August 9, 2016

Senate Approves Bill to Implement Fisheries Treaties

Implementing Legislation Continues Oceans Caucus Success in Combatting Pirate Fishing

Washington, DC – The Senate has passed the Ensuring Access to Fisheries Act to implement the policies of treaties allowing for better cooperation in managing fisheries resources.  With passage of this bill, the Senate has now completed implementing legislation for all of the treaties that the Senate passed in 2014 with the support of the Senate Oceans Caucus to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing – or pirate fishing.  The Co-Chairs of the Senate Oceans Caucus, Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), welcomed passage of the legislation.

“Through the passage of this legislation, the Senate is taking another critical step to crack down on the illegal harvesting of fish. The successful implementation of this treaty is particularly important, because pirate fishing poses a serious threat to the livelihood of some 80,000 Alaskans directly or indirectly affiliated with our state’s world-class seafood industry,” said Senator Murkowski, co-chair of the Senate Oceans Caucus. “I commend my colleagues for supporting our efforts to wipe out these destructive activities and ensure that our honest, hardworking fishermen do not have to compete with those who illegally catch and sell fish.”

“Whether they’re in Narragansett Bay or along our Pacific coast, American fishermen depend on healthy, well-managed fisheries to make a living,” said Senator Whitehouse, co-chair of the Senate Oceans Caucus.  “We can’t ensure that our fisheries are protected from pirate fishing without banding together with the counties that share our oceans.  That’s why I’m glad we could pass this legislation and do our part to protect important fisheries.”

The legislation that passed last night, which was sponsored by Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Edward J. Markey (D-MA), will allow the federal government to take the steps necessary to adhere to the terms of the international agreements as ratified. 

“The Ensuring Access to Fisheries Act will rightfully give the United States a voice and assert our influence in both the fisheries management and conservation decisions in high seas areas of the Pacific Ocean covered by these treaties,” said Senator Sullivan.  “Doing so will provide opportunities for our fishermen in the future, and help to protect their current activities for generations to come.”

“I thank Senator Sullivan and Senator Markey for their work to bring our oceans into international conservation and management,” said Senator Schatz.  “With the parts of this legislation that Senator Sullivan and I drafted, we have brought the remaining Pacific fisheries under international management.  Our legislation gives the U.S. an opportunity to ensure that our oceans are managed sustainably now and for the future.”

“Fish do not follow political boundary lines on a map. International cooperation is essential to ensure healthy fishery resources in the North Atlantic and across the globe.  I thank my Senate colleagues for their partnership on this effort and look forward to getting this legislation signed by the President,” Senator Markey.

The Senate Oceans Caucus treaties covered by the bill include:

  • The Convention on the Conservation and Management of High Seas Fishery Resources in the North Pacific Ocean;
  • The Convention on Future Multilateral Cooperation in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries; and
  • The Convention on the Conservation and Management of High Seas Fishery Resources in the South Pacific Ocean.

Implementing Legislation Continues Oceans Caucus Success

The Ensuring Access to Fisheries Act continues the success of the Senate Ocean Caucus.  In addition to the three treaties addressed in the bill, the Senate Oceans Causes helped to secure Senate approval of the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and its implementing legislation, the IUU Fishing Enforcement Act of 2015.  The U.S. Department of State announced this week that the Port State Measures Agreement would come into force on June 5, 2016, now that 30 countries have agreed to the treaty. 

The Senate Oceans Caucus, founded by co-chairs Murkowski and Whitehouse in 2011, is a bipartisan group of 30 Senators that works to raise awareness of coastal and marine issues and find common ground on legislation that affects our oceans, Great Lakes, coasts, and the communities and businesses that rely on these resources.


Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921