Yukon First Nations are demanding the federal government enforce its salmon treaty with Alaska.

The Teslin Tlingit Council says Canada has "failed miserably" in protecting the First Nations' constitutional right to fish salmon.


Yukon Energy's fish cam offers a view of salmon gathering at the bottom of the Whitehorse fish ladder in August. (Yukon Energy)

Teslin Tlingit Chief Carl Sidney says his people caught a total of 24 chinook salmon this summer.

The 10-year-old treaty with Alaska guarantees at least 40,000 chinook salmon will make it into the Yukon each year.    That's only happened  twice in the last seven years. 

"Get them to uphold their end of the bargain," Sidney said. "Hold the United States Government feet to the fire that signed on to the agreement."

While the treaty contains no provisions for enforcement, former negotiators say it's the only forum available to bring change.

Retired Yukon fisheries manager Sandy Johnson points out Alaskans did shut down their commercial fishery this year.

"They've never considered zero before," said Johnson. "Now they do for the commercial fishery. Now we have to move that to the subsistence fishery."

Yukon First Nations are demanding immediate talks with Ottawa so they can prepare for upcoming meetings with the Alaskans in December.