Fisheries Treaties Approved in US Senate

Four international treaties important to fishery
conservation efforts, including one to curb pirate fishing harmful to fishermen
around the world, were approved in early April, in a bipartisan effort in the
US Senate.
The next step would be implementing language to put the
treaty provisions into law and authorize appropriations, a Senate aide said.
The treaties include the agreement on Port State Measures to
Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, unreported and Unregulated Fishing, which
cracks down on imports of illegally-caught fish by restricting access to ports
used to import seafood and strengthening inspections. A second measure, the
Convention on the Conservation and Management of High Seas Fisheries Resources
in the North Pacific Ocean, establishes a regional fishery management organization
in the North Pacific to limit fishing on seamounts in international waters,
which provide important habitat for fish stocks.
Passage of the measures marked a bipartisan victory for
Senators Mark Begich, D-Alaska; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Roger Wicker, R-MS,
and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, all members of the Senate Oceans Caucus, who had
called for passage of these treaties for months.
Begich, who chairs the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on
Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard, compared illegal fishing
activities to piracy.
“I call it like I see it and this is piracy, plain and
simple,” Begich said. “These thieves operate on the high seas, ignore catch
limits and damage habitats. They undercut legitimate fishermen who play by the
“Alaska crab fishermen estimate they alone have lost half a
billion dollars to illegal crab imports,” Begich said.
The Port State Measures Agreement and the Convention on the
Conservation and Management of High Seas Fisheries Resources in the North
Pacific Ocean will protect Alaska’s fishing industry and the state’s economy b
dramatically cutting down illegal, unreported and unregulated ‘private’ fishing
practices, activities that have cost Bering Sea crabbers half a billion dollars
since 2000, and approximately $11 million in lost local landing revenues, and
negatively impacted the market value of their catch,” Murkowski said.

“It is important that Alaskan and US fishermen have a level
playing field when it comes to our fishing opportunities,” she said. “The
fishing industry is a vital economic driver in our state and these treaties
enhance the effectiveness of U.S. authority to deter IUU activities which harm
our fishermen.”