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The U.S. government has suspended a 31-year-old agreement that allowed Canadian vessels to fish for tuna in American waters, two British Columbia industry groups confirmed Wednesday, with one warning the decision could have a domino effect across the entire West Coast fishery.

Both countries signed a treaty in 1981 that allowed cross-border fishing for albacore tuna, but it expired in 2011. Negotiations to renew the treaty have been overshadowed by concerns from American fishermen, who have complained they were being outfished by Canadians.

American negotiators flew to Ottawa last week and surprised Canadian officials by announcing there will be no reciprocal fishery for 2012 while talks for a revised treaty continue, according to the Canadian Highly Migratory Species Foundation and the B.C. Tuna Fishermen’s Association. Both groups say they were informed about the decision earlier this week.

“We got a phone call Monday from Ottawa saying the U.S. delegation visited and said there would not be an agreement for this year,” the foundation's Lorne Clayton told The Canadian Press.

“That’s the decision that was made by the U.S. delegation, that I’'s their final decision. Our job in the meantime is to convince them that it’s not in their best interests to stop the agreement, so we’re still working to change their mind.”

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