Pacific Salmon Treaty

In 1985, Canada and the United States signed the Pacific Salmon Treaty (PST), which relates to the management and conservation of Pacific Salmon. As stated within the Treaty, the two countries commit 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.”

Conservation and harvest sharing arrangements are covered in the Annex IV fishing chapters. Within each country’s jurisdiction, fisheries management must be consistent with the Treaty provisions. Chapter 3, which covers coast wide Chinook, was renewed May 22, 2008 and expires at the end of 2018.

Under Chapter 3, the previous maximum catch levels for the US Southeast Alaskan (SEAK) aggregate abundance based management (AABM) fishery was reduced by 15%, and the previous maximum catch levels for the Canadian west coast of Vancouver Island (WCVI) AABM fishery was reduced by 30%. A mitigation fund of $30M (US) was provided to Canada to reduce effort in the commercial salmon troll fishery.


Pacific Salmon Treaty Renewal

Negotiations have started in order to renew the Chinook chapter by the end of 2018. From an environmental, cultural, social and economic perspective, First Nations and communities are deeply interested in the status of coastal Chinook. The salmon Roundtables for Areas 23, 24 and 25 have each conducted Risk Assessments to identify the key limiting factors for the production of Chinook. With WCVI wild Chinook struggling to rebuild, these assessments are guiding ongoing enhancement and habitat restoration efforts..

On the harvest side, the 2008 reductions of 30% translated to an actual reduction of 52.3% in catch and income for Area G trollers when the reduction in participation has only been 26%. As an example, in 2014, without the Chinook Annex the total allowable catch for Area G would have been 260,000, but with the Annex it was 140,5000 – a difference in landed value of almost $6M.


Gathering the Communities' Perspectives

On October 31, West Coast Aquatic hosted a WCVI wide forum for  fishers and communities to share their knowledge, experience and perspectives on the treaty. Nearly 50 people were in attendance representing Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations, local and regional government, commercial fishing, sport fishing, aboriginal fishing, stewardship, aquaculture, labour, and forestry. Susan Farlinger, the Canadian Commissioner who will lead the negotiations, was also in attendance. The forum included discussions on how to increase stable fishing opportunities for communities, and a strong message was communicated by participants on the need for increased focus on habitat restoration. One participant described the session as “historic”, in that it was the first time that a multisector engagement approach had been taken to document community interests on the Treaty. 

The session report can be downloaded here.

Pacific Salmon Treaty Mitigation

In 2009, West Coast Aquatic developed a consensus recommendation on the use of the $30M mitigation fund. The recommendation included several components: fleet mitigation, effort reduction, and industry and community mitigation. The mitigation program adopted by DFO included three elements: (1) a voluntary Licence Retirement Program for the Commercial Salmon Troll Fleet – Areas F, G, and H - $28.5M; (2) updating the Commercial Salmon Allocation Framework - $1M; and (3) economic capacity building in WCVI communities - $500k.  The sub-committee expressed its dissatisfaction with the program being so heavily focused on licence retirement.

Eight years into the Treaty, there is approximately $17-18M remaining in the licence retirement component. Under the present retirement conditions, it appears that all fishers wishing to retire their licences have already done so. Therefore, Area G and WCVI communities have expressed an interest in seeing the remaining funds be spent in a way that will improve the economic health of the region.

On April 5, 2016, West Coast Aquatic hosted a session with the Area F, G and H fleets, Nuu-chah-nulth representatives, community leaders, and DFO (as information providers). The session objectives were to:

  • Develop a shared understanding of perspectives on the PST Mitigation Program (What worked? What impacts were experienced? What could be done differently?)
  • Enhance DFO’s understanding of fleet and community interests regarding future engagement on the remaining PST mitigation funds
  • Identify and discuss expectations for engaging fleets, communities and First Nations in future PST negotiations
  • Affirm collaborative working relationships with fleets, communities, First Nations and DFO

Later this year, West Coast Aquatic will be following up on a session action item by facilitating further discussions between the three fleets, with the goal of developing a joint recommendation on use of the remaining mitigation funds. Updates will be posted on this page.


West Coast Aquatic seeks to produce innovative solutions to coastal concerns, and strengthen the understanding and relationships between parties that share a common interest in the health and wealth of aquatic resources, businesses, and communities. West Coast Aquatic is comprised of: a collaborative governance board that brings together governments, key sectors and communities to develop consensus-based outcomes for marine resources on the West Coast of Vancouver Island; a management association that provides technical and administrative support to the activities of the governance board; and a charitable organization that administers stewardship activities.