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Salmon treaty expected to help local chinook

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  • Salmon treaty expected to help local chinook

    Salmon treaty expected to help local chinook

    By Paul Rudan - Campbell River Mirror

    Published: January 08, 2009 5:00 PM

    The renewed Pacific Salmon Treaty could help boost chinook stocks in the Campbell and Quinsam rivers.

    That could be one beneficial outcome of the treaty with the United States, according to Jeremy Maynard, a recreational fishing representative on the Pacific Salmon Commission.

    “Given time it’s going to add up to a positive arrangement for Canada and this area,” said Maynard, who also writes a weekly fishing column for the Mirror.

    On Tuesday, Canada and the U.S. ratified an agreement on changes to five chapters of the Pacific Salmon Treaty, which expired at the end of 2008. The new agreement runs until 2018.

    Changes to the treaty were made to ensure the long-term sustainability of Pacific salmon stocks while supporting an economically viable fishing industry on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border.

    “Conservation and the long-term sustainability of Pacific salmon are the key objectives being pursued through the Pacific Salmon Treaty,” said Gail Shea, federal minister of fisheries. “This is a crucial agreement that will help people on both sides of the border benefit from sustainable fishing opportunities for years to come. The agreement will also promote increased co-operation between our countries as we manage our shared salmon stocks.”

    The returns of ready-to-spawn chinook to the two local rivers could increase in the coming years due to a 15 per cent reduction in allowable catch limits for commercial fishermen in Southeast Alaska.

    “Fifteen per cent doesn’t sound like a lot,” said Maynard. “But 60 per cent of Campbell River/Quinsam chinook are taken in Southeast Alaska.”

    Canadian trollers who fish off the west coast of Vancouver Island will also be affected by the new rules. Their allowable catch for chinook will be reduced by 30 per cent.

    “The hit will be taken by the troll fleet...but the U.S. is also taking a hit too,” said Mike Griswold of Quadra Island, the vice-president of the Gulf Trollers Association.

    However, there is some good news for trollers. The U.S. will provide $30 million to the Canadian government to help mitigate the cutbacks.

    According to Griswold, it’s still being decided where the money will go, but he thinks it will be used to buy back fishing licences or buy out fishermen.

    He’s also encouraged by talks of providing trollers with more opportunities to fish other salmon species. An estimated 11 million sockeye are expected to return to the Fraser River this summer and Griswold sees more opportunities to profit from the chum fishery.

    “We sell chum to Europe at a relatively cheap price and the roe goes to Japan. It’s very valuable,” he said. “It’s a fishery about to take off.”

    Maynard called the treaty a “conservationist agreement” and it also received the thumbs-up from the B.C. Wildlife Federation.

    “It is clear that Canadians and Canadian fish stocks will all benefit from this treaty and our membership is thankful for the efforts of our negotiators,” said federation executive director Patti MacAhonic.

    In addition, Canada and the U.S. will spend $15 million improving the coast-wide “coded wire tag” data collection program, $10 million on a “sentinel stocks” study of the spawning escapement of key stocks, and $1 million on improvements to the computer model that determines the treaty harvest number.

    The Americans also are offering Canada $3 million to conduct experiments with fisheries aimed at adipose-clipped hatchery fish and to reduce impacts on depressed natural runs. The Pacific Salmon Commission is the bilateral body established to oversee implementation of the treaty. Canada’s representatives on the commission include First Nations, commercial and recreational fishing interests, the environmental sector, and the Province of British Columbia, as well as Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

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