The Alaska delegation today renewed their commitment to protecting Alaskan commercial fishermen by introducing the Maritime Lien Reform Act of 2013. This legislation would prohibit maritime liens from being imposed on commercial fishing permits, while protecting the rights of fishermen as they continue to engage in the commercial industry in order to provide for their families.
"The Maritime Lien Reform Act is a serious way to ensure fisherman from across my state and the country can earn a paycheck and responsibly pay their bills," said Senator Lisa Murkowski. "This is a very critical issue; we need to understand that by taking away the one ability for these fishermen to earn an income and making right with their creditors is not the right solution."
"Taking away fishermen's permits and right to fish is not only illogical, but it cuts off their livelihood," said Senator Mark Begich. "Fishing is the backbone of Alaska's economy and this bill protects our fishermen and keeps them working on the water so they can earn a living."
"The commercial fishing industry is a vital part of Alaska's economy, and the legislation we have re-introduced today will enable fishermen to continue to work while they pay off their debts," said Representative Don Young. "Debts cannot be paid off if there are no earnings, so this legislation is a win-win for all parties involved."
Alaska limited entry permits are already protected from liens by Alaska state law, but doubts have been raised by a court decision that determined a fishing license was subject to a maritime lien under Federal Admiralty Law. Attempts to take Alaskan fishing permits in federal bankruptcy court have been fueled by the decision, and the Maritime Lien Reform Act is the best way to protect these fisherman and their permits. The delegation introduced similar legislation in the previous session of Congress, as well.
The legislation would benefit not only Alaskan residents but over 13,000 individuals who hold Alaska Commercial Entry Permits. While approximately 75% of the permits are held by Alaskan residents, permit holders live in all 50 states.