Contact: Brian Gorman
NOAA News Releases 2003
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The United States and Canada signed an agreement today that allocates a set percentage of the Pacific whiting catch to American and Canadian fishermen over the next decade. In the past, the race for fish by both countries resulted in collective overfishing of whiting. International negotiations resumed last fall after the whiting stock was declared officially “overfished” by the U.S. government. The agreement took several years of negotiations involving the United States and Canadian governments and the fishing industry.

The agreement, signed in Seattle at FishExpo, the fishing industry’s annual West Coast trade show, was announced jointly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) and the U.S. State Department. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“This is an agreement in which we can all take real pride,” said John F. Turner, Assistant Secretary of State. “We owe our success in large measure to the remarkable cooperation among stakeholders on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border, who contributed greatly to the resolution of this difficult issue. The agreement should serve as a model for the way responsible governments and their constituents deal with shared resources.”

“This is an historic agreement. Without the fishing industry’ help, we could never have achieved it, ”said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, and NOAA administrator. “Most importantly, one of the major factors contributing to overfishing the whiting resource has been eliminated.”

Hailed by the industry, the agreement allocates a fraction under 74 percent of each year’s harvest to U.S. fishermen, with the remainder going to Canadian fishermen. Although the actual harvest amount will change from year to year as the size of the stock changes, the percentage each country is entitled to will remain constant, unless both parties agree to adjust the percentages.

Whiting, worth about $13.6 million to U.S. fishermen last year, is processed both at sea and by traditional land-based operations. The fish are caught off the coasts of Northern California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, and the fishery has a substantial economic impact on some of the West Coast’s major fishing ports, such as Crescent City and Eureka in California and Astoria and Newport in Oregon.

Whiting is used principally in the manufacture of surimi, a processed fish flesh that is the basis for such products as artificial crab legs and shrimp.

NOAA Fisheries is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation’s living marine resources and the habitat on which they depend through scientific research, management and enforcement. Our stewardship of these resources benefits the nation by supporting coastal communities that depend upon them, while helping to provide safe and healthy seafood to consumers and recreational opportunities for the American public.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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