Pacific Salmon Treaty

The Pacific Salmon Treaty (16 U.S.C. §§ 3631-3644, March 15, 1985) was concluded in 1984 and ratified by Canada and the United States in 1985. The treaty grants each country four commissioners. The U.S. delegation is composed of one commissioner from Alaska, one commissioner representing the states of Oregon and Washington, one commissioner representing the 24 tribes, and one nonvoting federal commissioner. Representatives from these governments also serve on several subsidiary panels. The treaty’s goal is “coordinated management of Pacific salmon throughout their range to ensure sustainable fisheries and maximize long-term benefits to the parties” (Waldeck and Buck, 1999). Under the 1999 agreement, the parties agree to an “abundance-based,” or supply-side, approach to management and harvest. The 1999 agreement emphasizes the importance of habitat in achieving treaty goals. The parties pledge “[t]o use their best efforts, consistent with applicable law, to: (a) protect and restore habitat so as to promote safe passage of adult and juvenile salmon and achieve high levels of natural production, (b) maintain and, as needed, improve safe passage of salmon to and from their natal streams, and (c) maintain adequate water quality and quantity.”1

Significance for the Columbia River middle reach: The Pacific Salmon Treaty, with its focus on salmon harvest limits, does not impose any direct regulation on water management in the river’s middle reach. However, through its ratification of the treaty, the U.S. federal government defines a foreign policy objective of sustaining the salmon fishery and protecting and improving salmon habitat in and passage through inland waters. Increased consumptive diversions in the Columbia River’s middle reach, with possible habitat modifications, might produce results contrary to these foreign policy goals.


Att. E, Habitat and Restoration, Annex 4 to Treaty Between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America Concerning Pacific Salmon (

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