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Senate Approves Treaties to Protect American Fishermen

Sen. Whitehouse at fishing docksWashington, D.C. – The U.S. Senate today unanimously approved four treaties to protect American fishermen who are put at a disadvantage by illegal pirate fishing.  The co-chairs of the U.S. Senate Oceans Caucus – Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mark Begich (D-AK), and Roger Wicker (R-MS) – have been fighting to win approval of these treaties for months, and had just completed a series of floor speeches urging their ratification when the Senate agreed to proceed with them.  Video of the floor speeches and the ratification is available here

“Pirate fishing puts fishermen and processors who are playing by the rules at a disadvantage, and it isn’t just a local problem,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “Pirate fishing in foreign countries and on the high seas jeopardizes migratory fish stocks that our fishermen rely on.  The treaties ratified today will give the U.S. new tools to stop this thievery and hold other countries accountable to do the same.”

“It is important that Alaskan and U.S. fishermen have a level playing field when it comes to our fishing opportunities. The fishing industry is a vital economic driver in our state and these treaties enhance the effectiveness of U.S. authority to deter IUU activities which harm our fisherman,” said Senator Murkowski.  “The treaties approved today will help ensure that when working with other nations, as it relates to fisheries, that we are operating with comparable rules.”

“I call it like I see it and this is piracy, plain and simple,” said Begich. “These thieves operate on the high seas, ignore catch limits and damage habitats. They undercut legitimate fishermen who play by the rules.  Alaska crab fishermen estimate they alone have lost half a billion dollars to illegal crab imports. These treaties tighten restrictions against pirate fishing and apply the lessons of sustainable fishery management that Alaska has pioneered throughout the Pacific and Northwest Atlantic. They are important to international fishery conservation efforts and help protect markets important for Alaska fishermen and I’m glad the Senate took swift action on them today.”

“Pirate fishing is a global problem with very local consequences,” Senator Wicker said. “Mississippi is home to many hardworking fishing communities that depend on the ocean for their livelihoods. Ratifying these treaties show that the United States is committed to enforcing fisheries laws and protecting American workers.”

The treaties ratified today are:

  • The Convention on Future Multilateral Cooperation in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries;
  • The Convention on the Conservation and Management of High Seas Fishery Resources in the South Pacific Ocean;
  • The Convention on the Conservation and Management of High Seas Fisheries Resources in the North Pacific Ocean; and
  • The Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing

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