A strong opponent of "pirate" fishing, U.S. Senator Mark Begich applauded the approval today of four treaties that will help Alaska fishermen by cracking down on illegal fishing worldwide. Today's vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to approve the treaties clears the way for ratification by a vote of the full Senate.
"Alaska leads the world in sustainable fisheries management and provides 5 billion pounds of quality, wild seafood annually," said Begich, chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard. "Illegal fishing around the globe is a threat to the conservation of fish stocks and can undercut seafood markets and lower fish prices paid to our fishermen. We will not tolerate pirate fishing--period."
Around the globe as much as 20 percent of fish landed is believed caught illegally, worth up to $23 billion annually. These catches hurt international efforts to conserve fish stocks and hurt Alaska fishermen by flooding the market with illegally caught fish and driving down prices. Alaska crab fishermen are among those who have suffered under imports of illegally-caught product. Additionally, some of these pirate fisheries are notorious for enslaving crewmen and forcing them to work under abominable conditions.
Begich joined other members of the Senate Oceans Caucus to urge Senate majority and minority leadership to ratify the treaties. A copy of the letter is attached.
"These treaties tighten restriction against pirate fishing and apply the lessons of sustainable fishery management that Alaska has pioneered throughout the Pacific and Northwest Atlantic," Begich said. "They are important to international fishery conservation efforts and help protect markets important for Alaska fishermen."
The four treaties include:
The Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing -- Cracks down on imports of illegally-caught fish by restricting access to ports used to import seafood and strengthening inspections.
The Convention on the Conservation and Management of High Seas Fisheries Resources in the North Pacific Ocean -- Establishes a regional fishery management organization (RFMO) in the North Pacific to limit fishing on seamounts in international waters which provide important habitat for fish stocks.
The Convention on the Conservation and Management of High Seas Fishery Resources in the South Pacific Ocean - Establishes a similar RFMO for the South Pacific to protect non-migratory groundfish species such as orange roughy and jack mackerel.
An amendment to the Convention on Future Multilateral Cooperation in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries - Strengthens a preexisting agreement on fishing in the Northwest Atlantic off the U.S., Canada and Greenland, by bringing it in line with standards of modern fisheries governance.