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Public Statements

Begich: Sink Rat-Infested Pirate Fishing Vessel

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Congratulating the Coast Guard for its successful capture of a pirate fishing vessel on the North Pacific, U.S. Senator Mark Begich suggested the rat infested ship be towed out to sea and sunk.

"Please convey my thanks to the crew of the Kodiak-based cutter Munro for seizing this vessel on the high seas and retrieving its derelict driftnet," Begich said in a letter today to Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert J. Papp. "Now that this pirate ship is in custody, I have one recommendation: the Coast Guard should sink the Bangun Perkasa."

The Coast Guard seized the ship on September 15, some 2,600 miles southwest of Kodiak with more than 10 miles of illegal driftnets on board. High seas driftnets have been banned globally since 1992 for their indiscriminate killing of fish, marine mammals and seabirds. The vessel also had 30 tons of squid in its holds and about 30 shark carcasses. Later brought to Dutch Harbor, the ship's 22-member crew was brought to shore and remain in custody but the vessel remains anchored miles offshore because of an infestation of rats.

"Rats have been devastating to waterfowl and other native wildlife species in Alaska and spread disease and contamination," said Begich, who chairs the Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Fisheries and the Coast Guard. "The State of Alaska is correct in banning this infested vessel from port but I am concerned rat eradication efforts will not be totally effective. I am very concerned about the threat of rat infestation in the Aleutians posed by this vessel."

The best answer to the problem, he said, is to haul it offshore and sink it.

"In addition to solving the rat problem, using the Bangun Perkasa for gunnery practice could demonstrate the advanced firepower of the Coast Guard's new National Security Cutters," Begich said. "It would send an unambiguous signal that pirate IUU fishing is unacceptable to the United States and will not be tolerated. It will prevent this rust bucket from ending up back on the market where it most likely would only fall into the hands of some other pirate. For all these reasons, I strongly recommend the Coast Guard sink the fishing vessel Bangun Perkassa."

Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) or pirate fishing is a multi-billion dollar, world-wide criminal enterprise which threatens the sustainability of marine resources and the livelihoods of legitimate fishermen. Vessels engaged in pirate fishing often flaunt other rules including basic worker safety requirements, labor rights, and food safety measures. The United States is party to several multi-lateral agreements to enforce laws against IUU fishing.


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