restoration Technical Committee proposal recognized that
both parties have embarked on major domestic habitat recovery efforts to address the depressed
status of natural stocks of salmon. In both countries, a great deal of effort and millions of dollars
has been directed at addressing factors other than fishing. A major source of U.S. funding for
habitat restoration has been the six years of congressional appropriations to the Pacific Coastal
Salmon Recovery Fund.
Despite the lack of a formal and specific habitat management framework, the PSC has focused
significant attention on certain high priority issues involving non-fishing factors limiting
production. Most notable of these has been the cooperative bilateral program undertaken to
address the problem of the early entry of late Fraser sockeye, an unforeseen and unexplained
phenomenon that threatened a fishery of major importance to both parties. Using funds
contributed by the parties, several important initiatives were undertaken to address this problem.
Bilateral scientific workshops have been held and the PSC has implemented a significant number
of research and technical studies and programs with the assistance of the Southern Boundary
Restoration and Enhancement Fund.
On an even broader scale, the Northern Boundary Restoration and Enhancement Fund and the
Southern Boundary Restoration Fund have contributed a total of several million dollars to support 80
projects designed to address a myriad of habitat issues in both countries.
U.S. domestic concerns relative to non-fishing factors that affect salmon productivity and fishing
capacity will influence the renegotiation of some expiring fisheries regimes of Annex IV,
particularly Chapter 3 concerning chinook salmon. Canada has a number of domestic concerns
that will similarly affect the renegotiation of fisheries regimes.
Within the United States, a great deal of effort is being expended to address the “four H’s” that
affect salmon mortality: habitat, hydroelectric power, hatcheries, and harvest. The expiring
fisheries regimes of Annex IV deal principally with only the last of these, harvest. The challenge
for negotiators will be to find a way to develop provisions for a renegotiated Chapter 3 that take
into account domestic efforts in both countries, including efforts to protect individual runs of 81
ESA-listed chinook salmon in the United States and similar concerns in Canada.
Both the United States and Canada are experiencing mounting pressures for competing uses of
natural resources which can adversely affect the productivity and capacity of habitat to support
salmon. The need to consider effects of water diversion, hydropower, land-use development and
management practices, the adequacy and enforcement of environmental regulations, and hatchery
operations on production from naturally-spawning populations, for example, has been recognized
in recovery planning for ESA-listed stocks in the Columbia River and Puget Sound. In the Fraser
River, agriculture and other factors have reduced production of Interior Fraser coho; this has been
80 Personal communication with Don Kowal, Executive Secretary, Pacific Salmon Commission, Oct. 27, 2006.
81 Personal communication with David A. Balton, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Fisheries, U.S.
Department of State, Oct. 11, 2006.
of concern to the United States because the chronically depressed status of this stock has affected
the ability of the United States to harvest its own stocks under the 2002 PSC Coho Agreement.
An additional area where the influence of habitat affects salmon fishery management under the
PSC arrangements is through reliance on spawning escapement goals that are tied to the capacity
of stocks to produce maximum sustainable harvest (MSH) under current environmental
conditions. Over time, as the condition of habitat deteriorates, MSH escapement levels could be
reduced to levels so low that stock sustainability is questionable. The PSC, which historically
focused its efforts on developing fishing regimes, is now considering measures to implement the
habitat provisions of Attachment E to the 1999 PSC Agreement. In the United States, federal
actions that affect ESA-listed salmon populations are considered in the context of evaluating
effects relative to established jeopardy standards. However, the capacity of both parties to muster
the resources and political will to address factors that adversely impact salmon habitat remains
This issue concerns the implications of the U.S. Administration’s salmon policy, as expressed in
the January 25, 2006 speech by White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairman James 82
L. Connaughton, at the “Future of Wild Pacific Salmon” conference at Oregon State University.
The life-cycle and migratory patterns of Pacific salmon, combined with the jurisdictional
landscape of North America’s west coast, places Canada literally and figuratively in the middle of
certain PST issues, with Alaska to the north and several states of the “Lower 48” to the south. As
in the past, some of the biggest challenges confronting the participants in the upcoming
renegotiations will be to find solutions acceptable to all U.S. stakeholders. Perspectives on the
issues raised in Chairman Connaughton’s speech tend to differ depending on location within this
region. Consider, for example, that chinook salmon originating in the U.S. states of the Pacific
Northwest are harvested in all three regions (the Pacific Northwest states, Canada, and Alaska);
chinook originating in Canada are harvested primarily in Alaska and Canada; chinook originating
in Alaska are harvested only in Alaska. Not surprisingly, stakeholders in each of these regions 83
have different opinions on rules to regulate harvest patterns and practices for chinook salmon.
Chairman Connaughton’s speech was directed primarily at the situation of mortality of the Snake
River listed stocks. Although there is significantly more mortality in-river on those stocks, he
focused on harvest mortality. Setting that discussion aside, Canada ocean fisheries are a
significant harvester of the allowed Snake River fall chinook. One approach might consider
Snake River fall chinook as an indicator stock to measure recovery.
The current Administration’s policy will most likely cause Washington and/or Oregon to attempt
to exert more pressure on Alaska to decrease its impacts on southern chinook stocks. It is difficult
to see how the United States can expect to obtain much relief from Canada since the United States
does not have much to offer Canada in return. Whether Alaska will agree to any thing less than
the status quo may ultimately come down to a question of political will. Table 2 presents NMFS
82 For the text of this speech, see http://www.salmonrecovery.gov/newsroom/archives/Research_Reports_Pubs/
83 Personal communication with David A. Balton, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Fisheries, U.S.
Department of State, Oct. 11, 2006.
data, indicating that the relative harvest impacts, using the Snake River wild fall chinook stock as
an indicator, result less (proportionately) from Alaskan activities than from Columbia in-river
fisheries. However, these statistics could be misleading in aggregate. For example, if the WCVI
total harvest is ten times that of the Columbia Treaty fisheries, then their aggregate impact would
be roughly three times as great, in terms of total number of Snake River wild chinook salmon
Table 2. Estimated Catch of Snake River Wild Fall Chinook Salmon per 1000 Total
Catch in Major Ocean and In-River Fisheries
Fishery 1985-2004 Average 0
Number of Fish
Southeast Alaska, all gear 0.8
Northern British Columbia, troll and sport harvest 0.5
WCVI, troll and sport harvest 3.7
Pacific Fishery Management Council, troll and sport 5.1
Columbia River, non-treaty fisheries 9.7
Columbia River, treaty fisheries 13.0
Source: NMFS data provided by D. Robert Lohn, Administrator, Northwest Region, NMFS, Seattle, WA, Oct.
a. The 1986-2005 average is used for Columbia River fisheries.
Limiting the discussion to harvest may increase tensions unnecessarily. The implications of James
Connaughton’s comments are that the United States is prepared to pay any price to convince
Canada to reduce its harvest of ESA-listed fish in the imminent Annex IV renegotiation. If the
position advocated by Connaughton for chinook salmon management is pursued aggressively,
intensive controversy and conflict could arise as concessions are sought for a variety of fisheries
and species coastwide. For example, a willingness to reduce chinook harvests by Canada would
likely be contingent on obtaining restrictions on U.S. access to coho, pink, sockeye, and chum
salmon. Concern has been further fueled by Connaughton’s concluding remarks: “If agreements
cannot be forged through this process, the federal government is nonetheless obligated to proceed
with the decision-making entrusted to its discretion under the law.” Such efforts could intensify
political conflict, and potential repercussions for federal appropriations to support salmon and
other priorities might be anticipated.
Others suggest that the views expressed by Chairman Connaughton do not reflect current
understanding, recognition, and appreciation for the relative significance of fishing mortalities
compared to those caused from hydropower development. For example, on page 3, he states,
“However, in the Columbia River, the Snake River fall chinook gives about half of its returning
adult population to us....”, meaning fishery harvest. This statement fails to acknowledge that the
mortality rates for juvenile migrants are approximately 10%-15% for turbines, 5% for by-pass,
and 2% for spillways per dam. Since Snake River fall chinook pass through eight mainstem dams
before they even reach the ocean, as much as 73% of the potential production subject to turbine 84
passage, might be lost due to mortality from dam passage alone before these fish even reach the
84 The actual mortality loss varies considerably by species and will be affected by the proportion of the migrants that
are subject to turbine, by-pass, or spillway mortality. These proportions are related to streamflow and power
ocean. When adults attempt to pass upstream on their spawning migrations, they can suffer an 85
additional mortality of from 2%-5% per dam; so for Snake Rivers fall chinook, from 15% to
34% of the fish that actually live long enough to reach the river on their spawning migration can
be lost to dams.
In addition, an extensive system is in place to ensure that harvest impacts on ESA-listed stocks
are kept within acceptable constraints as determined by the federal agencies responsible for
establishing jeopardy standards. The Independent Science Advisory Board issued its Report on 86
Harvest Management of Columbia Basin Salmon and Steelhead describing the management
process and evaluating harvest management of Columbia River salmon and steelhead. Further,
some maintain that Connaughton’s comments on modifying existing agreements for ocean and
Columbia River fisheries do not fully consider the consequences of disrupting international and
domestic legal arrangements that were developed through difficult negotiations spanning many
Hatchery reform on the Columbia River could refocus efforts on in-place, in-kind replacement to
mitigate for loss and damage of habitat resulting from dam construction. Unfortunately, too often
hatchery operations have been painted with broad-brush generalities.
Chairman Connaughton’s January 2006 speech reports figures on the cost of salmon restoration
as justification for seeking further reductions of harvest impacts. However, some argue that the
cited cost figures are inflated by speculative extrapolations of foregone power/water revenues.
Critics maintain that Chairman Connaughton’s comments emphasize the effects of harvest and
hatcheries on ESA-listed stocks while understating the damages caused by other sources, such as
dam passage, water withdrawals, water temperatures, and habitat degradation. From their
perspective, any emphasis on reducing harvest even further could increase the difficulty in
pursuing cooperative efforts to conserve stocks among Alaska, the rest of the United States, and
Mass marking (removing the adipose fin) and mark-selective fisheries (harvesting only fish with
the adipose fin removed) were implemented by some of the management entities who participate
in the PSC process to conserve natural stocks of concern and to sustain fishery opportunities by
shifting harvest toward hatchery fish in mixed stock fisheries. However, concerns have arisen that
unilateral decisions to implement mass marking and mark-selective fisheries (MSFs) diminish the
utility of the coded-wire-tag (CWT) system used by the PSC. Intense fisheries that selectively
remove only marked fish violate the fundamental assumption of the CWT system that tagged and
untagged fish within a population have equal chance of being harvested during their life cycle.
production. When flows are high, as much as 30%-40% of the fish will use spillways and survival rates will be higher;
when flows are low, the vast majority will go through turbines and by-pass facilities and survival rates will be reduced.
85 Limited data from a small number of adult spring chinook containing passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags was
recently reported as indicating a per-dam passage mortality rate as low as 2%; however, other research indicated that
mortality rates are several time higher for adults ascending the Snake/Columbia hydrosystem. (See
httpr://cbbulletin.com/free/172679.aspx.) Mortality rates of 2% and 5% per dam would equate to total dam passage
mortality rates of 15% and 34%, respectively, when considered for the eight mainstream dams the fish must pass before
reaching spawning grounds in the Snake River.
86 ISAB 2005-4 (June 21, 2005).
Under a mass marking program, a fish may be “marked” (i.e., a fin is clipped off) and/or “tagged”
with a CWT. Fisheries may differentially affect four groups of fish: marked and tagged, marked
and not tagged, not marked but tagged, and neither marked nor tagged. Most chinook and coho
salmon produced in hatcheries are marked and a small portion are also tagged with a CWT for
monitoring exploitation rates, fishing patterns, and marine survival. To better represent the impact
of fishing on local natural populations, a portion of hatchery production is left unmarked and
tagged with a different CWT. Comparisons in recovery patterns and exploitation rates between
the marked and unmarked CWT fish may be used to estimate the effect of selective fishing.
Estimates of fishery exploitation rates from samples of tagged and marked fish (a small portion of
hatchery fish) will still be unbiased estimates of untagged and marked fish, but not of fishery
exploitation rates of unmarked fish. Therefore, the marked and CWT tagged hatchery fish can no
longer be assumed to be representative of exploitation rates on natural production. If MSFs
increase in number and intensity, the discrepancy between the fates of adipose-clipped (marked)
fish and unmarked fish will increase. Additionally, MSFs result in non-landed mortalities to
unmarked fish, i.e., some of the unmarked fish released by fishermen in a MSF will later die as a
result of having been captured and handled. There will no longer be landed catch of the unmarked
fish to sample as a basis for directly estimating fishery impacts on specific salmon stocks.
The CWT system is so seminal to the ability to collect stock-specific information on the impacts
of fishery regimes on populations of concern to the PSC that a separate memorandum of
agreement, committing the United States and Canada to maintain a viable CWT system, was
attached to the 1985 PST. In the United States, state and federal legislation has required the mass
marking of large numbers of coho and chinook salmon produced by hatchery facilities for the
purpose of providing increased harvest access to hatchery fish within the constraints established
to protect wild fish. Critics assert that these mass marking developments have reduced the
reliability of data derived from the CWT system coastwide, greatly increased the costs of fishery
and escapement sampling, diverted funding from other purposes, and required substantial changes
to reporting formats and validation protocols.
Issues and concerns regarding adverse effects of mass marking and mark-selective fishing on the
CWT system have been repeatedly raised by the PSC’s technical committees. Recently, an expert
panel was convened to examine issues and problems associated with the CWT system, including 87
the mass marking and mark-selective fishing. These issues and concerns have been discussed on
many occasions within the PSC. In addition, a July, 2005 memo from the Independent Scientific
Advisory Board to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council also describes concerns
regarding the impacts of mass marking and mark-selective fishing on the scientific basis for 88
The PSC does not have the authority to impose a resolution to the ongoing debate over the merits
of mass marking and mark-selective fisheries (MSFs) on any party. Thus it has, in substantial
measure, focused its efforts on how best to constructively address the technical issues raised by
these new programs, to develop bilateral procedures designed to mitigate the negative impacts of
the policy, and to maintain the functionality of the coastwide CWT system. One of the first of
87 Report of the Expert Panel on the Future of the Coded Wire Tag Program for Pacific Salmon, PSC Technical Report
No. 18 (Nov. 2005). Available at http://www.psc.org/pubs/psctr18.pdf. This Expert Panel was convened by the PSC in
2004 for the specific purpose of reviewing the status of the CWT program and evaluating the capacity of alternative
technologies to provide data to improve assessment of chinook and coho salmon.
88 Memo available at http://www.nwcouncil.org/library/isab/2005-4/isab2005-4a.pdf.
such actions was the establishment of a bilateral technical committee—the Selective Fisheries
Evaluation Committee—to serve as a technical review and coordination forum for mass marking
and mark-selective fisheries proposals.
The current chinook and coho regimes prescribed in the PST are directed at constraining
exploitation rates on naturally-spawning stocks to provide a means for sharing harvest and
conservation responsibilities. The Chinook Technical Committee (CTC) and Coho Technical
Committee (CoTC) are charged with assessing the implementation of these regimes and rely on
CWT recoveries to complete the required analyses. The CWT system remains an important tool
for salmon conservation and for this reason, the PSC has focused its immediate efforts on
assessing the actions needed to implement four of the 15 recommendations made by the Expert
Panel in its report. These recommendations focus on work necessary to correct current
deficiencies in the CWT system, not all of which are a consequence of mass marking and MSFs.
The PSC established a working group comprised of scientists from all the relevant agencies
coastwide to advise the PSC and its participating management entities on how to implement the
necessary improvements to the existing CWT program. The PSC likely will review the
recommendations of the Expert Panel that focus on mass marking and MSFs, including those that
call for developing and implementing programs to enhance the capacity to apply genetic or other
methods to stock identification. The Expert Panel recommended that the PSC look at developing
a coordinated research and implementation plan, while other recommendations suggest that the
parties and the PSC consider new fishery management regimes that are less reliant on the kind of
data derived from the CWT system. Some of the recommendations will take several years to
address, and in almost all cases will involve additional consultation, coordination, and funding to 89
Ambiguity in Annex IV language allows different interpretations of expectations from individual
perspectives. Different perceptions of intent have emerged which become manifest as uncertainty
and rhetorical debates over intent. The chinook regime, for example, is technically complex to
implement and many details were left to be sorted our later. Another example is the controversy
that has emerged with how the U.S. share of Fraser River sockeye is to be harvested; Canada has
argued that the United States should harvest its proportional share from each major component of
the sockeye run, while the United States argues that the proportion is based on the allowable catch
of the total sockeye run, taking into account the relative strength of component populations to the
extent practicable. While ambiguity has provided latitude and flexibility to make it easier to reach
agreement on fishing regimes, controversy has been experienced in implementation when
obligations must be transformed into specific terms. Ambiguities in Annex IV language increase
challenges for bilateral technical committees over who and what to evaluate when monitoring
performance or compliance.
Implementation of fishing regimes negotiated by the PSC commonly require coordination and
collaboration between the fishery managers of Canada and the United States. The meeting
schedule and processes of the PSC are not well suited to this purpose. The Fraser Panel convenes
89 Personal communication with Don Kowal, Executive Secretary, Pacific Salmon Commission, Oct. 27, 2006.
several times throughout the season to coordinate fishing plans on sockeye and pink salmon
bound for the Fraser River, but coordination among fishery managers for other species is far less
formal. For example, the 2002 Southern Coho Agreement includes a provision for the parties to
exchange information on abundance forecasts and fishery expectations for preseason management
planning through manager-to-manger, policy-technical discussions, but this process has recently
been limited to a perfunctory exchange of data through e-mails and conference calls.
The PSC normally convenes three meetings each year. A meeting in January focuses on a review
of previous fishing seasons for the purpose of identifying issues for further discussion and making
assignments to technical committees. An annual meeting in February is devoted to deliberation
and resolution of issues. In the fall, an Executive Session is convened to allow the PSC to review
work plans for Panels and Technical Committees and to candidly exchange views regarding
issues relating to implementing the PST. However, the lack of fora to foster and facilitate policy-
technical exchange for implementing PSC regimes is thought to be a serious impediment to
cooperative salmon management between the United States and Canada. Technical information
can affect the need for substantive policy deliberation. For example, the investigations of the PSC
technical committees include re-evaluation of historical CWT data which could produce results
that differ significantly from the data that the United States and Canada relied upon to negotiate
stock-specific exploitation rates in the 2002 Southern Coho agreement.
In recent years, funding for participation in joint technical committee processes and to support
stock and fishery assessments has become increasingly problematic. The lack of full participation
in technical committees impedes the ability to make progress on understanding and addressing
issues of concern. Participants maintain that many programs that provide the data required for
stock and fishery assessments have been severely reduced or even eliminated. Consequently,
these observers maintain that the foundation for science-based management is being eroded at a
time when demands for more and increasing precision in salmon management is increasing.
Under Canada’s allocation policy, after providing for spawning escapement, the first harvest
priority is accorded to First Nations. The proportion of Canadian harvest provided to First
Nations is expected to increase over time. For some First Nations fisheries, the current accuracy
of estimates of harvest and the adequacy of fishery sampling data are highly questionable.
Further, concerns have arisen over Canada’s reluctance or inability to take action that may
interfere with the ability of First Nations to harvest fish, even when other U.S. and Canadian
fisheries on the same stocks are not permitted due to conservation concerns.
In general, the Government of Canada has been pleased with the degree of cooperation with the
United States on PST issues since the implementation of the 1999 Agreement, and is hopeful that
the PSC will be able to provide additional recommendations concerning Annex IV changes as the
90 Personal communication with Helene Belleau, First Secretary, Canadian Embassy, Oct. 13, 2006.
2008 expiration date draws closer. The panels, under the direction of the commission, will
consider and begin discussions on chapter renewal starting in 2007. Canadian officials anticipate
that chinook salmon will be an area of particular interest during the renegotiation of the Annex IV
Prior to the signing of the 1999 Agreement, Canada had been implementing significant
conservation measures to address weak chinook stocks from the west coast of Vancouver Island.
As a consequence of these actions, Canada reverted to an historic fishing pattern in this area,
moving from a predominately summer fishery to the current spring and winter fishery. These
changes met the new AABM regime set in the 1999 Agreement. That agreement also changed
both countries’ focus on harvesting respective shares of chinook quotas set under the old treaty
arrangements when stocks were abundant, to the conservation and abundance-based approach.
The fishing pattern off west coast Vancouver Island not only met Canada’s conservation needs but
also reduced Canada’s overall harvest of U.S. chinook, particularly Columbia River chinook
stocks which includes ESA-listed stocks. As an indirect result of changes in fishing patterns,
Canada now harvests other southern U.S. stocks. However, Canada’s catch was—and still is—
within the parameters of the 1999 Agreement for chinook salmon. Fundamentally, it is impossible
for Canada to harvest its chinook stocks without intercepting southern bound U.S. stocks, whether
they are Columbia River or Puget Sound stocks or others. It is important to recognize that Canada
is not alone in affecting southern U.S. chinook. Alaska also has a significant harvest of southern
U.S. chinook stocks as well as Canadian stocks.
An additional issue of concern to Canada is the increasing bycatch of Yukon River chinook
salmon by the U.S. pollock fishery in the Bering Sea concurrent with declining numbers of 91
chinook salmon migrating into Canada to spawn in Upper Yukon River tributaries. Canadian
managers claim that salmon bycatch in the pollock fishery has increased substantially in the last
five years, and blame this interception for poor salmon returns to the Upper Yukon River
tributaries. A Canadian delegation attended an early November 2007 meeting of the North Pacific
Fishery Management Council to emphasize their concern, citing treaty language binding parties
to reducing marine catch and bycatch of Yukon River salmon. Meanwhile, U.S. pollock fishermen
assert that severe restrictions on their fishery could make it unprofitable to continue.
Conservation of Canadian Pacific salmon populations remains a priority and must be consistent
with Canada’s wild salmon policy. Access to a fair share of salmon under the treaty arrangements
and receipt of the benefits of Canadian stock rebuilding efforts are also important to Canada.
Furthermore, obligations to Canadian First Nations must be considered in the renewal of the
chapters. The Government of Canada firmly believes that the improved levels of understanding,
cooperation, and trust that have emerged through the work of the PSC will contribute decisively
toward the successful negotiation of new Annex IV arrangements, and work through the PSC
should be strongly supported.
91 Rebecca A. Robbins, “Unintended Catch: Bycatch of Yukon River Salmon in the Pollock Fishery,” Fishermen’s
News, March 2006. Available at http://www.yukonsalmon.org/news/fishermensnews.pdf.
A Pacific Salmon Treaty Reform Coalition, composed of U.S. and Canadian conservation 92
groups, has undertaken one of the first efforts to provide constituent input into the renegotiation
process. This coalition convened an independent scientific workshop on January 4, 2007, to
evaluate the Pacific Salmon Treaty as a vehicle for sustainable, conservation-based salmon 93
management. From this workshop, the coalition defined four principles to improve the PST:
• uphold the principle of diversity protection and manage fisheries to protect all stocks;
• increase the responsibility of each country to protect salmon habitat and account for
habitat loss in setting harvest objectives;
• meaningfully adopt the precautionary principle, ensuring salmon are protected in the
face of increasing uncertainty from environmental change, particularly climate change;
• make the process of PST negotiation and application more transparent and open to
Eugene H. Buck
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy
92 Trout Unlimited, the Wild Salmon Center, the International Environmental Law Project, and the David Suzuki
93 For a summary of proceedings of this workshop, see http://www.davidsuzuki.org/files/Oceans/