The Pacific Albacore Tuna Treaty between Canada and the United States

April 2012

What is the Canada-U.S. Pacific Albacore Tuna Treaty?

The Canada-United States Pacific Albacore Tuna Treaty has been in existence since 1981 and provides reciprocal access for Canadian and American North Pacific albacore tuna harvesters to fish and land albacore tuna in each others’ domestic waters and designated ports. The terms of the current fishing regime, which allowed access to United States waters for 110 Canadian fishing vessels, expired after the 2011 fishing season. Access to Canadian waters by U.S. vessels is guided by historical levels.

Benefits of the Treaty

Given that Pacific albacore tuna is highly migratory and moves between both Canadian and U.S. waters, the existence of a Treaty is mutually beneficial. It builds on the cross-border cooperation that is essential to sustainable fisheries management for highly migratory species, and helps to:

  • Achieve long-term stability in the fishery (in any given year the migratory pattern of albacore tuna could shift, which could result in an abundance of fish in either Canada or the U.S.);
  • Enhance sustainable management practices; and
  • Create opportunities for harvesters and processors in both countries.

Economic Impact

  • The economic benefits under the Treaty are broad, extending to shore-based businesses and processors. Canadian vessels accessing U.S. ports spend money in those coastal communities on port fees, groceries, fishing supplies, gear, fuel, in restaurants, etc. These benefits are especially important in this challenging economy.
  • The Canadian albacore tuna fishery is valued at approximately $30 million annually and Canadian harvesters bring in as much as $16 million in economic spin-offs and impact as many as 73 jobs in coastal communities in the Pacific United States each year.
  • Trade with the states of Washington and Oregon is also proving to be economically beneficial for both nations:
    • Canada imported various seafood products from Washington between 2007 and 2011, for a total value of CAD$1.37 billion.
    • Canada exported various seafood products to Washington between 2007 and 2011, for a total value of CAD$789 million.
    • Canada imported various seafood products from Oregon between 2007 and 2011, for a total value of CAD$89.3 million.
    • Canada exported various seafood products to Oregon between 2007 and 2011, for a total value of CAD$181 million.

Sustainable Certification

  • In 2010, the Canadian and U.S. Pacific troll-caught albacore tuna fisheries were jointly awarded certification as sustainably-managed by the Marine Stewardship Council.
  • The Treaty provides an opportunity for close bilateral cooperation, including the sharing of fisheries data and relevant information on stock assessment, which helps ensure the fishery is managed in a sustainable manner and protects the livelihood of harvesters and those other stakeholders that benefit from the fishery