IUU Act Heads to White House

Legislation to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated
fishing activities has passed the US Senate and now awaits President Obama’s
The Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement
Act of 2015 is the companion bill to legislation which passed the House of
Representatives in July.
The bill increases enforcement capabilities for a number of
international fishery agreements that combat IUU fishing.
“By cracking down on the illegal harvesting of fish, we are
leveling the playing field and protecting the livelihoods of the 80,000
Alaskans who are directly or indirectly impacted by our seafood industry,” said
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who introduced the measure in the Senate, with Senators
Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, earlier this year.
Congressional efforts to combat pirate fishing have resulted
in several measures being introduced in the House and Senate over the past few
The bill awaiting the president’s signature comes in the
wake of legislation first introduced by the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii,
on Dec. 12, 2011, to bar ships engaged in pirate fishing operations from
entering US ports to offload their catch.
Inouye’s measure was aimed at implementing an international
agreement aimed by stopping pirate harvesters from slipping their seafood into
the global market.
The bipartisan Pirate Fishing Elimination Act was
cosponsored by Senator Democrats John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, Mark
Begich, of Alaska, and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, with Senate
Republicans Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, and Olympia Snowe of Maine.
The US was one of the first countries to express an
intention to ratify the United Nations Agreement on Port State Measures to
Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing
As Inouye noted in introducing his 2011 bill, each year
illegal fishing produces between 11 and 26 million tons of seafood, resulting
in economic losses with a global value of between $10 billion and $12 billion.
Begich noted that in 2011 alone, NOAA special agents seized 112 tons of illegal
Russian king crab by working with their colleagues in the Russian Border Guard.

IUU fishing for crab in Russia has had an adverse impact on
Alaska crab fishermen by disrupting the market and lowering prices, and it is
threatening the sustainability of the big eye tuna that is the staple of
Hawaii’s longline fishery, Murkowski said.