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US and Canada Come Together to Save Salmon

by Ellen Hardy
26 May 2008, at 1:00am

US - The US and Canada have decided to cooperate in order to abate the situation looming around the Pacific Coast salmon fishery.

Cuts in harvest and improvements in habitat are part of a proposed revision to the Pacific Salmon Treaty, which should quickly be approved by both governments. The new treaty would reduce the catch off southeast Alaska by 15 percent and Canada would cut its take off the West Coast by 30 percent. The changes would send an estimated one million more chinook to Puget Sound and the Columbia River. Chinook are the target, but the 10-year agreement also covers coho, chum, pink and sockeye salmon, reports the Seattle Times.

On one level, the agreement is a marvel of process. The Pacific Salmon Commission produced this recommendation, a first. Previous treaty negotiations collapsed and had to be resolved by Ottawa and Washington, D.C. This time, a crisis helped focus all the parties: two countries, one province, one territory, four states and dozens of First Nation and tribal groups. Credit goes to the chair as well, Jeff Koenings, director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Clearly, the progress is enlightened self-interest.

Earlier this month, federal officials declared an emergency for West Coast salmon off the California and Oregon coasts. The trouble is traced back to a wholesale collapse of the fishery in California's Sacramento River, but an explanation has been elusive. Habitat, hydro or harvest are the usual suspects.

Harvest cuts and program investments are the foundation of the agreement. All parties recognize the long-term risks and the consequences of not making these adjustments.

View the Seattle Times story by clicking here.

Ellen Hardy