Murkowski, Sullivan Fighting Pirate Fishing

Alaska’s Senators Team Up to Combat Criminal Harvesting Practices

Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan have introduced legislation to combat the multi-billion dollar threat posed by illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities harming U.S. fisheries and fishermen’s livelihoods. This legislation will increase enforcement capabilities for a number of international fishery agreements that combat IUU fishing, protecting Alaskan fisheries and fisheries across the entire United States.

“Our bill is a critical next step toward implementing the IUU treaties the Senate ratified last Congress,” said Senate Oceans Caucus Co-Chair Senator Murkowski.  “IUU fishing has very real impacts – harming fish stocks, the ability of our fishermen to sell their catch and make a living, and consumers who may unknowingly purchase illegally caught fish. Stopping this illegal activity is vital to protecting Alaska’s fisheries, and the fishing industry across the country.  Our bill moves us closer to achieving that goal.”

"For years, pirate vessels have engaged in illegal fishing that has led to millions of dollars in lost revenue for our fishermen,” said Commerce Committee Member Senator Sullivan.  “This important bipartisan legislation will help deter these criminals from stealing our resources and distorting the marketplace by strengthening our enforcement authority and imposing tougher sanctions – to ensure that this vital Alaskan industry remains strong for generations to come.”

Each year illegal fishing produces between 11 and 26 million tons of seafood, resulting in economic losses with a global value of between $10 and $23 billion. IUU fishing for crab in Russia has had an adverse impact on Alaska crab fishermen by disrupting the market and lowering prices.  Last year, the Senate approved two treaties that protect Alaska’s fisheries by cutting down on IUU crimes.

The legislation is also co-sponsored by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Brian Schatz (D-HI), and scheduled to be taken up by the Commerce Committee next week.