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Raise the issue of IUU fishing with the United Nations says Stevens


May 06, 2008
Tuesday PM

Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) today urged the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to address the threat of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. He called on NOAA, the State Department, and the U.S. Coast Guard to meet with Congress and bring the issue to the United Nations.

Senator Stevens questioned Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr. (Ret), the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator, about the steps being taken to prevent foreign fishing fleets from pillaging the world's oceans at today's NOAA oversight hearing.

"We've got to have legislation that's non-partisan, that's directed towards ending IUU fisheries, and if we don't, the fish that we get and we harvest for our nation off of Alaska are going to be gone," said Senator Stevens. "Already we're seeing runs completely disappear, as you know. We had areas that produced salmon for years and years and years, and all the sudden, bam, they're closed. No fish there at all. That's only coming about because of this IUU fishing. Now, I don't see a sense of urgency coming out of this plan, and I hope you would take that on. I really do. You have the capability to do it and I really think, somehow or other, we have to find a way to take this to the UN."

Senator Stevens also raised the issue of the Agency's funding levels for IUU fishing enforcement.

"I note that there's $1 million for [international] fisheries enforcement, and I question whether this is enough to deal with law enforcement in the fisheries area, particularly in view of this really expanding threat from the IUU fisheries," said Senator Stevens. "Where are you going to get the money for law enforcement?"

VADM Lautenbacher replied: "It's not a lot of money, I agree, but it's put in some very critical areas. We have two major thrusts that we're trying to work on. First of all, is to find out what's going on, on the high seas. We're working intently through the Regional Fisheries Management Organizations, the international organizations that have regulations and have visibility into what's going on in the various parts of our oceans So, we're putting more effort into trying to ensure we understand what's coming out of those organizations and so that we can have the enforcement, so the products that are illegally taken, do not enter this country and we can stand up and make a case in the world court of opinion to ensure that they are not being marketed in other places as well."

Senator Stevens then called on NOAA and the Commerce Committee to come together to form a task force with other federal agencies to discuss IUU fishing and raise the issue with the United Nations.

"I would like to have a meeting, a bi-partisan meeting, with members of this Committee and representatives of your agency, the Coast Guard, and the State Department to see what we're going to do about this, because unless we wake up, there's not going to be any fisheries left in the North Pacific. It's very, very serious in my opinion. I pray that you'll find some way to put this task force together and get active on it because I don't see sense of urgency in this budget," said Senator Stevens.

"I take this issue just as seriously as you do Senator," said VADM Lautenbacher. "I will work with the State Department and Coast Guard to see what more we can do."

Senator Stevens and Senator Dan Inouye (D-Hawaii) recently introduced the International Fisheries Stewardship and Enforcement Act of 2008. The bill would close the gaps in United States law that currently allow IUU fish products to enter the country. It would also strengthen United States' fisheries law enforcement programs and would assist developing countries with fisheries monitoring and enforcement.



Source of News:

Office of Senator Ted Stevens


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Ketchikan, Alaska