Murkowski Commends NOAA for Resolution of State Boundary Conflict

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, today commended the National Ocean Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for cooperating with the state of Alaska on resolving a dispute over state water boundaries.

NOAA acting under authority of the U.S. Baseline Committee, redefined the baseline and various offshore lines that determine state and federal waters off of Alaska.  Some of Alaska’s state water cod fisheries were to take place in these areas and would have been seriously disrupted by the changes.  The State of Alaska asked NOAA to support the State’s regulatory definition of state waters for purposes of fisheries management and enforcement.  Recently, NOAA agreed to not enforce the new baselines while the State fisheries are being prosecuted until boundaries are finalized.

“I commend NOAA for accommodating the request of the State of Alaska and allowing the existing state water regulations to apply,” Murkowski said. “The technical changes to the baseline caused fishermen to lose a significant amount of crucial state water fishing grounds and a high degree of confusion.”

The Committee on the Delimitation of the Coastline of the United States, now referred to as the “Baseline Committee,” was established in 1970 as a committee of the Law of the Sea Task Force, which was established by Presidential authority as a committee of the National Security Council.  The Committee’s primary purpose is to portray the government’s international position with respect to federal maritime jurisdiction.

As a result of the changes to the baseline, Alaska Department of Natural Resources has requested to present its views to the Baseline Committee at an upcoming meeting.  In the past, the Committee has worked with Alaska and taken its views into account in its deliberations.  The Committee is similarly open to input that the State of Alaska may wish to provide the Committee for its consideration, and intends to work with State of Alaska officials in determining the most appropriate way to facilitate that input.

“I am pleased that we have a solution to this issue for the current fishing season and I look forward to long term resolution between the State of Alaska, NOAA and the baseline committee,” Murkowski said.

Attached is a letter from NOAA Assistant Administrator for Fisheries Eric Schwaab, to Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Cora Campbell.