Pacific Salmon Treaty

The Pacific Salmon Treaty (PST), signed by Canada and the United States (U.S.) in 1985, provides the framework through which the two countries work together to conserve and manage Pacific salmon. Pacific salmon are highly migratory and, over the course of their lifecycle, fish originating in the rivers of one country are often subject to the fisheries of another. A high degree of bilateral cooperation is required to limit the harvest of one country’s salmon by the other and to help ensure conservation.

The Treaty includes a commitment by Canada and the United States to carry out their salmon fisheries and enhancement programs so as to: “prevent over-fishing and provide for optimum production,” and “ensure that both countries receive benefits equal to the production of salmon originating in their waters.”

In addition to the broad principles and objectives, Annex IV of the Treaty contains a number of fishing chapters. These chapters are essential to the functioning of the PST and set out the specific conservation and harvest sharing arrangements for stocks and fisheries. Each country is responsible for managing its fisheries, but does so in a way that is consistent with the Treaty. The chapters are:

  • Chapter 1: Transboundary Rivers (all species)
  • Chapter 2: Northern Boundary (sockeye, pink and chum)
  • Chapter 3: Chinook (coast-wide)
  • Chapter 4: Fraser River (sockeye and pink)
  • Chapter 5: Coho (Southern BC, Washington and Oregon)
  • Chapter 6: Chum (Southern BC and Washington)
  • Chapter 8: Yukon River (Chinook and Chum)

Pacific Salmon Treaty Renewal: 1999 and 2009

The original fishing chapters in Annex IV (1985) expired in 1992. Between 1992 and 1998, Canada and the U.S. were unable to reach agreement on new fishing arrangements. In 1999, government-to-government negotiations between the two countries resulted in the successful renewal of long-term fishing arrangements under the Pacific Salmon Treaty (i.e. The 1999 Agreement).  

Some of the key elements introduced with the 1999 Agreement include the creation of the Transboundary Panel and the Committee on Scientific Cooperation; the inclusion of habitat provisions in the Treaty; a move from fisheries based on negotiated catch ceilings to abundance-based management fisheries; and the establishment of the Northern and Southern Restoration and Enhancement funds (Northern Fund and Southern Fund).

Of the chapters renewed in 1999, five were set to expire at the end of 2008: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6. Chapter 4, covering Fraser River sockeye and pink, expired at the end of 2010.

In January 2007, Canadian and U.S. representatives on the Pacific Salmon Commission began reviewing the expiring chapters and discussing possible amendments. On May 22, 2008, the PSC reached an agreement of proposed changes to the Treaty chapters that were up for renewal, and recommended the ratification of the agreement to the governments of Canada and the U.S. Subsequently, the proposed changes were ratified by the governments of Canada and the U.S., and came into effect on January 1, 2009. These chapters are set to expire at the end of 2018.

DFO Consultation on Mitigation under Chapter 3 (Chinook) of the Pacific Salmon Treaty

The revised provisions for Chapter 3 (Chinook) include a 15% reduction to the previous maximum catch levels for the US Southeast Alaskan (SEAK) aggregate abundance based management (AABM) fishery and a 30% reduction to the previous maximum catch levels for the Canadian west coast of Vancouver Island (WCVI) AABM fishery. The chapter also includes a provision for $30 million (US) which can be “used by Canada for a fishery mitigation program designed, among other purposes, to reduce effort in its commercial salmon troll fishery.”

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is consulting with First Nations and stakeholders on the development of a mitigation strategy under Chapter 3 of the PST. In addition to bilateral consultations, the Department is seeking input from an Integrated Advisory Group (IAG) on fisheries mitigation and the use of the $30M US available to Canada under the Chinook chapter.

DFO is interested in receiving views on the development of a mitigation strategy under Chapter 3 of the Pacific Salmon Treaty. If you wish to provide comments, please contact:

604-666-6099

Senior Policy Analyst
Policy Branch
200-401 Burrard St.
Vancouver, BC V6C 3S4