As co-managers, Washington tribes participate in fisheries management and planning at the local, regional, and international levels.
The Pacific Salmon Treaty, signed originally by the U.S. and Canada in 1985, established a forum for equitable sharing of harvest benefits and conservation constraints on fisheries in the two countries. Separate agreements – or “Annexes” to the Treaty – govern fisheries for chinook, coho, chum, and sockeye.
The tribes in western Washington participate in the annual Pacific Salmon Commission meetings to promote their harvest opportunity, but their primary focus is conservation of depressed chinook and coho stocks.
The Pacific Fisheries Management Council (PFMC) exercises federal jurisdiction over harvest in coastal ocean areas of California, Oregon, and Washington. Washington coastal tribes negotiate with WDFW to develop an annual plan for managing commercial troll and recreational fisheries for chinook and coho salmon, in the coastal zone north of Cape Falcon.
The PFMC is tasked with assessing this and other regional salmon fishery plans for compliance with federal conservation standards. The salmon process culminates with the PFMC’s adoption of salmon regulations each April, prior to the start of each year’s fisheries.
At the same time as the annual PFMC planning process, the Puget Sound tribes work with WDFW to develop an annual salmon harvest regime for Puget Sound. Harvest objectives contained in the Puget Sound chinook and coho harvest plans govern this process, as well as regional or local agreements for sharing opportunity to harvest other salmon species. The Washington coastal tribes and WDFW also plan freshwater fisheries for chinook and coho in these negotiations, consistent with PFMC oversight of marine fisheries, to achieve conservation objectives for all stocks.