February 12, 2014

Senate Oceans Caucus Fighting Against Pirate Fishing

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Senate Oceans Caucus is standing up for American fishermen who play by the rules and are put at a competitive disadvantage from illegal pirate fishing.  The co-chairs of the Caucus are lending their support to four treaties – subject of a hearing this afternoon in a Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee – that would address these and other issues affecting fisheries at home and abroad.  The treaties were all recommended for ratification by the President, but have not yet been ratified by the Senate.

“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 Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).  “Pirate fishing in foreign countries and on the high seas jeopardizes migratory fish stocks that our fishermen rely on.  The treaties to be discussed in today’s hearing would give the U.S. new tools to stop this thievery and hold other countries accountable to do the same.  I thank Senator Markey for holding this hearing and I hope the Senate will ratify these treaties.”

“Since 1990, illegal and unlawful fishing is estimated to be a half a billion dollar problem to Alaska’s economy – and we can regain control over our fisheries by better policing and enforcement at the ports where the fishing boats dock and unload their illegal haul,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).  “I thank the Foreign Relations Committee for inviting me to share the views of Alaskans on this threat, on behalf of the 80,000 Alaskans directly or indirectly impacted by our seafood industry.”

“As Chairman of the Senate Oceans Subcommittee, I was happy to help pass pirate fishing legislation out of the Commerce committee last year,” said Senator Mark Begich (D-AK). “Alaska fishermen know first-hand the impact that pirate fishing has on their businesses – in 2011, nearly 100 million pounds of illegally caught Russian crab was on the market.  These effects also spill over into the coastal communities who have lost over $10 million in tax revenues.   I will continue to use my position as Chairman to move legislation in the Senate to protect Alaska fishermen and our fish.”

“These treaties are important protections against pirate fishing, which is estimated to cost $23 billion each year,” said Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS).  “I join Mississippi fishermen and conservationists in supporting these efforts to curb fraudulent fishing by establishing global standards to protect commerce and the environment.”

Last October, all four Senators wrote to the Foreign Relations Committee to express support for the four treaties:

  • 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

Whitehouse and Murkowski are also scheduled to testify in this afternoon’s hearing.


Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921