SALMON STOCK VARIABILITY AND THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF THE PACIFIC SALMON TREATY
KATHLEEN A. MILLER
Since the mid-1970s, changes in the marine environment along the west coast of North America and in the Northeastern Pacific appear to have greatly enhanced the productivity of Alaskan salmon runs while contributing to declining runs of some salmon spawning in Washington, Oregon, and California. These inverse fluctuations in northern and southern salmon stocks may have aggravated a recent break-down in cooperation between the United States and Canada in setting harvest allocations under the Pacific Salmon Treaty. This paper examines the establishment of fishing regimes by the Pacific Salmon Commission. A game theoretic model is used to analyze the possible contribution of stock variability to the current conflict. Shifts in the parties' incentives to manage the fishery cooperatively, together with significant transaction costs, explain much of the recent difficulty in negotiating mutually acceptable fishing regimes. The paper concludes by addressing the question of whether the regime-setting process can be made more resilient to such stresses. Copyright 1996 Western Economic Association International.
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