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Cover Story

Recent timeline in the U.S.-Canadian salmon debate

Early 1997 Discussions aimed at solving the fishing dispute resume. It has been five years since the Pacific Salmon Treaty expired in 1992, after seven years of operation.
May 1997 Canadian government walks out of salmon-sharing talks with U.S. negotiators and warns about "taking measures against foreign fishing vessels traveling through Canadian waters." British Columbia cancels lease allowing U.S. warships to test weapons in Canadian waters. Four U.S.-flagged fishing boats are detained by Canadian authorities for failing to notify them as the boats entered Canadian waters. Treaty talks stall in reaction to seizure.
Summer 1997 Each side blames the other for the continuing treaty impasse. The United States rejects Canada's "final offer" on how to divide Pacific salmon.
July 1997 In Prince Rupert, B.C., a blockade of Canadian fishing boats keeps an Alaska ferry from leaving port. Fishermen initially defy a court order to free the ferry, but desist after three days. The state of Alaska files a $3 million suit against the Canadian government and fishermen who blockaded ferry. Treaty talks resume with the appointment of special U.S. and Canadian envoys.
September 1997 British Columbia files suit against United States over fishing rights. B.C. provincial Premier Glen Clark says the main goal was to force resumption of negotiations.
November 1997 President Clinton and Prime Minister Jean Chretien meet to discuss resolution of the salmon wars.
December 1997 Suspended since mid-summer because of the blockade, ferry service resumes between Alaska and Prince Rupert, B.C.
January 1998 Regional and national governments must resolve the salmon dispute while there are still fish in West Coast rivers, U.S. and Canadian envoys urge. The pair reports that Canadian fishermen should get more fish, but that they also should compromise. The $325 million suit brought against the United States by British Columbia is thrown out of U.S. District Court.
February 1998 Canada's chief treaty negotiator withdraws from upcoming talks, citing doubts that the U.S. government will change its position in light of the envoys' January report. Alaska officials offer to drop their $3 million suit if B.C. fishermen agree to drop a counter suit and never again take out their frustration on the ferry.

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