US, CANADA REACH A DEAL ON 1995 SALMON HARVEST

US, CANADA REACH A DEAL ON 1995 SALMON HARVEST

Federal, state and tribal fisheries officials have reached agreement with Canada on 1995 salmon harvest levels in British Columbia and Washington waters.

The plan calls for Canada to reduce its harvest of Washington-bound coho salmon off the west coast of Vancouver Island, and limits U.S. and tribal harvest of Canada-origin sockeye and pink salmon.The plan will be carried out under provisions of the Pacific Salmon Treaty.

"I'm extremely pleased that a one-year agreement has been reached that will allow us to cooperatively manage the important Washington-bound coho and Fraser River sockeye and pink salmon fisheries for this year," Bob Turner, Washington state director of Fish and Wildlife, said in a statement Thursday.

Under the agreement, drafted by members of the Pacific Salmon Commission, Canada will reduce its harvest level of coho off Vancouver Island to 1.2 million from 1.8 million to help bolster weak wild stocks, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said.

In return, the United States and tribes will key their catch of sockeye and pink salmon returning to the Fraser River system in Canada to a percentage of the total allowable catch for each species, the release said. The total allowable catch is generally defined as those fish not needed for spawning purposes.

Depending on the abundance of each species, the U.S. Indian and non-Indian share could reach a maximum of 1.85 million sockeye and 3.6 million pink salmon, the department said.

An estimated 10.7 million sockeye and 18 million pink salmon are expected to return to the Fraser River system this year.

"The agreement is not perfect, but it does begin to address concerns we have raised for several years regarding coho salmon," said G.I. James, the U.S. commissioner to the Pacific Salmon Commission representing Indian tribes.

Overall negotiations on this year's implementation of the West Coast salmon treaty bogged down over an Alaska-Canada dispute over chinook salmon catch levels.

"(The interim agreement) should in no way distract us from the need to reach agreement as soon as possible on a larger, coastwide plan that will provide sound harvest management for all species in all areas," Mr. Turner said.