Fuglvog Fined, Sentenced for Federal Fisheries Violations

Commercial fisheries veteran Arne Fuglvog, who rose to prominence on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and as an aide to Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has been fined and sentenced to prison for violation of federal fisheries regulations.

Under the initial plea agreement, he could have been sentenced to up to 10 months in prison for the misdemeanor offense, but federal attorney Aunnie Steward and Fuglvog’s attorney, Jeff Feldman, asked the court for the five-month term, since Fuglvog is aiding prosecutors in another case.

US District Court Judge H. Russel Holland listened intently in an Anchorage courtroom on Feb. 7 as Fuglvog, at times almost tearfully, apologized to the court for falsifying 2005 records about how much sablefish he caught and where he caught it.

Holland then sentenced Fuglvog to five months in federal prison, ordered him to pay a $50,000 fine, and to give the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation $100,000 for use in improving fish habitat in the coastal areas of the Gulf of Alaska.

Holland noted that Fuglvog had no prior criminal record and was unlikely to ever again be involved in commercial fisheries or their regulation. The very serious offense, Holland said, was not so much for the monetary gain or to the fishery resource, but more to the public confidence in the integrity of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, of which Fuglvog was a member when some of the violations occurred. There is damage to public confidence when public officials don’t abide by the law, Holland said.

The Lacey Act provision that Fuglvog admitted violating prohibits knowingly submitting a report that falsely identifies the statistical areas in which the holder of an individual fishing quota caught sablefish. Fuglvog admitted in his plea agreement that between 2001 and 2006 he had IFQ permits authorizing him to fish for sablefish and halibut in the Gulf of Alaska and that he owned and operated a fishing vessel for that purpose. On a number of occasions in different years, he caught fish in one statistical area but submitted reports that he knew asserted falsely that the fish had been caught in a different statistical area, the sentencing memorandum noted.

After he left the federal council in 2006, Fuglvog took a job in Washington D.C. as a fisheries aide to Murkowski. While working in the senator’s office he was also considered as a top candidate to head the National Marine Fisheries Service, but Fuglvog withdrew his candidacy for the post now filled by Eric Schwaab.