Washington state and Canada struck a tentative agreement on restrictions on salmon fishing Friday that officials said could help resolve a wider battle over fishing rights in the north Pacific.
The agreement, however, coincides with a new round of Canadian infighting, including a warning by British Columbia's outspoken premier that recent actions of the country's top federal fishing regulator were "almost treasonous."Washington state Gov. Gary Locke and Canadian Fisheries Minister David Anderson jointly announced the agreement to cut the catches of two species of salmon in Washington's Puget Sound and off British Columbia's Vancouver Island.
"We are very hopeful that all the activity that has occurred between Canada and Washington state in the past few weeks will provide an impetus for the rest of the Canada-U.S. negotiations," Locke told reporters in Olympia.
Canada and the United States are still at odds over the amount of British Columbia-bound fish caught by Alaska-based fishermen.
Friday's agreement, which must be approved by the Washington Legislature, will halve Canada's catch of the U.S.-bound Chinook salmon in return for a 22 percent cut in the catch of Canadian-bound Coho salmon by Washington-based boats.
Both salmon species are suffering from overfishing and habitat destruction of the breeding rivers. U.S. officials have proposed Puget Sound Chinook be listed under the Endangered Species Act, and Canada recently banned all fishing for Coho.
Different species of salmon often swim together, so the agreement assumes the reduction of Canada's catch of Chinook will be the indirect result of its ban on fishing for Coho.