In Interior Alaska, hundreds of miles from the ocean, it’s a safe bet most people aren’t concerned about pirates. But as a state, pirates — specifically pirate fishing vessels — are a source of great consternation. Each year, billions of dollars in illegally harvested fish appears on world markets, causing serious financial harm to places like Alaska, where fishing is strictly regulated and commercial operators play by the rules or face strong fines, sanctions and even potential jail time depending on the nature of their offenses. A new bill signed into law by President Barack Obama last month will bring international focus to the issue of pirate fishing — and doing the lifting in Congress was Alaska’s delegation.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, introduced the Senate’s version of the pirate fishing bill, which would ratify a 2009 international treaty related to the practice. She was joined by junior Alaska U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan as a sponsor, and Rep. Don Young was a sponsor of the house version of the bill.
The bill and treaty seek to create a master list of vessels participating in the commercial fishing trade around the world, barring port access for vessels identified as having trafficked in illegally caught fish. Like most international treaties, it only works if all the relevant nations get on board, and there’s been some movement in this direction already. As of late October, a dozen countries and the European Union had signed on — the U.S. now joins that list.
Read the full story at Fairbanks Daily News-Miner >>
Read more about illegal fishing >>