Today, the Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC) and the State of Alaska announced the long-anticipated conclusion to the Pacific Salmon Treaty annex renegotiations. The newly announced conservation and harvest agreement between the United States and Canada will take effect January 1, 2019 and last for 10-years. SEAGO is proud to have two board members serving as the sportfishing representatives within the treaty process. Russell Thomas from Ketchikan and Tom Ohaus from Sitka worked long hours with their industry counterparts and ADF&G negotiation team members to provide advice and recommendations. The Alaska team strongly believes the proposed agreement released today provides for improved conservation, and increases the chances for long-term resource sustainability and the viability of businesses that depend on the resource.
According to Russell Thomas, ““This wasn’t the deal we all wanted when we walked into the room 2 years ago to start negotiating. Since then, each member of our team has gone back and forth many times between wanting to walk away from the deal and wanting to have some control over how things turned out. Although there are still some serious concerns about habitat, catch, and escapement accounting in southern Canada and the Southern U.S., it was impossible to ignore the fact that salmon populations generally, and Chinook specifically, are experiencing some tough times. Trying to negotiate a good-faith deal without taking additional harvest restrictions proved impossible without walking away from the table. As difficult as some of these restrictions are to accept, we were able to improve a number of areas in the Treaty to the benefit of all parties, and in the end the entire negotiation team felt the entire package was preferable to the uncertainty that came with no agreement.”
For background information on the Treaty and negotiation history, click HERE.
Alaska Department of Fish & Game Deputy Commissioner Swanton is Alaska’s representative on the Pacific Salmon Commission. In a conversation with SEAGO, Swanton emphasized that negotiators did their best to avoid harvest reductions, but at the end of the day conservation was an important consideration for the entire coast. When asked about Alaska’s participation in the negotiation process he said:
“The thing that I’m most proud of is that all user groups advised and supported the Alaska position. Trollers and the rec sector, seiners and gillnetters and subsistence users all came together as Alaskans. We can do this, put aside our differences and look at things as a collective.”