June 14, 1997 in City

U.S., Canada To Resume Salmon Harvest Talks At Issue In Stalemated Discussions Is How Catch Should Be Divided

Associated Press

The United States and Canada will resume negotiations over Pacific salmon harvests Wednesday in Vancouver, British Columbia, the State Department said Friday.

The salmon treaty, which has been in limbo for four years, determines how Canadian and U.S. fishermen divide the salmon catch. British Columbia complains U.S. fishermen catch too many Canadian-spawned fish, while the Americans say Canada improperly calculates the value of the fish caught.

Talks broke off May 20.

Canada’s new fisheries minister, David Anderson, signaled a moderate stance on the issue on Wednesday. He said pressure must be maintained on the Americans but that pressure “is pointless unless indeed we get discussions going that lead to an agreement.”

State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns announced next week’s talks shortly after he once again blamed Canada for the impasse.

“Canada walked away from the negotiating table - not the U.S.,” Burns told reporters at his regular State Department briefing.

Without naming names, Burns also said the United States seeks “less heated rhetoric” from politicians in Western Canada - an apparent reference to British Columbia Premier Glen Clark, who has threatened retaliatory measures if the United States doesn’t show more flexibility.

Burns said the United States also needs “to see a hand outstretched towards us from the government in Ottawa.”

In making his announcement, Burns said the United States and Canada are working to develop a framework for implementation of the 1985 Pacific Salmon Treaty in order to resolve long-standing differences.

Before Burns’ announcement, Clark had said British Columbia would not be represented at a Canada-U.S. economic meeting in Seattle next week, as part of the province’s attempts to pressure the United States into a salmon deal.

Four members of the British Columbia legislature and other government officials were scheduled to attend the Tuesday meeting of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region.

Participants include government representatives from British Columbia, Alberta, Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho.

The group reviews cooperation on issues such as agriculture, the environment, telecommunications, tourism and transportation.

“Until we see cooperation in the form of a renewed salmon treaty that conserves B.C. fish and provides for a fair sharing of the resource, we are not prepared to cooperate in other areas,” Clark said.

It was not known whether the British Columbia delegation would now attend, since new negotiations are scheduled.

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