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Office of Governor Gary Locke
Contact:  Governor's Communications Office, 360-902-4136
Alt Contact:  Office of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, 613-992-3474

Salmon agreement stresses conservation

SEATTLE - Washington and Canada today reached an unprecedented agreement in principle to protect both countries' wild salmon stocks, Gov. Gary Locke and Canadian Fisheries and Oceans Minister David Anderson announced.

The agreement for the first time establishes shared, common conservation goals between Canada and Washington by closing or restricting important sport and commercial fisheries on both sides of the border.

"Business as usual has not worked. Puget Sound chinook, as well as other Washington salmon stocks, face federal Endangered Species Act listings," Locke said. "This agreement in principle will mean Canadians will restrict their fisheries to allow more wild salmon to return to Washington rivers to spawn.

"At the same time, we will ask Washington sport and commercial fishers, as well as business people, for additional sacrifices in northern Puget Sound fishing opportunities to allow more wild Canadian salmon to return to spawn in their native rivers," the governor said.

Locke applauded the Canadians for unilateral conservation closures in their waters that will allow thousands of Washington-bound salmon to return to their native rivers.

"Minister Anderson has shown great courage and leadership in addressing our mutual conservation problems. I look forward to working with him to recover our precious salmon runs," Locke said.

"Today we begin a new era of cooperation for the benefit of the salmon and all those who care about it," Anderson said. "Working together, we can avoid the mistakes of the past and take the steps necessary for responsible stewardship in the future."

Bill Wilkerson of the Washington Forest Protection Association said, "This agreement is certainly timely and critical in responding to Washington's effort to preserve and protect several failing wild salmon runs.

"This kind of leadership and commitment at high government-to-government levels demonstrates we can be successful in the U.S.-Canada salmon negotiation process," he added.

Larry Carpenter, a representative of the Northwest Marine Trade Association, said, "The people of the Pacific Northwest, and especially the recreational fishing community, are well aware of the conservation crisis of Puget Sound wild chinook salmon. My industry applauds Gov. Locke and his Canadian counterparts for their focus and perseverance to achieve this kind of unprecedented coho-for-chinook preservation deal."

Rob Zuanich of the Purse Seiner Vessel Owners' Association said, "We are very happy to see Canada and the U.S. have reached agreement for added conservation for both coho and chinook salmon. We remain hopeful that similar cooperation could be attained in the ongoing sockeye fishery management forums for conservation measures for coho and chinook salmon while allowing harvest on abundant Fraser River sockeye."

"We are encouraged to witness Canada and the Pacific Northwest becoming responsible conservation partners, and we hope this is finally a great beginning to recover wild salmon populations for both countries," said Mark Cedergreen of the Westport Charter Association.

Ron Shultz, from the National Audubon Society, said, "This announcement is a positive development for failing populations of our Puget Sound wild chinook salmon. As a conservation organization that is primarily concerned with the preservation of our salmon populations, we hope the governor can keep this process on track to the benefit of all Washingtonians."

According to the agreement, Canada is closing fisheries that will save 14,000 Puget Sound chinook this year. In addition, it will restrict its Strait of Georgia sport fishery in April and May 1999. In exchange, Washington will restrict its sport and commercial salmon fisheries in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and San Juan Islands.

Locke and Anderson agreed to new goals that will guide the relationship between Washington State and Canada on Pacific salmon. These goals are based on conservation and enhanced effort by both parties on habitat protection and restoration. In addition, they have agreed to maintain a government-to-government relationship characterized by early and open dialogue. Both parties also have endorsed selective fishing practices for commercial and recreational fisheries on both sides of the border. Selective fisheries allow the harvest of fin-clipped hatchery fish while protecting wild fish.

To implement the agreement, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will have to modify seasons set earlier this year. The commission, which has been in communication with the Governor's Office, is scheduled to meet Tuesday with a time and location to be announced.

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