Canada, US update Pacific Salmon Treaty
Canadian Fraser River salmon fishermen should have a leg up after recent changes to the Pacific Salmon Treaty (PST).
The governments of both Canada and the U.S. recently ratified changes to Chapter 4 of the Pacific Salmon Treaty, allowing both sockeye and pink salmon to be considered in total allowable catch (TAC), the ability to consider more than four sockeye management groups and other measures.
The Fraser River Panel is comprised of federal, state, First Nations and tribal representatives in Canada and officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Purse Seine Vessel Owners Association and tribal representatives in the U.S.
The updated PST includes a provision which allows for improved fishery decision-making on TAC during years when both sockeye and pink salmon are returning to the Fraser River. “Previous pink salmon fisheries were constrained without this provision, resulting in lost fishing opportunities,” Susan Farlinger, regional director general, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, told SeafoodSource.
“This revision helps address concerns arising when there is low sockeye abundance and large pink salmon returns,” according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Meanwhile, Canada’s share of the TAC of Fraser River sockeye was set at 83.5 percent and pink salmon at 74.3 percent, which has remained consistent since 2005.
The PST changes enable Canada to raise potential issues regarding incidental catches of Fraser River sockeye in Alaska. “The Pacific Salmon Commission supports that any interception of Fraser sockeye by Alaskan fishers is unintentional and considered incidental,” Farlinger said. “The revised Chapter 4 will enable Canada to request additional monitoring of incidental catches to ensure that Alaskan harvest remains at incidental levels and is not significant enough to affect overall total allowable catch.”
In addition, the PST changes provide for the ability to consider more than four Fraser River sockeye management groups, which provides for greater flexibility to address more specific conservation or harvest objectives, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
“In past years, the number of management groups has been increased to further refine management to meet sockeye spawning objectives across the entire Fraser River system to ensure that conservation objectives are met. During the most recent negotiations, the number of management groups was maintained at four with the flexibility to increase the number if it would result in improved management,” said Farlinger.