Veteran Southeast Alaska commercial fisherman Arne Fuglvog is facing ten months in jail and thousands of dollars in fines after a plea agreement involving violating the Lacey Act – a federal law that prohibits sale of illegally taken fish, wildlife and plants. Fuglvog, who has served on the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, admitted to taking more than double the amount of sablefish allowing under his individual fishing quota. He resigned on Sunday as the fisheries aide to Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. Fuglvog acknowledged that his IFQ allowed him to catch approximately 30,000 pounds of sablefish in the Western Yakatat area in 2005. He actually caught approximately 63,000 pounds of sablefish in that area and covered up his illegal harvest by submitting false statements about the harvest.
Senator Murkowski issued a brief statement saying that she had accepted his resignation and that he would plead guilty to the charges as part of the plea agreement. Murkowski said Fuglvog had served for five years on her staff and for over a decade before that in his public service work in fisheries. In a statement released from her office, the senator said “I thank him for his years of service, but he knows the importance and value of our fisheries, and he also knows what all fishermen understand: fishing laws and regulations must be followed.”
Fuglvog is a fifth generation fisherman from Petersburg in Southeast Alaska. He has participated for over three decades in the salmon, crab, halibut and other fisheries. He has served as president of the Petersburg Vessel Owners and had been honored as Fisherman of the Year by United Fishermen of Alaska. In 2009, UFA recommended Fuglvog for the post of assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries, a spot for which Eric Schwaab ultimately filled.